As human beings, we are hardwired for survival. We push ourselves outside our comfort zones. We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We keep moving forward, despite pockets of deep despair and sheer exhaustion that make it feel all but impossible to continue putting one foot in front of the other.
And yet, we choose to keep going. Every day. Sometimes more than once a day and often without even realizing it.
We are each born with a primitive, built-in physiological response to stress that pushes us to escape danger and protect ourselves at any cost. When we encounter a threat, our body tells us we have two options: we can either fight, or we can flee. And though as a species, we’re at less risk of being attacked by a saber tooth tiger today than we once were– this inborn, reflexive response to danger has not left us. We’re still on the hunt for a pain-free life. It just so happens our quest has evolved from a physical struggle into a spiritual one.
Our modern day saber tooth tigers answer to the names of fear, anxiety and the stress of uncertainty– and these threats to our inner peace affect us in much the same way as did the physical threats of our past.
Yesterday’s survival tactics no longer work against today’s enemies. Our programming has yet to adapt to the new existential threats that emanate from within. And because our bodies are constantly pushing us to either outrun or outgun these perceived threats to our safety and well-being, we often burn a tremendous amount of energy trying to hide from our pain, or find someone else we can blame it on.
Eliminating our pain, on the other hand, requires us to change the programming. To get still. To stop moving long enough to notice that many of the monsters we face are not as powerful as we think they are. To sit with our fear, no matter how uncomfortable or irrational it may be. To explore it. To look inward, even when we’re afraid such an exercise might dredge up new monsters we might then feel compelled to fight or flee.
Because what we often fail to see is that a life of fighting and running is a life spent chained to an enemy we will never escape. True freedom, on the other hand, has only ever required three things of us: The truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.