Photo by Jon Tyson

Antivirus software for our mind

In IT, when we don’t pay attention to security, we open the door for others to rule our world. They may for instance install a virus on our computer. I like the analogy of computer viruses because it is similar to what happens in our mind when we are not mindful.

A virus, in terms of the mind, is a belief that harms us. That causes suffering and limits how we can live our full potential. As children we are particularly vulnerable to these mind viruses, because we are very open to the world. We believe what our parents and teachers say. We need others for survival and so we are vulnerable to their opinions about us.

In childhood most of us receive a few very harmful viruses. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the voice of a child when listening to these beliefs. I have been bullied a lot when I was a child and teenager, so my viruses tell me that I am stupid, a crybaby, weird, not like the others, a geek. These viruses have caused me in the past to either have a ‘fuck the world’ mentality, or hide my true self in order to fit in. Mostly the latter.

Other people may have viruses like: “you will always stay poor”, or “the people you love will leave you or die”, or “if you are not successful, you will not be loved”. We all have mind viruses that limit our happiness and potential.

However, when we practice our mindfulness, we have a virus scanner. We can then detect when a virus is active in our mind. And we can question our beliefs. I had to question my belief that I had to be someone else in order to be loved.

These childhood viruses are nasty and hard to detect. They mostly run in our subconscious mind. So it takes a lot of mindfulness to counteract them. And persistent mindfulness, because as long as we haven’t fully adopted a stronger opposite belief, the virus will still pop up from time to time and do its destructive work.

We also need a virus guard, because as an adult we are still vulnerable to new viruses. If you unmindfully listen to the news, for instance, you are letting in a lot of fearful beliefs. That the world is an unsafe place with terrorism and such, that you can’t trust people, that if you are over 50 you won’t get a new job, etc. Whenever you allow such viruses to be installed in your mind, they will start to run your world. You won’t notice their work consciously, unless you are very mindful.

I am not saying all this to install another virus of fear in your mind. Rather I would like you to be aware of your power to cultivate a good virus scanner. When your mindfulness gets stronger with practice, it will detect these virus beliefs sooner and it will give you the opportunity to question them and experiment with new, better beliefs until these become your reality.

As for me, I’m definitely not free of viruses, but I have made good progress in adopting more positive beliefs, like that I’m OK the way I am. I am lovable. And that makes a hell of a difference!

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