How do our thoughts create an illusion for us to live inside? How does our ego blind us to our choices and opportunities, and channel us toward one life and not another? It’s quite simple really.
Let’s say for example that we think that the failure of our previous relationships hinged on poor communication. For this reason, we think we need to find a good talker.
That judgmental thought then means we will unconsciously ignore quieter people, even though we may just think someone is quiet when really they may be a talkative person on a rare quiet night.
We have the thought-based illusion that we want some specific trait or quality, and so we build our reality around that idea. That belief will lead us to feel attracted and repulsed for reasons that have nothing to do with the people themselves, but only how well they match our preconceived thoughts around that single quality.
Likewise, our thoughts also shape our workplace. If we’re hiring for a job, and a trusted co-worker shares a tip about one of the final two candidates, we can gratefully tip the job toward our second choice.
Of course, we can’t be sure that the co-worker and the candidate don’t have some painful history that was the real reason behind the warning. Everyone has lies told about them.
And a genuinely ‘good person’ telling that ‘lie’ could easily use their thoughts to justify the idea that it would be genuinely better for both parties if they didn’t work together.
That way the co-worker’s misleading statement can feel more like camouflage for an honest idea they genuinely believe may be valid. But the person still lost the job for reasons that may not be relevant or true.
Our thoughts can even shape our physical spaces. Imagine we grew up with very messy parents and we were ashamed to bring friends home. Twenty years later, when house-shopping, we can find ourselves subconsciously attracted to any house with lots of storage cupboards that allow messes to be hidden away.
Maybe our grandma’s kitchen was yellow, and she always taught us to cook and bake there and we loved it. Without us even consciously realizing it, many decades later we can still feel happier in yellow rooms because our brain wired ‘yellow’ into ‘good’ so strongly.
Those sorts of subtle influences will lead us to subconsciously favour one house over another. Or one person or another. The reason life twists and turns so much is that we are always working inside this strange, uncertain mystery.
Now, imagine that we are at some job, or with some lover who communicates well, who came recommended by a friend, and who lives in a yellow house and they also like everything neat and tidy just like we do.
Using our thoughts we have every reason to like this person. And yet, if that well-aligned lover is not treating us well, then we feel a push from our soul. And when that happens, our ego’s thoughts will make justifications because it does not want to be wrong about its choice, nor does it want to waste its time on negative friction.
But despite whatever opinion we try to force on ourselves about a job or person or house or anything, our spirit works on the basis of some simple principles. This means that, for as long as we stay in an unhealthy situation, we will feel a push to leave it.
That push is a healthy bit of guidance from our soul, in the form of a feeling. The resistance we feel to that knowledge will come out in the form of arguments about why leaving (or going back, or finishing or whatever) isn’t a good idea.
The emotions generated by those thoughts are the source of our suffering, not the person or job or house we’re thinking about. Does this mean that life is some kind of weird stumble forward, where we have no choice but to make these mistakes and it’s impossible to get it ‘right?’ Yes. So everyone can relax.
In the end, our life is like a series of revolutions. Our ego has thoughts that lead us into situations in which we experience joy and pain and growth and loss. But as our joy or growth fades, our soul pushes us toward new experiences. It’s a pretty impressive system for generating growth. And that’s a good thing, because every time we grow our world grows too.
Don’t lament the fact that we have thoughts. We came here for an adventure and our thoughts are what guide us into them. We just shouldn’t take the thoughts so seriously that we’ll suffer longer than we have to.
Thought-based emotions can mislead us. But unpleasant feelings are a form of communication. Fortunately, different actions will result in different feelings. Once we see that clearly, we tend to act, and life begins anew.
This getting lost and rediscovering ourselves process happens over and over in our lifetimes. So never think anything is over when it’s ‘over.’ That’s just another beginning, inside a new illusion, with new ways to create more happiness. Enjoy.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.