“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. The criterion is: Have they brought you inner peace?” ~ Peace Pilgrim
“If anything interferes with my inner peace, I will walk away. Arguments with family members. All that stuff. None of it matters.” ~ Shirley MacLaine
The world is awash in negativity. Fear, uncertainty, division, anger, and polarization seem to be the daily norm. So, how can you go through your daily life with a sense of calm, when you are totally surrounded by craziness? I’m so glad you asked! It all comes down to being wind instead of mortar. Let me explain.
Before I get into how you can shift, let me address why you should. This is the story of wind verses mortar… but I’m getting head of myself.
First of all, why do we allow fear to dominate so much of our mental landscape? Take a moment and do a really honest self-assessment. How many times in the last week have you been triggered by fear or anger? (They really are all the same – basically you have two emotions love and not love.) How many times has something on Facebook or in the newspaper or on TV triggered you? How many times has your conversation turned toward something negative? How many times have you been out of the flow of love?
Why? Why do we allow this negativity to overgrow in our mental garden? Why do we keep returning to that patch of weeds over and over again? Because it feels like living. It feels like being involved. It feels like we are doing something. It is a powerful illusion and we get caught up in its grip because it taps into our primal emotional mind. It triggers adrenalin so we feel a lift. It triggers brain activity so we feel lit up. It triggers connection, because to the primal mind any connection is good connection, even if its negative and destructive. Essentially, it’s the mental equivalent of emotional crack cocaine and we become addicted to it.
It’s not your fault really. There is a dealer on every corner, on every television, inserted into every medium you come into contact with. This addiction can be overcome; however, you must take control and go through some mental rehab. On the other side is the peace, love, and positivity you desire.
The Story of Mortar and Wind
“Remain calm in every situation because peace equals power.” ~ Joyce Meyer
One of the most insidious aspects of this addiction is its ability to feel productive and necessary. It’s a wily creature and it knows that if it felt all bad it would be easy to walk away from. So, it whispers into your ear like the proverbial serpent. You believe when you react, resist, and rebel you are doing something positive. You believe actions that stem from your fear are positive in the end, even though they spring from a polluted well. This is fear’s biggest illusions – and this illusion has ramped up to a feverish pitch over the last few years.
Here is where the story of mortar and wind come in. Let me use these two illustrations to make my point. When you resist, or rant, or rebel it feels productive. However, under the veneer of productivity is mortar. Imagine that all the things you fear or dislike are bricks. They are constantly being stacked upon each other. You can’t control the production of bricks, you can only control your interaction with the ones in your life. Resisting creates mortar. It allows you to interact intimately with the bricks, which feels good in the moment, but in the long-run it cements them in your life.
On the other hand, turning away from these triggers, accepting what is and disengaging yourself from its triggers is like wind. It blows the bricks down so the wall is not an obstacle in your life.
Mortaring feels more active, more important; yet it’s becoming wind that actually causes the change you wish to see.
How do you switch from producing mortar to producing wind?
“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” ~ Dalai Lama
“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” ~ Wayne W. Dyer
Here are 5 ways to free yourself from the grip of fear and become encased by the folds of love.
Become aware of your triggers. Be aware of your language. Be aware of your emotions. Switch from unconsciously going through your day to consciously witnessing who you are and how you are in the world. This is always the first step to recovery because you cannot change that which you are not even aware you are doing.
Notice what triggers you. Notice what your mind tells you will happen as a terrible result of this trigger. Notice what it says about you as a result.
By actively listening to your thoughts you will begin to hear the stories fear tells you. Then you can create a conscious gap to assess your thoughts instead of being controlled by them. Ask yourself, “Are these thoughts true?” Ask yourself ,”What is the worst thing that could happen?” Ask yourself, “Does it absolutely means a bad result for me?” When we question our thoughts we redirect power from our ego to our soul-self and begin operating from our heart instead of our fear.
Get curious about where these thoughts are coming from. There is a body of thought that believes that not all thoughts you are thinking even belong to you. How about that? How liberating is it that all those fears may not even belong to you and thus are not yours to carry around. You are free to put them down and walk away lighter and freer.
Actively shift your focus and your world actively shifts. Instead of focusing on the fear of what you imagine might happen focus on the aspects you can be grateful for. So, for a concrete example, let’s say you are afraid of public speaking. Your mind runs amok with embarrassing, disastrous scenarios of you totally bombing in front of a large group of people. Instead of focusing on that, focus on how grateful you are that there is a way for you to communicate what you have to say to so many people at once. Your impact is greater and it’s so much easier than talking to each one of them individually.
You can do a 180 degree turn if you look for things that are positive instead of worrying about things that might go badly.
This re-patterning might take some time before it feels natural, but it is essential to making your shift.
Lastly, but certainly not least, is taking positive action. Fears are thoughts. Actions are movements. Movements will outmaneuver thoughts every time. If you are afraid of something happening on a national level, do something local that is positive. Shift away from what you cannot control and to something that you can do.
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” ~ Mother Teresa
Give up the illusion of control over what is happening out there and instead use your energy toward making someone’s life better, making our community a more welcoming place, or something else that is positive right here in your own backyard.
Ironically, taking positive action is the antidote to fear AND it does in reality what fear feels like but doesn’t actually accomplish, which is making a difference.