Photo taken at the Halifax Citadel in the summer of 2015. Standing guard over the Citadel are the 78th Highlanders. Sometimes our eye or mind is drawn to those things that stand out.
Ever since I read about the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon events seem to stand out more noticeably. It’s as if the mindfulness training has allowed me to lift the veil on this little part of my mind. The phenomenon, based on the idea of the frequency illusion, is a cognitive bias whereby we may read something or see an event occur and suddenly we begin to notice those events on a more regular basis. A common one for me has been the idea of buying a new car and then driving it off the lot and noticing that they are everywhere! That one-of-a-kind now appears to be a one-of-many. It never occurred to me however that this type of bias can impact other areas as well.
Reading through mindfulness books, books on meditation, and various other sources on the topic is of course going to lead one down the road of consistent themes. Perhaps that is what is enjoyable about the process; the themes resonate. Where the frequency bias really digs deep however is when themes cross different sources in our lives. Take for example these three, seemingly random sources.
Thich Naht Hanh’s book Reconciliation is the current read. A book focusing on the reconciliation with our inner child in order to not allow the distant memories of our life to continue to influence them today. A way of becoming more present by dealing with the issues we have grown up with as children and perhaps what our parents dealt with and passed down. One of the topics is the fear and how we allow fear to hold us back and play a big part in our life. By learning to work with this fear in a soft and gentle manner we can begin to overcome and even allow fear to be source of strength.
On a whim I decided to pick up a different book outside of my normal reads. Robert Greene and 50 Cent penned The 50th Law and having previously read the 48 Laws of Power I enjoyed how Robert Greene tied history and quotes into the themes of his book.
Your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live. Robert Greene (The 50th Law)
So it becomes clear early on that fear is an important theme in this book. Overcoming fear to gain power and live a more full life. Now granted the idea of power tends to be a common thread for Robert Greene’s books and not necessarily a focus in my life as power within can simply be connected to ourselves and not necessarily trying to overcome everyone else. The idea of living fully though by overcoming fear was the second point.
Enter Joe Rogan. I enjoy listening to Joe Rogan’s podcasts immensely! He has the most interesting guests and talks about diverse topics that cover many of the issues we are facing as a society. His random approach to bringing guests connects to my randomness when it comes to learning about different topics. A recent podcast brought on Dr. Mark Gordon who specializes in neurological medicine and they spoke about cutting edge therapy that focus more on natural healing / steroid therapy and potentially stem cell medicine to treat issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even illness associated with concussions. The topic however turned to the idea of individuals who succeed tend to be able to address their fears and learn from them. Not allowing the fear of failure to prevent us from trying again.
So within the course of a day I had touched on the topic of fear across a random assortment of materials. Not to mention dealing with anxiety and fear in an uncertain work environment and it triggered the thoughts about this cognitive bias.
How do we use this to grow?
Although a bias to identify themes can be named and linked to science; it doesn’t mean that there isn’t power in those bias’. Personally I love when these pieces come together. Learning about ourselves and growing mindfully into our lives means addressing the darker places we don’t like to address. It’s easy to see something that scares us and simply turn away back to the comfort of certainty. There are a lot of areas in my life that fear has simply pushed the door closed and yet there are times I recall walking through the door. It then becomes apparent that in those moments where we walk through the door of fear there was clearly growth. Whether it was a career decision, saying yes to help someone without any idea what I’m doing, there was growth. The doors closed? Well I’ll never know.
How about on the platform? Consider the fear of going too heavy in any of the lifts. Is fear holding you back? What is the worse that can happen if you have a proper spotter and know your technique is sound. The fear of pushing ourselves too hard because of what may happen (soreness / tired / failing a rep or set)
If you begin to notice these bias’ start to ask yourself why your mind has picked up on these themes. What resonates within your mind that is drawing you over and over to the topic. In this case it’s addressing fears. If a fear arises now the bias will remind me that “hey perhaps we should walk through that door and see what happens.” Science would seem to indicate that there is a defined theory behind it and that’s how our mind works. Perhaps there is more too it and the flow of life is simply nudging you towards something. You keep seeing it over and over again so be present with those thoughts and consider why.