The older I get, the more aware I’ve become of the connections between our mind and body. There’s a lot to be said about how our thoughts and emotions impact our physical wellbeing, success, and happiness. Those of you who have followed my writing for a while have heard me say many times before that we don’t need a lot to be happy. And if you take the time to count your blessing, you’ll realize that you have more than you think. Now it’s time to work on overcoming 4 things that are holding you back.
How Out Of Touch With Reality Are You?
From my brief time studying psychology in college, I found the topic of perception to be fascinating. It’s often quite hard to know if our judgment and perception is cloudy and incorrect or not. The human stubborn streak in all of us wants to believe that the way we think and act is always right, and that everyone who goes against us is wrong.
Therefore, it’s almost impossible to analyze and critique ourselves without any bias at all. But we have to at least try to find clarity, have grounded views, and fine tune our perceptions as best we can. After all, nobody will want to work or spend time with you if you’re totally out of touch with reality about your own abilities and what’s going on around you.
There is a word used in Hindu and Buddhist teachings, avidya, that translates into English as incorrect comprehension. I came across this word reading The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar recently. There are four components of avidya I explain below which we can really benefit from if we can become cognizant about them and take steps to reduce their affect on our perceptions. To be successful in relationships, business, and live an untemplate lifestyle, we have to learn how to recognize and overcome these 4 things in order to have correct comprehension of ourselves and the world around us.
Otherwise, with clouded perceptions, our lives become filled with dissatisfaction, envy, unhappiness, and greed. And what’s worse is that without clear perception we can’t even recognize why we feel this way!
“Avidya is the root cause of the obstacles that prevent us from recognizing things as they really are.” – TKV Desikachar
1. Asmita (Ego)
The first obstacle we must overcome is ego. It’s okay to have confidence, but not to the point where you believe you’re always right and everyone else is wrong. If you never let anyone else explain their opinions, you’re closing yourself off and holding yourself back. Keep an open mind! Learn to be humble and give other people the chance to talk. If you’re constantly interrupting people, you’re going to make a lot of enemies fast.
Neither should you think that you are better than everyone else, and therefore deserve special treatment. A lot of Millennials and Gen Y’ers have given their age groups a bad rep for having big egos and a high sense of entitlement right out of school. Again, confidence is okay, but acting like you deserve everything without any work experience is too much ego.
When I’m interviewing job candidates, one of the first things that will convince me not to hire someone is if their ego isn’t in check. Nobody wants to work with someone who doesn’t have any respect for authority, isn’t willing to compromise, or respect their elders.
2. Raga (Attachment)
The second of 4 things that are holding you back is attachment. As the saying goes, desire is suffering. If you’re constantly wanting more and more material things, you’re going to feel empty and unsatisfied. Your house will become filled with clutter, your personal finance goals will be shot, and you’re going to waste so much time searching for stuff.
Attachment is also about wanting what we already have when we don’t need more, and also if more will be harmful. This happens to a lot us with foods. We really don’t need one more slice of pizza or a second helping of desert to go with dinner. The attachment makes us weak and leads to negative results like weight gain and overspending.
Don’t lose appreciation for what you already have. Before you go out and buy more, better utilize what you already have. And learn to let go and give away things that you no longer use so someone less fortunate can benefit. Let go of greed and attachment so they don’t hold you back.
3. Dvesa (Refusal)
The third aspect of avidya that we should learn to let go of is the action of refusal. This isn’t referring to actions like refusing a slice of cheesecake by the way. Dvesa is about refusing to change, rejecting help, and avoiding situations that may stir up difficult memories or emotions. Change isn’t easy, but refusing change will most certainly hold you back.
The world around us is constantly evolving. If you can learn to be flexible and adaptive to change, you will live a much happier life. People who keep an open mind and are willing to try new things get much farther in business as well. If you want to grow, you have to learn how to confront memories and situations that make you uncomfortable so you can get out of your comfort zone. Growth is hard but it leads to great things!
4. Abhinivesa (Fear)
The last of the 4 things that are holding you back is fear. The other 4 letter f word. Fear is a major emotion that holds us back and clouds our perceptions. We’re often so afraid of failure that we never give ourselves a chance to succeed! We’re afraid of rejection, so we don’t take the chance to speak up. And we’re afraid of uncertainty so we only stick with what we know.
I used to be scared of everything, but thankfully I’ve become a lot more adventurous over the years. I’ve managed to do things I never thought I’d be able to accomplish in my lifetime, so I can tell you first hand that it is possible to overcome your own fears. First you have to be willing to try, second you have to be motivated, and third you have to be willing to try again if at first you don’t succeed.
Aim For Clear Perceptions
If we can aim for clear perceptions, we can break the cycle of bad decisions, greed, fear, and irrationality that hold us back. Overcoming the four characteristics of avidya will help you feel more at peace, stable, rested, and satisfied. By improving our perceptions we can become healthier, utilize what we have, maintain better financial habits, feel happier, and be better friends and colleagues. Think about how each of your actions affects your well being and those closest to you. Sometimes it helps to improve your own perceptions by putting yourself in their shoes and visualizing how they perceive you.
“When we are swimming in a river and cannot see the bank, it is difficult to notice the current. We are moving so much with the river that we may scarcely see its flow. But if we go to the bank where we have firm ground it is much easier to see how the river is flowing.” – TKV Desikachar
Having incorrect perceptions and cloudy judgements that are out of touch with reality can lead us to take actions that cause harm to ourselves and those around us. Other times they can cause us damage by not taking any action at all because of fear or refusing to change. Don’t hold yourself back because of faults within your own perceptions. Once we start to recognize how the 4 characteristics of avidya hold us back, we can start to eliminate them and replace them with positive energy, contentment, and an open mind.
Untemplaters, have you heard of avidya before? Which of the 4 characteristics do you struggle with the most – ego, attachment, refusal, fear? How have your relationships, career, and lifestyle improved after overcoming them?
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Buck Inspire says
I’ve never heard of Avidya, but thanks so much for sharing! Fear is my biggest problem and I am coping with it as much as I can by challenging myself out of my comfort zones. Do you practice yoga and meditate? Thanks again!
Challenging yourself is a great starting point. Start off small and build up from there!
Yeah I mediate a lot. Clearing my head and sitting quietly with empty thoughts is something that actually comes pretty naturally to me. It can be hard for me to remember to do that when my stress levels are high, but I’m doing better about it. I need to do a better job about practicing yoga more often though. I always feel so good afterwards. So now I need to make it a regular habit to pair with my mediation.
Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says
Fascinating! (And I’d never refuse a slice of cheesecake, so the notion never even crossed my mind 😉 ) I think probably attachment and fear are the things that hold me back the most. Fear is a powerful thing – it can be both good and bad, but I don’t think I have a good case of it 🙂
Fear can be so powerful. It crippled me for most of my life growing up. I was terrified to do the simplest of things like making phone calls and speaking up in class. Since I’ve become more adventurous, my fear of trying new things has dwindled.
Hmm now I’m craving cheesecake. 🙂
Bryce @ Save and Conquer says
Nice article. I hadn’t thought of these bad perceptions in this way before, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve encountered each one. My ego was put into the correct perspective during my 4 years in the Air Force. I have learned over the years not to become too attached to things. I am happy with my frugal lifestyle. I also learned during my career that other people may have better ideas than I do. I am always happy to learn new things. And finally, I think fear of new things is the least of my problems. I have been in the military, I have road-raced motorcycles, I have ridden off-road in Baja, and have always been driven to improve myself. I also try to listen to what others think of me, and act upon their perceptions. Thanks again Sydney, I really like this article.
Thanks Bryce! Yeah I can imagine the military can put anyone’s ego in check faster than any other organization. I learned too that other people at work may have better ideas than I do. I used to cut people off too quickly before letting them fully explain their ideas and thankfully I don’t do that anymore!
Kostas @ Finance Zone says
This is a fascinating article and I can fine a bit of myself here. There are things that do hold me back in some areas of my life. I think the description about flowing with the river and watching it from firm ground is excellent and makes so much sense. Clarity and perception is crucial in all aspects of life.
thanks Kostas! Yeah that quote really stuck with me. I re-read it several times after I first came across it. Really captures the essence of how we can change our perceptions.
Financial Samurai says
Love the yoga analogies Sydney. Perception is so strange, yet so powerful.
It’s natural to think we are better than we really are I think. We need to have a candid self-assessment feedback from a close friend or loved one to point out our flaws.
Attachment is something I’m working on as well. Let go and be free!
Yeah the Heart of Yoga really opened my eyes about the true practice of yoga and how it’s not just about the physical movements but mental clarity too. I asked one of my close colleagues for some feedback on how I did on a conference call once and it really helped me realize some things I needed to work on. Sometimes it helps to hear things from a peer versus a boss for a change.
I’m working on reducing refusal and attachment in my life. Traveling makes me realize how little we really need – then the challenge is letting of sentimental things once I’m back home.