Pulling our own strings: The mindful art of undoing prejudice.

Photo by bigbear74 – DeviantArt

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

Maya Angelou

What is the biggest thing that stops people from living their lives in the present moment? Fear – and we must learn how to overcome fear.

Brian Weiss

Living in the moment and being preoccupied with our current predicament are not the same thing.

When we live in the moment, we bring mindful attention to whatever life throws at us, whether good or bad. We remain free to act, and to do whatever might be necessary resolve the issues that confront us.

When we are preoccupied with the present we allow ourselves to become bogged down, getting lost in unhelpful rumination, going over the same ground again and again, without reaching any productive conclusions.

Life seems to overwhelm us and we can get stuck in a busyness trap. Reacting automatically to stressors, and trying to alter our predicament by doing something, anything at all, without stopping to consider what would really help.

We mistake activity for action.

When we are truly present – right here, right now, and not thinking about the past, or worrying what the future might bring – we can look forward with freedom and much greater creativity. We can clarify what we wish for, and make plans to achieve our goals.

This will give us the best chance of bringing our preferred future to fruition.

When we have a vision, a plan for our lives, we give ourselves a sense of purpose and direction, this provides us with an internal locus of control, which, in its turn, generates a sense of genuine self-determination. We no longer remain puppets whose strings are controlled by the past.

Mindful reflection about the future allows us to prepare for any change in the situations that confront us. Whether this is in our work, our relationships, or general day-to-day living. When we consider a range of future possibilities we can respond, and adapt, to the changing situations thrown up by our lives.

Living in the present allows us space to think, to connect the various dots and dashes of our past experience, and understand how this influences our view of the present and future.  We can use this knowledge to make something new, something “better”, using the creativity born out of our past experience to influence our world.

As we grow and develop we all accumulate various biases and prejudices, some of which we are unaware we hold. Much of what we believe about the world we have picked up from those around us through a process of social osmosis.  Accumulating the memes – in the genuine sense of the word – those individual elements that allow us to function in our culture, as we go.

These prejudices and biases are not just about the external world, but also about ourselves. Some of these are helpful and some are not.

  • I am stupid.
  • I like broccoli but hate sprouts.
  • The world owes me a living.
  • Owning things means you are important.
  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
  • I am not a sportsman.
  • Try, try, try again.
  • Add your own helpful/unhelpful meme here.

If we are to make sensible choices, the views we hold about ourselves, and our world, have to be based in reality. We can become true masters of our destiny, no longer needing others to blame for our failings and the disappointments of life.

Many of us choose to remain stuck in the past, reliving our glory days over and over again. If, instead, we choose to use the hard-won lessons that we have garnered about the world, and use the awareness this brings of the things that we do well or that we do not do well, we can live in our present to the best of our ability.

When we see through this claustrophobic preoccupation with the past it gives us the chance to determine our own path. We can enjoy our current lives, no longer pining for some nostalgic past when it never rained and summers lasted for ever.

If we can avoid mistaking a shared origin, based in some unreal golden age, for current reality. we can truly live in the present moment.


The Minimalist Mind





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