Most of us live with the constant fear that the element that currently meets our needs will one day disappear. We are afraid that the person who loves us will one day stop loving us. We are afraid that the work that feeds us will one day stop feeding us. We are afraid that the relationships that support us will one day cease to support us.
So, to stay in control, we hold on to those people and objects that meet our needs. We try to make ourselves loved. We try to make the work need us. We grab the people, objects and things that make us feel important and then we hold on to them.
This then makes us slaves to these people and objects. A simple tremor can cause a landslide in our lives. When our only way to feel appreciated is our money, then we become slaves to our money. When our only way to feel loved is by the way we look, then we will become slaves to the way we look. When our only way to feel accepted is our work, then we will become slaves to our work.
If we feel that our partner is the one and only person on the planet who can make us feel certain emotions, we cling to her and suffocate her with our requests for affection. We become so attached that it only takes a simple lapse of memory for us to find ourselves invaded by a strong emotion beyond our control. Some people then begin to complain about life and others live with a wound deep in their soul.
Many elements in our lives are controlled by a sense of scarcity. This sense of scarcity then pushes us to live at the expense of a person or thing that will eventually hurt us, consciously or unconsciously.
By holding on to our work, we risk living every moment under pressure not to lose it, which can just as easily cause its loss. By clinging to our partner, all our actions are likely to be taken with the aim of satisfying him or her, but sometimes forgetting who we really are. By holding on to the people we love, we are more likely to cause them to leave.
In reality, we confuse the elements that meet our needs with the needs themselves.
You don’t need your partner. You need to be loved.
You don’t need to be beautiful. You need to feel appreciated.
You don’t need your job. You need to feel safe.
These needs can be met in countless ways.
That partner you love may leave you, whether through death or betrayal, but there will eventually be another. You may be laid off from your job, but there will eventually be another opportunity. Your status or appearance may change, but there is always more than one way to feel important and valued. Assuming you have the will, all your needs can be met. Your confidence in your ability to meet them is therefore the element that will get you out of business.
Studies show that people who are paralysed are not less happy or in poorer mental health than others on average. Joint twins almost unanimously refuse to undergo surgery to separate their bodies from each other, as this would end the special relationship they have developed with each other.
We are worried about an uncertain future. We are trying to prevent a pain we cannot control. We cling to those people and things that meet our needs. We provoke the pain we feared and then question our identity once again.
Although our psyche has a profound way of conspiring to use the resources provided to it to meet our needs, our environment and the feelings we experience make us believe just the opposite.
We then find ourselves thinking that this person is the only one who can make us happy, that this work is the only one that can nourish us or that these relationships are the only ones that can support us. We then find ourselves trapped with this person, this work or these relationships that exploit us like slaves greedy for meaning.
Recently, a friend asked me: “What would I do if I woke up tomorrow without money, without friends or family?”
My answer was: “I don’t know.”
I don’t know what I would do to get out of it. I’m going to cry and complain, I’m going to worry and fight. I know it would be hard and I would be lonely, but I would get through it.
With time, everything will eventually dissipate. All these feelings will fade away. All those people and objects that make us feel important will disappear. Happiness does not prevent these losses. So adaptation is the key.
It is not the people and objects, which meet the needs of my life, that make me happy. I make me happy.
If all these elements were to disappear, while I would mourn their loss, I would find new people and new objects, new activities and new passions, I would build a new identity and I would live.
What about you?
- Meditate regularly the content of this article to forge mental freedom within yourself.