You Are Not Uniquely Disturbed

We're all walking around under a collective illusion, like some kind of cosmic practical joke, where each person thinks everyone else has it together, but nobody really does.
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Have you ever wished you were inside somebody else's head? Of course you have. If you stop to think about it right now, you could probably come up with several people whose minds you wish you could read. If you are interviewing for a job, you probably would love to know what they think of you. That hot date last weekend: "Why has she not called yet?" Your boss seems angry at something: "I wonder if she did not like my presentation?" You weren't invited to the party Saturday night: "He probably doesn't think I am cool enough." You were invited to the party: "Will he think I am cool enough?" We are each plagued with this kind of incessant mind chatter that is more concerned with what other people think about us than what we want for ourselves.

What's ironic is that we each feel alone with this chatter. The average person believes these internal processes are uniquely his: "There is something wrong with me." Ashamed of our weaknesses, and fearful of others' opinions of us, we keep them to ourselves. We put on a "mask" and pretend to everyone around us that all is well. What we don't know is that everyone we interact with often feels as uniquely disturbed and fraudulent as we do, but is also pretending otherwise. We're all walking around under a collective illusion, like some kind of cosmic practical joke, where each person thinks everyone else has it together, but nobody really does.

Clueless, we go about our daily lives feeling restless, anxious, and with an overall sense that something is wrong. Certainly this is not all we experience; we do feel happy, peaceful and productive at times. However, more often than not these states do not last. We come back to a vague but strong sense that something is wrong or missing.

The truth is that there is nothing wrong with any of us. These feelings come from patterns that are wired in us and are part of the natural operation of our brains. The only thing that is "wrong" is that we don't feel safe to share these feelings with each other. If we did, we would discover how common they are. Imagine how differently you might feel if you knew that almost every person you come in contact with is also afraid of feeling judged or rejected. You would not need to pretend that you have it all together. You could actually be yourself and invite them to be themselves. Like politics, or weather, these feelings could become a common topic of discussion. We would no longer have to deal with them by ourselves.

Why don't we open up and reveal what is really going on inside us? Again, it's our neural patterns that program us not to share these feelings. Our psyche's primary concern is survival and safety. Showing vulnerability is against its nature because we fear being judged and rejected. We need to appear strong and in control. One way for our psyche to feel safe is to recognize that this is part of our programming and that we are all in the same boat. The truth is we are actually more vulnerable and insecure because we are not honest with each other and ourselves. If we stopped pretending all is well when we don't feel it, we could expose the illusion for what it is, and free ourselves to address these feelings together.

You are not uniquely disturbed. Let us embrace our nature and be more kind and compassionate with its quirkiness. With honesty and acceptance we not only find that we are not disturbed, we are actually magnificent.

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