Beating Fear with Math (pt 2)

When I feel afraid, I tend to narrow my attention onto JUST the object of my fear and the outcomes I fear will happen if I don’t apply appropriate action – maybe very soon. “If I don’t pay this fine, I’ll go to jail! I can’t have that!” I’ve narrowed my all-outcomes set to a tiny selection set of acceptable outcomes – what I “can have.”

Fear narrows the odds of an acceptable outcome – like buying only one lottery ticket. It also significantly increases the odds that I’ll experience an outcome I don’t like – like realizing you’d just bought a losing lottery ticket.

When I expand my selection set of acceptable outcomes, I increase the odds of experiencing an acceptable outcome and decrease the odds of an outcome I can’t live with.

How does one expand their selection set of acceptable outcomes?

By allowing less-than-optimum outcomes into your selection set, you significantly increase your odds of winning a lesser, though still acceptable outcome. Expanding your allowed-into-the-selection-set criteria, you build a larger selection set, which lessens the impact of a less than optimum outcome. By expanding your allowed set to the size of the all-outcomes set increases the odds of winning to 100% – and lessens the odds of losing to zero.

“Well, that would mean accepting any outcome as acceptable!” – Why, yes, I think it would. That is the essence of trust – expanding the selection set to the size of the all-outcomes set. All for one and one for all.

“Wait a minute! If I accept any outcome, won’t I sometimes get outcomes I don’t like?” Probably. At first. Until you realize that you can expand your “what I like” selection set to the size of the all-outcomes set – by allowing your “don’t likes” into your “likes” selection set.

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
― Abraham Lincoln

A simple imagery exercise can get you started. Relax and clear your mind. Imagine a ball the size of your fist. Fill the ball with light of any color you like. Put the ball in a box. Now put another ball into the box. Then another ball and another. Until the box is full. Let it spill out as you continue to add balls to the box. Soon the box disappears as the entire room fills with light in the shape of colored balls. Fill the house… the neighborhood… the town… the whole earth… the universe. Expand… expand… expand… light everywhere.

Your selection set of one ball has expanded to include all balls everywhere – the all-outcome set.

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Questioning the Wholeness Prize

Imagine you’re in a limited awareness bubble participating in a win-or-lose game based on simple thinking errors. You may assume that you are unwhole, a premise based on satisfying perceived needs by cooperating with an external reality. When you take in and let go of what is needful to satisfy your requirements in the bubble you then may feel like a winner. You may also assume wholeness is the ultimate game prize.

That assumption is an artifact of life perceived within the bubble of limited awareness – a conclusion based on questionable premises and false equations. From that perspective, even “reasonable” equations result in unreasonable yet apparently logical conclusions – that appear as my life story.

From a perspective beyond bubble awareness, wholeness takes on an entirely different understanding. To get to that understanding, let’s start with an investigation of our premise that wholeness can and must be won or earned.

How Do I Support Questionable Premises?

Questionable premises are those that invite inquiry and scrutiny – question-able. Let’s look at the structure of some questionable premises and how they create false equations in the thinking process:

  • Premise: I must be right to be whole
    • False equations:
      • Anything less than right = wrong = unwhole
      • Success = right = whole = life
      • Wrong = failure = death
  • Premise: I can earn/achieve wholeness
    • False equations:
      • Success = achievement of wholeness
      • Sufficient education = success
      • Sufficient rightness = success
  • Premise: Wholeness is a prize
    • False equations:
      • Anything less than wholeness = failure = loss/lose
      • I am less than whole = I am a failure = I am a loser
      • Given enough time, energy, work, meditation, etc. => I WILL become whole (a future that never arrives)

Within my bubble awareness, I create a body-mind competition developed around relationships. When I  fashion an internal sense of self that compares my truths to the misunderstandings of others – who, in turn, compare my understanding to their completely unreasonable standards based on their questionable premises.

Example of how my false equations support my questionable premises:

“Because I haven’t yet become whole, I must be unwhole.”
“I am unwhole, so I must be a loser.”
“Because I need to win to live, I must not lose.”
“Because winning equates to wholeness, I must achieve wholeness.”
Therefore:
“Wholeness is the ultimate prize that I must win, yet, can’t win.”

Some reasoning errors that sustain my false or questionable premises:

  • Logic levels errors (also known as the non-sequitur fallacy) – This refers to logic leaps between BEING, DOING, and HAVING. Logic level leaps take the cause-effect form: if one logic level, then another logic level. For example: IF I DO something good then I AM good, I AM what I DO.
    Example: “Because I can’t stop smoking, I must be weak-willed.”
    Just because you can’t DO something, it does not follow that you ARE unwhole.
  • Cherry picking – “A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.”
    Example: “The boss shot down my idea at the meeting today. I’m such a loser!”
    Never mind the times when your boss accepted your ideas.
  • Circular reasoning – in which the conclusion supports the premises which supports the conclusion.
    Example: “I’m a loser because I know what a winner looks like and that’s not how I look.”
    Note how I’m the authority that proves the authority.

The key to resolving questionable premises is to question them with intent to receive answers and to understand. An unquestioned premise will most likely remain intact and active as it is. Sometimes simply questioning a premise will resolve it – resulting in a new and possibly more useful state of mind.

How to Question a Premise

Get into a meditative, relaxed state. With an intent to understand, let go of your need for understanding and how answers to these questions must appear to you. Once the body is completely comfortable and relaxed, it’s in a baseline condition. Any sensation that pops up can be considered an “answer” to the question. With this awareness, ask, listen to the body, and acknowledge responses from Self.

Elicit the Premise:

  1. Who: (premise)
    • do I believe I am that needs to manifest in this way?
    • do I think I am that needs to feel this way?
      • ex: “I’m a failure!” “I’m unworthy.” “I’m unwhole.” “I’m angry!”
    • else sees me in this way?
  2. Why: (defense)
    • do I need to think, feel, and behave in this way?
    • must I express myself this way?
    • do I care what others think, feel, and express about me?
  3. How: (expression)
    • do I express that belief?
    • does this behavior affect this experience?
    • do others see me?
    • do I want others to see me?
  4. What: (judgement)
    • do I believe about me in this situation?
    • am I trying to express?
    • am I seeking from my expression?
    • do I need from others?
    • does my expression tell others about me?

Question the Premise:

  1. What must I assume in order for me to judge myself and others as I have? (Questioning the judgment of my premise)
  2. How would my life appear without that assumption? (Questioning the expression of my premise)
  3. Why do I assume this? Why do I need to feel this way? (Questioning my defense of my premise)
  4. Who would I be without this premise? (Questioning the validity of my premise)

Again – LISTEN with openness. Pay attention to your body – which may “speak” your answers to you in the language of sensation and movement. You might notice a sensation or movement and note its intensity:

  • What sensation do I feel? (hot, cold, tense, itchy, etc.)
  • Where do I feel it? (as precise as you can without pointing or touching it – just describe it in you mind)
  • How intensely do I feel it? (maybe on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being completely unbearable)

Note: sensations are not questions – they are responses/answers to questions. Resist the temptation to ask a sensation for its meaning. In this case, meaning is another mind game that can result in circular reasoning – “I feel tight in the jaw because I’m angry, which makes my jaw tight…”. Just “listen” and “acknowledge” – maybe express gratitude – then accept the information.

At some point, such questioning may result in an AHA moment that leads to a Third Degree of Illumination choice.

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Attention and the Wholeness Prize

Attention is the notice I give to someone or something that sets them apart for preferential consideration. In bubble awareness, I attend to what I’m most interested in, which is attaining wholeness. The attention I give to that quest requires intention, the power of will that drives me towards that goal of wholeness, which is to be right.

My intentions require judgements to polarize my perspective of reality. I judge everything and everyone, including self, based on my survival. In the bubble, my survival depends on the attention I give to the support and defense of my intention to be right.

I use judgements to divide and separate my experiences into two main categories – good and bad. Good means surviving well in my rightness, while bad means to survive poorly and/or die being wrong. My survival requires a paradoxical approach – I attend to what I want and what I don’t want – focusing on what I want and don’t have.

Because I believe myself unwhole, I must forever seek wholeness. In a world of competition, wholeness is a prize that must be earned. To win the prize, I must be worthy of it. My attention to and defense of my judgement of what is worthy of wholeness is my payment to that end. When I feel I am whole, I will feel I have earned it. Trouble is, because I’m forever seeking wholeness, I’ll never realize wholeness.

Based on this premise of a less-than-whole self who can compete and win the ultimate prize, no intention to achieve, or strategy to win, or attention to worthiness will ever result in wholeness. Why? Because I was never unwhole to begin with. There was no prize to win because I already AM whole as I AM.

What Is My Thinking Process?

Every premise drives an intention that drives a strategy to achieve the intention. It all goes back to who I perceive I am – the central premise. That perceived identity is the foundational premise underlying the story generated by the strategy, which defends the identity – the central premise.

First and foremost, I seek to prove the central premise – that I’m right! To that end, I:

  • give value and worth to my premise
  • set an intention to prove the premise
  • create a strategy that does that
  • favor attention to what proves me right
  • defend what proves my premise right
  • defend against threats to that premise
  • perceive all evidence to favor the premise

Did you notice that in the list above there isn’t a single question? That’s because the game of winning isn’t about doubt. It’s about certitude – proving rightness.

In the next article, let’s investigate what we might think instead.

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A Mantra for Accepting Accountability

Accountability! Ooh, scary word? Or invitation? Maybe a mantra can get me where I want to go…

While in the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble of awareness, I view accountability in terms of blame – “Who did this?!” and “Who’s in charge?!” – looking for a scapegoat to take the fall. I’d like to go beyond that level of competition, defense, and suffering.

Maybe I feel I’ve had enough of it and want to “move on.”

Third Degree of Illumination traverses the “membrane” of the bubble awareness in an instant of choice – a choice point. I usually don’t recognize the point because it’s so fleeting – literally an instant of awareness – a sudden Aha. In that flash of presence, the default choice is to return to the familiar – the bubble. One must remain conscious to make an alternative choice to move on to Fourth Degree of Illumination Acceptance of Accountability.

That’s where a good setup comes in handy. I can use a mantra to prepare my consciousness so that when that instant of awakening comes, I stay attentive to it long enough to “move on” to full acceptance of accountability for my life. Rather than make the default choice to return to my bubble sleep.

I can use a mantra to move me closer to choice point – maybe even ring its bell more often than when I’m deeply asleep in the bubble.

Any choice has at least two options – so I devised a mantra that includes options (“or”) and assumes I’ve already selected and committed to one – the one already in my awareness. My choice mantra is a three-parter that sounds like this:

  1. “I am experiencing EXACTLY what I WANT to experience right now or I’d be experiencing something else.”
  2. “I’m doing exactly what I most want to do right now or I’d be doing something else.”
  3. “I have exactly what I want to have right now or I’d have something else.”

1-2-3, BE-DO-HAVE

I especially appreciate the second mantra: “I’m doing exactly what I most want to do right now or I’d be doing something else.” I occasionally find myself doing something I don’t like to do – like facing one of my personal demons, the plumbing. Rather than choose the default – get upset and look for someone to blame – I chant my “do” mantra to myself until my body/mind settles down. Then I get to work.

You see, whether or not I get upset, the job must still get done. I’d rather do the job with a smile than a frown. Within my bubble awareness, doing (action) is key to experience. For a quick morning “wake-up call” this second mantra really sets my day’s tone.

At bedtime, I chant all three and check my body for resistance (sensation). I then acknowledge the body part experiencing a sensation that comes to my attention by including it in my mantra like this: “Thank you, [body part experiencing sensation], for doing what I most want you to do right now.”

When one adopts this mantra as their personal truth, they tend to take accountability for their life and “magical” things start to happen. For one, when I am the responsible party, I have the power to make changes – NOT because I don’t like what I have; rather, because I LOVE what I have and want to experience something ELSE I’ll love, too.

Accepting Accountability

To make a substantial change in your life, consider accepting accountability for it – acknowledge that you are, do, and have what you currently experience because you WANT TO. How you feel about what you experience is your PAYOFF for being you having that belief.

Embrace your payoff – you love it, after all – and you’ve gone to some effort and energy to achieve it. Then look into what OTHER PAYOFF you might enjoy JUST AS MUCH and begin embracing that. Change will happen! Embrace it!

You might also enjoy achieving your current payoff in a different manner. Like the kid in the sandbox making a sand castle, you can play with your design as much as you wish until you get it “just right” – that is, you experience sufficient sensational payoff. Then, simply do it again with a new design. Creation is a fluid that responds to attention!

Remember: You’re living the dream! Everything in your life is YOU being, doing, and having YOU! Let’s acknowledge it, own it, embrace it, and accept it!

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How the Future Feeds on the Present

And maybe what I can do about it!

Predictions of past hurts can predict future hurts. When I fear a future of pain, I am robbed of my present focus. When I’m attending to a possible pain-filled future, that future is feeding on my present. Fear can’t feed on present experience, only on what doesn’t presently exist. My attention on fear increases the likelihood of my need to validate that fear.

Because I need to be right, I’ll tend to confirm my fear predictions through confirmation bias – increasing my trust in those predictions. This makes my future more likely to be fulfilled in fear.

We humans are notoriously poor predictors of our futures, yet, we do it with confidence. We trust that we know how things will go and how we’ll feel in the future because our trust in past predictions resulted in our present situation. When facing my present, I tend to fall on the past as if it were the present

What About Attention?

I have precious little attention to spread around. Of all that I could be aware, I am actually aware of a tiny fraction. 100% of my attention is aware of the tiniest subset of 100% of all that is. My predictions, based on this tiny subset, must be less than 100% accurate because I’m always short some data. I make most of my predictions on almost no data at all – based almost entirely on my trust in my senses, other people’s senses, and my education, all of which is data-short.

Due to my need to be right, I’ll fudge the data. Maybe I’ll outright lie to myself to feel more secure – as a defense against bad things happening. A prediction of bad things happening in the future sends me on a wild goose chase to defend against harm. And yet that harm is a prediction – one based on incomplete data that I “fill in” to make complete.

The more energy in the form of attention that I devote to trusting my prediction, the stronger the impact of fear upon my present. This makes attention key to a solution. What I attend to in the present, is what gets done. Focusing on fear, robs my present of energy required for action – and less gets done.

How Can I Bust the Fear Feed on My Attention?

First, realizing that predictions are just that – predictions based mostly on incomplete data – releases me from the trust I’ve placed in them. Predictions are NOT the truth – they are the workings of my imagination – and so, really should not be trusted. QUESTION predictions.

Next, FOCUSING ATTENTION ON WHAT IS HAPPENING in the present, redirects my energies away from unproductive fear based on imaginary probabilities to certain productive present action. This means doing an action right now that is firmly in the present – like making an inventory of my current physical sensations. What do I see, hear, feel – right now?

In this way, fear based on trust in an imaginary prediction gives way to solid, sensory-based, relatively certain present action. It may also bust a long-held, high-value fear and return precious energy for use elsewhere.

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