by Lesley Knapp
If you ascribe to the adage that having is an indication of wanting, do you wonder what on earth you must have been wanting to have what you have?
How did I get here? What the fuck happened?
These may be questions you find yourself asking in a moment of reflection.
It is a peculiar state of mind to think that we are what we think and that we have far more power over the events in our life than we really believe.
Sometimes I think our shadow self throws a spanner in the works by conjuring up dire situations or awful scenarios or consequences, as a way to protect ourselves from the possibility of this happening; to prepare ourselves in some way; to thicken our skin.
But is this thinking inadvertently causing us to have a situation that our shadow self has subversively wanted?
I am familiar with the theory about time as a dimension and a mental construct, however I came across another application of this theory that describes the brain as a virtual time machine.
As time exists both as memory of past experiences and imaginations which helps perceive the future, this allows for mental time travel. I am my own time machine. Who knew?
The ability to imagine the future has enabled humans to thrive and plan actions to survive and progress, and is a distinctly human factor. But our virtual time machine can be devious and imagine a future that may or may not happen.
Again, our shadow self may dictate what the future holds and it may be what we then end up with and the question What the fuck…..?
Therefore, I have three questions to ask yourself, to check in that you have what you want.
1. When you wake up in the morning do you anticipate the day with energy and optimism?
This may seem a facile question, but putting aside the idea that time is an illusion and a mental construct, it is what most of us have to use to organise our lives by and so taking that into consideration, do you anticipate what the day will bring?
Even if you are going to a job that enervates you or that you just plain hate, is there something in your day that you can celebrate or look forward to?
2. If a crisis or some event happened in your life would you step away from what you are doing?
By that I mean, would it take a crisis for you to change tack?
Are you staying put out of a false sense of security or just malaise?
People often stay on a path that they think is already mapped out for them; maybe out of a sense of duty, or guilt or other people’s expectations.
Maybe they think that they can do what they want to, live the life they want to, once certain circumstance change.
But that is just your virtual time machine projecting a future that is a construct and has no surety.
We can easily feel constrained by the possibility of events or perceived pressures.
It was a revelation for me to do the Judge your neighbour worksheet devised by Byron Katie , which is a practice of inquiry, to realise that when I thought about things that made me feel unhappy or dismayed, such as impending nuclear war or even an anticipated conversation with a friend, that I was projecting my feelings onto something that may or may not happen and yet I was suffering about it now.
3. Are you putting off what you are really passionate about because you think that you won’t be able to be successful at it?
I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic about living a creative life.
She is aa wonderful pragmatic writer and believes in the magic of inspiration but also that to live a creative life you just have to do what you love doing and you probably have to have a day job to pay the bills.
There is really no romance in being the starving artist and starving doesn’t make you a good artist.
I have pursued several creative paths from potter to jewellery maker to my current passion as a digital artist.
Few of these pursuits have generated much income and I have worked at various jobs to maintain a lifestyle and contribute to my family life.
However, when I am engaged in creative pursuits I am more imaginative, actively seeking out new inspiration and being more in the moment.
In saying this, after doing the exercises in THRILL – a course on writing for the social web, building your business and getting paid, taught by Carolyn Elliott – I am also now aware of a shadow self that may be in the way of making money from these creative pursuits.
So, even though I am doing what I want and I am where I want to be, I do recognise that I may have fallen into the trap of the starving artist being the real artist.
I think of life as an adventure and these 3 questions are my touchstone to make sure that it is an adventure of my choosing.
That I wake up energised and optimistic about the day. In asking myself these questions I can make sure the I have what I want; it is my construct after all.
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