For some people it’s skiing off a cliff. For others it would be talking to millions on the radio. Or maybe it’s airplanes. Or being a parent. For some it would be a night alone. Or having to read a book. It could even be as simple as eating in front of other people. Everyone has their own collection of fears. In fact, that’s not a bad way of describing what your ego is. It’s largely a collection of the things you avoid.
So what can we learn from the radio host that is afraid to have kids and the Mom who’s terrified to spend the night alone in her house? That we are all the same. The fear that the radio host feels is the same sensation that the Mom feels about her own fear. These are common senses. In fact, it’s really not so much you that’s experiencing the fear but rather fear is being experienced and you create a “you” in your consciousness to be the sieve through which that experience funnels into the universe.
So fear is fear no matter the cause. And no, none of those people are crazy for skiing off cliffs or reading a book. The only difference between them and you is they simply do not have a word-based ego-argument for why they can’t do whatever it is. It’s not that you have to grow to believe you can do something—you automatically believe it. The problem is, as you grow you learn other people’s beliefs and the conflicts can lead to disbelief. And that is how you limit yourself. You think these thoughts—you tell yourself these stories in your consciousness, and then you think you can’t do something when really it’s just a matter that your story has convinced you to believe that something is impossible so you don’t even try.
Your fears are voluntary. Other people tell different stories than you, which proves other stories can be told. You just have a habit of telling yourself the same story every time you climb the ladder to the high diving board at the pool. You talk yourself out of it by discussing all that could go wrong, when the only difference between you and the person who does it easily is that they are telling themselves a story about how great an experience it will be.
Yes you all have this flexibility to change your mind about your opinion about something or someone or somewhere. But don’t be too hard on yourself or others for being lost in ego. It takes some time and the act of repeatedly making the choice to change your thinking before that process becomes natural. And remember, almost everyone around you is locked in ego and so everyone is modeling it to everyone else, which is why ever since social media was invented, the whole thing is starting to look like a giant insane feedback loop of embattled, angry, worried, and depressed people.
Stay aware. Watch for opportunities to change your thinking. Use some kind of signals. End every phone call or text by checking in with your feelings. Use them to analyze the quality of your thinking. If what you’re ruminating on isn’t materially useful in resolving the issue, then you’re better to just drop it. You need to learn that skill. You need to learn to drop compelling negative thoughts. In the end it is easy. It’ll just take a while for you to remember to do it more often than not.
Be vigilant. Use your ubiquitous phone to trigger the habit to check in with the temperature of your thinking. If it gets too hot or too cold, dial it over to something more useful and rewarding. It really is easier than you think. You just have to be willing to keep doing it until your brain is done rewiring. It doesn’t take long. Why not start right now? 😉
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.