“Take a moment to remember that you're spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space. Then remind yourself that you're not going to get involved in your own melodrama.”
Michael A. Singer (The Untethered Soul, p.97)
I've never met Michael Singer, but he must be a plain-spoken, no nonsense sort of guy. He writes that the only way to break a habit is to stop doing it. In other words, if you're a smoker and you want to stop smoking, just don't put a cigarette in your mouth. End of story! Every time you want to smoke, just don't allow your hands to reach for the pack of cigarettes. Plain and simple. The pain you experience in breaking that habit is the price of freedom.
Singer believes that the stuff going on inside our heads—the worry, and frustration and judgment of ourselves and others—are also habits. They are habitual ways of thinking based on the premise that something is wrong if everything is not the way we want it to be. We Westerners are especially susceptible to this; it is a “first world” problem. If we don't have the right amount of money, if the right people don't like us, if we haven't found our soul mate, or if we don't have the job we expected to have at this point in our lives, then something must be terribly wrong. And, that something is worth all the worry and sleepless nights we give it. This expectation that the world, and our lives in the world, should look a certain way, but don't look that way, is the source of much pain and misery. Our unhappiness is caused, not by actual privation, but by the way we think about it. That thinking is a program that has been running in our brains since childhood. It keeps us from enjoying what is, and appreciating the life we do have.
Since habits are learned, they can be unlearned. The first step is to monitor the thoughts, how you feel when you're having those thoughts, and then develop a protocol for shutting them down. Singer recommends just not buying into them. Watch them from your seat of consciousness—“Oh, yeah, there are those thoughts again; they're trying to stir me up.” And then just don't get involved “in your own melodrama.” Setting certain times of day, such as every time you get into your car, to remind yourself that you will not allow your fear thoughts to hijack your sanity, works like a resetting of a kitchen timer. It takes about six weeks to form a habit, and about six weeks of diligent resistance to break one.
There is very little in this world that we actually have control over. Honestly, there is nothing outside of ourselves that we have control over, so why spend even one more day torturing ourselves with worry, and frustration and judgment. That is one key we do have; we can use it to unlock the door that allows our souls to fly free.
In the Spirit,