Everyone’s got them: Standard ways of perceiving the world that are a little off. (Or sometimes, a lot!)
When incoming data is processed within the brain, it gets skewed based on our proclivities.
Do you have low self esteem? Then you probably often feel like innocent comments made by others are meant to skewer you. You tend to take neutral statements more personally than you should. To you, everything is a critique, even when it’s not meant to be.
Are you operating from a fear mode most of the time? If so, you may have a habit of making critical comments to others, as part of the tendency you have to be constantly assessing threats in the world. To you, everything is critique, too – but you’re the one offering it. From your perspective, you may simply be commenting on what you see in the world, but because of your desire to shore up the defenses from the inside in order to protect your vulnerability (which is often completely hidden from others), you slant towards the critical. You’re a glass-half-empty type, and your observations that you believe to be neutral statements often are actually coming from that specific perspective.
As you can see, putting these two people together for any period of time is likely to cause some friction. 🙂
Here’s an example of that playing out – it’s a letter to Carolyn Hax, the level-headed advice columnist at The Washington Post: “A boyfriend and his unbearable teasing” Do you recognize yourself in either side of that situation?
Another mental pattern is the deep-seated desire to avoid rejection, which can sometimes manifest as the “yes-man” – or more commonly, the “yes-woman.” Women are very easily socialized into this stance and on the surface, you would think that it would be a positive and productive way to live in the world. This is the person who never wants to alienate or offend anyone. She often overcommits herself and agrees to do things that she doesn’t really want to do. She overpromises, and then flakes out. She probably doesn’t even see a problem with this behavior, because from her perspective, she is going all-out trying to please everyone, so how could she be at fault? Her core motivation seems watertight.
There are many other types. These are just a few easy examples to call out.
All of these behaviors are symptoms.
What’s really going on is the ego is out of control – yes, even for the person who seems so other-centered that she’s agreeing to do what everyone else wants her to do all the time. That’s just another ego-based strategy in disguise. The ego is trying to protect itself.
All of these behavioral patterns originate in the mind. They are a product of a lack of discipline – of allowing thoughts to run rampant, uncontrolled.
Can you imagine how different your experience of the world would be if you didn’t do that? 😉
That’s where meditation comes in – and specifically, the Modern-Day Mind Training class that is being offered in May at Silicon Valley Lighten Up Meditation.
Any regular practice of meditation will bring untold benefits into your life (when it’s practiced with sincerity, not spacing out – but that’s a post for another day). One of the key benefits is that it will reveal yourself to yourself.
You’ll start to see these patterns that I’m talking about. Everyone has them. And they are the source of much suffering – not just for yourself, but for those around you.
You know the whole adage about don’t try to change others, that you can only change yourself? Well, the only hope you have to do so is through awareness.
There just is no other solution.
The most effective way to do so is to begin an active practice of meditation. Meditation changes you from the inside out. It brings clarity into your being so that you can truly see what you’re doing on a moment-by-moment basis, in the decisions you make, in how you react, in the words that you speak.
The more awareness you have of your own mental patterns, the better equipped you are to not behave in the same way. You can break out of your rut.
So the next time someone says something to you that is a trigger for one of your mental scripts, you can observe the process of how that script gets triggered inside you, and you can choose not to execute it.
It’s like debugging a computer program (sort of – it’s actually more like erasing the program completely).
If you’re interested, you’re invited to learn more at lightenupmeditation.com.