Last month, my daughter was concerned about having to take her final exams in organic chemistry and genetics back-to-back on the same day. Her thinking was psyching her out.
Dad, she said, “I know it’s my ego, but the thoughts are very persistent.”
I explained if you judge yourself for having the thoughts, resist the thoughts, or identify with the thoughts, then you are sunk.
Since for her flight home for Thanksgiving she had sat waiting in an airport for five hours, a metaphor came to mind. Sitting in an airport, you may hear the announcement for the last call for flight 4679 to Atlanta. If you are not going to Atlanta, you pay little attention to the announcement. You don’t rush to the gate to board the flight.
However, your ego insists that you treat all of its thoughts as important announcements. But, you don’t need to strain to hear each ego “announcement.” Neither do you need to resist each announcement with another announcement such as, “I hate these announcements.”
Indeed, you don’t need pay any attention to your ego’s announcements. And for sure, you don’t want to treat its announcements as relevant information by rushing to the “gate” of worry and anxiety.
If you know where you are going and you are at the right gate, you listen only to the announcements concerning your flight. The rest of the announcements have nothing to do with you and fade away.
It is virtually impossible to not listen if you think airport announcements are relevant to you. In other words, if you don’t know who you are and where you are going, every announcement seems like it might contain important information. The announcements which are being generated internally by your ego will seem as though they have a reality but what seems real is an illusion.
“Remember,” I told my daughter, “as soon as you treat an airport announcement as true and relevant for you, you are trapped in that reality and you will be running for the gate. Focusing on your purpose turns down the volume on irrelevant announcements.”
As we continued our conversation my daughter told me that she “doesn’t understand her ego.” What do you do when a barrage of announcements seems relevant and you seem unable to change your mindset?
“Don’t try to understand,” was my advice. “Recognize your ego is posing as the analyst. You can choose to ignore its airport announcements. Instead, make the choice to tune into the best part of yourself, signaling your belief in that part. Each time you make the choice to ignore an ego announcement, it is easier to ignore the next one; the culmative power of making each choice is incredible. Give yourself permission to sink into your abilities, and see what is possible.”
If you are frantically running from gate to gate each time your ego makes an announcement, how can you get anything done? How can you feel anything but stress and exhaustion?
Focus your attention instead on what you are doing. The more you focus, the quieter the announcements will be. Remember, the decision to focus must come before the announcements get quieter. We control the volume of each announcement by deciding where to place our attention.
All of us like to think that our problems are complex and special. We like to believe we need to spend many years analyzing our unique issues. If we believe in our issues, the announcements will seem very loud and compelling.
What if analysis is not required? The truth is, like every human being, we do what we do for one of two reasons–we have chosen Love or we have chosen fear. We listen to the raucous shrieks of our ego when we chose fear. We add meaning to the announcements by thinking they are personal and about us.
Like airport announcements, our ego announcements seem to arise with an authoritative tone when we give them a power of importance. Rushing to the gate seems like the correct thing to do because we have built a habit out of believing our announcements. The way out is to begin to question our decision.
Many decades ago, at work, I found myself mindlessly rushing down the hall to someone’s office in reaction to hearing an “announcement.” I stopped dead in my tracks, laughed at myself, and returned to my office. I knew then that listening to announcements was my decision alone. My response to an announcement is a choice I make. Deepening my understanding of that truth has been a life-long journey, and understanding has made all the difference.
The constant din of announcements at the airport has almost nothing to do with us. Flying often, I have learned to pay little attention to it. We can learn to do the same with the din of thinking in our minds.