Friday, November 10, 2006


If there's one fundamental requirement for living the life you want to live, it is the ability to live consciously. It's the ability to make your own decisions and act upon them. As surprising as it may seem, for the average person in everyday living, this ability is nothing more than an illusion.

Take an instance of social anxiety for example. Say, you're meeting up with a bunch of friends for coffee. Most of these people you know but there's also a couple of friends of a friend tagging along. You've agreed to meet outside the old bingo hall at 2.15pm. It takes 15 minutes to get there and it's now 1.55pm, so you slip into your best shoes and off you go. It's all good, right? Until you arrive at the bingo hall, only to discover a pretty girl is standing there, waiting.

All of a sudden the lack of presence from your regular friends is all too apparent, not too dissimilar to the deafening sound of silence. And you better remember that sound because there's going to be a lot of it over the next few minutes, this girl is obviously part of the group and you're going to be friendly with her, right? Well, you're going to try. You walk over and you raise a little smile whilst you stop and look at your watch. You break a smile because a 'Hi!' is too scary and besides, body language accounts for 90% of communication between two human beings, right? Let me tell you, so far you're doing good, she retorts with a 'Hi, are you waiting for....'. Of course you are, and that's that, you've made a new friend. Cue the deafening silence.

With all the might you can muster, you try. There's a conversation somewhere within you and you desperately search through the index at the back of your mind but not for the love of God can you find one. What the hell can you talk about? What do others talk about? Ok, wait, you have something, it's there, a line of conversation... 'Bugger me stupid! Why didn't it come out?', you think to yourself. 'It was there. It was f****** there!'. And on it goes. You stand nervously and your new friend begins to whittle like a dying rose under the influence of your contagious discomfort. Really, why didn't it come out? You had something to say, you wanted to say it, but nothing happened. Why?

You're a robot. Robots function through programs. Programs tell the robot what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. As long as the robot is running the same program, it's running the same functions in the exact same way it always has.

Don't get me wrong, the human mind is far more complex than the creations of today's science. Our program is ever evolving, but the program is there, created by you along with a little help from the external influences in your life. The program is your ego. The ego is what you believe yourself to be. The definition of yourself. It's the solid, objective belief that you are the person that can't blurt out a simple line of conversation. The truth is you can do whatever you like and say what you want. I'm sure you'll agree with me that there's no physical impossibilities here. There's only the belief that you can't do it, and that's your program telling you to do what you've always done because that's who you believe yourself to be.

This isn't an issue confined to social anxiety either, it's a global epidemic. People the world over are trying to better themselves, or make decisions which they fail to follow through with because they live within the confines of their own program. There's two ways to deal with this, you can either re-program, or you can scrap the program altogether and live consciously. Fortunately for us, unlike robots we have the option to scrap the identity and run on fresh ideas, make new decisions and live a life of choice rather than personal dictatorship. You can keep the program and maybe you can tell it to speak to people and make a better life for yourself, but you'll still be lost for the option of personal choice. If you're looking for liberation, the program must go.

Here's the clincher. The ego is very much like a virus and it has a deep seated attachment to you. Find out for yourself, sit down to meditate for ten minutes. It doesn't take long to figure out just how difficult it is to clear your mind, and your mind isn't clear because your ego is sitting there with you, talking. Doesn't stop, does it? The little guy doesn't like to be stopped. That little guy is you and to push it away is to lose your own identity, and you like your identity, huh? Yeah, I never said this was the easy route. But as far as I'm aware, it's the only route to personal liberation and the ability to gain control over your own life as opposed to having a little voice dictating your every move.

Without the ego there is no social anxiety, but if I'm to be fair, unless you're going to dedicate your life to this, you're never going to be completely free from your ego. What you can do, is limit your ego to a level where you can at the very least live consciously for brief moments throughout the day. It is perfectly within the realms of possibility to make noticeable improvements on your life by becoming more conscious of the world around you. Besides, one of the main reasons I chose to jot down this article today, is because the socially anxious generally have vastly inflated egos. You would never fear the repercussions of a negative social experience if it wasn't for the inevitable egoic bruising that comes with it, would you? You fear nothing but the possibility of your personal self-image being tarnished, so the ego remains rigid, in which case your decisions are confined to the laws of that rigid space.

Loosen up a little.

If I've wet your enthusiasm for knowledge on this one then I'd suggest you pick up a book by Eckhart Tolle. Either Power of now, or A New Earth.