For this episode we talked with another Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge winner, Mary Cheyne. If you’ve been following the Bruce Lee Challenge, then you know that we couldn’t just pick one winner due to all the wonderful submissions we received. Mary was kind enough to join us and share her experience participating in the challenge.
The Podcast Challenge came to Mary at a very crucial time in her life. She is in a career transition and since 2009 she had been doing her business as a public speaking coach and trainer part time, but at the beginning of this year she decided to do it full time. One aspect that she focuses on with her clients is the “inner critic” and she used the challenge as an excuse to document her own inner critic.
The part of the challenge that Mary found the most difficult was the “Letting others be” because you couldn’t say anything negative about other or yourself. Mary wanted to delve into why human beings default to negative thoughts:
“As human beings we have a tendency to want to survive. Wanting to survive means not going outside our comfort zone, and when we do go outside our comfort zone because we also want to grow as equal and opposite forces that are happening there. We take those first steps and immediately the survival mode kicks in and says, ‘No, no, no, it’s a perceived threat don’t do that.’ Therefore the negative voices come up to discourage us from growing.”
Mary recognizes that we need tools to combat the negative voices so we don’t repeat the same pattern of negative thoughts. Bruce Lee inspired her with his advice to just drop the negative thoughts, something that is easier said than done. The practice of dropping the negative thoughts is a muscle we have to exercise.
What she observed about the negative thoughts during her two-week challenge:
“Negative thoughts arise as if it’s a part of a default program that my mind runs. Noticing them & then letting them go in the moment is the most efficient. This is a skill in itself & repeating it moment by moment is my practice. I discovered that my experience of the negative thoughts that I don’t catch & neutralize-in-time, are then felt as negative emotions. They are experienced in my body as resistance, as in wishing something wasn’t so. In essence, I’m fighting with reality & the lost battle ends in a “bad feeling”. For me, noticing this is the turning point in being able to reframe it at all.”
The Bruce Lee philosophy that Mary has found most useful is “self-inquiry.” The act of looking back and examining why she was feeling bad or what caused an emotion has been helpful for Mary identifying a common thought she has: “I’m not good enough.”
Many people have this same thought, and the negative thoughts gather evidence to support that “I’m not good enough,” thought pattern. We have to take action despite this negativity.
Mary started off with ten affirmations, but has since increased to thirty affirmations she reads daily. Here are her original ten:
“Heart all in & Both feet in” “I am on the right path” “Life is an enriching adventure” “Everything is happening exactly the way it’s meant to” “I am a savvy business woman” “I believe in Abundance” “I am excited to co-create my freedom with the universe” “It’s not about me. It’s about the transformation & empowerment I can bring to others” “I love my life” “I am an expert at letting go”
Mary has made the reading of her affirmations part of her morning ritual. Before she reads her affirmations she does gratitude journaling and meditation. She finds that the meditations and the journaling get her into the receptive mindset for her affirmations. Mary thinks that because Bruce Lee created affirmations for himself, it is easier for people who normally shy away from emotional content to create and use their own affirmations.
Later, Mary created her personal mission in life to add to her affirmations and her personal mission is to develop enlightened leaders. To Mary, a leader is someone who makes others lives better.
For the second challenge of nutrition and fitness, Mary completed the statement “I would feel better in my body if…”
- I got at least 7hrs of sleep per night.
- I did 30 minutes of intense cardio exercise & 30 minutes of weight training at least 3 times a week.
- Train in martial arts at least 3 session per week.
- I eat only the amount that I need
- And drank water instead of juices
- Only drink 1 cup of coffee per week day (and none on the weekend).
This was a framework for Mary to follow, and while she does not always reach each goal, because she has these intentions she is closer to these goals than every before. With exercise especially, Mary needs a regimented schedule so that she will actually do it instead of putting it off.
Sometimes taking action despite our internal negative dialogue helps us dispel the negative talk, the fears, and the anxiety. Mary shares that her mentor once said to her “Mary, if we spoke to other people the way that we speak to ourselves, we’d have no friends.” Ever since then, Mary has worked on becoming her own best friend. She’s found that writing down the negative thoughts actually highlights how ridiculous they can be. She then writes down what her best friend would say in response to those negative thoughts. It then becomes obvious that the negative thoughts are holding her back. This helps Mary move forward instead of staying in the negative thought loop in her head.
By doing the podcast challenge, it made Mary more conscious about what is going on inside her head. She had the epiphany that if she relaxes, is present, and looks inwards she finds that love is always there; she just needs to tap into it within herself to feel it.
Disappointments hit Mary hard in the gut. Learning from disappointment is tough, but she recently heard a speaker refer to this learning as the “Hindsight Window” (Eric Edmeades.) The “Hindsight Window” is the length of time from when you feel rejected or disappointed to the time when you can say “Oh I know why that happened…” If you can shorten that window of time between the pain of disappointment and the epiphany, then you shorten your suffering. Mary finds that journaling helps her. As Shannon says, “fail faster.”
If you approach disappointment as the universe saying, “Oh that’s not for you and that’s ok,” instead of as a rejection of you, then it creates space that is for you. In our achievement based society, it can be difficult dealing with disappointment when you fail to achieve something, but being able to find learning in each disappointment can help you grow.
Bruce Lee inspired Mary to create her definite chief aim which is: “It is my definite chief aim to become the best version of myself at the fullest expression.”
Mary had the revelation during this challenge that “Love is always there.” When she’s not in that love headspace she uses her gratitude to get her back to love. She’s so grateful for her son and all the joy that he brings into her life, and uses that gratitude to bring her back to her well of love. Mary has found that the quickest bridge to that love is to focus on what you’re genuinely grateful for in your life.
Bruce Lee was truly connected with his heart, and really the Bruce Lee lesson is all about love.
For those of you inspired by Mary’s experience with the Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge, you can do it too! Just go to Podcast Challenge to find out more.
Mary wrote a book! Purchase from Amazon here:
"Present" Yourself In Public Speaking: Tell Your Inner Critic to SHUT UP! And the Real You to SPEAK UP!
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
Mary nominates Amy Tan, author of the Joy Luck Club and many other best-selling novels. Amy Tan is American Chinese, born in Oakland, CA, one of three kids to Chinese immigrants. Mary wanted to nominate Amy Tan because when she saw the movie version of The Joy Luck Club, it really shifted some things within her. Growing up with Chinese immigrant parents, Mary always felt the feeling of “Do I belong in this culture or this culture?” and never felt like she belonged in either culture growing up. Amy Tan speaking about this experience in her work helped Mary realize that this is a common experience that other Asian kids like her have growing up in a western culture. This helped Mary integrate her two selves and realize that she belonged to both cultures. Amy Tan, officially from the Bruce Lee podcast, you’re awesome!
Mary shared with us a specific #BruceLeeMoment:
“It was a quote that I saw online, later on I discovered it was from a book by John Little. It was when John Little, the author, expressed a moment that he had with Bruce Lee, which really inspired me, when they were running. They had run three miles and Bruce said ‘Oh tomorrow let’s do another two.’ They started doing the other two miles extra, and John said to Bruce, ‘I’m going to die, I feel like I’m going to die. I really can’t do this.’ And Bruce Lee says back to him, ‘Then die.’ And John Little got so mad that he just ran the two miles. Later on, after they had finished running, he said to Bruce, ‘Why did you say that to me?’ Bruce Lee said to him, ‘Well, seriously if you’re always putting limits on what you can do physically or otherwise, it’s going to spread over to the rest of your life. It’s going to spread to your work, to your entire being. There are no limits there are only plateaus, but you must not stay there you must go beyond them. A man must constantly exceed his level.’ When I read that I was re-inspired to not let my own limits hold me back.”
Thank you so much Mary for joining us and sharing with us your experiences participating in the Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge, your #AAHA nomination, and your #BruceLeeMoment!