It’s a daily recurring ritual. People who meet each other and say, “How are you?” “Very well, and you?” “I’m great, thanks.” “Well, have to run; busy, busy, busy! Bye!”
Now this same conversation, but with accompanying thoughts.
“How are you?”
Terrible. We’re struggling to repay our mortgage as my husband was fired due to the economic crisis. My son isn’t doing well at school. My relationship is on the rocks, but I don’t dare leave him as I feel tired, insecure and old! But there’s no point in telling you this, because you’re not interested in me and I don’t feel like you gossiping behind my back.
“And how are you?”
Do you really want to know? This morning, I went to the doctor’s because I’ve had diarrhea and stomach pains for months. He didn’t say, but I could see in his eyes that he was thinking it's something serious. Cancer. My father died from it. Tomorrow, I’m doing a night shift again and I really hate this job! I feel lonely and rejected and I need a break. Anyway, you have it easy. Your life is so well organized. Bitch!
“Well, have to run; busy, busy, busy! Bye!”
Jesus, she looked awful. Pff, the longer I talked to her, the worse I felt. Glad that I have to do this bloody shopping … Mum’s coming to visit.
Am I exaggerating? A little, maybe.
With this example I want to make clear that, if we’re honest, we aren’t always doing all that well. Out of necessity, we’ve learnt to expertly mask, ignore and trivialize our own and other people’s problems to a lesser or greater degree.
I don’t want to make you feel miserable, but when we look at the life we’re collectively living, it isn’t great. It’s full of hunger (even though there is more than enough for everybody), conflict, war, disease, pain, sorrow and especially loneliness. How many people don’t start their day thinking: ‘How in God’s name am I going to make it through this day?’ or: ‘Off to that stupid job again!’ How often don’t we feel let down by our own body as it is weighed down by that enormous amount of fear, stress, tension and restlessness? It comes as no surprise, therefore, that more than 121 million people worldwide million people from some form of depression.
And I haven’t even started on the subject of how we’ve treated our planet. We have dramatically altered fifty percent of its land mass to suit our own needs. Every year, we destroy areas of forest the size of Portugal. We plunder the earth’s energy and dump our refuse and hazardous waste on and inside it. I run on, and it makes me feel guilty. I’ve participated in this just as much. And what’s more, I still take part in it, alas. Sorry Mum.
How can we as humans live in such misery? But what’s even more mystifying; how is it possible that we occasionally find happiness and enjoy life? It’s simple. By wearing blinders; hardship resistant, hardship ignoring blinders. These ensure that the gloomy picture which is our reality doesn’t quite penetrate our minds. We look, but we don’t see the real picture.
How else do we explain the fact that each day, so many people sit down in front of their TV’s with a bag of chips and a drink to watch other people’s misery being broadcast? Perhaps we’re able to lessen our own misery by watching that of others. Come to think of it, I should get some chips and peanuts for tonight…
These blinders are mainly formed by a fear of being confronted with our own way of being and acting. This particular kind of fear is only one part of the excess baggage we carry with us in this reality. By ‘excess baggage’, I also mean all kinds of other fears, emotions, doubts, uncertainties, negative projections, traumatic experiences, limiting cords between people, negative lifestyle patterns, beliefs, etc.
Fear makes us uncertain and fosters our need for power and control over our own and one another’s lives. Money and material goods turn out to be a great veil to mask these uncertainties with. Even though we insist that money doesn’t bring happiness, we often derive a fictional and disguised feeling of happiness and security from the measure of financial prosperity that we have achieved.
Unprocessed emotions are stored inside our bodies; for example, in the organs or the neck muscles. It is not without reason that we speak of heartache and angry bile in the liver. These stored emotions pinch the tissues and cause a sense of stress, tension and unease.
Often, we aren’t even aware of the excess baggage we drag along with us every day. This is because as long as it benefits us in some way, we don’t see this excess baggage as excess baggage. Our baggage has helped us to stimulate ourselves and one another and has motivated us to increase our consciousness. However, once we’ve learnt our lesson, we do experience this excess baggage as a burden which hinders us.
Perhaps you’ve noticed it too: over the past years, something has been changing inside us! Our created and acquired securities that we have clung on to for so long are evaporating in front of our eyes. More and more, we are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually experiencing our own resistance to the way we have experienced and seen life thus far. We realize that we can’t go on like this. It is precisely our collective insecurity – yes even helplessness – that motivates us to finally look at one another again, to listen to one another and to cooperate. We are beginning to understand.
The immediate result of this is that we more often and more intensely experience problems because of our excess baggage. It is starting to irritate us. The safe jackets, behind which we have hidden all these years, now feel heavy. We are literally becoming tired of them and we are realizing more and more that the things we do, actually don’t suit us. This manifests itself, amongst other things, in chronic fatigue, inexplicable pains, worried thoughts, problems at work and in relationships, and stubborn patterns and fears. The beauty of this is that it motivates us to do something about it. You only go to the doctor if there is something wrong with you, right? If he can’t help you further, your true quest begins...
My view is, that the baggage we are carrying with us, now stops us from confidently growing and from taking responsibility for ourselves, each other and our environment without wearing blinders. We desperately need each other to be able to get any further. After all, you don’t build a house alone! If we want to change, we’ll have to let go. It’s time to throw off our old, threadbare jackets. The Jacket Technique enables you to do this in a short period of time.
Extract taken from the Introduction to the book 'The Jacket Technique' published by Ayni Books.
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