Most people do not realize they have psychological damage. Even if they do, how many can overcome the damage in an effective way? Hiding it or outright denial will only delay the inevitable and often when it’s too late. This damage is known as fear and it’s the worst of the lot.
(1) Our mental environment is a world of its own
- The way something seems to us, be it an object or an experience, results from the way we create it in our mind. This is similar to our perception of the objective reality which we discussed previously. (Click here for the post). A simple way to prove this is to have 2 people describe the same object hidden away in another room. What happens when each person claims his/her version is the only truth?
- There is a distinction between our perception of the environment and the environment itself.
(2) Our mental environment is influenced by the prior cumulative experiences in it
- Psychologists call them memories, associations and beliefs. But it works the same. Our prior experience will shape our current and future perception of any event. Pulled to the extreme, we may even think our perception is the only available truth.
- For example, we sometimes don’t understand why others ‘can’t see’ the issue like we do.
- If you have a strong emotion about something, search deep within yourself to identify the prior experience which gave you such intensity. For example, why do you hate certain behaviours/ personalities? What happened previously that gave you such experience?
The above seem like pointing out the obvious but the implication is important:
- There will always be more than what we can perceive. Our perception of a matter is only a subset of the entire environment. If we think x is the only truth, think again.
- It is much easier to change the [perception of] external environment to satisfy our desire than to change our mental perspective. For example, we could easily pass judgement and blame others for any inconsistencies that we experience.
- Most people do not know how to mend psychological damage and therefore could not release themselves from their fear. To paraphrase Mark Douglas, “we compensate by learning sophisticated ways to display false confidence because people will generally support each other’s illusions about themselves.”
- Everyone has psychological damage. The question is whether we know about them or not.
- It is useful to remember that the environment is always larger than us, is always neutral and it does not have a perception of its own. Whatever ‘truths’ that we pick up from the environment is a reflection of what is inside us. And what we focus our energy on in the environment is what we will usually get.
(3) Overcoming fear
- If we understand how our beliefs influence our experience [from the external environment], then it will be easier to change what we experience by changing our beliefs.
- The truth is we can’t change the external environment, only our mind, i.e. our perception of the environment.
- We need to make peace with the fears inside us:
- The first step is to identify our discomfort or intense emotion.
- Then search for the prior experience that is responsible for it.
- Now because we know the environment is always neutral, we can then discharge any negative energy from the experience.
- By reinterpreting the experience (i.e. our beliefs), we create a more positive perception of the environment.
- There are 2 ways in which our fear could blind us
- we refuse to acknowledge existence of threatening information.
- we focus on non threatening information and exclude the threatening information from our awareness.
- We fear being wrong because it will force us to feel all the accumulated negative energy inside us as a result of being wrong in the past. Note that this fear is there only because we have learned to perceive it as threatening in some way.
(4) Next step and a word on wisdom
- the key is to recognize what we need to know before the condition worsens, i.e. the problem of no problem. E.g. constantly learning, adapting and guarding against wishful thinking
- a person who has truly overcome a fear does not look down upon others who have not, because they do not have anything to fear
- if we experience only the negative side of something, then it is fear
- but if we experience only the positive side of something, it is also fear, i.e. fear of vulnerability. For example, someone who cannot tolerate certain ‘negative’ behaviour in others because they have only experienced the positive side of it.
- true wisdom means transcending both negative and positive extremes of an experience. We understand the extremes of the environment without any negative energy.