This is the follow up to the blog I posted last Saturday – Why people get Obsessional. In that post I described
how people get trapped trying to hold on to their cherished ‘bananas’. In this one, I describe how you can break free of them.
When you get rid of your bananas life will become a lot less stressful and a lot more serene. You will also feel a lot less obsessional and driven. When you stop wasting time on bananas you will free up your energy for the things that matter most to you.
- The first step towards getting rid of bananas is to understand how they got installed in you and why you need not be bound by them.
- The next step is to train your awareness on yourself.
- The third step is to identify the bananas themselves, and the damage they do to you.
- The fourth step is to take ownership for the needs denied by the banana
- The next step is experiment with a different way of life.
- A potential sixth step is to start doing the opposite of what your banana forces you to do.
- The final step is to practice living spontaneously, free from rules, in line with what your emotions and gut instincts guide you towards doing in the moment.
How bananas get installed.
Like all worries, bananas are created by conditioning, trauma-reactions and identification.
Most bananas originally belonged to other people – a parent, a teacher, a friend or even to to people you never met – writers, gurus and celebrities you read about. After a while their thoughts became yours because you imagined you would get their approval if you did that. You don’t in fact need anyone’s approval. Nor do you need their limiting beliefs.
Some bananas were adopted at an impressionable age when you saw other human beings doing things that scared you. For example – bullying, rage, rejection, abuse, punishment. Your Headmind then decided that you must NEVER again do what seemed to provoke that particular reaction – expressing love, asserting yourself, being honest, etc.
The most important reason your bananas are there, however is that you identify yourself as having to be perfect: a perfect daughter, perfect parent, perfect at your job, perfect lover, and so on
When you see that your compulsions are based on a fantasy then you immediately begin to separate from them. When you see the frustration, anxiety, misery and illness these obsessions create for you, then you have a powerful incentive to free yourself from them.
Those of you who follow Reverse Therapy will practice staying in Bodymind, becoming aware of your aliveness in the ‘Now’. Tuning in to your deepest emotions, feeling and intuitions about what is truthful, loving and ‘right’ for you and others in that moment. Learning to distinguish between the promptings of Bodymind and the compulsions of Headmind.
Identifying the Bananas you have
The simplest way is to consult a Reverse Therapist. If you want to do it yourself then you have to start noticing where, and with whom, you are most driven and compulsive. In which situations you are most likely to ignore your feelings about things and do what others want. Or the areas where you keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. Bananas always take the form: ‘I must always….’, ‘I must…’, I must never…’, ‘I should…’, ‘I should never….’. ‘I have to….’
You can’t eliminate a banana you don’t know you have. Unfortunately, it is harder to see your own bananas than other peoples’, simply because your Head thinks they are the ‘obvious’ truth.
Owning your needs
Bananas deny your right to nurture yourself, to be angry, to be honest, to be sad, to take time out, to get frustrated, to make mistakes, to be happy. Give yourself permission to do all and any of these things. Tell other people (as well as yourself): ‘I can’t cope. I need help‘. Or ‘I am sad today‘. Or ‘I screwed up – I am only human‘.
Once you know your bananas you can experiment with a different way of being. For example, if your banana dictates that that you stay in your comfort zone, then you can start experimenting with taking (small) risks. If your banana is about never expressing anger then you can learn assertiveness skills. If your banana is about having to work hard all the time then you can factor in more leisure time into your life.
Doing the opposite to what the banana tells you to do
This won’t work for some bananas so be careful with this slightly drastic strategy. For example, if you have a banana that tells you that you must never make mistakes then doing the opposite of that might mean you make a mistake that could cost you. But this strategy will certainly free you up from some bananas. I used to have a banana that told me that I had to know (or pretend to know) everything. When I started telling people that there were things I didn’t know and that I would never understand the relief that sometimes followed left me close to tears.
One of the things that gives these compulsions power over us is that we imagine that NOT following the banana will mean that something terrible will happen to us. Or that we will end up looking stupid, bad or weak. When we disobey the banana and notice that none of these things have, in fact, happened then we are closer still to separating from the delusion.
A common error
By the way, it is vital that you don’t turn banana-elimination into
another banana. There’s some good advice on this subject from Mark.
The life you were meant to live
The links in this final section refer to some of my other blog posts.
Because Headmind wants to conform, and because we are always coming up against bananas other people want us to have – right down from our Political and Religious Leaders to our neighbors next door, they are difficult to resist. Yet the examples of Lao-Tse, The Buddha, Christ, and many other enlightened saints, shows that this is possible. To follow them, we must learn to give up guilt, live as rebels. play with the rules that come with the game of life, become as spontaneous as children of five, and live in the body.