How To Train Your Brain To See Beyond “Us versus Them”
The old saying says walk a mile in another person’s shoes before you judge. Today, it seems we want to judge first, and throw the person and their shoes into the fire of damnation (where we are judge, jury and executioner).
Let’s face the hard truth of conditioning: many, if not most, of us grew up regarding other cultures and people as something “foreign”, or “alien” or “other” – but this type of fear-based thinking comes from a mind-identified state where the other person is reduced to a convenient label.
Reducing a person to a label in one’s own mind is, in fact, a subtle form of violence. Today’s media plays on this all the time, feeding us more negativity which adds to our collective mind-identified state of pain and suffering.
Many are “livid” upon reading the news and want to immediately vilify the people they are reading about. Sensationalist headlines cause most to react in fear and anger, not to mention bitterness and resentment as well.
How do you react when you see the headline in the paper “Huge numbers of refugees flee to [your country]”, for example, or another headline that says “Refugee family given 4 bedroom house”?
“Why should THEY come here?”, “this is OUR country,” and “why should THEY get everything”? are some of the thoughts that arise from the egoic mind.
The world ‘refugee’ was used to great, poisonous effect to garner a ‘yes’ decision over Brexit – which many of the ‘yes’ people sorely regretted as it came to light exactly what they would lose themselves, and that most of the so-called ‘facts’ were based on outright lies and deception. The very polarised point of view that conveniently blamed “the other” for the UK’s own mess – in this case the EU – won out.
The thought ‘refugee’ is used mainly negatively around the world, and in our media, as in ‘refugee crisis.’
This insidious thought form only creates more distrust, fear, anger and resentment.
Yet the real crisis is one of consciousness.
Think of it this way, a ‘refugee’ is another person.
What would happen if you, and your family, were ‘suddenly homeless’, fleeing from unwanted persecution by your state and/or government? Where would you go?
Would you want to go somewhere safe? Somewhere where you perceived you could build a new life, and offer your skills to your community?
Would you want to be labelled as a ‘refugee’ by the citizens of the country you were fleeing to, or would you prefer to be seen with the eyes of compassion as a ‘human being’? I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.
We all want the chance to be respected and loved, and to offer something meaningful to the world. None of us really want conflict, whether that’s with a neighbour, or between our country and another.
And, yet, here we are – facing unprecedented stress and conflict in an age of increased technology and opportunity.
The reason is simple: a conditioned mind that sees everything and everyone else as ‘other’. and is the toot cause of all geopolitical conflict as well as arguments with friends, partners, and loved ones.
To drop the conditioned mind, means to be free of stress, conflict and negativity – immediately. No external change of events is required, just an internal shift in perception.
First we will feel peace in our own lives, and then we will see this peace reflected back to us on the world stage as more enlightened leaders take the helm. Really, the leaders of today are reflections of mass consciousness, so the buck stops with us. If we change ourselves, the world will change.
I’d like to share a personal story with you that reflects just how powerful this shift in consciousness really is.
Not so long ago, after four years of living in a peaceful property nestled into the mountains in Europe, suddenly some “gypsies” moved into an abandoned house sitting in the plot behind our home. I’ve used that word purposefully here because that’s the initial thought that popped into my mind. Again, the word ‘gypsy’ often has a strong, negative charge.
There was a lot of noise and chaos as they moved in, and our usually peaceful nights were quickly disrupted.
I initially felt irritated by this and even some despair at the thought that this would continue, especially as our 15 month old son’s bedroom was at the back of our home and the most susceptible to the noise disturbances.
I realised that I had been triggered because my usual peaceful inner state was being tested by my negative identification with the situation.
As I have been meditating for years, and teaching meditation and yoga for years, I would safely say that I am able to watch my ‘self’ in all situations, and especially during difficult times is when I most need to watch my thoughts and actions.
I found that my initial feelings of irritation and separation quickly passed as I went into a deep and sincere pray to my Inner Being.
Firstly, I wished these new people peace and happiness (and I meant it!) and I also included myself in the picture as I wished myself peace. I released that in a loving Universe, there was no conflict between my desire for peace, and their desire for a home.
And I also knew there was no room for prayer if I going to stay in judgment over this.
I began to see the situation from their eyes – they needed a place to rest their heads, to have food and shelter, and I didn’t need to let the change disrupt my inner peace. I immediately felt a warmth and peace in my own heart, and then my mind stopped ‘racing’ with ridiculous future thoughts.
Two things – external events – also happened, immediately following this:
Firstly, the gypsies ‘suddenly’ became a lot quieter, literally within a day or two – it seems that the quiet ones stayed and some of the noisier ones left (all of a sudden).
You can put this down to coincidence, or luck. I choose to see it as the Universe working perfectly, offering me a solution according to my inner vibration or perception (many call this the ‘Law of Attraction’).
The situation reminded me of a story in the book ‘Healing sick houses’ where the authors changed a ‘negative’ ley line to a ‘positive’ one for their client, and some noisy neighbours suddenly moved out.
Secondly, as my wife and I walked around the village with our 15 month old son in his pram, one of the men was very friendly towards us. He had very happy, friendly energy – and a peace shone from his eyes. He had just picked some delicious dark grapes and he gave us and our son the whole bag!
As a result, I struck up a friendly conversation with him, although his English was limited, and I didn’t speak his language.
I managed to ask where he was from (Egypt) and his name.
I share this story with you to show the power of prayer, and seeing the other person (or people) as we are – and sincerely wishing for peace for all.
Whilst we all have our own ‘needs’ and ‘preferences’, the moment these start to diminish or control another, we are in the grip of ego, a mind-identifed state that causes us, and the other person, pain and suffering.
When we are able to dissolve our rigid sense of “self”, the boundary between us and the other dissolves, and then we can have a real, and meaningful, interaction – based on compassion.
Snap-judgments or instinctual reactions based on faulty perception rarely make for a peaceful world.
What faulty beliefs lie buried in our psyches? Remember, outer world events are a mirror for us to look at ourselves at all times, no exception. You cannot look at the world objectively because your beliefs are the basis from which you view the world.
Regarding others as our enemies, totally disconnected from ourselves, never, ever helps. The mind’s faulty perception re-activates the part of our brain associated with anxiety, guilt, and fear – and we thus become victims of our own thoughts, running negative stories over and over again in our heads.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with the infamous words of Martin Luther King Jr:
Today, think about how you can act from Presence, not fear. How you can act from a place that ‘connects’ you, rather than ‘separates’ you from the other person, and how you can meaningfully interact and uplift those around you?
Acting from this new place of awareness, you will rewire your brain as the neural networks happily and quickly readjust themselves to your new belief structure.