Searching For Blame

Resentment: the unsettling, gut wrenching, choke hold that kept me captive for so much of my young life. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my 2002 Toyota Camry smoking away my sorrows. Why did life have to be so unfair? Why did I have to live in a world that saw me as less than? A young black man with a chip on his shoulder.

I spent a majority of my latter teen years verbalizing my frustrations with the so called “system” I blamed for my woes. I soaked in the paranoia filled doctrine of conspiracies like a helpless junkie searching for a quick fix, yet nothing could give me the high I was in search of. I was a victim in the truest sense.

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For hours a day, I would saturate my mind with the “mad world” beliefs that were plentiful on the web. I resonated with every new piece of information I found online as they were confirmations for my already skeptical mind. I surrounded myself with those whose beliefs aligned with mine and what we all had in common, more than our love for conspiracies, was the need to point blame outwardly.

Looking back, I could have blamed my insatiable need for conspiracy theories as a drug induced inclination, but, in reality I would have fallen into the same trappings without the drugs. I realized I was always an individual who sought to point blame in the most subtle ways. I wouldn’t tell you something was your fault but would convict the system that created you as the problem.

Not once did it dawn on me that my position in life was my own choosing. I truly felt that I had to take a backseat in life because the greater system was against those of my hue. Nothing held me back as much as that belief.

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It amazes me how we have the ability to create a false reality and live our entire lives on those falsehoods, for the simple reason of not accepting that our lives are in our control. Sure, we may not be capable of predicting or controlling circumstances outside of ourselves, but we do have control of our own actions and reactions to any given situation.

If I had known this in my earlier years, I would have spent much more time changing my circumstances instead of living in a constant state of anger and resentment, which was only a cover for my inherent fear of taking responsibility for my own life.

Tinashe Hwande

Edited by. Tayla Hasselbach

Why We Love to Overthinking

If you were a prehistoric Neanderthal or a Sub-Saharan bushman, the best weapon you had in your arsenal was overthinking. To remain vigilant throughout your entire hunt while mentally preparing for all the worst case scenarios was essential in 20,000 BC. In this Tesla driving, Chipotle eating modern world, however, overthinking is the curse that keeps on cursing.

When I speak of overthinking, I am not alluding to the strategizing or problem solving powers of  mind. You know the sort of witt or genius that has been displayed throughout history by men and women whose names are echoed in chambers of greatness. The sort of overthinking I am referring to is the type that petrifies the majority of us into non-action.

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We live in an ever increasingly busy world, an environment where the overthinking mind can, and often does, become an affliction. A plague that stops us from living a life of fulfillment, deterring us from necessary actions, all the while killing the dormant dreams of everyday men and women.

Overthinking can be attributed to everything from the restless nights of insomnia to the deepest depths of depression. When fears, worries and doubts take a hold of our minds with no jurisdiction, we tend to find ourselves in a bottomless abyss that seems to have the gravitational hold of the “sunken place.”

The main reason we hold onto our overthinking with such a tight grasp is due to our belief in its purpose. We feel as if overthinking may solve our problems or serve to protect us from the fear of taking action. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Overthinking is the enemy of all actions and brings along more animosity than resolve. This is why the greatest defense for our overthinking is action itself. Tony Robbins, master of the mental shift, is known for his “physical change” to “mental change” approach to habit formation. He speaks on how the simple change of physiology can make the difference between a mind in the state of depression and one that is freed from strife.

Though this may seem contradictory, it is essential for us to step into “massive action,” as Tony refers to it, in order to get out of our heads. Whether this means visiting your local gym to hit the ol’ weight rack or finally sitting down to work on that novel, taking action will show itself as the resolution to the constant mental bombardment.

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This does not mean you will never have an overactive mind again, it just means you will have the ability to chip away at the overthinking by acting upon those things that are truly at the root of your fears and anxieties. Overthinking comes from underdoing. Change your mind, change your life.

 

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Tinashe Hwande

(Edited by. Tayla Hasselbach)

 

 

Seek to “INNERstand”

To understand your audience is one thing; but to truly reach into the deepest parts of another individual, to fully comprehend their drives, inhibitions, desires, and motives; this is to INNERstand them. Whether you are an individual with a burning message to share with the world or an organization with a life-changing product to provide to those in need; both cases require a certain level of innerstanding. Much like within interpersonal relationships, understanding the point of view the other is crucial. The best relationships do not form due to similar tastes in movies or music, but by allocating quality time with pure intention to fully grasp where exactly the other person is coming from.

In this new economy, it is essential to treat your relationship with your customers, as you would treat a friendship. For instance, if you had some news that you wanted to share with a friend, would you deliver it to them in a compelling story that is relevant to their own life experience or just give them a generic statement that you kinda, sort, think makes sense? For far too long, advertisers have been talking at their audience instead of speaking with them; and by speaking with them I do not mean some focus group that is being paid to taste your new Acai recipe. I mean a true conversation; a back and forth dialogue that is deeper than “which one tastes better”. Social Media has made it possible for individuals and companies alike to maintain a streamline of communication. There are no longer any excuses for not getting to know the true beneficiaries of your brand. This sort of symbiotic relationship creates a win-win situation; both parties receive exactly what they want while reciprocating the value.

Take the extra time to know your customer. Ask them questions. Know why they buy from you and not the place next door. Ask them why their kids love the place. This may seem self-serving, but for those with a true sense of care for their community, this conversation allows for a greater customer experience and in return you will have a larger community to serve as they spread the word about the wonderful good or service that you so wholeheartedly provide.

-Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

Childhood Conditioning

Childhood

Every single human being goes through infancy, childhood, adolescence… Literally each and every one of had to go through it to get where we are today. What a vulnerable, impressionable time of life. We are 100% dependent on our caretakers to teach us about this ginormous, new world we just entered… It’s easy to see how things can go awry.

Naturally, a child is born to two parents, a mother and a father, both offering different teachings, traits, experiences, etc. Now we must take a step back for a moment to remember that parents are not simply acting as teachers, for example as we see in school: carefully constructing lessons and presenting them orally with pictures, planned activities etc. Unfortunately, parents don’t go to school to be parents… they often just get handed a baby (essentially) without a clue in the world what to do.

Children are sponges! They absorb everything, every new sensation, sight, sound, feeling, taste, smell, etc. Thus, parents unconsciously teach their children everything that they do and say in front of them. When parenthood was not by choice, when one parent leaves and the other is left to raise the child on their own, when other burdens take away from time spent with the child… when the parent does not, for whatever reason, take an active, responsible role in raising and teaching the child… problems arise.

Children become scared, they don’t know who or what to trust, they don’t know how to communicate or express themselves because no one ever gave them the space to do that, they don’t know how to take an active role in their lives or make decisions for themselves, they don’t know how to trust and love themselves…

When children are not actively taught, loved, encouraged, admired, developed, etc. they create defense mechanisms, they become blocked in certain areas of life, conditioned to be the way their parents were (which obviously wasn’t therapeutic), they grow up with trauma, pain, anger, sadness, anxiety that can often paralyze them and stagnate their growth and progress as adults in the world.

Adults often face childhood traumas for the rest of their lives if they don’t awaken to their conditionings and make conscious efforts to heal their ingrained traumas, reactions, defense mechanisms, etc. This can impede relationships, academia, work, every area of life.

Overcoming

With every dark cloud there is a silver lining, a sliver of hope, a showing of light within the darkness.

There was a time in which neurologists believed that our capacity to learn was limited by age. We were taught that the grey matter within the brain stopped creating new links and pathways somewhere between our twenties and early thirties. This theory was refuted time and time again, however, as researchers saw “old dogs learning new tricks”.

From therapy sessions to addiction centers, those who were placed in positions to help others overcome lifelong habits began to notice how even the most coniditioned individuals had a capacity for change. These deep habitual changes did not come as a result of some sort of special gene that these people had, but due to the nature of the human being as a whole.

We are creatures of habit, and creating patterns for ourselves has always been the way in which we navigated these terrains that we call planet earth. Whether we formed habits of foraging for our survival, or nursing our young; the place where each habit formed was and still remains the same

Many of us have been conditioned into certain modems of thought and action, therefore forming habits that do not serve our higher purpose. For anybody who’s seen a child go from being a flunking student to a straight A pupil, you have witnessed the capacity of a human to form new connections within the brain.

Whether you’re five or ninety there is always hope. So long as there is breathe in your lungs and a beat to your heart, there is a chance for you to reestablish your position on this planet through the diligent efforts of retraining your mind.

Much like teaching an infant to walk is not an easy feat, reinventing oneself through the formulation of new habits is no simple task. But just like anything else in life, once we make the decision to fully commit ourselves to change we can rewrite our story, and become the alchemist of our childhood experiences turning them into lessons for our future selves instead of anchors to our pasts.

Tayla M. Hasselbach & Tinashe P. Hwande

Living on the Edge of Time

What a crazy, wonderful blessing it is… the camera. We literally have the ability to capture the ever fleeting moment. One second in time that has never happened before, that will never happen again; the camera allows us to capture it, preserve it for the future. We can look back, remember experiences, monitor growth and changes. It’s truly mind boggling.

Millions upon millions of moments we get to experience in this life… we literally live on the edge of time! We can’t possibly remember every single one. The camera helps with this. There’s a balance to find here, however. We’ve come to take the camera for granted! We take photos of every moment as if we would never be able to remember without it. Dependency?

Tell me though… how often do we really go back and review these? I do this from time to time and always have realizations, feel emotions, make connections, etc. I am so thankful I took the photos. Again, there is a balance to find here… living in the moment and capturing the crazy, amazing, beautiful ones to be able to look back on later. It it a gift to our future selves. I cry. Seeing how far I’ve come. Remembering things that aren’t at the forefront of my memory on the daily basis. We live on the edge of time.

-Tayla M. Hasselbach

 

Keys to the Heart

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “communication”? A 12th grader nervously standing in front of her peers, giving a speech on a subject she just read up on last night? Or maybe you envision a college student typing up a persuasive essay the night before class at a pace fast enough to tear the keyboard in half.

School taught us how to talk and be persuasive both orally and textually, but often neglected the most important part of communication: Listening.

Since I was a youngin’, I’ve heard the phrase “communication is key” thrown around. This cliche made sense in my young mind; if you want to get your point across, you have to speak up. I was never shy of such an act. What took me two decades to learn, however, was the pivotal part of communication.

It was Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that opened up an entirely new world for me. He spoke of the importance of listening not for response, but for understanding. Right after I read this, I had an experience which solidified this notion. I felt as if I had been freed from a self-induced, ego-controlled cage and opened up to an entirely new paradigm. Until that day, I was a product of my conditioning, a conditioning that said “communication is key and getting your point across is communication… therefore, DON’T STOP TALKING.” That very day, I found the true key, the essence of communication; listening.

It wasn’t long until I fell back into my default habits of listening to reply. What changed, however, was my new found conscious intention to seek understanding within each conversation. From that point forward, I was able to diligently practice listening to others in order to truly hear what they were saying. The hardest form of this was when disagreements arose. Listening to understand literally meant that I had to sit there and take the verbal abuse of another as they uttered all the things that I had “done to them.” When an argument flared up, something very interesting happened. Instead of being defensive and striking back, I began to see where the other persons pain points were. There were no personal attacks or threats actually made towards me but more so cries for help that had taken the form of angry words.

It was not during a normal conversation that I saw how true communication was key but during a disagreement with a very close family member. As she began to project her fears, insecurities and pain onto me, I sat there and listened instead of responding with even more angst. That day, I learned more about her than I had in my entire life. I was so moved by the experience that I was brought to tears of joy; even though she might not have realized it, we experienced a breakthrough.

“Communication is key” is not some cute Pinterest quote or overused cliche, but a deep truth that we often times overlook. Think about it, what exactly is a keys purpose? And knowing the purpose of a key, why would communication be the key?

In my eyes, communication is a key to the heart. When we can listen to another with the intention to understand, we open ourselves to the possibility of seeing what is truly in their heart. With that very same key, we can open up the doors to our own hearts as well the hearts of others.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

Remember To Breathe

The first time I ever met my partner in growth and soulmate I was in a phase of my life where I was essentially going nowhere at an extremely fast pace. At the time, I was doing a sales job for a meal prep company working off of commission… and for anybody who’s ever had to make a living off of commisions, I am sure you know how taxing it can be.

My days were filled with prospecting customers, creating sales pitchs, meeting with customers, digging into sales books and such. I had become used to moving from one side of town to the other, meeting potential clients and pushing a product that I didn’t even believe in (a vegan selling meat based meal plans, can somebody say hippo crit?). I wouldn’t admit it then, but quite frankly I had lost myself. Mentally, I was the same person that I am right now, however there was this cognitive dissonance between the person I was and who actually wanted to be. I had forgotten about the simple things that actually mattered. One of those things being my breath.

My partner did not directly tell me to breathe but did what most great impactors and influencers do; lead by example. I noticed her taking the deepest breaths I had ever seen as she sat in the front seat of a mutual friends car. I could not help but notice her breath more so than the conversation taking place at the time. Intuitively, I followed suit. And almost in an instant, I remembered. I remembered to breathe.

In this rapidly changing world, complicated has become the new norm and a form of simplicity within itself (notice how I did not say evolving world as many would say). Don’t get me wrong, technology has definitely made it easier for us to live day by day. After all, our ancestors struggled to merely survive most of the time, whereas today we seldom have to think of our own mortality.

We have taken the complexities of human life and solved them through algorithms, apps and Adsense. The one problem we have yet to solve is the one of remaining human throughout this process of perceived progress.

Being a self diagnosed workaholic, I am as guilty as any when it comes to getting caught up in the ever turning hamster wheel that is modern society. In fact, most of us have become accustomed to living our lives on this perpetual track to nowhere. We wake up, scroll down, brush that, grab this, eat that, scroll up, look for that, drive this, eat that, park this, type that, eat this, talk smack… and this all takes place before your 30-minute lunch break.

We forget about the gift that is the present moment as we go through the day taking shorter and shorter anxiety, stress, worry, and doubt-filled breathes. We view the perpetual hamster wheel as being the norm, yet the rat race did not exist within the first million or so years of our existence. What did exist, however, was stillness, patience, reflection, community, connection and BREATH.

I understand that it is close to impossible to spend your entire life breathing with intention every step of the way… just take this as a friendly reminder to take a moment out of your day to breathe.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)