How To Cut Away The Sticky Web
If I tell you to think of the qualities of a spider’s web, what comes to mind?
Whatever the answer is, I believe a common response to that question is that spider webs are sticky.
Spiders need their webs to be sticky in order to catch prey, but there’s another kind of sticky web that we aren’t as aware of. A kind that’s much larger in scope and lurks in the background, silently working its magic. This web is the ‘sticky web of life’, and we are all ensnared by it.
The Sticky Web Of Life
I’ve talked before of the ‘stained glass window effect’, where our perceptions and opinions are distorted by our belief patterns and habits, some of which may be outdated and no longer valid. The sticky web of life is something that works in a similar way, but has two key differences.
First, unlike the stained glass window which alters all of our perceptions and beliefs, the sticky web is a particular kind of opinion that specializes in altering what we believe we are capable of. Much like a spider’s web which binds and restricts movement, our own ‘sticky web of life’ limits and restricts our imagination and creative potential.
Second, we sometimes use our stained glass window to work to our advantage, preferring to ‘get ahead’ of others in order for us to ‘win’. With the sticky web, it never works to our advantage. It prevents us from moving in the ways and directions that we want, causing us to lose our ability to be true to ourselves.
So how does the sticky web form? It forms in the same way that our stained glass windows form – from our perceptions of previous experiences.
Each time that we experience something that doesn’t go our way, we add to the strength of our web. We take it as ‘proof’ that we aren’t meant to achieve what we want to achieve, and that we should instead get on with leading a ‘normal life’.
For example, if we tell our parents that we want to become something that we’re strongly passionate about, they may say that it’s such hard work that it may not be worth bothering. How do we react? The common reaction is to become disheartened – we haven’t received the answer or support we wanted to receive.
This example, and many others that we experience, all serve to add to our sticky web, and it holds us back from what we want. We remain stuck in the same place, bound by our own reactions to events.
Choose Your Knife
Now that we’re aware of the sticky web, how do we get free from it? How do we cut ourselves loose and move towards that which we truly want? Well, in order to cut ourselves free, we need a knife.
Here are five knifes, five ways of cutting yourself loose from the sticky web.
- Be aware of what you’re doing
Throughout our days, we’re operating unconsciously far more often than we operate consciously.
To be conscious of something is to be aware of it. When we’re truly conscious, we can be said to be living ‘in the present moment’, where we aren’t distracted by our thought processes and beliefs.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens – our beliefs and habits run our lives and we move through our days on auto-pilot, doing things in the same way. This is the primary effect of the sticky web – to prevent us from being aware.
It’s extremely hard to be completely ‘aware’ all of the time, but we can cultivate occasional awareness. We can be aware even for a moment or two, and this is enough to break the effect of the sticky web. When we’re fully conscious, we aren’t hampered by our limiting thoughts and our restricting beliefs. Instead, we can begin to sample the wonders of our imagination.
Even for a few minutes a day, be aware of what you’re doing at that time. Just notice what you’re doing, and resist the temptation to think about it or judge it. Simply be in the present moment.
- Think outside the box
A popular term, especially amongst management gurus, is to ‘think outside the box’. For those who aren’t used to this term, it means to ‘think differently in a way that hasn’t been thought of before’.
How does this apply to the sticky web? In order to break free, you must learn to resist thinking in the same ways as you’ve always done, and think in new ways. To think outside the box is to imagine something new and useful, something that you wouldn’t be able to imagine if you weren’t aware.
Try taking a different route to work, or moving through your workday in a new way. Try having a deep conversation with your partner, or read an article online that you wouldn’t normally. By trying new thoughts and ideas, you stretch your imaginative muscles, and you begin to cut the web.
- Don’t assume everyone is right
A common fault of some people, and I include myself in this category, is that they assume that everyone is right. Instead of challenging other viewpoints, they blindly accept what they hear and even believe that their own viewpoints are flawed. I used to consistently sacrifice my own beliefs and replace them with those of others, including my parents, teachers, and friends.
Although I became aware of what I was doing, others haven’t yet cultivated this awareness and still allow themselves to be led by others. This is another effect of the sticky web – letting yourself be trapped by others.
I believe that relationships should be of a ‘win-win’ nature. We must listen to others and their beliefs, but not at the expense of our own. Don’t ‘assume’ that other people know better than you – they may not. Listen to what they say, but resist the temptation to let them add to the strength of your sticky web.
- Shake up your intake
The information we receive from others, and from the world around us, constantly has an effect on who we are as individuals.
We aren’t able to regulate our information intake – it all finds a way into our thoughts. We notice some conflict in the street, and we can feel our adrenaline pumping. We watch a romantic film with our partner, and we then feel more cozy. Whatever we experience in the outside world will have some level of effect on our inner world.
But we can get round this – there are some things we can control in the outside world, such as the material we read, and what we watch and listen to. We can change this by choosing to watch something more educational and inspiring, and we can read a different newspaper, or stop reading newspapers altogether.
We can shake up what we take in by giving ourselves different, more uplifting material to absorb. This then helps us to think differently.
- It’s never too late
Finally, I advise you that no matter how far down the journey of life you are, it’s never too late to change.
People in their sixties, seventies, and even eighties are gaining moments of awareness where they can see their sticky webs holding them back, and they then take the knife to it. People who have learned so much about themselves are still finding old beliefs that are holding them back, as if it’s the very beginning. There is no age limit on when you can or can’t change – it’s entirely your choice.
Pick up that knife that is waiting for you to use it, and start cutting away.