3000 Words On Un-Fucking Your Mind

How You're Fucked

We know through neuroscience and other forms of investigation that what we perceive as “reality” is an experience that is manufactured inside our heads. Our senses take in information, they filter it, and they construct an illusion of experience emphasizing the information that is likely to be relevant to our survival (our bodies developed this way over millions of years of evolution).

You can imagine that different animals see a very different world to what we do based on what’s relevant to them for their survival. Imagine life for a bat using sonar to navigate a cave, or life as a worm for example – you don’t need to be a creative genius to imagine that it would be a very, very different world to what we perceive.

And it’s funny because those bats and worms probably feel like they’re safe and in control most of the time because that’s what their limited sensory information tells them. They could be completely cool and calm with no idea that there is a far more advanced human nearby lurking in their perceptual blind spots.  

What’s even funnier is that we do the exact same thing, and it seems to me like we’re particularly arrogant about it because we’re on the top of the food chain. We think we’re invincible because we can dominate all other animals on our planet, and that we must have things figured out.

But what makes you think that just like the worm is completely unaware of our presence, that we’re not completely unaware of threats that could strike us at any moment? I don’t mean in the sense of aliens or intelligent life – although I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility – but even in the sense of the complicated systems that comprise nature here on Earth, and to some extent are right in front of our eyes?

Nature is an incredibly complicated amalgam of systems all existing in a very delicate balance that has evolved over billions of years. It seems to me that for the first time in history (as we know it) we’ve become strong enough to disrupt that system at a rate that could be fatal to us. The planet is a massive system in homeostasis, and if pushed too far too fast it might just backfire violently and eliminate us (I’m no expert on climate science, but I’ve read some scary stuff about increasing frequency of natural disasters for example, and bad things can happen when a species is eliminated from a complex, interconnected network such as a food chain).

It seems to me like we’re deluded about our sense of control and it might be the cause of our extinction as a race, but that’s a topic for another time. What I want to talk about here is that I don’t think that this complacency (I guess is a close enough word for it) only applies to humanity as a whole, but also to each of us as individuals.  

We each exists as a small unit in this enormous, complex system that we call nature, and that system has many moving parts that are driven by forces far greater than anything we can control as individuals. So to some extent, I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that a large portion of your fate is already mapped out for you – it’s predetermined by global forces such as economic systems, politics, weather systems and so on which are all in motion with an inertia that’s too large to be manipulates by you as an individual. That’s not to say that the systems don’t change, but that they’re far too large and complex to be manipulated on a whim and in some cases the next several decades are as good as set in stone.

Now just things are about to take a weird turn so here’s a little clarification/warning: If I heard somebody saying this just year ago I’d disregard it as superstitious bullshit, but I think the logic is sound so hear me out.

Now I think we can take this a step further: It feels like you’re in control of your life and your actions, but given what I’ve said above how much of your behaviour do you really think you are responsible for, and how much of your behaviour do you think was triggered in you by your surroundings such as your environment and culture?

An interesting experiment for you to do is to just sit there for a minute and try to stop your thoughts. If you’re honest you’ll find that you can’t, no matter how hard you try. Thoughts about work, what you’re going to do tomorrow, problems you have or whatever else will pop up.

But this doesn’t just happen when you sit there and think, but it happens while you’re out in the world and in conversation. Thoughts just happen to you. They’re triggered in you. It seems to me that you aren’t responsible for your thoughts (or creativity, for that matter) any more than you’re responsible for your heart beating or your hair growing.

This was difficult for me to reconcile because I’m a huge believer in the idea that your thoughts dictate the quality of your life, but how could that be the case if you weren’t responsible for your thoughts? And I guess the conclusion that I came to was that the idea of me being in control of my thoughts and having them dictate the quality of my life was just another thought that was triggered in me by another person. It sounds paradoxical on the surface but I think it makes sense.

Anyway, if you’re not in control of your thoughts I guess that means to some extent you’re also not in control of your behaviour. You’re mechanical, and you act in reaction to other people and things around you. You aren’t really in control, as much as you’re just a puppet of your surroundings.

At this point (kudos if you’re still reading lol) you might be wondering then if you’re not in control, why does it feel like you’re in control? It might intellectually make sense that you’re at the whim of the world and you’re pulled in this direction or that like a marionette, but it doesn’t feel like it’s the case. Why not?

I think the reason why is because that sensation of your actions being voluntary is actually an evolutionary mechanism that keeps you alive by making you feel like you’ve got skin in the game. Because why would you go on living and working if you could see the folly of it all? From an evolutionary perspective I think you need to be deluded about your own importance and control in order for the human race to go on.

In some spiritual groups and psychological practices they call this center of indentity and self-importance the ego. It’s that little voice inside your head that sees through your eyes, moves your muscles, and thinks your thoughts. It’s the thing that you identify with as you – the “ghost” inside the machine.

It’s your ego that gives you your sense of control and makes you think and feel like you are responsible for your behaviour, but like we said before; if you don’t control your thoughts then what makes you think that sense of control is real? And if your sense of control is an illusion, then what does make of the thing that you think is you? Perhaps the entire sensation of you as a separate entity locked up inside of a bag of skin is just an illusion.  

At first glance this all sounds like armchair philosophy, but it seems to me to actually be one of the most practical things that you can contemplate because as far as I can tell the ego is responsible for all of your suffering in life. The ego is like an obsessive boyfriend or girlfriend, clinging to things and desperately trying to control things instead of just going with the flow and letting life life the way that it wants to life.

It seems to me like all of your suffering in life comes from a mismatch between your beliefs about how reality should be, versus what reality actually is and what actually happens to you. If you genuinely hold no beliefs about how things should be, how you should be treated, and what you do or don’t deserve, then you can surrender to every single thing that happens to you – and as far as I can tell that means never suffering again.  

But the ego doesn’t like that. The ego doesn’t like surrender. It wants control. It wants to manipulate reality. It was to conquer and to achieve, and it wants to be acknowledged and recognized for its achievements. But are you really responsible for any of that? Or is it your environment who deserves the praise and recognition for triggering those noble actions and endeavours within you?

Another fun idea is that with some practice you can actually kill this sensation of the ego, and when you do you lose all feelings of struggle, forced behaviour, and frustration. When you break the illusion of the ego you realize truly and fully that you aren’t in control, and when that happens you spontaneously stop trying to control and manipulate everything. You become detached from all outcome in life (and thus all suffering), and you can finally just relax and enjoy the ride.  

From there on everything that you do, experience or achieve all happens on its own accord. There is no more unpleasant sensation of exerting willpower or having to “work” to do anything, and it’s the most liberating realization you can have.

Then the question I guess is well how do you do it?

It’s tricky because you can’t force yourself to be liberated from your ego. You can’t even try, let alone force. Why? Liberation can’t come from effort because effort is egoic – you’re still trying to manipulate and control. Trying to liberate yourself with effort is like trying to make water still by smacking it with a hammer.

The way that you dissolve your ego is to un-fuck your mind – a mind that has been fucked for years by social conditioning and layer after layer of belief. You can’t think your ego to death – it won’t die just because you want it to. You can’t will yourself to accept the fact that the ego is an illusion. It takes practice and a long process of un-fucking your mind.

A good way to picture it is to think of your mind like an antenna trying to pick up the signal of your true self, but the reason you don’t get a signal and why you think that you’re your ego is because your antenna is all fucked up from years of conditioning and illusion. So what you need to do is straighten that antenna with practice.

How To Un-Fuck Yourself

Realize the extent of you unawareness

If you’ve read this far you’re already doing pretty well, I have a funny feeling that most people would have already brushed this off and gone back to their egoic lives.

The biggest problem with this whole thing is that you will always feel in control and like you have figured things out – that’s what the ego does: It gives the illusion of understanding and of control. So I think the first step is realizing that you don’t know what you don’t know, and that you’re unaware of the staggering depth of your unawareness (here's a good video for that). And from there I guess do what you can to develop as much humility and open-mindedness as possible. You’re your own worst enemy on this journey.

Intellectual/conceptual understanding of the uselessness of your ego

Probably spend some time thinking about what I’ve said in this article and see if you can make sense of it and integrate it into your understanding of the world. Another fun (and useful) habit is to practice looking at the world as a complex network of systems, and realize the extent to which your behaviour is triggered by your surroundings. As you begin to see that you aren’t in control, I think what you’ll find is that you’re less jarred by tragedy. Life is going to life the way that it wants to life – and as you start to see that you’ll hold onto the past less and less, and you’ll be happier and lighter because of it.

Meditation

I think this is probably the most important thing you can do, and I’ve got another article on the how and why of meditation here. Basically what you want to do is give yourself some space from all the bullshit that goes on in day to day life. Meditation is getting away from everything, and reconnecting with the baseline of your existence, minus all the bullshit that is constantly fed to you by your culture and surroundings.

Healthy food / fasting

Your quality of mind is influenced heavily by your body, so look after that shit. I’m not expert here but apparently vegetarian diets are good.

Psychedelics

I’ve been a good boy and have stayed away from every drug apart from alcohol all my life, and I guess the reason was cultural indoctrination. I held a huge stigma towards any kind of drug for most of my life (which was good I guess because it kept me out of trouble when I was younger), but the more I read about psychedelic substances the more and more powerful of a tool they seem to be for sorting your shit out.

As far as I can tell what substances such as psilocybin (magic) mushrooms and dimethyltrypamine (DMT) do when used properly (tripping existentially, not recreationally) is dig up the deepest darkest parts of your subconscious and lay them out in plain sight for you to confront and work through. It’s like holding a mirror to the deepest faculties of your mind and exposes things that you have either been avoiding, or that you haven’t been able to consciously articulate.

A study at John Hopkins University found that the psilocybin mushroom experience had a statistically significant reduction of depression and anxiety in 80% of patients, and more than two thirds of the patients claimed that the sessions were one of the most meaningful and profound experiences of their entire lives – up there with events like childbirth)

The way that Aldous Huxley described his experience on mescaline (LSD) was that it “cleansed the doors of perception”, and opened his eyes to a world of experience and stimuli that is usually filtered out. I might write another article about this another time, but yeah that’s it peace.


All of my writing revolves around the question “what does it take to live the most fulfilling life possible?” or something like that. At the moment it seems to me to be a combination of freedom, creativity, and busting your ass on behalf of the good for society or your community.

If that sounds like something you’re interested in then drop your email in the box below and I’ll send you a weekly newsletter with my best stuff to keep you thinking.    

Jackson xo

P.S. one last thing: All my life I’ve struggled to overcome mental and physical barriers to optimizing my learning and growth in whatever I was doing. Over a period of at least 10 years I pieced together a philosophy that governs optimized practice and long term growth. So if you’re interested in ideas like optimized learning, mastery, discipline and creativity – you should DEFINITELY read this.

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