Changing the Operating System of Fear, One Observation at a Time
The human mind is equipped with 100 million neurons and 100 billion synapses, leaving us to marvel at its beauty and complexity. Yet as soon as we look under the hood, we find it’s hardwired with impulses that undermine our peace, fun, joy and open heartedness.
I’ve always thought this was a pretty messed up design. Such complexity and such confusion at the very same time.
The problem gets worse when you consider that most of us never take as much as a peek under the bonnet, until there is trouble. So how are we to know what negative impulses are affecting us? It’s just not fair. The mind is the most important part of our machinery, yet its workings are shrouded in so much mystery.
It would seem we all want to be happy, and open, yet the nature of the beast — human nature — is that we quickly close down in the face of difficulty, entertaining fear as our primary directive. In this respect, the human mind is dealing with a frighteningly negative operating system that will remain in effect until the day we decide to throw a big and loving cog into the system.
That’s the day we become conscious of the unconscious and apply the voice of compassion. That’s the day our stories are changed forever. But how do we dot that?
Too Much Fear in the System
If I could change one of human nature’s negative traits, it would be fear. There’s too much of it going around and the history books are full of examples; we, as a species, are riddled with it: plagues, holocaust, nuclear bombs, thievery, fraud, murder, rape and robbery — just to mention a few.
And of course, there’s a new kid on the block: terrorism. We find ourselves crouching in the shadow of its danger with no means of escape.
So, we lock everything — our houses, closets, cars, jewels, and even our hearts. We get life insurance, car insurance, home insurance and health insurance. We sign marriage pre-nups and rent safety deposit boxes in vaults with security cameras and heavily armed guards. And then we buy fire insurance just in case the whole thing goes up in smoke.
No question about it — we are designed to believe that the odds are against us, and that eventually everyone will become unlucky.
What about Faith and Trust?
What about faith, and trust? Imagine our air being filled with sweet, gentle peacefulness. What if we listened to each other, and knew how to really hear the other person? Okay, we’re interested — even evangelical about promoting these new age attitudes. But very quickly, we become leery to actually allow ourselves this kind of freedom. We have learned not to trust, and if there was ever a moment in history when society embodied a more blissful attitude, it’s certainly not today.
I just met a couple in a remarkable sort of way. I was in Hawaii. They were visiting from Texas. They wanted to renew their marriage vows of 50 years, and boost the volume of their love in the midst of a tropical paradise. They had saved up all their change over ten years, in a piggy bank, until they had enough to take the trip of a lifetime. They found me on that trip, and they asked if I would renew their vows.
“Sure,” I said, “I’ll remarry you!” And I did. And it was so sweet.
They didn’t know me from Adam. They had no idea if I was really a minister or a just a sun-tanned visitor faking it. Yet they handed me their hearts as I blessed their marriage for another 50 years. I was shocked at how they trusted me inside such a short encounter. They let me be there for them, holding space for the holy day of re-celebrating their love; lucky me.
How many couples are happily married for 50 years, and full of so much trust? It didn’t really surprise me that they found me. People who trust are often drawn together. I trust.
Cultivating Trust After Facing the Worst
Partly, I trust because the worst that can happen has already happened to me. There was a murder in my family. There was a severe drug addiction. I had to visit state secured prisons as a teenager. I watched my husband go from health into a chronic disease that finally took his life. I lived through a robbery where I was held up with a gun to my head. My point: I have no reason to trust life. But I do.
When the worst things happen, the right attitude places a thick lining of insight in place to soothe the pain. Wisdom can be extracted from painful lessons. But, and this is a very large “BUT,” you must be interested. You have to want it.
It takes muscles. It takes practice. It takes a position called “the observer.” Are you interested in looking at your life like you’re in a movie and have the power to reinterpret your story from the observer’s eyes?
You have to learn how to practice being the observer, and engage this position, even if it’s very painful to do so. Even when you don’t think it will work. That’s what I mean by “it takes muscles.” It’s not easy, but it’s a process that allows us to cultivate the wisdom we need, and it’s how we throw a big and loving cog into the system. You are under the hood learning the mechanics of your mind’s true power.
This Exercise Will Heal You
Think pain. Think of something that happened to you or something that’s happening to you right now — something that you feel victimized by.
Now … coming soon to your neighborhood …
… is the observer point of view.
No judgments. No preferences. Just witness what’s happening. Then, you can rewrite the story. You can see your story through different eyes. Compassionate eyes that will heal you. I am telling you, this will work. But it’s not easy.
It might sound too much like “Kumbaya” to you, but it’s not. This is far more powerful than you think. Try it. This is a spiritual exercise. Can see through the eyes of compassion? Maybe not right away. But it’s just another design fault in our operating system. You will re-write the code, if you learn and practice compassion.
The Greatest Power Within Our Minds
The best part of the human design — even when things are ‘a little messed up under the hood’ — is the ability to rewrite your story. In fact, this is the greatest power within our minds. With just a little bit of effort, anyone can move their thoughts into a new perspective — from victim to victor.
Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years. He walked out carrying faith and his dignity. He was an elder and a wise man. This was a feat of a powerful man, a man who realized the power of his mind.
And how about the mother who forgives her daughter’s murderer because she doesn’t want to live with the toxic pain of hate? Or, the woman whose husband betrayed her, and while she never returns to his side, she lets go of the betrayal in order to be a healthy mom. She is not willing to allow his wound to become her own.
This is what’s called the High Road. This is how the human design works at its best. We find the power to walk away from pain and fear as home base. This is how we change the evolution of humanity. And this is what gives me faith — because I’ve seen people do it over and over again.
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Want to Do Something That Matters?
So many of us want to do something that matters. How about choosing to let your life be an example of wisdom from the observer’s point of view? How about learning what is under the hood of your mind?
Our human privilege is to walk past the door that says “beast,” and allow our human nature to enter the next door that says “soulful.” Bye-bye fear, hello trust. If we can muster up the courage to change the design of the human condition by seeing through the eyes of love, what a difference we can make. There goes fear, in comes trust. And the whole world is changed because you are here.