One of the benefits of staying at a hotel is the magical “Do Not Disturb” sign that you can hang on the outside of your door.
The sign is magical because it has an amazing force field that radiates out from it. If people are walking down the hallway and they see that sign, they automatically get quieter. “Ohh, someone in there doesn’t want to be disturbed. We should lower our voices.”
Of course, it really doesn’t work like that. But it should!
The sign does send a message to the housekeeping staff that you don’t want your room serviced yet, and it works pretty well for that.
But imagine if we really had a truly magical Do Not Disturb sign that we could “hang out” of our mind anytime we wanted to enter into a peaceful state. When that sign was out, nothing would interfere with our calm.
Have you ever used the phrase “I need to …” as a way to remind and urge yourself of something you really ought to do?
I need to start exercising more.
I need to do a better job asking people for help.
I need to become a better leader / boss / friend / partner.
I really need to leave my job and start my own gig.
When we use that phrase “I need to …”, all we’re really doing is acknowledging something we don’t like about our current situation.
But then we let it stop there.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd.
There were four groups of people in my school. At the top of the social (popularity) pyramid were the cool kids. Star athletes, cheerleaders, and the beautiful people.
Then there were the “freaks”. To this day I don’t know why they were called freaks – that’s just what they were called at my school. These were the kids who smoked cigarettes and seemed to not care much about the world. (Yes, kids were actually allowed to smoke in my high school in those days).
The “nerds” were anyone interested in scholastics.
And then the masses of “everyone else” filled out the 2000+ student body at my four-year school.
As a nerd, I become public enemy number one amongst the cool crowd by asking one of their popular girls to my junior prom. When she agreed to be my date, I was told to watch my back.
And sure enough, one of the cool boys – unfortunately a large one – cornered me at my locker and assaulted me. It wasn’t anything major – just a body slam against my locker and a relatively weak punch to my chest. He told me not to mix with “his kind”.
Pick any emotion you don’t like.
Maybe it’s sadness or depression or loneliness or regret. Or maybe fear, anxiety, or guilt.
Now think about the last time you experienced any one of those emotions.
Anytime we become [insert that emotion], then we’ve been “taken over” by that emotion. Our identity is now tied up in the emotion.
I am sad.
I and sad are now one. We could write this mathematically as “I = sad”.
Anytime we feel any sort of negative emotion, we are equating our sense of me with those feelings.
At that moment, our entire sense of identity is intertwined with the negative emotion.
What are the things you are most identified with? Perhaps your work, family relationships, social status, or possessions?
How about your physical appearance – do you dress or groom yourself a certain way in order to appeal to others?
Do you have special talents that you are proud of?
How about a political or nationalistic belief system?
If a stranger came up to you at a cocktail party and asked, “Tell me about yourself,” how would you respond?
Most likely your answer points to the things you identify as you.