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What Does it Mean to be Proactive?

What Does it Mean to be Proactive?

Let’s begin this article with a simple definition of our main term “Proactive.”

Being proactive means that you make things happen, instead of waiting for them to happen to you. Being active means “To do something.” The prefix pro means “before.” So, if you are being proactive, you are going to be ready before something happens. The opposite term is to be re-active, or waiting for things to play out before responding. So now we have a working definition of what this article is all about.

In general, being proactive in your life is a better strategy than being reactive because in this world, by the time you react it may be too late to take advantage of your strengths. Even in situations where being reactive seems to be the only choice you have, for example responding to a serve in tennis, there are hidden ways to be proactive. Obviously it helps to be in great physical shape so working out before a tennis match would be a proactive move before the game. If you know the sun is going to move and be in your eyes during the match you might go in with a visor or hat. So perhaps a more helpful question might be, “How can you know how to be proactive as a general strategy in your life?”  This question actually raises some of the complications or obstacles all people face in their quest for proactive movement.

The first obstacle we face is the challenge of cultural imprinting. It is easy to forget that in the eyes of present western society we are largely seen as consumers and there are literally millions of products being marketed to us at all times through every kind of media imaginable and this is becoming more entrenched and intense every day. Billions of dollars are being spent on creating algorithms to zero in exactly on what you are most likely to buy based on your web surfing habits and interests and these are then plugged to you in many subtle and not so subtle ways. In other words you are targeted and then manipulated to think in certain ways through clever marketing and advertising that carry many cues about desirable social behavior and less than desirable social behavior. Notice that these attempts to sell are usually phrased or depicted in subtle threats or conditional terms. If you use this product you will be popular and liked and if you don’t you may be ignored or shunned. If you join this social media site you will be at great advantage over others or you risk not keeping up. Because your emotions are being manipulated your beliefs about what is desirable are constantly being shaped, reinforced, or in some cases manufactured proactively by various corporations. So instead of knowing exactly how you can be proactive in an effective way you have been distracted by worthless strategies guiding you to be proactive in the way corporations want. As a result, you may convince yourself that being proactive in an interview is showing up in a certain clothing brand or wearing the cool new look in glasses. Instead of being proactive you have been maneuvered into being reactive.

The medical profession may have convinced you that your good health is dependent on taking certain medications or following a certain weight loss diet. So instead of being proactive in good way about your health like getting outdoors for a hike you are slugging down pills or deciding that you are on a diet restricted to ice cubes.

In fact testing for effective medications is becoming more difficult everyday because in more and more laboratory tests placebos are showing up to be more and more effective. This is creating enormous frustration in the medical testing arena. Why is this happening? There are several reasons for this that the medical profession will never accept in their current scientific paradigm. As the population slowly evolves in soul age they are more and more independent with regard to what actually heals them. Older souls just don’t care. If they thought a fig bar would cure their cancer that is exactly what they would eat and they would be cured. The truth is that the restricted path that science has made for itself is causing it to be doomed to failure as the population evolves. Science has to broaden its’ scope of what is possible if it wants to stay relevant. Eventually we are going to make the discovery that everything is a placebo and everything responds to placebos and that is going to throw a giant monkey wrench into everything we ever thought was true or not true. When science discovers that everything we regard as real is really only a variety of ideas being played out in physical manifestation it will blow science wide open and then we will take a quantum leap in our understanding of our universe. The first suggestions of this are already niggling at us through the discoveries of quantum physics.

So what does this all have to do with being proactive? We cannot be proactive effectively if we are being manipulated and shaped by forces that do not have our best interests in mind because we will be serving a false master. In order to be effectively proactive we will need to look more deeply within and see clearly our social programming. Then we will need to trade this in and replace it for how we are actually designed to be.

Let’s say that I am asleep at the wheel and programmed to do what everyone else is doing. I may have an inflamed knee and everyone I know says I need a steroid shot and that will send the pain away and get me back on the tennis court again or back at my corporate job more quickly. I make an appointment with my physician and sure enough she diagnoses me with an arthritic condition and prescribes steroids injected in the right knee.  However I just have a bad feeling about this and decide to postpone the shot until I can do a little more research. I discover that some new research has just been published that shows that steroids are not necessarily a good treatment option because in many cases they make people’s knees worse, not better. To boot I find out that steroids are very hard on the liver and may actually cause liver damage.

I continue to research and find out that that there are other treatments that have proven highly effective without the dubiousness of steroids. In fact, I can have an injection of my very own red blood cells drawn from own body and that this concentration of red blood cells can actually greatly improve the condition and massively reduce the inflammation in my knee.  However I also discover that this treatment is not covered by my insurance even though it has been around for twenty years and is used by all the major sports teams on the planet to help their athletes recover more quickly and get them back playing again. They abandoned steroids a long time ago. How is it that something so effective is ignored in the mainstream and something damaging is still being prescribed? You know why. It’s all about the money that can be made on steroids and how slowly the wheels of cultural imprinting turn.

I also find out that I can take systemic enzymes, an over the counter treatment prescribed by many plastic surgeons, that greatly reduces inflammation and reduces the fibrosis and scar tissue that has built up in my knee over years of hard use.  I discover that these enzymes quietly eliminate the pain of arthritis and essentially make it go away. Wow, who would have thought? Why did I have to find this out on my own. Why didn’t my doctor just know this and tell me?

Being proactive is more work. It requires you to poke your nose in places you hadn’t looked and where nobody else is looking. Being proactive is often going off on your own path rather than being a lemming and following everyone else off the cliff. Being proactive is sometimes not doing what comes reactively. In the training of a Navy Seal there is an extremely difficult test that involves being thrown in a deep pool of water with hands and feet tied. No matter how much thrashing and struggling you do, it will not save you. The only solution is to totally relax and wait patiently for your body to float to the top where you can surface and draw a quick breath of air before you drown. Many do not pass this test and have to be rescued because it is the opposite solution to what their body thinks it must do. Life is a lot like this. Being reactive will often drown you. Being proactive will help you survive.

However, there is more to being proactive than meets the eye. Being proactive requires more than being clever or willing to get out of the box. Being proactive means always being ready for everything that is coming down the tracks, even if as is often the case, you have no idea that it is coming. How do you do this? Well, it’s rather easy and challenging at the same time. It is actually not hard but the challenging part is changing our attitudes and making new internal rules in our lives that we then choose to follow while letting go of our old approaches. In other words, it requires that we change our habits. The old rule might be, “There is no way to anticipate everything so sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.” “The new rule could be, “I am always in the right place at the right time.” And “Since everything is sacred, anything that comes my way is sacred.” Another rule change might be “No matter how I feel, even if I am having bad day, I am always ready for anything that comes my way because my essence is in charge, not my personality.” So now we are talking about being spiritually proactive and changing our reality to bring about entirely different results. What a concept!

This requires a lot of practice, constantly reframing every experience until the new rule is firmly in place and functioning automatically. The process is actually quite simple, you build new neurological pathways and let beaten mental paths go dormant until they eventually disappear. This happens through simple repetition of the new thought and completely starving the old one. The more you starve it the quicker this will take place so you can’t be lazy and expect good results. This then, is the core of changing your reality to become a proactive person.

Go through your rule book and begin changing the rules you live by. You can know what your old rules are by simply noticing how things have been turning out for you. If you are getting results you don’t want it means you have a rule in place that you didn’t know you had. Replace old reactive rules with proactive ones. The more your rules have to do with changing your expectations the better. Make your spiritual life work for you on an everyday level. Take it out of the tight box of church or religion and make it the way you live. Live large and bold. Many Blessings.

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.

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