“Why is it that I feel anxious at work?”
asked Little Barnard. He was with his mentor.
His mentor looked at him briefly and asked, “Is there something about your job that makes you feel inadequate, that you are not up to it?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s not the job. It’s something else.”
The great man’s eyebrows moved and his eyes appeared to twinkle once before he asked, “Do you feel you are a phony?”
Barnard was offended.
The man continued “Do you feel sometimes that you are given credit for things you have not done. Do you think your superior or colleagues at work have high expectations of you – sometimes you wonder if you will fail them?”
Barnard’s voice rose an octave – “Yes, yes. I actually do feel like that sometimes. I know I am not a phony but I do feel like that sometimes!”
His mentor considered this and then said “You know, our brains are awesome little creatures. They have minds of their own.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You are not a fake. You have values – values that you have set for yourself. You do not cheat, thieve or do anything that you consider criminal. You consider yourself a good man.”
“Yes!” yelled Barnard, pleased at this affirmation.
“Yet, you do not feel you are who you want to be.”
“Yet.” added Barnard. He felt energetic.
This positive feeling was shattered by what his mentor said next:
“You see, the funny thing is that you can deceive yourself but you cannot deceive your mind. The brain is aware of far more than what you consciously tell yourself.”
“I know that” said Barnard defensively.
“A thought or action of yours that is not fully aligned with whom you are consciously, will come back to bite you.”
“Figuratively, of course.” the mentor added, unnecessarily.
A long pause ensued. Barnard looked doubtful.
The man continued “Thoughts and actions that are not congruent with your values create havoc in your subconscious.”
Barnard felt irritated. He wanted to ask “What’s your point?” but didn’t out of the respect he had for the great man. He thought for some time and realised he understood what his mentor was saying. He asked:
“Do you mean that my subconscious mind is confused because of my thoughts and actions?”
“Some of your thoughts and actions.”
“What should I do?” asked Barnard.
“What do you think you should do?” countered the mentor.
“I know the obvious answer is for me not to be that way, but that is easier said than done.”
“Here is what you can do.” said his mentor with kindness.
“Define yourself. Take a piece of paper and write down who you are. Write five important character qualities that define you.” He continued:
“In the morning, the first thing you should do after you wake up is to look at this note. Read once again, what you have written. Consider that is who you are.”
“Continue doing this every morning for at least sixty-six days. This is so that the habit is ingrained.”
“Do I have to write it down?” asked Barnard.
“Yes, you have to – you not only need to write it down, you also need to physically read this note every morning – even though you may have memorised it – carry on doing this for sixty-six days.”
“How will that help?”
“If the rational mind had answers for everything we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You need to take a leap of faith and just do this.”
“Okay” said Barnard. He felt he could do this. He bid his mentor good-bye and left, ready to start his new adventure with his mind.