You get that it’s all just experiences, right? There’s no winning or losing, succeeding or failing. There’s no judgmental God waiting to decide where you spend eternity. Eternity is all time, so eternity includes Now. So it’s you that chooses heaven or hell and you make a new choice every moment of your life whether you’re conscious of that choice or not.
So you can’t lose. The worst that can happen is that you feel some kind of pain, but as long as it’s strictly psychological then that’s really not a big issue. You volunteer to do that all the time when you watch sad or scary movies. You volunteer for pain. So pain’s not your problem. You just think it is.
Strange right? You dedicate yourself to avoiding pain in the experience you call your life, and yet within your life you’ll actively choose to add painful, sad and/or horrific experiences to it through your media viewing choices. Aren’t egos crazy?
The reason most people’s lives suck is because they sit around contemplating every choice they ever made, have considered, or may consider in the future, and of course they judge those decisions against a yardstick of perfection. And so people become paralyzed by their fears. The social prices of social failures are perceived to be so high that people would rather have no life rather than have one that others judge to be unattractive in some way.
Don’t avoid living while you try to think of some non-existent way to never suffer. Don’t avoid living by trying to get everyone to like you. Again: you pay to experience pain at the movies. Buck up. It’s truly not bad. You truly just think it is. So don’t sit and churn torturous thoughts. That’s way worse than making a choice and then just playing it out for better or worse.
So as an example, if you think you owe someone an apology, that feeling is you telling yourself what you would like. It’s like when your body craves sugars, or salt—it’s because it needs it. Giving the apology would feel good. But instead of giving it, you’ll torture yourself for days with thoughts about what you should say, or when you should do it, or where or with whom. And you’ll think all of that suffering has to do with the apology, when really the suffering is connect to all pf that stalling—that deferral of your natural course of action. Of course that will feel uncomfortable.
What will make you feel good is to follow your own sense. After all, it will be the authenticity not the context that will cause any apology to put your soul at peace. And giving the apology would feel like a wonderful relief. Sure, the person may even react negatively to it. But at least it’s done. It’s over. It’s not a narrative you need to turn over in your mind anymore. No more plowing that field.
Do not be afraid to act. You cannot fall from a psychological height. But you can hang yourself with a rope made of thinking. When action is required, simply take the action. It is you who is in charge. It is you who decides if you invest your Life Force in churning arguments or active living. And we’re all definitely better to have lived an enthusiastic, expansive and dramatic life that includes some tragedy than to have shrunk ourselves nearly out of existence by dallying in fear thought.
Stop thinking. Live instead. And enjoy as many moments as you can. Your time here is not as long as you imagine.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.