Find your anchors and free your self
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to find things that would satisfy me. These things are not only objects, but activities, connections and values. They were supposed to make me feel like I belonged, had a purpose. The one thing I hadn’t questioned is: “What’s the effect of these things?”
An anchor is something that holds a ship at bay, anchors keeps an object in place: they are dependable. For years I, along with many others, thought of this as a good thing. Dependability is a good thing, right? Right? For sure, we do need trustworthiness in our lives, but this highlights our overt concern for safety.
In society, we are drawn to idolise others. We get asked, “Who’s your hero?” or “Who do you admire?” These questions are supposed to get us to reveal a bit of our inner self, yet all it compels us to do is look outward, to the plethora of other people. We are not comfortable revealing our true selves to others, as this would open us to potential humiliation. If we told our real inner story, we could be judged, and the potential for hurt rises drastically. Our obsession with celebrity and idols is, in my opinion, down to one thing: the fear of discovering who we are. In fact, it may even be: the fear of not liking who we are. And thus we turn to external stuff to create our image.
In turning to meditation as a form of self-treatment from depression and anxiety I made the discovery that so many have made before me. I found an island inside me that had always been off the map. That island was me. This discovery has lead me up the path towards a more enlightened version of me. One that understands who it I am and what it means to be me. In asking my self questions, I got answers about that self. What are my values? Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this object adding value to my life? Is this person making my life better? Are all questions I asked, and continue to ask my self. They constantly reveal interesting answers.
I learnt that I had done what so many others had done. I had followed. Chasing the idea, the template, which is given to us – and reinforced by our education system – and portrayed as the route to happiness. Work hard, get money, buy the biggest house you can, get a nice car, have a family at some point, retire happy.
I am not saying following is a bad thing, it is not. I, in writing this essay, am following the whole of history in trying to solidify my thoughts with the pen. Following others in their knowledge of meditation and self-discovery, but I am doing it with awareness. Many of us do not. This may seem a bizarre thing to claim – “Of course I know what I am doing!” you might say. I do not mean this statement as an attack, but as an invitation. I urge you to ask yourself one simple question of the action you perform immediately after you finish reading this: it may be checking your phone, it may be looking at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or BuzzFeed, it may be getting back to that task at the office, it may be driving to the shop. Whatever it may be, ask yourself:
“Why am I doing this?”
But be wary of your answer. The first answer may be a superficial one: “I’m checking Facebook to see what’s new.” Or, “I’m doing this task as it is part of my job, I need my job to earn money to pay the bills.” Both valid answers at the face of it, yet both put a veil in front of the real answer. Once some digging is done, the real answers may be more like, “I don’t want to miss out on the latest trend” or “That new thing is coming out soon, and I have to work so I can buy it.”
It is only then that we can find our anchors. And they are certainly holding you place. Those bills, that debt: that’s an anchor. Your fear of missing out (FOMO as it has been dubbed): that’s an anchor. In searching for my anchors I found that I kept coming back to the same place for most of the decisions I was making in my life. (I mean down to the smallest of decisions). My main anchor was the fear of disappointing my parents. I have always had this fear, and still struggle in dealing with it. However, if I am to live my life, it must be myself that I am afraid of disappointing, not others. And now in recognising my fear I am able to combat it.
In fact last night may have been the most significant advancement I have made on this front. And in thinking about it now, my fear was misplaced: it wasn’t that they were going to be disappointed by me choosing a path different from others. It was that they didn’t understand. I hadn’t explained to them the reasons for my decisions.
ASK: “Why am I doing this?”