How Can I Get What I Want?
We have learned a lot of things about the mind in the last 9 weeks. How the brain patterns that were formed when we were young operate and impact us now. Now we are going to turn our attention to power. How power plays out between people and how we can connect to true power within ourselves.
There is a common experience in emotional and mental struggles when our fear-based patterns are taking over, and that is a feeling of losing control. The desire to control is part of our survival instinct, because that instinct is desperately trying to find some safety or security in the world around us, some way of determining that we can be certain that we are safe. And what we do when we feel this loss of control, is we look outside of ourselves for something that is going provide that stability, that certainty we are so desperately seeking.
We operate under the illusion that if we get that thing we seek - if we could only date that girl/guy, get that job, get those good marks, then finally we would feel happy, secure, at peace.
But the problem with this way of thinking is that it comes from our limited fear-based survival instinct, and so by definition it can only see short-term with no perspective. And when we are searching for happiness outside of ourselves, trying to fix and change everything in the world around us, or thinking we’re not happy because we don’t have that thing we really want (often something we see other people having), that’s when we really start to implode.
The rising anxiety of achieving our goal creates such an overwhelming amount of pressure, that eventually this leads to a feeling of hopelessness and despair. We are so lost in the web of mental patterns and so convinced that we need to get someplace else - someplace other than where we are right now - that we become depressed and dejected about our lives.
And because we live in a culture where we are largely unaware of what is happening in our brains, this way of thinking has become ingrained in the world around us, so it’s even harder to recognise it in ourselves and gain perspective. Just look at advertising - there is always someone trying to sell us something to make our lives different or better, something that will make us happier or more content. Maybe we could have a a different body or be more beautiful or have more money or a better car. If only we looked like HER or had HIS life…We are surrounded with a culture based on fear!
What’s worse is that because we are all so caught up in this fear-based illusion about what will make us happy, we end up trying to control each other as well. We want our friends or our partner or our parents to act a certain way. We want other people to provide us with the security that we think we need. And when they don’t do what we expect of them, it’s devastating for us. We are at the mercy of our environment because we are so dependent on it to be a certain way to make us feel safe.
This is also why our friends and family sometimes aren’t able to support us in the way that we need, because they are also scared, and they want us to ‘get better’ so badly that they don’t want to face what is truly causing our suffering.
All this is because of one simple mistake in logic. (Remember, the survival part of our brain can’t access logic!) The mistake is the assumption that we have the ability to control anything outside of ourselves! Because when we are able to step back and really ponder that with our WHOLE mind, we can clearly see that in actuality - we can’t control anything!
The only thing we have control over is how we respond to the things happening around us, what relationship we have to our own mind, our own thoughts, our own feelings. When we start looking inward at our own reactions and ways of coping, rather than externally trying to change things around us…that is when our true power emerges. Power that is not dependent on anyone or anything outside of ourselves. Staying grounded in ourselves no matter what happens around us. Letting go of our need for things to be a certain way and knowing that whatever happens, we are ok, we are safe, we can thrive.
This kind of power can only be achieved by getting to know our own mind. Rising above our survival instinct and seeing that what we get or don’t get in life is far less important than how we relate to the ups and downs. It’s a bit like finding ourselves riding a wild horse…if we panic and try desperately to rein it in and make it go the way we want it to go, we’ll be caught in a battle of resistance. We’ll be so focussed on our survival that we completely miss the joy and freedom that we could have if we simply relaxed and rode with it, allowing it to move and roam, going places we’ve never dreamed of, and seeing the world from a whole new vantage point.
Yes, it’s TERRIFYING to realise you’re riding a wild beast! That’s why often we need help to see what’s really going on and gain the perspective needed to understand what we are truly capable of. Truly.
If we can muster up the courage to ask for help, we’re already halfway there.
For a brilliantly honest real-life story of learning this lesson, check out my interview with Australian actress Marny Kennedy here.