On the off chance our thoughts do actually influence the world, can we let go of our need to be right about a coming apocalypse?
I have a friend who is very concerned about the decline in driving standards over the last 10 years. They have adult children who are all good drivers but remain unprotected from “crazy” drivers.
My friend regularly watches real-life traffic accidents captured by CCTV and dashboard cameras and passes these videos on to their family in the hopes it will prepare them for whatever they might meet, “out there.”
From my perspective, this is a lot of evidence gathering to substantiate a future I don’t think my friend wants. I understand the concern and the pull to gather evidence, we are hard-wired for it biologically.
Our nervous systems are designed to look for threats on the horizon – assess problems, real or imagined and work out possible solutions. The weighting in favor of the negative outcome is heavy. This is one of the reasons why it takes five positive news stories to counteract one negative news story.
Watching the news to stay informed – assess problems and work out possible solutions – actually creates a heightened state of anxiety and leads us to feel like there is no hope for, well, anything.
Thankfully we are more than our biology. We have a divine spark expressing itself within us and that spark is the powerhouse of our lives.
For me navigating these difficult waters is always a balance of on the one hand, facing the apparent chaos and uncertainty, and the overwhelming sense of powerlessness it evokes, and on the other hand, behaving as if I am the creator of my reality, that my thoughts matter, and letting go of my need to be right.
And that last part is the hardest to do, because if like me you a sensitive soul, you probably see things that other people don’t. You see connections. You question the narrative.
All of which is great but it can leave you wanting to be proved right and unfortunately, the things we want to be proved right about are often catastrophic.
For example, if you had been concerned about the Y2K bug at the turn of the century, and you had amassed a lot of very good evidence that the effects of the Y2K bug were going to be devastating to the world.
Then on New Year’s Eve 1999, you met a wizard and they gave you a choice, you could make the devastating effects of the Y2K bug disappear but no one would know you had been right all along,
or the Y2K bug would happen with all its devastating consequences and everyone would know you had predicted it and been right all the time. You would be like Michael Burry who predicted the 2008 financial crash.
Which comes back to the question, do you want to be right or do you want to have the future you would prefer?
I live as if I have that choice every moment. I stay aware of the news. I have a good sense of what is true and what is not, but my main focus is on what kind of future I want to happen and that is the direction I keep steering my little boat towards.
Steering my boat toward the future I want could be easier for me because I have a very strong reference point in Northern Ireland. When I was growing up in the 1970s, there was horrific violence going on in Northern Ireland all the time.
Every night on the news was a new terror. Shell shocked people recounting how they had lost a loved one in the most horrible ways. And all this happening roughly 100 miles away from where I lived.
To this day, I am still traumatised by what I saw on the news at that time.
The situation was so tense it was like living with a powder keg that could explode at any time and envelop the whole island of Ireland.
The situation seemed hopeless, the issues that led to the violence were so complex and deep-rooted it seemed almost impossible that things would ever change.
Faced with that seeming impossibility, and the subsequent feeling of powerlessness that came with it, all I could do was steer my little boat in the direction of a future I wanted which was the naive idea that there could be peace in Northern Ireland.
I steered my little boat away from the news, and my fearful thoughts, and the heartache I felt for the people, and I gently steered it toward peace in Northern Ireland.
It took 20 years, but remarkably peace came to Northern Ireland in 1998.
In the years before it happened there were plenty of people who had lots of very well-informed and well-thought-out reasons why there would never be peace in Northern Ireland.
The question would have been the same for them.
Did they want to be right? = neverending violence in northern Ireland,
or did they want a happier future? = peace in Northern Ireland.
I think of my life as a little boat because it helps remind me of my small and limited perspective, and it also engenders affection. When I add the word ‘little’ in relation to myself, I feel more kindness towards myself, my little body, my little perspective, my little mind, my little heart steering my little boat.
Whether I am actually changing my reality remains to be seen. What I am changing is how I feel on the inside. When I think the world is chaos ruled by forces I have no control over, I feel terrible.
Whereas, when I think my thoughts affect my reality and by steering my thoughts in a particular direction I can influence my reality to go in the direction I want, I feel great. I feel engaged and involved and empowered.