Imagine you have two coats: red and blue. Life is good for you when you’re wearing the red coat – the sun shines brighter, good things happen and everyone you meet is kind to you. The blue coat leaves you cold – you have darker moods when you’re wearing the blue coat, things always go wrong and even your best friends drag you down.
Now imagine nobody told you the coats have this effect.
And imagine your eyes have become foggy and colour-blind, so both coats now look the same to you.
This is my experience of how we create all the suffering in our lives. Human beings have two gears: love and fear. We also have thousands of thoughts every hour, more sensory data coming in than even the fastest computer could process and a memory bank with billions of ideas to compare with each other. We do our best. And when we’re wrapped in love, life is simple. When we’re wrapped in fear, it’s not.
Depending what gear we’re in, we can experience the same thoughts differently – and then those thoughts have a very different influence on our feelings, behaviour and subsequent thoughts.
What if you’re sitting with some friends and the conversation goes quiet? In love, it’s beautiful to sit peacefully and not need to say anything. In fear, the same thought – “nobody’s speaking” – leads to a different feeling, and that feeling shapes our next thought. We can go “nobody’s speaking”, “this is lovely”, “I so enjoy being with people who don’t expect anything from me”. Or we can go “nobody’s speaking”, “this won’t work if we can’t even talk to each other”, “why can’t I think of anything to say?”, “I’ve got to get out of here”. The difference is nothing on the outside and nothing to do with thinking positively. It’s simply about which gear you’re in: love or fear.
Let’s say the conversation continues and my friend says my idea is overly simple – maybe even naive. When I’m in love, I know it makes sense for her to think that way because of how she thinks about the world and how my ideas integrate with those thoughts. I appreciate her honesty in sharing what she thinks. I respect her world and don’t take her thoughts personally. I continue to love her. But when I’m fearful, I feel under attack. I’m so busy doubting myself and defending myself that I don’t even see my friend any more. Why would a friend be so rude to me? She’s just an idiot … blah, blah, blah.
The same applies in business too. I remember negotiating a six-figure contract for my IT company in the 90s and then, right at the last minute, the client said he wasn’t sure. Wrapped in love, it’s beautiful to explore what somebody really wants. I wouldn’t want us to do anything he wasn’t happy with and there’s always the possibility of finding something more wonderful. But wrapped in fear, as I was then, I didn’t want to lose what I didn’t even have yet. I was paranoid about saying the wrong thing and blowing the whole deal. I took it personally and thought he was messing me about. I felt sick in my stomach, lashed out and the deal was never done.
At it’s most simple, each moment is a choice: love or fear But it doesn’t feel so simple because of the fog in front of our eyes.
Even if we understand the all-powerful nature of our coloured coats, how can we choose between two coats that look the same to us? When the fog is in front of our eyes, we don’t even see the choice: red or blue, love or fear. We mostly see fog. And in that confusion we might think we’ve chosen love when actually we’ve chosen fear. (Like we might act really loving because secretly we’re afraid we’re not.)
That’s why I think clarity is so transformative. Clarity transforms all our relationships – with every person, every concept (like money, health, society) and every belief we have. Clarity makes the present moment peaceful – so it becomes very easy to explore what we want to create next, and to take a step. Life feels simple and graceful. Love flows easily.
The work I do with people has got simpler and simpler over the years. It’s about returning to love. But more than that it’s about deepening your awareness so that you can recognise love and fear more easily and more distinctly. We can all be so tricky with ourselves. I find the most useful shift is to feel our awareness rather than thinking about it. Instead of trying to see through the fog, we learn what each coat feels like. That’s when I see the biggest changes in people. Meditation makes it easy.