Rigidity and toughness, combined with a mirror-like polish, are desired traits when it comes to refinishing fine furniture. Layer upon layer of stain and varnish must be carefully applied to create just such a desired result.
While this may be the result one might hope for when dealing with elegant furniture, it is much less constructive and productive when it comes to the human mind.
Since birth, perpetually and quite unconsciously, our brains have been fed a slew of sensory input. Our minds analyze and assign meaning to each and every sensory input which, like the furniture veneer, create layer upon layer of notions, biases, and beliefs.
Most of us accept what we believe to be true because our old beliefs continually validate our experience of the world through a process known as Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation bias also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
The subconscious mind makes no distinction as to whether or not our reasonings or deductions are based on a solid foundation of logic. Like a computer hard drive, it’s primary function is simply to store the information we input to it regardless of its truth or validity.
Thus, if we have previously made an incorrect analysis of some inputted data then any future input data, filtered through this faulty analysis, will, in turn, be distorted and misrepresented. Basically, a falsehood will perpetuate another falsehood.
Much as it is with broken computer code. Regardless of the variables, if the computer code is flawed so too will the output be erroneous.
Lacking any meaningful checks and balances, most of us remain woefully ignorant of this fact.
The moral of the story being, “Don’t believe everything you think.”
Hand in hand with confirmation bias I soon discovered another mental flaw when I began to seek out a greater level of inner awareness. Unconsciously, I found myself responding judgementally toward others in an almost knee-jerk fashion.
If I saw an overweight person eating at the mall, I felt appalled, If I noticed that a person was poorly dressed I immediately questioned his work ethic and self-worth.
I knew nothing of these people’s particular circumstances or why they were the way they were. What I did know was that I felt ashamed and embarrassed for so quickly reverting to these cliche stereotypes.
I reasoned quick enough that these negative thoughts were arising entirely unguarded from my subconscious mind. Both unconsciously and consciously I had allowed my mind to create its own myriad of negative links. More specifically, neurological associations.
“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”
Pushing Our Boundaries
I realized then that if I ever truly wanted to feel at peace with others, I first had to find peace within myself.
This required a reanalysis of my every thought, belief, and assumption.
This required a wholesale mental review of not only my personal relationships but indeed my professional ones as well.
For many of us, an external conflict in the workplace or with an extended family member results in a stressful inner conflict. That argumentative boss or unyielding relative can cause excessive mental anxiety that quickly transmutes into physical illness or even disease.
Still, others develop harmful habits such as alcohol or drugs in an effort to better cope with certain people and circumstances. This self- destructive behavior only serves to exacerbate troubling situations compounding mental or physical ill health.
Create Your Own Peace Practice
Over time, I developed what I refer to now as “A Daily Peace Practice” This type of personal practice can include but is not restricted to disciplines such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, martial arts, pilates, and meditation.
Such self-awareness techniques can greatly reduce one’s dependency on drugs and alcohol as the desire to intoxicate the mind decreases correspondingly to ones rising level of inner awareness.
Learning to acknowledge and understand our thoughts is the first step in empowering our minds. Doing so allows us to better distinguish between those furthering our goals and those holding us back.
You Are Not Your Thoughts
Too often we think of our thoughts as being somehow real, concrete and tangible when in fact they are self-created illusions of our own minds. The only reality they possess is the reality that we ourselves assign to them.
Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.
By adopting one or two self-awareness practices not only will you significantly reduce your stress levels, but your sense of peace, calm and groundedness will increase dramatically.
At the outset, you should fully expect these new methodologies to be challenging and difficult to practice consistency. After all, you have spent an entire lifetime consciously and unconsciously training your brain to automatically react with set biases to any given stimuli.
This steady hardwiring of our brains has resulted in reactive rather than proactive responses. Like Pavlov’s Dogs, we have unwittingly disciplined ourselves to answer the bell without any conscious thought at all.
The lights are on be we aren’t present.
Having relinquished our thought responses to the subconscious minds we have become blinded. Totally unaware as to what is initiating our every thought and action. Left in the unenviable position of being mastered by our minds rather than being the mastering our minds.
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”
Incorporating your own Daily Peace Practice into your daily routine you’ll learn to direct your thoughts rather than having your thoughts direct you. As you increasingly feel more at peace with yourself, you will inevitably become more at peace with others.
Your light will in turn encourage others to come out of their own darkness.