Jean Horst, who owns SearchWarp.com with her husband Bruce, wrote an interesting article yesterday, about how we can look at something and not see it for what it is. She spoke of a mis-spelling that’s been on the front page of SW for over a year, and she just didn’t see it! And from there she wrote of how much polarization there is in the world, because people can’t or don’t want to open their minds to the perspective of others.
We don’t always see what is, we see our preconceptions. I hold onto mine because they’re what I know. When the world feels unsafe, or doesn’t make sense, or I feel threatened, some part of my brain seeks an explanation, seeks something that it can register as knowledge.
The nature of the explanation isn’t the part that makes me feel safe, it’s the familiarity of it. Familiarity makes us feel safe at a primal level. It doesn’t actually make us safe – in fact quite often it leads to our destruction or that of society at large.
Take low self esteem: I can grow up believing I’m worthless. If the idea has been well enough entrenched, then in later life somebody can tell me I have value and I’ll resist them, I’ll think they’re lying or are just trying to make me feel better, or have an ulterior motive. Yet the idea that I’m worthless makes my life a nightmare, makes it very painful and uncomfortable. You’d think I’d do everything in my power to change it.
Here’s the weird thing: even when I am doing everything in my power to change it, some part of me resists the change. I remember the day I saw that clearly for the first time – that there’s a part of me that is desperate to change, and a part that refuses to do it.
I look outside today: it’s sunny, warm, no wind. The sky is that beautiful pale blue of early autumn, the ocean quietly frothing where it breaks on the rocks at the shore. I’ve just had breakfast, I have the whole day ahead of me. I’ve recently completed the 2nd draft of my 2nd film script, I have a blog that’s beginning to be read, I’m developing readership at SearchWarp and elsewhere. I’ve started on my crime novel. Yesterday I practiced the piano. I’m not making much progess at the moment but I’m not losing ground either. I’m developing a small business that I believe can sustain me until my writing brings in money. I have money to buy food for the next 20 days and my rent is paid up until the end of the month.
I’m developing meaningful relationships with quite a wide variety of people, all over the world. In reality my life is opening up.
On the other side, these last two and a half months I thought I could create something with internet marketing that would be earning me something by now. That hasn’t happened, and I’m not sure whether I’ve just been wasting my time – and the 2 months’ money I got from selling a painting. I have no way of knowing, all I can do is keep on going and presume – or hope – that I’ll find my way. But it might take me six months, and I don’t know what I’ll do for money in that time.
That insecurity and the fear is enough to make me cling to the old idea, the one I’m most familiar with, that says things can’t work out for me because I’m too worthless. Even though that idea makes me want to go and blow my brains out!
Why would I want to believe I won’t be able to access money – either through work or support? The idea completely terrorizes me, gives me nightmares, messes up my digestive system, interrupts my creativity, turns my brain to mush.
On the other hand, if I can believe I’m safe, I’ve got time, I’ll find the money I need, I’ll be able to do the work I need to do and learn along the way – then my day couldn’t be more perfect. I’m happy, I work well, I eat well, I sleep well. I’m organized, I’m focused.
Truth is, neither of the two ideas – that I will access money and that I won’t – is a reality today. So why choose the one that makes my day a nightmare?
Because it’s scary not to know where money’s coming from and in that place of insecurity I instinctively grab for anything that’s familiar. I’m familiar with the idea that I won’t access support.
So the challenge isn’t just to go and find money (although that’s important) The challenge is also to resist the idea that I won’t find it (the idea I’m familiar with) and build on the newer idea, that things are changing, that everything is going right, that I can have financial independence and the life I’ve always dreamed of. That I can have fulfillment and a success that’s meaningful to me. That I’ll be able to access the money that I need. I’m not sitting on my bum, I’m working hard, why wouldn’t I deserve support?
The more I resist the old and build on the new, the more familiar I become with the new.
One day it’s going to be the stronger idea. One day I’ll instinctively accept it when challenge arises. Until that day, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Persistence, that’s all it is. You just don’t give up. I was thinking this morning, that persistence isn’t about not wanting to give up. Please. You want to give up all the time! It’s about not giving in to that desire. Just like courage isn’t about the absence of fear, it’s about acting in the face of fear.
Einsein said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”.
He also said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”. So that’s another reason for not giving into the old idea. I’ve got the option of two previews: when it comes to the old idea and the new idea, it’s just my imagination that’s at work. And I may not have had two ideas to choose from before, but I do now.
So let me be accountable for the preview I choose. Let me fly in the face of my primal instinct, and choose the one that makes me feel alive and gives me prospect.
I’ve already lived the movie from the lousy preview. Don’t need to see it again. Stepping out of history here.