Self Mastery

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Consciousness VS. The Ego

Are you Intelligent or Stupid? Are you a Success or a Failure?

It kind of depends on the moment of what you did that day. A runner will say, “You are only as good as your last race.” That means that if you won then you are a winner. If you lost, then you are a loser. A financial trader will say, “You are only as good as your last trade.” It means if you made money you are a success. If you lost money then you are a failure. In that realm of opinion subject to what the mind labels you will never feel comfort with yourself that you can rest and accept yourself the way you are.

It is in these small internal dialog of thoughts that labels become opinions, and become subtle self rejections and criticism.

Much of our time, energy, and efforts in this world seems to be directed at driving towards the positive labels of “intelligent”, “winner”, and “success”. We are also running away from the negative labels “stupid”, “loser”, and “failure”. It’s not just the labels that push us. It is also the emotional feelings we have when we are labeled with one or the other.

The game of labels and opinions is set up by the ego. It is designed to keep us trapped in a system of labels and cycles of emotions. You can’t enjoy being a winner or a success, because you need to train for the next race and worry about your next trade. What you did this morning or yesterday no longer counts. You have to work to keep that label today and tomorrow, and the day after. Always running to avoid the labels with the bad feelings can leave you exhausted.

At first glance it looks like the way to win the “game” of life (be a “success”) is to get and keep as many good labels and avoid the bad label outcomes. Upon closer inspection you will notice this path of winning, success, and being smart doesn’t result in deep happiness or fulfillment.

That is because you are trying to win the game of labels. It’s a game that from a 10,000 foot point of view looks like a fenced in trap. You are on a field and you can pursue all the good labels on the field. Of course you are being competing with everyone else on the same field and being compared for the same labels. You have to chase the same label again tomorrow, and prepare for the next project, and worry about your next trade, raise, bonus, project, or career change.

That comparison comes from outside, and from your own Internal Critic I call the Judge character in your head. It doesn’t rest and doesn’t want you to rest from the game. When you move out, towards a Consciousness Observer you see that the Inner Critic is just part of the mind. It is playing a game on you.

What you don’t easily notice, because your attention is occupied with chasing the next label, is that the field is fenced in. It doesn’t allow you any other options for defining your self. You are either a winner, or loser, success or failure.

The game of Labels is played by the Ego. If it can keep you in the game, striving for success, money wins, and being smart, you never stop long enough to feel fulfilled, satisfied, pleased, accepting of the moment, or grateful in your life. In the game of the Ego on that fenced in field in your mind you will never be happy and fulfilled. In that duality of lables there is no real self acceptance.There is only temporary “self acceptance -IF….”

If you win the game of labels and become the winner or success for a bit you are still trapped in that fenced in field. In the next moment the game will start over trying to win’s your minds approval of yourself. The result is that you lose the game of consciousness.

In the game of consciousness one of the goals is to escape the game of ego, including it’s subset game of labels and opinions about yourself.

The ego is working to control your attention. If it can get you to chase the label of success, winner, and smart, etc. It has you occupied. It feeds you a morsel of good emotions and you feel superior. Then the ego mind starts the game again with the next race, trade, project, or job. This is the human in the matrix, the exercise wheel of the habitrail, the daily grind, the rat race or whatever else you want to call it.

There is no lasting peace, happiness, or fulfillment in the Ego’s game. The only way to win is not to play in the back and forth opinions and labels the mind has for you.

The ego mind will say that what is on the field about success and failure is all there is. For the ego this is true because it has never left the field. The ego mind has no awareness of consciousness or anything outside its game. It somewhat like a kid who grew up in a small town, was an athletic success, and did well in school, but never left their home town.

The mind knows nothing of anything outside itself. The ego mind is limited to the realm of language, words, and labels. It can’t understand consciousness anymore than it can grasp empty space.

Consciousness exists but does so silently. Consciousness exists, but not as anything tangible to touch and so can’t be labeled. You won’t find it with your mind because it can’t be labeled.

If you do move into an awareness of yourself as consciousness, you are engaging life without the criticism and judgments of labels. As consciousness you can transcend the emotional suffering cycles that comes with this game of the ego.

What is Consciousness and How Do you get there?

That’s somewhat like asking what is Love?  You don’t know what love is by reading, or filling your head with ideas and concepts.  That is the mind’s version, or the ego’s version of love. You know what love is because you experience it. After time and effort, and practice, you can invoke that feeling of love at will. You become a master of Love.

Consciousness can be explained, but can’t be understood or experienced through explanation. You have to develop control over your attention, and sense of self in a different way. You learn to extract your identity from the labels of “winner, loser, success, failure, and others” to know what you are separate from your mind.

The Self Mastery Course is a path of steps to take you on that journey. In the process of that journey you will release the false beliefs, negative thoughts, and emotions from your past, and leave the game of labels and opinions behind.

Damaging Effects of Criticism

If you want to change your life, consider this.

Criticism is probably one of the most toxic and destructive things a human can do to themselves or another. Criticism and judgments are rejections. These include self-criticism and self-judgments. It tears humans apart inside and destroys relationships. Every expression of negative words comes with emotion, and over time it adds up. Subtract criticism and complaining out of your life and your world will change.

It can be difficult to notice the impact and damage it does. Each rejection thought is a tiny dose and by itself can be ignored as inconsequential. The little bit of toxic emotion it deposits in your system can be ignored because life is busy and you are on to the next thing.

It is like losing a nickel out of your pocket. One nickel doesn’t mean anything. It won’t change your day or your life. Except the mind is a repetitions story telling machine. It generates 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Lets take the most conservative numbers. If you had 10 negative thoughts per minute, you could easily have 10,000 negative thoughts per day. (10 thoughts X  60 minutes X 16 hours = 9,600). Keep in mind that average reading speed is 200 words per minute. If your mind gets into a loop of negative thinking the numbers could be higher.

“That was stupid of me” takes about 1 second to read and we can think faster than we can read.

Conservatively, that becomes 10,000 nickels, or $500 dollars in a 16 hr day. Multiply that by 30 and you lost $15,000 of emotional resources over your month. Multiple that by 12 and you have spent $180,000 worth of your energy on creating toxic emotions in your self and in your relationships.

Your life is made up of small moments. If you don’t have mastery over a thought or an emotion in a moment, you don’t control over your accumulated day, or your life.

What is driving that mind and emotions into making your life worse? It’s your beliefs. YOU own them. They are yours.

It is largely your beliefs that create your thoughts and many of your emotions. You can change them.

The Self Mastery Course exercises has the steps to re-train your mind.

This online program is a product of the work by Gary van Warmerdam

Why Does the Mind Create Misery

Your mind isn’t designed to make you happy. It developed circuits over millions of years designed to keep you alive, and safe from hurt. As a byproduct, and because of some false belief circuits it builds, it can distort things and make you miserable. When you understand the mind better you can change the thoughts and beliefs circuits so that it doesn’t create so much negativity and cause misery. A helpful step to reducing this misery is understanding why the mind would create anxiety, depression, frustrations, and fears to produce such misery in the first place. Understanding what it is doing will help guide you on a path to properly changing your mind and emotions.

Your mind is on a mission with two major goals. Goal number one is that it is trying to keep you alive and has been for millions of years. Goal number two for your mind is to prevent or minimize pain. If you have, or had, issues with anxiety or depression, this might not make sense since the mind can generate an inordinate amount of thoughts, and catastrophic scenarios that cause pain. Here is the conundrum. The mind ends up creating emotional, and physical pain even though it is trying to avoid it. Here is how it works.

The Mind Has Memory of Pain

I will use the simple example of being burned by something hot on a stove. The mind remembers this by storing a record in memory. It has an association to a stove, and the connection to pain. The next time we walk into the kitchen and see the stove the mind makes the association between the stove and pain. In distorted shorthand way it is telling us what to avoid so that we don’t get hurt again. When that memory replays, our neural pathways fire recreating the experience of that pain in order to remind us. We remember the event by replaying it. We also remember by replaying and “re-feeling” the emotional pain and the physical sensation as those neural pathways fire. It may not be exactly the same, as memory changes over time, but it will be similar.

Your mind might replay the visual images, sound track, emotional and physical, experience of the past event. Your mind also might project an image of us doing something in present time, or in the future that would create the same pain. In this case, going up to the stove, touching it, and getting burned. It is taking past events of pain and projecting them into our present moment. You experience the emotional or physical pain through your neural pathways firing even though you aren’t physically touching anything.

You probably have no plans to touch any of the hot elements of the stove, but your unconscious mind isn’t aware of your conscious intent. Your unconscious mind is a simple self-protection program. It is taking a painful memory and projecting to you a scenario to avoid in the present, or future. As a byproduct of this reminder you experience a version of that pain again, if not consciously, then at a smaller dose unconsciously.   This is a good safety program for not touching a hot stove as interacting with a stove is simple. However, if you have experienced being criticized, judged, or rejected by other humans, you mind might go into overdrive generating painful scenarios due to the complexity and differing number of human interactions. How many times can you imagine a beak up or being rejected without it happening?

Use this example as a kind of template to apply to any number of painful incidents you experienced in our life. Since your mind can transfer lessons, you will also have developed a circuit in your brain to avoid painful experiences that you observed others having, without having lived them yourself. If you watch some kid at school being shamed or ridiculed by other students, you learn to be fearful and avoid the behavior you saw as the cause. Your mind will remember it in a way to avoid that emotional pain yourself as if you had lived it. However, in doing so, you will imagine and create a neural pathway that generates pain. Here is a brief list of some of the painful things you may have experienced or witnessed that reside in your memory that the mind uses to generate misery over later. I’m intentionally making most of this list about emotional pain. Add to it anything that you recall painful from your past.

  • Self Criticism –  Rejection and Unworthiness
  • Embarrassed in in class in front of others
  • Public Speaking – Embarrassment or Shame
  • Lost Money – feeling of failure.
  • Bullied Got – Humiliation. Whether it is physical or just emotional.
  • Giving the wrong answer – Shame, feeling of being stupid or unworthy.
  • Been turned down for a date – Feeling of Rejection
  • Broken hearted from a break up – Feeling of Rejection – Something is Wrong with me
  • Cheated on or Infidelity- Feeling Less than – Rejection
  • Physical or Sexual Assault – Powerless – Shame, Humiliation
  • Being criticized by others – Rejection and unworthiness

These are experiences you have likely had by the time you are an adult so we are all susceptible to them. Your mind will have collected a number of these painful memories and can be stressed about avoiding them in the future. It is this “stress” circuit attempting to avoid pain that can create misery.

The Automatic of the Unconscious Mind

The mind likes to create patterns for simplicity and then offload those patterns to the unconscious mind. It is like a Robot operating a simple program without thinking.  This “protecting” process turns into an automatic routine for the Robot . The sub-conscious circuits in the mind to “avoid pain” memory are giving a small nudge for you to “be careful”. The painful memory may not be noticeable in this instance, but you might just have a small feeling or idea of pain or stress. However, in any given moment, the Robot may throw out a big “warning” for protection.

Each time the Robot is reminding you to avoid something that was painful in the past it is replaying the painful memory, and the neural pathways that create pain fire again and again. In your conscious awareness you might notice the thought, the tension or stress in your body, both or neither depending on where your attention is focused.

Your Robot circuit can do these painful warnings in loud or subtle ways. Because you are busy and not paying attention to your emotions you are living in stress, low levels of pain, or even high levels but haven’t noticed. This might go on for years. Then something happens. There is a tipping point. You become more aware of your emotions or your physical body and you realize that there is a lot of pain there. It may be emotional or it may be physical. Your Robot mind has been sending painful or stress reminders for years and you have been ignoring them. A lot of this pain can be in the form of tight muscles, emotional knots or stored emotions.

The Unconscious Mind is Unaware of What It Is Doing

If you asked the Robot why it is creating pain, your unconscious mind would tell you that it is doing this to protect you. It is reminding you what to avoid in order to be safe. The unconscious Robot circuit is not aware that it is creating the very feeling it says it is trying to avoid.

False Beliefs in the Unconscious

Imagine that you are in a relationship and it is going great. But you had a painful break up in the past, or a past partner cheated on you. Your Protector Robot is going to remind you of that past pain. It might not be obvious. It might be subtle feelings, tightness in the body, or a fearful thought about your current partner that seems out of place. Your Protector Robot is bad at communicating exactly what the past memory is and so you get scattered messages.  Your Protector Robot is sending unclear signals confusing signals that your current relationship will turn out like that previous painful experience. These scenarios can generate emotional and or physical pain, stress, and anxiety in your nervous system. If you continue the relationship, the Protector Robot might get anxious that you haven’t ended the relationship even though it has warned you about the oncoming pain. It begins to be louder in its signaling and pain generation. It is possible that the more serious you are about the relationship, the more it becomes anxious. Depending on your experience, you can substitute a public speaking scenario, going on a date, starting your own business, or leaving a bad relationship or any other event.

If you were to ask the Robot why it is creating painful scenarios it would say that it is protecting you from future pain.  Its only job is to warn, and does that impulsively. It is a Robot, but not a very smart robot.   It is there to “replay the pain and project it into the present moment” and that is all. Other parts of the brain are there for checking facts, and whether something is a real threat or not. As far as the Robot is concerned the stove is always hot, and you will always get burned, and partners “always cheat,” you will “always” get dumped, and public speaking efforts will “always” turn out terrible. The unconscious mind’s Robot’s circuits have no capability for discernment of the real world as it draws its information from memories.

It is a simple and automatic response, but it can push a lot of thoughts, emotions, and visual images through your neural pathways and pain through your body. Unconsciously, in the background of your day it is there adding stress and worries about what might happen. All of this takes a toll on your emotions during the day.

Big False Beliefs in the Unconscious

If you were to look and really account for the number of false alarms and painful scenarios that the Protector Robot cycles you would see that it is wrong most of the time. It can project a horrific scenario 100 or 1000 times before something bad happens, or never happens. The problem here is that you experienced that emotional and nervous system pain 100 – 1000 times through the warning system when that event never occurred.

If you ask the Protector Robot if it knows that it is making things 100-1000 times more painful than reality, the Protector would tell you that it doesn’t care. Your unconscious mind does not care that it is causing you emotional pain. For you to change how you feel you will need to address it consciously. The mind will not fix this problem itself.

A major false belief to identify is that this Robot believes it is protecting you. The opposite is true.  Once you become aware of what it is doing, why, and the false beliefs it is operating by, you can begin to re-write this operating program.

For Change Awareness is the Key.

Awareness or conscious observation of this circuitry allows for re-programming the mind.

Much of the time we might not remember all the painful stuff from our past. Yet the unconscious mind can be projecting it, which causes our emotions, feelings, nervous system, and stress responses.

Begin to be aware that the body, mind, and emotions can be driven by unconscious robot like protocols that have been operating in the background. By becoming aware of these unconscious belief systems, and specifically how they are false, you begin to create new neural pathways to operate in those situations. The idea of becoming aware is abstract and is not enough. You will need to develop specific skills with your attention, and new habits in your awareness to change these false beliefs. The Self Mastery Course, and other courses will give you the guidance and exercises to make these changes and build new neural pathways.

Avoiding Emotions

There is a line from the movie, Thanks for Sharing.

“Feelings are like kids. You don’t want them driving the car, but you don’t want to stuff them in the trunk either.”

I mostly write about beliefs, but the only reason to do so is because how they affect your happiness, and unhappiness. I always try to tie it to your emotions. In the end, the really important part is about your emotions. However, emotions are what most people are ignoring in their life. There are no classes on them in school. We aren’t just uncomfortable feeling them, we are uncomfortable talking about them. My clients often talk to me about what they are feeling with me, but are scared to death when I ask them about sharing it with their partner.

We all feel emotions. It’s the common denominator in the human experience. No matter your race, gender, or socioeconomic class, by the time you are an adult, you will have experienced fear, heartbreak, betrayal, guilt, shame, anger, sadness.  You will also have experienced joy, laughter, gratitude, happiness, love and many more. Whether you are aware or not, you are experiencing emotions all day. Your skin is sensing tactile experiences and temperature all day, you just might not notice because you are busy with your attention elsewhere. The same goes for your feelings.

Joy, sadness, stress, anger, or gratitude might be going on emotionally within you, but you are too busy on your phone and emails to notice. That may be part of the unconscious belief system plan; Stay busy so you don’t feel those emotions. It’s what we often learned to do because we felt some bad ones sometimes. When we try to block out or avoid the bad ones, we are actually turning our attention away from all feelings. How are you going to feel excited, passionate, inspired, or sustain love in a relationship if you have trained yourself to turn down your emotional state?

What did you learn to do with your emotions when you were a kid? Whatever it was it is likely you are still doing that today, just unconsciously, and automatically. If uncomfortable emotions came up, we often ignored them. Or we learned to what our parents and people around us did. Some would get to blame others, or get angry until they got what they wanted from others. Maybe you would over eat, over exercise, or shop. Food and spending money has a way to make some people feel better, but as a distraction from the original feeling, not a solution. Others use dieting, getting attention from others, or sex to give us a positive self esteem, or chemical rush. If you don’t consciously develop a healthy method to work through your emotions, and release them, you are going to exaggerate the unconscious patterns you learned in childhood.

Sometimes in college it was exercise, maybe a game of racquetball with my friend Frank. I burned off the frustration, anger at an instructor, or myself in two hours on a Friday afternoon. You can’t be very emotional if you are physically exhausted. I got good exercise, but that didn’t mean I dealt with my negative thoughts or emotions in an emotionally healthy way.  If exercise didn’t work, there was alcohol to turn to.

The “patterns” can be found in your behavior, and your beliefs.  “I hate feeling this way, lets go..……”  What do you fill in the blank with?  Are you addressing the source of your emotions, or just distracting yourself?  You pay a price when you shop, drink, or vent at others. You feel better by avoiding your emotions, but you pay a price elsewhere, and it can get expensive over time. Not addressing your emotions can cost you money, friendships, or your marriage.

“They didn’t do everything right either. If they hadn’t done X, Y, and Z, then this wouldn’t have happened.”  Blaming someone, or something else works well to shift things, but you pay a price in your relationships over time when you don’t take responsibility for your half.  Turning things around so you feel right by making someone else at fault only works until others are tired of it.

What price are you paying, or going to pay in your life if you don’t work through your negative thoughts and emotions in a healthy way?  Do you want to keep paying that price?

Helpful methods to work through your emotions and beliefs in the Self Mastery Course, Releasing Emotions, and Recapitulation Series.

Avoiding Emotions

Hello Gary,

I got session 9 of the Self Mastery Series last Thursday. I have been listening to the audio, and I noticed something that left me lost. At the beginning of the audio you have us do the exercise of creating an emotion. What left me lost is that I could recall a story that would go with the emotion, but I was not able to recreate the emotion.

I should not be surprised by that, since I am aware that I have repressed my emotions for decades now. For as long as I can remember I have not allowed myself to experience my emotions.

The reason for that goes back to my childhood. I have a narcissistic mother. From a very young age, I learned that if I expresses emotions that would lead to problems with my mother. If I was laughing I was reprimanded for not behaving as a proper girl. If I cried for hurting my knee, I was reprimanded for crying just to annoy her. Not allowing my emotions to show became a second nature to avoid confrontation, blame, yelling and criticism.

I find myself now at a place that I do not know how to feel my emotions. I don’t know how to let them free. As i tried the exercise through the day, what I noticed happening is that I have this tight control all the time, an armor I would say, that contain my emotions all the time. If any emotion starts to simmer, that control squashes it, so it does not manifest itself – no wonder I suffered from depression for decades now. With all that emotion bottled up…

Anyway, can you help me here please?

Most sincerely,  Jane


Hi Jane,

Good work. Most people don’t know how much they repress/suppress or avoid their emotions. Realizing that you do this is an important discovery. Most people avoid their emotions, but don’t notice. Session 9 is as much about noticing your emotions as it is about being aware of how you repress them. For some people, like yourself, this will be a more important realization, and one that has to come first. Next step, deciding that you don’t want to avoid them anymore, which is necessary if you want to be happy.  That you want to release what is stored there and have a healthy emotional system is what you set your intent for.

To do this, get the Releasing Emotions Exercise. It’s in the products area.

Also get the Recapitulation series.  It will help incorporate more than just the emotional part. It will help deal with the memories and thoughts that come up.

If you want add a more intensive process to this emotional reconditioning there is a type of therapy called EMDR that might be helpful. It is extremely helpful for resetting and clearing your nervous system from past trauma experiences. This may or may not apply to you. But start with the two processes in the audios I mentioned and then check back with me.

good work


———— from Jane on Sept 22nd . —– 10 days later…..

Hello Gary,

As you suggested, I got the “Releasing Emotions” audio to help me get in touch with my emotions.

I started listening to the audio on and practicing. It was very difficult at the beginning, but I kept trying, listening to the audio at least twice a day. I began to feel as if a wall was crumbling, and I felt really odd about it, like, exposed. As the weekend went on I began to feel really down and anxious, to the point that I did have a full-blown panic attack on Monday. By Tuesday I was not only anxious, but extremely down, barely getting out bed to do the minimum necessary so the kids would stay alive.

Then, it subsided, and by Thursday I was feeling well once again. That day I listened again to audio about Gratitude (session 1 of the Self Mastery Course), and something really remarkable happened: I FELT the gratitude spread over me, a warmth that began on my chest and flowed through my body, a feeling of contentment that I had not experienced before as I listened to the audio. It made me so happy, because now what you were saying in the audio (let the feeling of gratitude spread over) finally made sense, I finally experienced it!!!

As I started listening to the audio today, I noticed that I was feeling tense, somehow uncomfortable. As the audio went on I burst out crying, with no warning at all and remained so for a while. That was also something new to me, as I have rarely allowed myself to cry. I felt lighter afterwards.

Thank you so much for the suggestion you gave me, and also, thank you for making that audio available. It is really helping me in a way I had not thought possible as all those bottled up emotions are being released.

Thank you for the support.

Most sincerely, Jane

—- — – – –

Hi Jane,   you are doing great.

It sounds like your instincts were good, you followed through with the emotions exercise, even when your emotions weren’t pleasant, and then you see how opening up to feeling allows you to feel more gratitude.  Good work. Your instincts and intent are leading you in the right direction for what you want.

It can be surprising how much emotion can be buried down in there -panic attack, anxiety, and depression etc… but with time they pass too, and you are on to feeling other emotions, and the general trend is towards feeling better. This can be some hard work, and you will need a rest now and again so give yourself a break, and then when you have had some rest, you work on some more things. In the long run it gets better.

Hope that helps.


The Self Mastery Course: Practical Tools for Getting Rid of the Emotional Drama in Your Life
  • Stop Emotional Reactions
  • Change Core Beliefs
  • Quiet the Criticizing Voice in Your Head
  • Develop Communication and Respect in Your Relationships
  • Create Love and Happiness in Your Life
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