I Think the World is Conspiring Against Me
"It’s so easy to fabricate a world where everything revolves around us. I believe it’s natural. Our life is like a narrative, where we are the narrators. Everything that happens in our world happens to us, because of us, or because we know it’s happening to someone else"
I think my boss despises me because I made that stupid mistake.
I think my partner didn’t call back because I’ve tested his patience.
I think my parents don’t want me to be happy
I think the world is conspiring against me!
It’s so easy to fabricate a world where everything revolves around us. I believe it’s natural. Our life is like a narrative, where we are the narrators. Everything that happens in our world happens to us, because of us, or because we know it’s happening to someone else.
And because we hold our identity, our feelings and our values so close to our experiences, we can’t detach them and understand the situation from someone else’s point of view. For example, suppose you are in a meeting room and you come up with a great idea and you fight for it, but eventually get shot down. You beat yourself for the next week, you think others perceive you as a dumb joke, you think your boss is furious for wasting everyone’s time and that your subordinates do not respect you anymore. YOU are the centre of your experience.
Which is true, you will always be the centre of YOUR experience, but you will probably not be the centre of a collective experience. The meeting room consists of experiences of your boss, your colleagues, your subordinates and few others. So, it’s a collective experience. You can narrate it from your point of view, but that will only be a part of the whole story.
Let’s say you now split your mind into two parts, one which is actively engaging in day-to-day life, as you’re currently doing. And the second part is an audience, it’s unaffected by your or anyone else’s values or feelings. It’s there to just see what everyone’s doing and what’s probably going on in their heads.
Now let’s imaging these two “you” in the same meeting room. The observer sees you presenting your case, getting all berserk with your idea. On the other hand, it sees the logical counter arguments from your colleague. You both have an hour-long argument about it. Meanwhile, others evaluate and cross question both of you, they try to figure out the best way forward. After few rounds of discussion, everyone is aligned to with your colleague’s views. The observer brain scans everyone in the room. Your colleague seems satisfied. Others in the room are happy to participate and put their vies on the table. Your subordinates are happy that you voiced your teams’ views. Your boss is happy that a decision was reached by evaluating compelling cases. Overall, the outcome of the meeting seems satisfactorily positive.
But in your mind, you’re the victim. And it’s going to haunt you for a few more days till you win a decision in your favour.
And this is how we perceive most of our life’s episodes. Only if we could detach ourselves from the active persona to become the observer, we will realize that there’s a lot many thoughts and actions that go into each episode in our melodramatic life. When we start to peep into everyone else’s mind – what they are going through, what are their cultures, beliefs and values, what they might be thinking (definitely not about us), we are able to get a holistic view of the situation, which is far removed from the ego-centric world view we used to believe in.
When your crush doesn’t call back, when a car dangerously overtakes you, when the store ran out of your favourite snack, or even when it’s too hot or when it has rained a lot – you are not the centre of it. Your crush is having a bad day, the car driver is having an emergency, no you’re not having “the worst day or your life” because you couldn’t find chocolate biscuits today, and no, you’re not why it’s raining so much.
Next time, something bad happens, before you go whine about it, think like a director of a show. Are you really the centre of that episode?
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