Flushed from the Bottom of the Well

By Dr. Victor Schueller | Brain and mind

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“We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.” ~Mao Tse-Tung

I find it important and helpful to take some time in the morning (and the evening) to be silent — to quietly allow my mind to remain in the present, and simply “listen” to whatever ideas or thoughts enter my mind.  This morning I started thinking to myself, “How does someone get from being “comfortable” to becoming aware of the possibilities and pure potentiality that exist?  What is the difference between the person who is comfortable with their life, but lives it unfulfilled, and the person who just lays it out there every day and maintains positivity and explores the potential that exists?

It was then that I discovered the difference: The comfortable lives at the bottom of the well.  The comfortable “thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well,” and is fearful to surface to the top of the well.

We all spend some time at the bottom of the well.  Some stay there for a lifetime, completely content because they only know (or only want to know) the sky to be as big as the top of the well.  Living at the bottom of the well is a mediocre life — one may live day to day, possessing vast riches and luxuries, but even with these resources, some may feel there is still something that lies unfulfilled — they haven’t reached or lived up to their ownone’s true potential.  Life at the bottom of the well a life of of playing the victim, playing not to lose, full of fear, and doing everything possible to desperately cling to whatever it is that one has accumulated.  Life at the bottom of the well is all about spending one’s time and mental resources living in scarcity and fear, fighting not to lose what one has gained for one’s self.

Sometimes a storm hits, and fills the well overflows with water.  This may be a traumatic event, a major life change, or some other significant life event.  This happened to me at the age of sixteen.  One moment my life was full of certainty and structure, and in the next moment, I found myself down to one parent and trying to make sense of a new life.  I suddenly was flushed to the “top of the well,” and I found myself gazing at a wide open sky, full of limitless possibilities.

I wasn’t ready to surface.  It was a traumatic experience.  I found myself fighting the rising water, desperately trying to dive back down below the surface, to return to the bottom of the well, where I once found comfort, only to find that that comfortable world no longer existed.  This struggle to fight the rise to the top only resulted in personal suffering and searching for someone or something to blame.  In the end, nothing changed.  I was still at the top of the well, miserable and fighting to get back to the bottom of the well where we were once so comfortable.

It is also possible to move ourselves to the top of the well by using a much less traumatic and proactive method — building a “ladder” of enlightened living.  This ladder is built, rung by rung, by three main principles: practicing non-judgment, embracing an abundant mindset while practicing love, compassion, and forgiveness, and by accepting personal responsibility for what happens to us.  When we can build this ladder of enlightened living, it is then that we are ready to rise to the top of the well, fully capable of and ready to explore the entire sky — as wide as the eye can see, full of endless possibilities and pure potentiality.

When we can consciously climb to the top of the well and rise above the fear that marks comfortable conformity, we can realize our true and untapped potential.  When we cease spending our time and resources defending and guarding our precious possessions and begin spending our time considering what is possible, we are ready to embrace pure potentiality and rise to our true personal greatness.

Do you find yourself stuck at the bottom of the well, paralyzed by fear?  Are you spending your time defending what you have worked so hard to earn, but feel largely unfulfilled and unhappy about the life you are living?  Perhaps it’s because you are living out of scarcity and fear, and you are living a bottom-of-the-well life.  It’s time for us to build that ladder of enlightened living.  Let’s climb that ladder to the top, where we can finally realize the true untapped potential and greatness that we all possess!



About the Author

Professor of Possibility and Possibility. Innovator. Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Wellness Coach, Speaker, Author. Award-Winning Blogger.