I’ve always had strong religious sentiments. I guess the term would be “spiritual”, but it sounds like a stupid word for someone who doesn’t believe in the supernatural. I sometimes feel jealous of the reality-minded folks who’s brains aren’t susceptible to a spiritual hijack. So I’m somewhat proud of a recent(ish) victory over my irrational tendencies.
I was smoking out on the patio (back then I was a smoker) late one night when a bright light appeared above and behind me – I couldn’t see the source because it was close to the roof but behind the peak of the building, just a bit out of sight. It acted and felt very much like an alien craft. My heart started racing and I got that first little burst of adrenaline when you know some bad shit is about to go down. My intuitive systems knew I was in the presence of extra-terrestrial life.
Of course I knew this isn’t what’s actually happening. But knowing something isn’t real, and feeling it are two completely different things. I tried to wrestle my intuitive system into submission. Asking myself “What are the chances that an incredibly sophisticated alien race has come to this planet secretly, crossing trillions of miles, just to abduct me? Now what are the chances that I’m over-reacting to some sort of visual illusion? Even the chances of a stranger playing an elaborate hoax on me are astronomically greater than a real abduction scenario! Heck, I’m more likely to be spontaneously going insane and seeing things. We have proof of that happening all the time, but never has there been any solid proof of alien visitation.”
The sense of Alien didn’t actually go away. Emotional beliefs are irrational bastards. But I didn’t do anything stupid – I realized my Elephant was throwing a fit, and just held on until it was over.
This sort of “recognize the error and let it pass” has been extremely useful in real-life circumstances as well. A couple months back I was feeling suffocated in my relationship. I wanted out, saw all the upsides of leaving, and noticed that there were almost no downsides. Fortunately I had experience with this sort of lurch before, and I knew on an intellectual level that this was wrong. This is by far the most amazing relationship I’ve ever been in, and it’s nothing but awesome. This was just a temporary fit of insanity, and I would soon regret acting upon it. So I did nothing. I continued as if everything was normal and waited for the insanity to pass. A week later it went away and I was once again happy, and relieved that I was able to outwit my insidious back-stabbing Elephant. It took some learning, but I can learn, and he’s stuck with just the same old bag of tricks.