When Your Mind Has Visitors (Extended, Deep Version)
First, a disclaimer. This extended piece is not my best writing but I feel it goes deep into the complicated dynamics of emotions, states of mind, and the mind itself… or maybe it doesn’t. I suspect this version is useful for people going through considerable pain or with a deep interest in the ‘mind’.
The gist of the idea is rather simple… your mind has visitors, and you trust those visitors a bit too much sometimes.
There you were, sitting down and minding your own business, when… whoops! Someone stole your dream partner. This opened a door, and in came Jealousy to visit you.
Jealousy had big thirsty eyes and was wearing too many clothes (none of which they owned, all of which they’d borrowed). And around Jealousy you always envied what others had, and always thought everything you did have was bland and boring.
So you asked Jealousy, ‘Jealousy, what should I do about this jealous feeling I have?’
And Jealousy said, ‘Go out, get more money! Become more successful! Become happier, and then so-and-so whatever his/her name was,’ (Jealousy was always light on the details) ‘will come racing back to you!’
You did this, but the unthinkable happened… ‘so-and-so’ didn’t come back.
But you didn’t blame Jealousy, you blamed so-and-so. This opened another door, and through that door, Disappointment dragged its feet.
And around Disappointment you felt angry and low. So you asked Disappointment, ‘Disappointment, what should I do about my disappointment?’
And Disappointment said, ‘Get bitter and angry at the world for not acknowledging how wonderful you are! Let this serve as even more proof that the world is against you!’
‘When will my disappointment go away?’ you asked Disappointment.
‘When they finally notice your brilliance, when you win at everything you try,’ was Disappointment’s answer.
So you did this, but when people refused to acknowledge your greatness, when you didn’t win right away, and even when you did win but still didn’t feel so great, you didn’t blame Disappointment.
You blamed everyone else in the world, and you blamed yourself. This didn’t really make sense… you would have thought it would be one or the other, but you did it anyway.
You let that heat and bother build and build inside you until another door burst open and in stormed Anger.
Anger was red in the face, with pimples that swelled red and eyes that were bloodshot. Anger wore a red leather jacket, red leather pants, and… why, Anger’s hair was on fire. And Anger was screaming, roaring, at the top of their lungs.
And around Anger every negative thought that came into your head was absolutely correct! You couldn’t question or fault those thoughts if you tried! But you were also a little bloodthirsty.
Anger said you’re being bloodthirsty was justified, so long as the world kept misbehaving and treating you wrong. This prompted you to ask Anger what you should do about your anger, and Anger said, ‘In this order — shout at people, break things, make lots of noise and disturb everyone else, go get a few drinks… and then prove everyone wrong!’
Well, you did just that, and you succeeded in pissing a lot of people off. But then you went out there and proved them all wrong, and now through a door walked Victory.
Victory and Victory’s Partner.
Victory had a strut, smiled proudly and puffed out its chest — yes, around Victory you felt powerful, resurgent, confident… oh yes, Confidence. When they walked in together, you assumed Confidence and Victory were a couple (and Victory told you it was true).
Now you stood there without a flicker of self-doubt. Oh yes… you liked having Victory and Confidence around.
‘Victory! Confidence!’ you cried, ‘what do I do next? I don’t want to lose you ever!’
‘Get more victories!’ responded Victory without a moment’s hesitation.
‘Rightio!’ you sang out, and you charged forward in the search of more victories, and this worked for a while… and what a time this was! People started behaving the way they were supposed to. Why, they were saying nice things to you, and patting you on the back… actually they’d always done those things, but now you remembered!
Oh, I almost forgot to say — you thought you saw Happiness in that nice little period, but it was just the other visitors in disguise. I thought that was worth mentioning.
Then the Hot Streak Ended
As you’re aware, the hot streak eventually came to an end (as it was always going to). You hit a brick wall and crashed to the floor (don’t worry, if it had happened any later, it would have hurt even more). You were shocked and surprised, but you really shouldn’t have been.
When you opened your eyes you saw that Victory and Confidence had left you — both of them (’They really are a couple,’ you thought).
To make matters worse, something had opened a door for Depression to come in… you didn’t know what, you didn’t know how, you didn’t know why, but all the same, you quickly pulled the drapes shut. You couldn’t be seen with Depression! If you were seen with Depression…
… that partner wouldn’t come back.
… and people wouldn’t tell you how great you are.
… and they’d start trying to fix you, which would make you feel small.
… and Victory would never come back with Confidence. And now you missed Confidence more than ever.
But as soon as you shut the drapes on Depression, Shame pushed its way in too, followed by Self-Loathing and its cousin, Suppression.
Now it was really crowded in your room…
And the temperature was going up…
Yet you didn’t ask them to leave.
Because these were the only friends you had!
And there was no one else in sight. And you rather be with them than alone with yourself.
And yet Suppression was building a wall through the middle of your room. ‘Why are you doing that Suppression?’ you asked.
‘Shame said you didn’t want to see us, so we’re going to hide behind this wall in your room… don’t worry, just pretend we’re not here! We’ll be doing our thing without bothering you, and you can go about your day-to-day life!’
So they left you less space in your room. Breaking down Suppression’s wall would be expensive and messy, and you had things to do, like trying to cope at work while depressed.
So you just left it there.
The Gracious Host
You weren’t a rude host — you fed these friends when they visited. In fact, they couldn’t eat without you.
But you didn’t see that.
Unfortunately, the more you fed them, the more food they expected from you, so the more they came around.
And the longer they stayed.
They were still your friends though. They normally came for good reasons, usually because something significant had happened to you. Events in your life were always triggering memories of the past (even things you didn’t remember) and making them feel like they were happening NOW! While you thought you were in the present, you’d really just time-traveled!
Suppression saw to that. Suppression pulled the strings from behind that wall in your room, like the Wizard of Oz. This triggering and time-travel always happened behind your eyes, while your eyes thought you were seeing the world as it was now. Even though this happened at your expense, you have to say — it was a neat trick!
What’s that? What did you say? No, no, no, not at all! They weren’t out to harm you. In fact, they were trying to protect you. I think they gave you the best advice they could give, but you have to remember, they’re all a bit one-dimensional and not at all precise. Taking advice from them is like taking advice from an alarm bell or reading too much into a dog’s bark.
It has to be said, it’s you that associates the dog’s bark or the alarm’s bell with something specific out in the world. (This is something you’ve done about 5,671 times with your parents so far, forming quite a specific impression of them, one that might need reconsidering. Yes, yes, I know they’re perfect bastards, it’s just food for thought.)
Let’s clear this up then — these friends live to protect you. In fact, yes, you remember they protected you when you were younger and unable to fend for yourself. Maybe that’s why you still invite them over so often, and feed them so much? Deep down, you’re afraid these strong friends will not only stop defending you, but leave you all alone.
So you listen to what they want. It’s like… like doing what your parents say so they don’t cut you off or kick you out, even if you don’t agree.
Oh my… did you come to think you couldn’t be safe without the visitors?
Maybe it’s fine for them to visit from time to time, no matter how old you get, but only for important things? The question is, how long should they stay? And what does it mean when they’ve stayed for a while? Is it a problem with the world, or is it a problem with you?
But it was too hard for you to answer those questions today…
Because today your room was crowded, full of noisy visitors… Suppression, Self-Loathing, Shame, all causing chaos behind the all in your room, and others were filing in too.
Still there at the front was Depression. You know what you did next? You asked Depression what to do about your depressed feeling.
And Depression’s advice suggested something even worse than depression itself. You shuddered, and decided not to do it. Not because you didn’t want to, but because you were afraid to.
Hot gossip about Confidence.
That, thankfully, was when you were distracted by something out the window. Though Depression always had the window blocked (with help from Shame), you saw something through the tiny square that was still unobstructed.
You saw Confidence visiting your neighbour… and without Victory! Oh my, this was the sauciest scandal of the summer! This was better than watching the scandals on Love Island (which, by the way, you only watched because it was what the visitors wanted to watch).
‘Confidence!’ you shouted out the window, ‘what will Victory say?’
Confidence gave you a confused look and said, ‘Oh, Victory and I aren’t a thing.’
‘When did you break up?’ you asked.
‘We were never going out!’ laughed Confidence. ‘We’re just friends. I can never hang out with Vic for long… demands too much of me and always wants more.’
‘What!’ you cried. That’s when you remembered that it was Victory who had told you that the two were an item. Lying, thieving, deceitful Victory, who just wanted to be invited around more often! ‘Well then, why can’t you visit me without Victory, like you do my neighbour?’
Well this got your neighbour’s attention. Your neighbour turned to the window, saw you, and then spotted Confidence out the corner of their eye and said, ‘Confidence! I didn’t notice you there… when did you come in?’
‘I came in when you accepted yourself the way you are, when you stopped expecting people to act a certain way, or hoping things would go your way… when you decided to totally take it as it comes, you let Enough in,’ explained Confidence, ‘and that enables me to just come and sit in here.’
Without seeing it, a door in your room opened and wham — Jealousy was back.
The Return of Jealousy.
Jealousy wasted no time. It told you to write the words ‘I AM ENOUGH,’ on your forehead in big bold letters and point this out to Confidence. But this didn’t get Confidence’s attention, so another voice in your ear told you what to do.
And you did it — you started yelling, ‘I AM ENOUGH! I AM ENOUGH!’ and you did it about thirty more times, but Confidence wouldn’t budge, because Confidence, unlike you, was not an idiot.
You turned around to see who had given you this great advice. ‘Ah,’ you said, ‘Delusion, I should have known,’ for Delusion, who always used a fake name, always stood behind you and knew exactly when to sneak up on you. ‘But if you’re here, that means that someone else is here…’
And at that moment, you heard someone say ‘Owww!’ and you saw what you expected to see — Desperation holding their head after running into the wall. Desperation, who was always in a hurry, who was constantly running around in circles, who was always burning their hand on stoves, getting into car accidents, and treading on people’s toes.
The Real Visitor
Meanwhile, this whole time, the one you really wanted to visit you was called Peace.
Peace had a nickname, ‘Calm,’ but Calm was always driven out of your room because there was never enough space when others came to visit… even Happiness.
Calm could only be there if the others were gone, and yet, all you ever did was ask the other friends how to get Confidence and Calm back, or demand or hope they came back, instead of just letting them in.
Dealing with the Others.
The distracting visitors wouldn’t come around so often if you didn’t feed them so much. And maybe, instead of trying to hold all the doors closed (which was impossible), you could patiently watch, observe, and ask ‘what fear of mine still lingers, that sent this visitor today?’ and the answer might be, ‘hmm, I don’t know, and that’s okay, I’ll figure it out.’
You could also ask ‘why does that person’s insult trigger a defensive reaction in me? Do I fear there’s some truth to it? I wouldn’t react this way if they called me a blue elephant, or a jewelry thief… because I know I’m neither of those things.’
And whoosh — that’s the moment you became grateful for your insecurities. You now saw them as witches hats placed on the road after a car accident. The boom-boom-boom is the sound you make when you collide with them, because it’s time to pack them away.
You were grateful because they gave you enough pain to break through Delusion’s whispers — because no amount of reading, or words, or logic could do that. Yes, remember, all these visitors were your friends, even though they constantly gave you the shits and lead you astray.
What will you do with them now? Catch up with them several times a year, on Christmas and birthdays, just as you do with all the other people you love who give you the shits. But enough about them — because now you’re ready to come full circle, back to the beginning.
Back to the Beginning.
If you remember, your dream partner left you. It’s time to re-examine this little event — now ask yourself, ‘did I use them like a cork in a bottle, to keep my fear at bay?’
The fear you would be alone and a failure, that people would judge you, talk about you, disapprove of you… all-in-all, the fear you weren’t enough.
Did you think Calm and Peace and Confidence only came around when your dream partner was around? Did you therefore blame the dream partner for Calm and Peace and Confidence (don’t get me started on Happiness!) having gone? Perhaps you sent them the bill for Jealousy, and Disappointment, and Anger… when all these visitors came to see YOU. I mean, they were in your room.
Oh dear — the fear of not being enough really does block your soul from having its life, doesn’t it?
If you could only surrender to it. Because the fear you are living out…
… is the fear of fear itself.
That’s when you saw it
That all the visitors had been sent by Fear. And you had been listening to them! You had been listening to Fear’s minions all along.
But Fear was not your enemy — remember, it was Fear that stopped you taking Depression’s advice!
What’s that? You’re asking who’s the enemy then, if not Fear? There’s no ‘enemy’ my fellow. If there’s an enemy, you invite Anger and all the others back in, and that’s the minions of Fear back in your room, and we’re back where we started!
Fear itself is Nature’s gift to you.
When people hurt you, they’re not the cause of your pain, they’re the catalyst that reveals it to you. What they trigger serves to highlight where there’s still work to be done — and yet all the advice your visitors ever give you is to focus on and blame the catalysts…
Why? So they don’t have to leave! So they can keep feeding off you!
‘But what if they hit me, and stab me, and nail me to wood! Then they’re the cause of my pain!’ you say, your mind spinning, doing calculations and drawing charts and arrows and conclusions, realising the paradox of the mind — you can never escape it, yet you can’t live in it either.
To the mind, there will always be something that can happen to you that is worth fearing, as well as more things worth having, possessing, and attaching yourself to. Yes, the logic of the mind is flawed, and yet impenetrable. You still listen to it (I know I do too).
The mind alone will never be able to understand certain things. Like how a man could be hit, and whipped, and spat on, and nailed to a cross, and then be willing to forgive the people who did it to him. No a mind on its own can’t understand that — but what can?
A pure soul. A soul so pure it was able to constantly clear the mind of even the most terrible fears.
So let me put it this way…
Notice you didn’t see Peace visiting your neighbour, only Confidence? Do you wonder why that was? No don’t got back to the window, you’ll never see it in there. Once more you look with your eyes for what lies behind them — or in this case, what belongs to them.
When fear and attachment are gone, when the visitors leave, the mind is clear. And, when it’s unobstructed, that’s when it can do it’s thing. And it floods you with the good stuff, like waterfall that flows within.
Don’t you see? When the distractions and disturbances and visitors are gone, Peace is your name, and it returns to you when you remember who and what you are.
And it is the soul. What you are, is a soul.
The mind when it is in disturbance, you go to that mind and it tries to figure [it] out… the only thing your mind has done is complain that it’s not okay, and try to figure out what everybody else needs to be so it can be okay. — Michael Singer.
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