Is your toaster plugged in?

I have been trying to win all of my life and in fact considering this fact, I’ve actually done quite well. I passed Royal Marines training with distinction, was promoted ahead of my peers, gained notoriety within the world of therapy quite early on and moved my way quickly to the top with a fair amount of ease. 

But the large goals were still eluding me… you know, the ones that truly mattered to me.

My goals and ambitions, like yours I’m sure, have developed over the years as I have matured and become older. My calling if you will, has now taken the form of a mission statement that reads ‘facilitating lasting positive change within 100 million lives across the world’. A great statement however, as you know, it’s one thing to talk and dream about it but it’s another thing actually doing it. The truth was in fact that in the early days, I wasn’t getting anywhere close to reaching this dream and this was for one reason and one reason only… I didn’t have my toaster plugged in. 

A lesson on toasters… you stick a piece of bread in the slot, you push down the lever and in a few minutes time… you receive a tasty piece of toast. But what if the toaster wasn’t plugged in? What if the electricity was somehow being blocked from flowing through the toaster? How long will it take you to get the desired effect if you were rubbing rocks together? A tricky and time consuming affair I’d hazard a guess!

I, like a huge amount of people in this world, was working without my toaster being plugged in. In other words, I was forcing, I was trying, I was even hoping but without being connected… I was getting virtually nowhere. 

But connected to what? Electricity powers toasters but what powers us as human beings? 

Well, it depends what your beliefs are… a theologian would most likely say God. An agnostic might simply say energy. An atheist might say thought power or consciousness and well the rest… they don’t quite know what to call it!

I don’t believe that the name really matters… the thing I do believe that’s important is that you become aware that it’s real.

No-one on this earth can do anything of any great significance unless they are connected… you must be aware and plugged in to your source if you are to truly fulfil the desires you are capable of. 

How do plug yourself in?

The wonderfully simple fact is that you already are… you  just need to take the time to recognise it. 

Overcoming fear

I have suffered from fear all my life… haven’t you?

Not surprisingly, I have experienced this subjectively on countless occasions. Some of the more interesting ones are skiing down a mountain in Norway before having lessons, landing on a hot LZ in Afghanistan where I was highly concerned that I was going to be being blown up and wondering if my son would come out with all his fingers and toes (we worry us parents) as he was being born. 

I have also examined the subject of fear objectively through my study of psychology in my preparation to become a psychotherapist. I learned that fear was two things… it was either a survival trait, or it was a human construct due to the environment you were inherently part of. It’s what we talk about in psychology as something either being subject to nature or nurture.

So I thought… I suppose, if it was under those circumstances I could let myself off for feeling fear couldn’t I? I mean, it wasn’t really my fault… it was either something I was born with or something that I could blame my parents for?

Wasn’t it?

Let me digress for a moment or two… I was always one of those curious children… one of those children, teenagers, young adults and now middle aged man, that very seldomly took things at face value. I often questioned the validity to any so called truths… I often asked why?

So I did this exact thing when I questioned my thoughts around fear. I, like many others, suffered from some level of fear around what might happen to us all in the middle of a pandemic with no solid ending on the horizon. The fear of uncertainty does this to us… it’s a powerful thing because, well, to state the obvious… we don’t really know when it’s all going to end and that’s not a comfortable thing for anyone to be a part of. 

But then I began to question… what’s driving my fear in this instance? Is it rational… have I been born with this fear… is it a construct of my mind… can I do something about it?

My answers came not from science this time but from metaphysics… the philosophical study of self. 

I came to understand that yes, fear is quite necessary if we are to survive. It’s what stops us from holding our hand over a burning stove or walking too close to the cliff edge but if it’s fear around something existential, then we always have a choice. We always have a choice to do something different…

I then realised that in this type of situation, if we wanted to take back control of our lives we needed to ‘step out’ and do something different. We needed to start telling a different, more hopeful story… we needed to have courage… quite simply we needed to have the courage to act.