When Everything Conspires Against You

ALAIN BOMBARD WAS A DOCTOR who lived in a fishing village in France in the 1940's. He knew many people died at sea after they had survived a shipwreck, and he thought most of these deaths could be prevented. People could live off the ocean while floating in their lifeboats, but they didn't. Many of them succumbed to despair, didn't do what they could do, and died. As far as Bombard was concerned, this was not only tragic, it was unnecessary.

He studied the subject, and made experiments in the Mediterranean Sea, and then decided to test his theories and prove his case by making a solo voyage across the Atlantic in an inflatable dingy.

He essentially "shipwrecked" himself and had to use his knowledge to survive. The journey across the sea took more than two months, and he had many difficult times. He was lonely and sometimes thirsty and hungry. He didn't know if he would make it across alive. At one point he wrote in his logbook:
Everything seems to conspire against me. Since this morning I have literally been stewing in my own juice under a terrible sun. No shade, and yet barely half a mile away the sky is covered with thick clouds. It is frightening to realize to what extent one can develop a persecution mania alone on the surface of the sea; it really seems as if one is the victim of a conspiracy which one will never defeat. The wind is propelling several small cloud formations but it seems as if they deliberately avoid the sun rather than pass across it and give me a little shade.
Does this point of view sound familiar? Have you ever felt the Fates were out to get you? It is an illusion. Magicians use their knowledge of our perceptual weaknesses to create illusions that amaze us. And our perceptual weaknesses all by themselves create illusions that demoralize us (for example, the illusion you have bad luck, or that everything is conspiring against you). The source of the illusion is that reality functions as if it has a negative bias. Read more about that here.

The nature of reality gives you the impression the world is in a conspiracy to foil your plans, and it does it in several ways. If you're waiting for a southbound bus, for example, and you wait for awhile, it will seem as if the bus gods are out to get you because the only buses coming by are northbound. Why? Because as soon as you see a southbound bus, you'll take it. Reality, and your own brain's negative bias, has created an illusion.

The upshot of all this is that when you feel despair, your distress may very well be the result of an illusion. There is one way to find out if it's an illusion or not. Use the antivirus for your mind. That is, write down your negative and pessimistic thoughts, and then discover if any of them are mistaken. Do this whenever you feel depressed, discouraged, disheartened, or blue.

When you make the discovery that a negative thought of yours was a mistake, the illusion will vanish and your despair will evaporate. You can use this to save yourself from the terrible feelings of discouragement, and you can use it to help others. Teach them what you know. Nobody should have to suffer unnecessary despair when you're in the vicinity. Let us conspire together to cure ourselves and each other of needless negative emotions.

Read more about Bombard's voyage: The Bombard Story

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