The "What if ?" game

Some time ago, I was driving home and thinking of what to do next. The thoughts were running rampant through my mind: guilt that I don't spend enough time with my parents and friends, realization that there are many things undone, worries about anything and everything. I've felt torn apart, as if I was trying to talk in a room full of shouting people. I tried to ask myself, "So, what do *I* want ?", but couldn't hear the answer. "What do you mean ? There are so many things you should worry about, how can you even ask that ?".

And then I had the inspiration. A simple rephrase of the question that changed my life. The words were: "What would I do if I had nothing to worry about ?". Suddenly there was silence. The voices stopped and I've experienced clarity. Seconds later, an impulse desire arised - wanting to ride the bike. So, that's what I did - and had a blast.

Since that day, I've used the "what if" method in many forms. "What would I do if I had nothing to fear ?". "... if my finances were in a great shape". "... if I was one with God". "... if I have already achieved my goals". The value I've got from this simple method is priceless.

Then, a new breaktrough came. I began realizing that there are two distinct parts of me that want different things. Examples:

  • Co-workers are going to lunch. I'd rather have peace and quiet - however I also want them to invite me!
  • I want to have my mailbox full of messages, but I don't necessarily want to reply to them.
  • I'd like a girl to pay attention to me, even if I am not attracted to her.
  • I want a person to praise me, even if I don't like him at all.

What was that all about ? The way I figured, my ego is the one that wants constant attention, praise, compliments. This often runs to the contrary to the things that I myself want. And thus I've began to feel that me and my Ego are not necessarily the same thing. Then, the new question came: "What would I do if I had no Ego?"

That was a beginning of an incredible journey. Many things that used happen automatically in my head suddenly became more apparent and I've gained a measure of control.

For example, my work - I used to have this constant fear of being fired. It could not have been based in reality - I know that I am doing a pretty good job and besides, there are always new opportuinities for programmers. So, what's the fear about ? Now that I've separated myself from my Ego, I saw it clearly: it's fear of disapproval (if my boss criticizes me) and ultimately rejection (the process of getting fired). That's all there is to it. With "What if I had no Ego", the personal fear is greatly weakened, so all I have to deal with is the actually possibility of being fired - which actually isn't a big deal! Nothing that can happen is as bad as the inner turnoil that accompanies it.

I've also began feeling more at ease around people. My old approach would be to wait for the gap in conversation, so I could plug in my own story. As you can imagine, if I knew nothing of the subject, I wouldn't be able to do so and would feel pretty uneducated. Now it seems like I can listen, even I have nothing to contribute - I don't have such a strong urge to say something, so instead I can learn!

I feel better outdoors too. I used to rarely notice the nature - not because I don't like it, but because the inner dialog was running at such volume all the time, I had to fight it. There was no time to gaze around! Now, it's much more quiet inside - and suddenly I am amazed by the beauty that surrounds me. The sight of trees, the smells, the changes of temperature are simply fascinating!

It's been only 5 days since I've first asked myself "What would I do if I had no Ego ?", but I feel that I am on the right path. I am still myself, I am all there. In addition, I experience more calm, freedom, choices and connection. The feeling is incredible.

Try it for yourself - you've got nothing to lose except your fears!

Andrei Zaitsev
Thursday 10 Aug 2000