IN YOUR HEAD
Episode 19: Everyone knows: Negotiate with terrorists at your peril. By giving into their demands, you're only ensuring you'll be subject to more terrorism. Even so, most of us give into the demands of the never-satisfied mind, the terrorist within, without a moment of thought about the dangerous consequences. In this episode, we'll explore the dangers of giving our power over to the terrorizing mind, and how to enjoy more calm, joy, and freedom in life.
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There's a reason the United States government refuses to negotiate with terrorists. The question is why don't you.
Welcome to Real Yoga, a podcast dedicated to helping you use yoga's ancient wisdom to unlock your life of radical happiness connection and meaning right here. Right now.
I'm your host Eric Walrabenstein. And I'm glad you're here.
This month inside the BrightLife Yoga Collective. We're exploring the power of desire.
It's power for good and it's power for bad.
And this week, it's all about understanding where desire really comes from and why giving into it might just be the worst idea you've ever had.
Now, you'll remember in our last episode, The Power of Desire. We saw there, how desire is little more than an uncomfortable feeling in the body. An uncomfortable feeling that we are instinctually, programmed to stop.
Sometimes we stop it with food...
Sometimes we stop it with drink...
Sometimes we stop it with a pair of new shoes at the mall...
But whatever the desire is for, its mechanism for getting us to act is the same: Discomfort, which is why in the BrightLife Yoga System, we say discomfort drives action.
But today I'm going to take it one step further and suggest this not only are all desires, uncomfortable feelings, but we could go so far as to argue that. Uncomfortable feelings are in a manner of speaking desires. The uncomfortable feeling of anxiety is in a way, a desire to be free from the discomfort of anxiety.
The uncomfortable feeling of impatience is a desire to be free from the discomfort of impatience and the uncomfortable feeling of doubt is simply a desire to be. From the discomfort of doubt. Yes. All uncomfortable feelings have within them, an embedded desire for relief from that discomfort. And as usual, I ask you here, not to believe me on this, but instead look to your own experience and.
But it's here where we come to the real problem.
Here's what you need to know. All your desires are not yours. And I'll say that again, all your desires are not. Yours now. I know that sounds strange if not downright off the rails, but hear me out. Have you ever done something eaten? Something said something that you knew darned well that you shouldn't, and maybe in fact, you didn't even want to do it.
You didn't want to snap at your kids. You didn't want to eat the whole tub of Ben and Jerry's and you didn't want to drink the rest of the wine. And yet something inside of you did want to do those things. And we know that's true because if it wasn't, you wouldn't have done them. And it's here. I'd like to introduce you to your inner terrorist.
What a terrorist inside of me. Yes. It's true. Inside of you inside of me, inside of all of. Well, who is it? What is it? Is it sin? Is it Satan? Actually, it's simpler than any of that. It's your brain. You see, here's what you need to know. Your brain wants things.
Sometimes it wants a burger and a beer...
Sometimes it wants to eat a salad and go to the gym...
Sometimes it wants to watch the two-hour Bachelorette at finale and throw back a bottle of Chardonnay...
But whatever it wants, it always wants what it wants.
And sometimes what it wants you darned well know is not what you want.
Maybe it's because you know it's not good for you.
Or perhaps it's because you know it will have some rather nasty, long-term consequences.
Or even because you just don't want to do, eat, or say what the brain is prompting you
to do, eat, or say.
And all of this sets up a tension between you and the desires, cravings, or impulses fueled by what the brain wants.
But just wanting things that doesn't seem so bad.
Hardly enough to suggest that somebody or something is a terrorist.
And that's true.
But the thing is, it's not so much what the brain wants that makes it a terrorist.
It's how it goes about getting it.
Think of a four-year-old boy at the grocery store, in the ice cream aisle with his mom.
He wants a Popsicle. His mom says no.
But he WANTS a Popsicle and yet his mom still says no.
But he WANTS a Popsicle!
And to prove the point, he flops down on the ground, screaming and kicking and flipping around like a piece of sizzling bacon, acting out a colossal tantrum with everything he's got.
And its here that we need to stop and ask ourselves:
What exactly is this little boy hoping to accomplish by all of his screaming and carrying on?
Now, most of us would say he's hoping to get a Popsicle.
And in that case, most of us would be well, not quite right, because while he does have his sights set on that great Popsicle peering out from behind the frosty freezer window,
the fact is, there's an intermediary step that needs to be taken first.
And that step?
Well, it's to make his mother very uncomfortable.
It might be to make her uncomfortable with embarrassment,
or to make her uncomfortable with anger,
or even to make her uncomfortable with guilt.
But whatever the flavor of discomfort, make no mistake that the child's tantrum is focused on that single—making good old mom uncomfortable.
Well it's right back to the top of the page: discomfort drives action.
And as this miniature terrorist knows, the more uncomfortable you can make mom, the more likely she becomes to give in to his demands to pay the ransom. The ransom of a frosty grape Popsicle.
And it's at this point that I'll pose a question and fair warning, it's one with an answer that is arguably so obvious that it may barely seem worth asking, but here it is.
When you have a four-year-old boy who is hooting and hollering all tantrum-like for a Popsicle,
what is the absolute worst thing you can do?
Yep. Give him a Popsicle.
Well, because when you do, you're teaching him that tantrums work.
And then you'll get more of them.
And with more intensity.
All because you just negotiated with the terrorist.
Now, of course, it's not just the four-year-old terrorist we need to be wary of. It's all terrorists, including the one that lives in between your ears —in your head.
Yes. I'm talking about your brain.
We've already seen how the brain wants things, but what we haven't talked about is how it goes about getting the things it wants. And the fact is, your brain—in fact, all of our brains—have taken a page right out of the four-year old's playbook.
When it wants something it's not getting it throws a tantrum to make you uncomfortable.
When it wants the ice cream, it throws a tantrum to make you uncomfortable with craving.
When it wants companionship, it throws a tantrum to make you uncomfortable with loneliness.
And when it wants a vacation in Bora Bora, it throws a tantrum to make you uncomfortable with longing.
And of course it does this because the brain has figured out—just like the four- year-old has figured out—that if you are made uncomfortable enough, you'll do just about anything to get relief from that discomfort. Including eating ice cream, logging in to Match.com, or whipping out the old credit card for that tropical vacation.
And it's here that so many of us go wrong.
Let's not forget, we're not just dealing with a natural desire here—we're dealing with a terrorist.
And as we discussed way back at the top of the episode, there's a reason that the US government doesn't negotiate with terrorists.
Simply stated: it's because when you give into a terrorist, you're only proving to the terrorist that terrorism works, and then you better fasten your seatbelt, because you're going to get more of the same.
But here's the unfortunate fact: Most people aren't awake to their inner terrorist. They just think they have a desire or a want or a craving for this, that, or the other.
And what's the harm in giving the old brain what it wants, they reason. I give in, I feel better. No problem. Right?
Well, as we've seen, if you want to experience more and more tantrums, you'd be 100%, right. No harm at all, but, if a life of calm and inner peace and contentment is what you're after, you best tread carefully.
So if the cravings of the brain are nothing more than a terrorists demands for ransom, what are we supposed to do? Deny ourselves everything?
Well, it's a fair question. And the short answer is—of course not. But a slightly longer answer might be helpful too.
You see, here's the thing—just because the four-year-old terrorist throws a tantrum for a popsicle, it doesn't mean that we have to deny him a popsicle for the rest of his life. We just need to make sure that it's clear that the popsicle doesn't come as a result of the tantrum—that is it doesn't come while he's acting like a terrorist.
So let's say good old mom finds herself in the ice cream aisle with Johnny the following day and he's managing to act like a civilized human being. Of course, in this case, she can give him a popsicle—it's actually a reward for good behavior. And when she does, she's likely to get more good behavior down the line.
And the same thing goes with a terrorist living in your head. There's no need to deny what it wants.
Just deny what it wants when it's acting like a terrorist. That is, when it's plying you with powerful cravings or urges or other uncomfortable feelings, demanding that you give in and give it this, that, or the other thing in exchange for relief from the tantrum.
Just like the wise mama in the ice cream isle. Calmly wait for the tantrum to pass without reacting or resisting or trying to stop it in any way. And when the terrorist sees the demand for ransom simply doesn't work, then feel free to give the brain what it wants.
So the invitation becomes this: next time you're finding yourself the hapless victim of one of the brain's tantrums,
a storm of desire,
or a craving that's demanding that you give it what it wants,
by giving in during the tantrum—during the episode of discomfort–you're only training the brain that tantrums work and you're training it to give you more of the same.
And trust me when I say, it will.
So instead, breathe and relax and do nothing—just like the wise mother in the ice cream aisle—calmly wait for the passing of the tantrum.
And as you do, smile to yourself knowing that you are literally changing your brain to be the calm and peaceful servant it's intended to be rather than the never satisfied terrorist that it can so easily become.
Well, that's all the time we have for today. As always, thanks for listening. And please remember, this podcast and so much of my work is made possible solely by the generosity of listeners like you.
So please, if you can, support me over on my Patreon page and when you do, I'll gift you with some of my most powerful yoga practices and guided meditations as my personal thank you. You can check it out now at patreon.com/ericwal.
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Wishing you all the best. And I look forward to seeing you next week.