How a war is lost
Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz was a very interesting man in many ways. He was, amongst other things, a brilliant military strategist. His book “On War” to this day remains one of the most important works on strategy ever written. One of the main theories behind it is that leaders on the battlefield start losing engagements when they start losing the “big picture”, often cited as “The Fog of War”. When assumptions fill in the blanks of knowing, the result is a “state of ignorance” to the reality that presents itself. That leads to flawed decisions, which in turn lead to disastrous outcomes. The fog of war has descended upon the participants of the battle and shrouds everything in uncertainty.
At its core, the fog of war means a lack of clarity. A lack of situational awareness, a lack of knowing what’s going on outside our perception of reality. And ultimately, it is one of the reasons why the battle, and sometimes even the war, is lost.
The Fog in our lives
Don’t get me wrong – I am not comparing our everyday lives to a battlefield. But fact is, our perceived struggles for sure can, at times, make it feel like one. Stuff is coming at us as a seemingly never-ending stream: Our relationships. Our work. Our social circle. Our need for privacy. Our need for connection. Our goals, ambitions, dreams, fears, longings, nightmares. Our memories, good and bad. The things that make us glow with happiness and joy, and the things that make us cry our eyes out in the small hours of the night, and everything in between. All of it is knocking at our Mind’s door, and usually, we open the flood gates for all of it. And if this were not enough trouble brewing, everything that comes in is judged, weighed and measured. But who or what is doing the judging, the measuring? Us? Or something inside us that we seem to have little control over?
“Stuff” will be coming our way no matter what. It’s called living, and it is inevitable. This stuff is, well…just stuff, for the most part. But there’s a faculty inside of us that just loves to decide what “stuff” means. To judge whether it’s good stuff or bad stuff. Whether it’s stuff we should be happy about, or maybe angry, or insulted, or just indifferent. While this may sound like an extremely handy thing to have – who doesn’t love to categorize and label, deep inside, right? – there’s a small problem attached to it: This faculty is not free of bias. In fact, it is the epitome of bias, because all it is is our internal representation of our everyday reality. Entirely self-created out of the myriads of beliefs, views, morals, attitudes we have learned and acquired throughout our whole life, right up to this present point in time. And here’s the bummer: Someone else’s faculty, which functions along exactly the same lines, has most likely a completely different set of rules, beliefs etc. by which to judge and weigh and measure “stuff”.
Once this faculty, our Unconscious Mind, starts its judging process, it all depends on what it has learned so far. Unhealthy, unresourceful habits, patterns and beliefs will make us judge and measure a situation, a person, based mostly on those exact same habits and patterns. As is easy to see, this might mean that we could be entirely missing the point about the event, or the other human being we are interacting with. We simply cannot see beyond of what our faculty is able to do. The Fog of War has descended upon us, shrouding the battlefield that our internal world seems to have become when we are stressed, in obscurity and danger, leaving the one in charge – Us – without the real “big picture” so we could react adequately to the situation at hand. The Commander has lost the ability to command.
Know what’s you, and what’s not
The more dense our internal Fog of War becomes, the more anxious we tend to get. The more frantic our efforts to maintain control of events as they unfold, the more insurmountable the challenge seems to become. Our internal vision narrows down, we become unable to see beyond the faculty of our Unconscious Mind. Everything seems to be about us, everything is taken personally, all of a sudden we smell betrayal, deceit, disrespect and dishonesty everywhere, to name just a few. There seems to be no other reality than our own – and in a way, this is true -, and we refuse to acknowledge the existence of other realities as experienced by other people, similar in some ways to ours, and very different in others, depending on their judging faculty.
Next time you feel the fog descending upon you, take note. Be consciously aware of it. Understand that what is seeking control is not you. It’s the sum total of your experiences, beliefs and conditioned behaviors, your Egoic Self, the construct we all so desperately try to maintain to get a sense of what makes “Us”. To the Ego, when triggered by challenging events, threats lurk everywhere, constant validation is needed, and it simply has neither room nor capacity to see beyond its conditioning.
That which is really “You” lies beyond that. It is a place of knowing and calm acceptance, a place of awareness that just because your Ego perceives things a certain way does not mean they actually are that way. It’s a state of calmness and alertness, ready and able to perceive the world we inhabit as a whole, not just as fragmented chaos in which we can see nothing but our own needs for control. It is a place that readily gives you what you are so desperately looking for: Freedom from fear. Joy of Being. Allowing others to be. And thus allowing yourself to be happy with what is, to accept everything, to change what you can, to walk away if you have to. All in peace, finally seeing the big picture. The real Commander is in charge now.
If you like to learn more about how to access this place, get in touch with me and we can discuss how I can help you along on your journey..