Soul Love spoke with Michael Neill about love, fear, and the three life-changing principles that can set us free.
Michael Neill is an internationally renowned success coach and the best-selling author of The Inside-Out Revolution, You Can Have What You Want, Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life, and both the Effortless Success and Coaching from the Inside-Out audio programs.
Michael has spent the past 23 years as a coach, adviser, friend, mentor and creative spark plug to celebrities, CEO’s, royalty, and people who want to get more out of their lives. His books have been translated into 13 languages, and his public talks and seminars have been well received at the United Nations and around the world.
In his latest book, Michael Neill shares an extraordinary new understanding of how life works that turns traditional psychology on its head. This approach is built around three simple principles that explain where our feelings come from and how our experience of life can transform for the better in a matter of moments.
Understanding these principles allows you to tap into the deeper intelligence behind life, access your natural wisdom and guidance, and unleash your limitless creative power. You’ll be able to live with less stress, greater ease, and a sense of connection to the larger unfolding of life.
Soul Love: In your latest book “The Inside-Out Revolution” you start with a quote from Sydney Banks saying: “If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” A few pages later you write that our deepest fear is that “there’s something wrong with us and we’re not enough”.
What is ‘this fear’ of us? Are we truly fearful?
Michael Neill: Well, most people that I meet, much of the time, are deeply fearful. But one of the things about fear is that it’s not always obvious. Think about it like this: If you imagine a dog on a long chain, the dog won’t know that he’s on a chain until he gets to the edge. And many of us have designed our lives over the years to avoid ever getting to the edge of our chain.
So we don’t feel fearful, we don’t think of ourselves as “scaredy cats”, but we have created little lives because of fear, lives that are within our comfort zone, so we actually don’t bump into the fear too often. If fear isn’t something that you’re feeling on a regular basis, there’s a very good chance that as one of my coaches once said: “You may have created a masterpiece of a life on a postage stamp of possibility”.
It is therefore really important to begin to understand where fear comes from and to really create a different kind of relationship with it than most of us were brought up to have.
In essence there are three constants in human experience, and there’s one that I call Mind or the God Principle, which is that we are part of a larger whole and that we are not in charge. There’s a larger energy which we are part of. Some people call that God, some call it the Universe and some call it the Big Mind. That’s universal, it’s true for all people everywhere in the world. There’s no one who is ever born outside of that.
Secondly, Consciousness or what I call the Awareness Principle, is that we have the gift of experiencing life through our senses. That gift of consciousness is how we even know that we are here. Even people who die and come back, there was still consciousness present.
And then the third principle is Thought, which I call the Creative Principle. We live in a world of thought. We are thinking beings and we actually live in the feeling of our thinking, not the feeling of the world.
The way that these principles combine is like having a cup of tea: If you think of consciousness as the boiling water in the pot and the tea bag as thought, when that tea bag goes into the boiling water it flavours it and that becomes our experience. So we think that we’re experiencing money, we think that we’re experiencing our partner and our kids but all we can ever experience by design is our thinking about money, our thinking about our partner, or our thinking about our kids.
When you begin to understand that every experience that you have is created from the inside out, it fundamentally changes your relationship to experience. That’s what that first quote from Syd Banks is about. You stop being scared of your experience because you recognize it is just a dream. It’s just generated by thought and no matter how horrible or scary it is, you have the ability to walk out of your dream.
We are all different but there are certain things that are true for all humans, and when we see that, what we start to see is “wow, these three principles are like gravity”. Gravity isn’t good or bad, it’s just one of the forces to take into account if you want to navigate life with a bit of ease and grace. And these principles; Mind, Consciousness and Thought, they’re not good or bad, they’re just forces that are in play and if you take them into account you’ll navigate your life with more ease and grace, and if you don’t, you are more likely to struggle and suffer.
SL: You’re explaining us about our conditioned mind and I quote: “The irony is that the harder we work on changing ourselves in order to change the way we feel, the more distant we become from our true self.”
Where lies the solution?
MN: The metaphor that often makes the most sense to people are dreams. You can get stuck in a dream and work to make it more and more beautiful, or you can wake up. The deeper you go into the details of the dream, the less waking up seems a viable option, although it doesn’t actually make it any harder. If you have an inkling that you’re dreaming, waking up is always a viable option. If you completely believe that you are already awake, waking up doesn’t sound like it’s going to help.
The beauty of Mind, of this third principle, this energy and intelligence behind life that we are part of, is that once you wake up to the fact that you’re dreaming, you start to access more and more of that energy in your life. The less I have on my mind, the less I’m in the dream, but there’s a difference between the absence of thought and the presence of mind. The truth is that when we get quiet we tap into something deeper – we tap into a world of deeper feeling and a wisdom that seems to come from somewhere outside of our personal experience of life. Once you’ve experienced that world of deeper feeling, the idea of going back into the dream becomes less and less attractive. And the fun of it all is, when people wake up to this deeper truth and they reconnect to their soul, this deeper energy of life, everything becomes better.
SL: As a coach, you are constantly working on the self-development of people. How do you help others to find their own solutions?
MN: The most accessible way I think of explaining it is this: Imagine that somebody comes to you and he’s lost, and you start giving him directions, but then you notice that he is blindfolded. You could continue to give him really good directions or you can help him to take the blindfold off and then he can find his own way.
If we take it in a specific example, imagine that Bill Gates comes to you for business advice, and you wonder “Why is Bill Gates coming to me for business advice?”, and you suddenly realize he’s got amnesia, he doesn’t realize that he’s Bill Gates. Are you now going to spend your time trying to give him your best business advice, or will you be spending your time helping him to remember that he’s Bill Gates? Because once he does, he will know that he’s already got what he needs to navigate his business.
“It is so helpful to recognize that you’re always living in the feeling of your thinking”.
SL: How do you know when you have found ‘true meaning’ for yourself?
MN: You can feel it. We all have moments in our lives where it feels like we’ve come home, where we are at peace. And there’s a feeling to that, a feeling we can often notice when we spend times with babies and animals and small children. This is one of the reasons that people love being around babies or out in nature – they can feel that energy of life, that universal Mind without so much contamination. We are drawn to that energy naturally, and that becomes almost like a lighthouse, a guiding point, a beacon that guides us home.
When somebody drops into a deeper stillness, a deeper feeling, it’s tangible. And the decisions that they make from that place are invariably better decisions and the actions that they take from that place are invariably more effective actions, and their experience of life from that place is invariably more graceful and peaceful.
SL: What does love mean to you?
MN: At a personal level, love is that beautiful feeling of connection with another human being, or actually any living thing. You can feel it with a tree, you can feel it with a dog. I have my puppy here right now and just even looking at him makes me smile. That connection is in me, we’re of the same energy, we are part of the oneness. When our thinking doesn’t get in the way, we can have that intimate connection, you might call it love, with anyone and anything.
At a more sort of cosmic level, for me love is another word for this energy and intelligence behind life. I would use it synonymous with God and with Mind. It’s as good of a description of that energy as any other I’ve ever heard. It’s life loving life, God loving God, it’s the Universe loving itself.
SL: Are there some final thoughts you would like to share with us Michael?
MN: There are two things that come to my mind in response to this question. One is, the more deeply we understand the true source of our experience, the existence of Mind, the more freedom we have. Life gets simpler, and it gets better.
The second thing that I just think is so helpful is to recognize that “I am always living in the feeling of my thinking”. No matter how scary it gets, no matter how upsetting or worrying it gets, I know that I’m never more than one thought away from peace. I am never more than one thought away from waking up, no matter how bad the nightmare. Because of that, life itself just seems a lot less scary.
When you’re fearless, and I don’t mean brave, which is when there’s fear in you and you push through it, I mean fearless, where you’re simply not in the experience of fear, you’re not afraid of what might happen. When you recognize that at a fundamental level all you’re ever going to be feeling is your own thinking, then the worst thing that you can imagine happening is thinking a thought about the worst thing that you can imagine. When you see this for yourself, life gets very peaceful, very quickly, and the mind gets very quiet very quickly. And in my experience, it’s truly amazing what kind of life you can live from that place
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA – SOUL LOVE FOUNDER
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