Posts Tagged ‘future’

Yesterday’s News

Friday, April 11th, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image691204The story of our Now is eventually Yesterday’s News.

If we enacted even half of our mental patterns—the stuff we do in our heads—out in the real world, we would immediately see a kind of insanity taking place. Here’s one example of what I mean.

Imagine you’ve decided to get a ticket for a highly rated show. You go to considerable lengths to ensure your future experience. You camp out in line for hours, endure freezing weather, and then pay a small fortune for your ticket.

You’ve waited weeks for the big day to arrive, and finally it’s here!

Now, you drive through a snow storm, wait in another long line to get into the event, and endure the occasional rude person before finding your seat. You sit eagerly anticipating a wonderful show, only to discover it’s the worst experience you’ve ever had. Baahhh!

Okay, so you’re hugely disappointed—maybe even a little sad, betrayed, or angry—that THIS PRESENT MOMENT EXPERIENCE is not all that you want it to be. But eventually, not soon enough for you, the show ends. You leave the venue a little older, a little disappointed, but none the worse for wear.

I have a question. Would you—after all of this—eagerly buy a ticket to attend the same event again the next day? I’m imagining your answer is, “Of course not! Why would I go back? That would be almost masochistic!

That’s because no one in their right mind would willingly purchase a ticket to re-experience an unhappy event. And your old ticket will soon wind up in the trash—and out it will go—along with yesterday’s news.

But here’s where it get’s interesting.

Why then, upon leaving the event, do some of us feel immediately compelled to call or text our friends to tell them what a terrible experience we just had? Metaphorically speaking, buying a mental ticket to an unhappy event we only moments ago said we wouldn’t re-purchase a physical ticket to experience again? Clearly, we’re psychically reliving our misery, aren’t we?

And for some of us, for the next few days—maybe even months—we’ll repeatedly re-purchase a ticket by narrating the story of our unhappy experience.

It was the worst night ever! I can’t believe I wasted my time and money! I’ll never go to another show by that group again!

Blame it on GrayBall, The Brain. Our ongoing complaint is GrayBall’s desperate—and totally ineffective—attempt  to make right our past (this should never have happened to me) or defend our future (I’ll never let it happen again).

It fools us into believing that the solution to our unhappiness can be achieved in regurgitating our past—that somehow we can right the wrongs and avoid future failure. So, it takes yesterday’s news and writes today’s, and sometimes next week’s, headline with it.

You see, Brain likes to make up rules that the world should live by. That way it can know what’s going to happen next; it’s a survival thing. Unfortunately, Brain’s version of “how things should be” often conflict with the reality of “how things really are.”

Here’s GrayBall’s logic: “I had a rule for how this was supposed to be. It wasn’t fair that this should have happened to me. Therefore, I need to complain and get people to agree with my point of view. This way I can feel triumphant—as in, I win”—when someone agrees with my self-generated unhappiness. And, I need to reinforce my unhappiness so that I can avoid future unhappiness. After all, if  it happened once, it can happen again; and I wouldn’t like that one bit! Making myself unhappy is my way of reminding myself that I don’t want to be unhappy again.

Poor GrayBall! It can get so confused at times. It believes the only way it can feel “okay,” is to try to correct the past and/or make safe the future.

This is why, when we’ve had a bad experience, GrayBall encourages us to replay it over and over again in our mind. So, we repeat unhappy stories to ourselves and to anyone willing to listen. GrayBall’s reading yesterday’s news as though it were today.

GrayBall’s tricked us into believing that we can make ourselves feel better now and in the future with this crazy strategy. We keep on repurchasing tickets to bad memory shows we would never physically choose to attend again. Because we don’t question this mental habit, we never uncover the truth about how crazy it actually is.

Is this beginning to sound familar? It should. We all do it. We don’t realize we’re buying a mental ticket to unhappiness. By remembering and reciting an unhappy history, we’re reliving it. And GrayBall makes it all too easy to get caught up in our own stories. But nothing changes when you’re reliving it. It’s just the same old, same old—yesterday’s news.

But, take heart. Time doesn’t exist in the way GrayBall would have us believe. It’s simply a strategy that helps us measure the Great Unfolding of Life—in other words, change. There’s no Big Ben in the Universe’s Living Room ticking off the hours. The reality is that we’re carving up the Infinite Is-ness to accommodate our sense of personal history within it.

And—then again—even within our personal history, the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet. All we have is Now. And paradoxically, The Now is an eternal constant that is constantly changing. We are in fact on the edge of Creation. This moment—right now—has never in the history of Creation existed before. That is, of course, unless you get caught up in GrayBall’s version of Now, and imagine it’s still  yesterday!

So here’s an interesting perspective shift to consider.

Your What Is will soon become your What Was—a history you can’t change. And once it’s gone, you can only report from it, like yesterday’s news.

Try instead to learn from it. Your past experiences can become an opportunity to make new choices, develop new skills, assume new perspectives, and create new responses. Essentially, you get to rewrite the news of yesterday with a new story line. And that can give you a different kind of history that actually might be worth repeating.

So the next time you find yourself complaining about your past experiences, stop for a moment. Put down that paper and check the date. This moment is the only moment in time there actually is. Otherwise it’s yesterday’s news!

 

 

 

GrayBall, The Brain – a/k/a “The World’s Worst Terrorist”

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I’m convinced – at least on some days – that without a whole cadre of anti-terrorism tactics in place, GrayBall would be burning and pillaging it’s way across the entire  landscape of my future life right now.  After all, it was an experience  all too familiar from my younger years.

And I know that I’m not the only one. Admit it.  You know who you are.

Do you have a potential or a possibility for the future, but . . .

Are you anxiously asking yourself “what if questions” about your future hopes and dreams?

If so, you’re being terrorized by the ‘world’s worst terrorist.”

What is it with GrayBall anyway?

Why is it – just when we should be feeling excited and passionate about all the possibilities in front of us – does it begin to terrorize us with thoughts of failures past, broken dreams and disappointments?

Well, chalk it up to GrayBall’s wonderful self-preservationist attitudes.  It often thinks it’s under attack, and feels the need to defend itself against future failure.

GrayBall loves to lob bombs from the past and create all manner of chaos and mayhem into our soon-to-be future.

Have an upcoming presentation?  You’ll suddenly remember the time in the 3rd grade when, in a panic, you forgot the only two lines you were required to remember for the school play.

Have a prospective first date?  You’ll start to reflect on how badly your last relationship turned out.

Trying to land that new job?  Rejections, rejections, rejections are all you can think about.

It’s hard to believe the future will turn out anything but badly.

How could it? As you’re inching ever closer to the inevitable doom of stepping on that landmine out in the future that GrayBall has so loving placed there.

Yep, I said lovingly.

Because Gray Ball really means well.  That’s why it’s a bad terrorist.  In fact, it’s the world’s worst.  Because it’s trying to help us … not harm us.

It’s trying to protect us by helping us to pay attention to what might happen that we don’t want to have happen.  But this is like trying to help you navigate a mine field by laying down more mines so you’ll remember they’re there.  Kinda crazy, huh?

Here’s another reason GrayBall is the world’s worst terrorist: all the bombs are really duds.  They don’t really exist.  They’re memories from the past…. things we’ve already endured and lived through.

That alone should convince us that our ‘not yet successes’ in the future will turn out okay in the end … because they always do.  We can learn, grow and evolve.  You aren’t the 3rd grader who didn’t remember your lines, you’re an adult fully capable of stringing two sentences together, your past relationship taught you to stop trying to change people and look for someone who already possesses the qualities you’re looking for, and you’ve endured enough rejection to realize you’ll live to fight another day.

So while GrayBall is rooting around in the past for those duds to toss out into your future ask yourself, “What have I learned that will help me achieve my not-yet future success?”

And more importantly, GrayBall is simply a misguided friend.  Not a foe.  But, more on that later.

 

The Ongoing Adventures of GrayBall-the-Brain ~ This episode: The Worried ‘Psychic’

Monday, February 13th, 2012

“I no longer question whether or not the future can be changed. I question whether or not the future exists as future. I think not.” (jc)

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want happiness and peace of mind. All living creatures want to be okay.

I think it’s built into the Big-Bang Blueprint.

Even people obsessed with acquiring objects are really trying to get something they believe is vital to their well-being. They just go about it very poorly because they think that having things is the secret to having peace.

It isn’t.

Of the many peculiar behaviors of GrayBall-the-Brain (the principal in our story, henceforth known as GrayBall for short, or Brain for shorter) the one I want to discuss is its tendency to compare, and to look for negative, scary things. It’s probably a survival mechanism. Had it been unable to distinguish between what’s helpful or harmful, none of us would be here.

But, when basic survival skills for GrayBall become obsessions of the mind, unhappiness becomes a lifestyle; a way of being.

That’s what happens when Brain compares what it desires to what it actually has. And thinking that it needs the object of its desire to be happy, GrayBall feels unhappy NOW, begins to worry, and becomes anxious about its future.

You know anyone like that?

I do. I have a friend who says she worries about everything.

Everything is a lot to be worried about,” I said.

I asked her to make a list.

She did. It really was everything.

Yikes!

And the last item was ‘worried about being worried.’ Kind of a tough spot she’s in, wouldn’t you say?

Strictly speaking, no one can be worried about everything because no one knows what everything is. So, we got to work and narrowed it down to specifics.

All the items on her revised list were of possible-scary-future events. And fear and worry are future dependent.

Nobody’s worried about what might happen in their past. The past is over.

And no one is worried about an event that occurred in their past–unless they’re thinking about how it might effect their future. See?

My friend, like many people, was focusing on the scary things that might happen; that could happen.

But what might happen–also might not happen. Almost anything could happen–but it also could not happen. And most things that could’ve happened–never did happen. (Think about that one.)

Anyway, I’m very worried about her. (ahem)

If you’re worried about future events–something that may or may not happen–you’re worried about something that isn’t real. 

Because the future doesn’t exist as a fact. It’s all made up.

And if it’s all made up, then there’s nothing to worry about.

Instead of planning for the best and being watchful for the unexpected, my young friend was absolutely certain of disaster. And that’s what she was afraid of.

But nothing on her list was real. GrayBall-the-Brain was playing psychic.

I said, “If you really can predict the future, you should become a professional psychic. You’d be rich, and worry number two would be gone.”

She asked me what she should do.

“About what? None of your problems are real.”

“You’re not helping, Jim!”

“There’s no answer to your question, because it’s not a real problem. You’re making it up.”

Her eyes went all squinty. “I’m not making it up! You’re not making any sense!”

“Then show me the facts as you know them for certain. Show me the evidence. Can you take a picture of your scary future? Can you hold it in your hands? If not, it isn’t real. It’s in your mind.”

“I’m going on the evidence of my past. A bad past means I’m going to have a bad future. That’s how I know.” (Read that bit again and see if you can spot the error in her thinking.)

“But the past is gone. It’s only a memory. Take a picture of how your past means your future. Show it to me. You can’t–because the meaning isn’t there! What you’re worried about isn’t real. It doesn’t exist because your future hasn’t happened yet. GrayBall is making up scary stories–and you believe them. That’s your real problem.”

“So what do I do?”

“Make up a better story with a happier future. Make up a possible future you’d like to have instead. Then plan and work toward that.”

“How do I do that?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll tell you how in Part II. In the meanwhile, I want you to consider something.”

“What, more PICTURES-OF-EVIDENCE?” She had taken a tone.

I went all zen-ish on her. “Anything that hasn’t happened yet can change,” I said. “But nothing can be changed before it has happened.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean? It’s like I’m talking to Yoda!”

“Yeah, well, think about it. It’ll mess with your mind.”

“Thanks, dweeb.”

 

Stay tuned for  “The Practical Approach to a Worry-Free Brain” coming next installment.

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