Do we go out or do we stay in? Never has the catch 22 been more apparent that during the time of Corona. We are all struggling with the global quagmire of whether we reopen the economy and risk illness or stay inside and risk economic and mental collapse. Privately, in our homes we face similar unsavory deadlocks. This space of seemingly no good options is something we encounter in life all the time and yet we have to choose.
When we are suffering, not healing, seeing pain everywhere, stressing about politics and global warming, the future and the past, we are knee deep in ego/fear programming. This is not an illness but we may experience anxiety, depression or dis-ease as a result. There is no character flaw and nothing is wrong with us or anyone else who is exhibiting these symptoms, but freeing ourselves requires that we not dig into our past but into our brain.
When I first began mind training I was pretty clear that in every moment there were infinite possibilities. After all, everything was impossible until it was possible. The logic was irrefutable. Accessing those possibilities was another story. Why did I keep ending up in situations where I seemed to have only two choices and neither of them was satisfying? How could these two mutually exclusive beliefs exist in my mind at the same time?
I started to realize that there was programming in there that was killing my joy (which I know to be our natural factory setting). This was a brain breaker. I spent the next month or so looking for the catch 22’s in my life and seeing them everywhere.
I got really good at catching the Catch 22’s. That moment of ‘gotcha’ was so gratifying. I refer to it as the holy instant. For me it represents the moment of choice as to whether I am going to let a fear program run or let joy take it away - whether I am re-upping my conviction in infinite possibilities or cueing up doubt and crippling indecision. What I learned by doing this lesson is that I do not have to decide from doubt, I can do away with it altogether.
Doubt is a disaster as are its close cousins, regret and guilt. These are brain programs - all subsets of the master operating system - FEAR. The program assumes that there is a right and wrong and answer. It then projects each option into the future, conjures imagined consequences and the net result is that we become paralyzed by fear. That is the standoff we are finding ourselves in now with the Corona quarantine. If we make a move, the program ensures that we will always be (feel) wrong. We get no relief from deciding because the program kicks into its next phase - regret (post choice doubt) and guilt for making the wrong choice. The cherry on top of all of this is self-doubt which reinforces the program going forward.
I am asked all the time by clients, ‘what should I do when I am faced with a choice that feels as if I damned if I do and damned if I don’t?’ I answer in two parts. First, IDK. But the truth is it doesn’t matter. Second, you are asking the wrong question. It's not what we do but the energy with which we do it. The real question is why do we doubt ourselves in the first place? Why is that a good idea? Sadly, the answer is that we have been programmed to, and sadder still, this programming is literally killing us.
Joy is an unfortunate casualty of the doubt program. By not knowing how our brain works and not training it to undo malware, we are complicit in allowing the doubt program to run unchecked through all of our choices even the joyful ones. This leaves us feeling torn even when deciding between two great possibilities. (See my Decision Day blog for more on this). At best we feel indecisive but at worst we become depressed and feel like a loser. It is insane to believe but our brain, as it currently operates, makes two great choices just as troubling as two bad ones. This should really be a red flag that something is amiss.
Luckily there are several glitches in this program and we can capitalize on them.
Just because doubt is the norm, doesn’t make it normal. Doubt is based on the erroneous assumption that there is a right and wrong answer - a right and wrong way to be, to think, to act. This assumption is false. There is no right and wrong, everything just is, which means that, logically, there is no doubt.
Because the program is designed that if we choose or not, we can’t get it right, it actually liberates us from deciding. The program made the decision for us. Nothing will be right so nothing needs to be done. No decision, no program. As I like to say - when in doubt, don’t.
And taking this full circle. Once the doubt program is expunged - you realize that it still doesn’t matter what you do because, because in fear you can’t get it right, but in peace you can’t get it wrong. Ego would call this an ironic twist, but I call it divine design.
Mind Training: Catch the Catch 22’s in action
The doubt program will run until we get rid of it, entirely. The doubt program is sitting open on your desk top, it runs automatically whenever a decision is presented. It is the default. The Catch 22 is the tell.
Notice the Catch 22, when you are in the stuck position of seeing only two choices, neither of which feels right. Know that is not because you have bad options, but because your brain is preparing to cue up a doubt program.
Acknowledge out loud what the mind is doing i.e. cuing up a catch 22, to be followed by a doubt program if you allow it.
Punctuate the moment by saying to yourself or journalling “I’m onto you brain or I see the program.” Or in my case, “Gotcha, you little f***er!”
You may have to do this rapid fire at the start, each time the thought arises, until your brain knows you mean business.
The Program has left the station:
Make this your own; some version of …..
“I am knee deep in the doubt program. I can’t see a way out but I know there is one. I do not even have to generate it.
I can stop thinking now. All I need to know is that there is another way.
I need do nothing. Now I make space and I open up the mind to new possibility.”
If it helps notice the stages of regret, guilt, self doubt and how it spreads to other areas of your life in a whack-a-mole way.
Quarantine is the perfect time to undo the catch 22 programming - our sanity moving forward depends on it. It takes practice to see the program and work with it but like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar, you catch them enough, they give up.