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February 18, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

Agenda Organization Can Help You Have More Healthier Relationships


Arash Afshar, also known by his stage name as (Mr) Arash, who is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, writer, most well known as member of hip-hop group, the Diego Brown Project joined the show. to discuss the importance of taking care of you enroute to taking care of others.

Note: Refer to audio player below to listen to this episode.

Born in San Diego, CA, Arash Afshar is the son of Iranian parents who migrated to the United States after the Iranian Revolution. He spent four years living in Iran in his youth but has called San Diego home for the majority of his life. After graduating from San Diego State University, Arash worked as an event planner and marketing professional, trying his hand at several start-ups before succumbing to his dream. Today, he is working to establish himself as a filmmaker and professional artist and is most well known as (Mr)Arash, member of the hip-hop group, Diego Brown Project, where he serves as backup vocalist and visual artist. He is also currently working on a social media book aimed at small businesses and serves as the San Diego Starving Artist columnist for Arash lives in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego with his girlfriend and their two cats.


Abbreviated Transcript of Interview with Arash Afshar

Eric Michaels: How do you juggle a serious relationship while keeping your commitments with photo shoots, video shoots, interviews, performing live, touring, etc.?
Arash Afshar: There is quite a bit that goes into this but one major thing is that I keep a very strict schedule and I live by my calendar. I grew up with a lot of anxiety and have actually seen therapists about my anxiety. One lesson that came out of the therapy sessions was that I should keep a planner and schedule my day so I don't have to worry about trying to remember things. After a few months we discovered that I am some kind of a planning/organizational wiz-kid and a meticulous planner with great imagination and ability to plan things ahead of time - I call this the "Film-maker's Wiring." I plan my week in great detail and make sure to set time aside to spend quality, one-on-one time with my girlfriend. I discovered that when you keep a tight schedule, friends and family will fight it at first but learn to respect it over time. I imagine partly because when they do have your attention, it’s full and sincere rather than distracted and irritable.

Eric Michaels: OK so that can’t be all of it. Just keeping a strict schedule. I imagine a music video shoot, for example, is a 12-15 hour day. What do you do with weeks where you’re absolutely booked up?
Arash Afshar: Yes well keeping a schedule is just a starting point. It’s something you should do whether you’re in a relationship or not. Over the years I’ve learned more about myself and my relationship through educating myself on psychology and relationships as well as by practicing mindfulness meditation.

Eric Michaels: Educating yourself by reading books?
Arash Afshar: Yes. Books, audio books, psychology articles, podcasts such as this for example! My cousin was the person in my life who introduced me to the idea of self-help and personal growth through self education. He gave me this book many years ago named How to be a CEO, and he gave me this great piece of advice: If you get just ONE good idea out of this book, then it was worth it. Most people seem to have this all-or-nothing attitude. Like if they read a self-help book, it has to either be a religious awakening or it’s a waste of time. Which is ridiculous. Even if one idea in the book sticks with you, you’re a few steps ahead. In regards to relationships, I would recommend reading “If It’s Heartbreak, It Can Be Healed” Dr. Chuck Spezzano. Dr. Spezzano really approaches relationships from a “personal responsibility” standpoint - the idea that we are in charge of our own lives in every aspect - which is an idea that really resonated with me. The this he says which really kind of turned on the light bulb, if you will, was the notion that heartbreak is a selfish act. When someone does something that breaks our hearts and hurts our feelings, and we cry and feel beaten and abused, what we’re really doing on a subconscious level is that we are emotionally blackmailing the other person. We want them to hurt for breaking our personal rules of what life is supposed to be. So when thoughts of jealousy and feeling victimized surface, I make myself aware that taking the victom role is counterproductive and that we should focus on finding a solution rather than playing the pointless he-said-she-said game.

Eric Michaels: That has to be a tough pill to swallow for the average person. When people’s feelings are hurt, they become defensive. You’re describing a level of awareness that is extremely difficult for most people to aspire to.
Arash Afshar: Well that’s where mindfulness meditation comes in to play. I keep a daily checklist of things to do. I try to finish at least 75% of this checklist daily. They range from little things like “do 20 push-ups” to more complex things like “write a new entry for column.” Just a side note: One of the things I have on my daily checklist is to do something nice for my girlfriend. Something as simple as a love note or a phone call. This alone has exponentially raised the quality of our relationship! And it is, actually, kind of a mindfulness practice, in essence. It keeps me aware of my love for her by forcing me to get creative so I can come up with a new sweet thing every day. It’s very easy to fall into a routine and part of mindfulness is about remember and being aware of what is most important in life. Back to the checklist: I have on my checklist to “sit” for 15 minutes a day. You don’t need to go to the mountains to meditate. Simply sitting and focusing on your breath calms your nerves and helps you become more aware of what’s happening right in front of you and keeps your mind from jumping to different branches of anxiety and resentment. A recent study from Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging showed that subjects who meditated 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had actual measurable changes in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Just 15 minutes a day has made me more calm and more forgiving when the ugly couple fights arise. Being aware helps me remember simple little facts that we tend to forget when we get emotional such as the age old reality: in couples, both sides are always 100% sure that they’ve done more to help the relationship than the other side. Which is ridiculous - we know that to be an assumption, and yet it’s so easy to forget that little fact when we are actually in that heightened emotional state. I highly recommend reading “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man most credited with bringing meditation practices into western medicine.

Eric Michaels: So you’re keeping a daily checklist, a strict schedule, you’re meditating... And all of this has helped your relationship and has helped you juggle being a performer - a hip-hop artist - with being in a serious and committed relationship. If you don’t mind me saying, all this advice sounds like it’s more about you than it is about the relationship.
Arash Afshar: Exactly!! I know it’s incredibly counter-intuitive but the advice that my therapists had given me years ago finally made sense to me in the past couple of years through self education and meditation: You have to focus on YOU. When you focus on yourself and when you work on becoming a better person, a better human being, you will marvel at how the world around you changes. Things don’t upset you as much anymore, you’re more patient and understanding. You are less passive aggressive because you are loving yourself the way you used to demand others do. It is very counter-intuitive because our culture preaches sacrifice - society teaches us that loving yourself is selfish. Well, a little bit of selfishness, it turns out, is a good thing! But it has to come with sincere intentions. I learned to focus on myself through reading The Passive Aggressive Man by Scott Wetzler. Now I don’t thing I’ve ever been quite as horrible and manipulative as some of the case studies in that book but I saw some of my patterns, non the less. The main point of the book is that we men become more passive aggressive and sabotage our relationships in response to feeling powerless. So, by that theory, if we focus on being more confident and focus on being better individuals and go after our dreams and speak our minds, we won’t subconsciously resort to backhanded ways of manipulating the people around us - to try to make them miserable like we are.

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Note: The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the show host or it's owners.

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