Back to bananas

Banana It's been building up for a while, but I have been getting more and more stuck in Headmind and the dis-ease state, due to the fact that I haven't written anything on this blog for over two weeks.

So the banana about having to be clever kicks in and Headmind gives me a hard time about ending up as a failure:

It tells me: 'You must write something good, soon, son, or your dreams about this blog are all going to end up in smoke…'

Which tells me that even the best of us get sucked in to obsessive-compulsions. After all, why the hell should I write something if I have nothing to say?

Similarly, with some of your own bananas:

  • Why should you try to please people who care nothing about your efforts?
  • Why should you get together with people you care little about?
  • Why should you read a blog page that bores you?

Now that I have got that off my chest then I can go back to writing new articles without thinking that I need to appease the Internal Control Freak.

And immediately I write that, I get, first a release, and then a creative idea: Why not write about the Enneagram?

Think I will start on that now….

But meantime, I am humbly reminded that the battle against the obsession to be more than we can be never lets up.

And – please – if you are getting impatient about the delay in my posting new articles on here, then let me have your wishes and creative ideas rather than your complaints.

Why guilt is useless

Guilt is a delusionary state. It doesn’t serve you at all and is a creation of the imagination; of Headmind’s drive towards conformity.

Here’s how Headmind creates Guilt:

1. Headmind is stuffed full of judgments about the person you could be, should be, should not be, etc. Those judgments were not originally your own but inherited from other people. But gradually you internalised them and they became self-judgments.

2. These judgments are re-activated by parents, teachers, priests, employers, children and partners who may be exploiting you.

3. Your Headmind buys into those judgments because it seeks acceptance, conformity, and admiration (even from people who don’t deserve your respect).

4. Dwelling on occasions in which guilt comes up – and Headmind judges you – creates uncomfortable Bodymind reactions: cringing, agitation, distress. Although Bodymind creates that discomfort in order to warn you not to indulge in guilt, Headmind interprets this as a signal that you are, indeed, a ‘bad’ person, worthy of punishment.

Here’s another way to understand ‘Guilt’:

1. Earlier societies did not recognise a psychological state known as ‘guilt’. For them ‘guilt’ was simply another word for ‘debt’ (as in the German/Saxon word: ‘gultig’). It simply meant that one person had harmed another and was unable to put things right. For example, one person stole another person’s property but was too poor to pay it back – therefore he was ‘guilty’ and subject to the penalties of the community.

2. Religious influences gradually changed this original meaning of guilt into ‘personal sin’.

3.  When Psychology started up in Germany and America in the 19th century it took over religious ideas about ‘sin’ and reinterpreted them in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ actions. So doing one ‘bad’ thing made you an ‘evil’ or ‘guilty’ person – instead of someone who simply made a mistake.

4. Mistakes and ‘bad’ actions you committed in the past were based on the knowledge you possessed at the moment you committed them, no matter how daft. For example: you shop-lifted, knowing you couldn’t afford something but that you ‘had’ to have the item anyway. You let the Headmind state of greed get the better of you.

5. Therefore your past mistakes were based on inadequate knowledge (you thought it was ok to steal, or that you wouldn’t get caught, or that it wouldn’t matter if you did get caught). Your predictions turned out to be wrong, although you didn’t  realise that at the time.

6. Your present self-judgments are based on a false premise: your present self blames your past self even though your past self did not possess the experience of knowledge your present self now has.

Here is the truth:

1. You did not actually have free will back then when you committed your error of judgment. You did what you had to do at the time because you lacked Awareness.

2. Indulging in Headmind worry (i.e. analyzing over and over again about what an ‘evil’ person you were/are) may actually get in the way of your attempts to put things right.

3. If you have really done somebody wrong you could connect to the emotion of remorse and get on with making amends, rather than wasting time on guilt.

Image by Jsome1

You can’t afford the luxury of a worry

According to a survey published by Mr Really Worried on his blog the average Briton spends 2 hours and fifteen minutes worrying, which adds up to 34 days
a year. Don’t forget – that’s only an average figure – which means that
at least 29 million people on these islands are doing a lot more
worrying than that.

Worry creates Anxiety, which in turn
leads to wear and tear on your body, as it attempts to adapt to the
increased strain that Headmind has created for you. The result?
Stress-related illnesses like:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heart disease
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Gastric reflux
  • Migraine
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Fibromyalgia

As well as a host of other diseases that stem from the alcohol,
tobacco and drugs that people may use to mask the effects of anxiety.

I am not necessarily saying that Stress causes these illnesses. It could
just be that it amplifies them. But the conclusion is the same: each
and every time you worry you damage your health.

I am sometimes asked, by chronic worriers I have met: ‘What is the difference between
a problem and a worry? Most of the things that bother me aren’t worries
– they are real-life disasters!’

The answer is that a problem is a concern which you can do something about. A worry is a delusional state in which Headmind conjures up a horrific state of affairs that is
seemingly going to happen in the future (but rarely does). For example:
you may be suffering financially from the credit crunch. The related
problem could be that you now need to reduce your debt and you could do
that by talking to your bank manager, reducing your spending, talking
things over with your partner, searching for another job, etc. A worry
might be that you might end up in poverty, or in prison, or on the
streets. Dangerous words create nightmares.

If you worry you will
immediately become anxious, jittery, agitated. You won’t be able to
think straight and you will be dominated by a panicky inner voice. You
may also feel nauseous, tense and upset.

If you catch yourself in one of these states, here’s what you do:

  1. Get up quickly and go to another room, or get out of the building
  2. While you are doing that shout ‘STOP’ as loud as you can inside your head – or
    press the STOP button on the ‘tape recorder’ inside your head
  3. Recall a moment in your life when you dealt with problems in a good way. ‘Ask’
    the ‘You’ in this recalled state a question: ‘Is this a Problem or am I just letting Worry take over?’
  4. If the answer is that it is a Problem then ‘ask’ yourself ‘What one small thing can I do now to act on this?’ (Remember, if there is no action you can take, the it is a worry, not a concern)
  5. If the answer from your better self is that it is a Worry then immediately go and do something that occupies your full attention in an enjoyable way. I especially recommend doing
    something physically strenous that raises endorphins

‘If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long
enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on
another planet with a different reality system.

William James

Letting go of your internal control freak

Readers of this blog will know that I am usually puzzled by the way in which the mind constantly goes wrong. Engulfing us in worry, guilt, perfectionism, do-goodery, paranoia and obsessions of various kinds. It’s a continuing mystery to me that conscious minds keep going wrong in that way.

Triggering stress, illness, burnout and breakdown.

One huge problem I notice with people who have Stress is that they are usually being driven nuts by their Internal Control Freak. Which often manifests as a semi-conscious inner voice that vetoes any activity that looks remotely like taking them out of their comfort zone. I sometimes call this freak ‘the imp on your shoulder’.

My good friend Kathleen Haden – who also happens to be a gifted practitioner of Reverse Therapy recently told me a story about one of her clients, who found a great way to silence the imp.

Kathleen’s client was working with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and her Internal Control Freak was giving her a really hard time with it’s do-nothing philosophy.

For example, it would tell her:

  • It was too risky to be honest with her partner because he might leave her.
  • Too scary to go back to work – she wouldn’t be able to cope.
  • Not worth bothering to go for a night out in case she had a ‘relapse’.

So Kathleen instructed her to let go of ‘The Need to Know‘. Because none of us can predict what is going to happen next, and if she could let go of Headmind’s need to predict, control, and run away from, the future, she would be able to go with the flow, taking each moment, and each challenge, as it came up.

Come the next session and the client tells her:

” Kathleen….I’ve been letting go of ‘the need to know’ and my symptoms have gone!”

The client had simply been practicing Awareness – and, since she was busy keeping her attention on the Now, she had effectively sidelined her internal control freak. And when she did that she reduced stress. And when she did that her Bodymind turned off the symptoms it had been using to warn her to stop stressing out.

You can’t fight the imp, or try to argue with it (like Cognitive Therapists try to do). Nor should you try and ‘reason’ with it. For the simple reason that the Control Freak is impervious to argument. It is only interested in power.

Each time you listen to, or argue with, or obey the freak you feed it with more power. So don’t bother. Just direct your attention elsewhere. And when the imp realises you aren’t listening anymore, it will shut up.

“When a control freak loses control all you are left with is the freak.”

Anonymous British Government Minister on Gordon Brown.

Why worry?

A few days ago I went into hospital and was told I have a tumour inside the ear. At this moment I don’t know whether it is malignant or not. We will only find that out after I have had the surgery.

The surprising thing, for me, is I haven’t worried about it at all. That’s weird because, for years, I would worry about anything and everything. I even used to worry about the fact that I was worrying so much. Now I don’t even worry about cancer.

Worry, as far as I am concerned, is a thing of the past. In fact, I can’t worry. It’s too difficult for me to do now because I have re-programmed my brain not to.

Here’s how you can do the same.

First, understand that worries are not real. They are fictions about the future. Your Mind makes them up either as ‘disaster movies’, ‘horror stories’, or ‘head-tapes’. It was long ago established that over 90% of the events we worry about either never materialize or are greatly exaggerated. Make a decision not to watch or listen to a single worry ever again.

Second, understand that worrying is a form of conditioning. Very young children do not worry – they are trained to worry by the adults around them. You can reverse that conditioning.

Third, understand that worry serves no purpose and is in fact useless. Some people think worry helps them solve problems. It doesn’t. It just creates anxiety and adds to the problem. Real problem-solving has nothing to do with worry.

Fourth, understand that you aren’t going to be punished when you are happy, well, loved, successful, or prosperous. Some people think ‘it is all too good to be true’ or ‘it’ll all end badly some day’. Then they start worrying. The idea that you have to ‘earn’ your happiness by worrying is a superstition.

Fifth, let go of the idea that the solution to worry and stress is to drink, smoke, have sex with strangers, take drugs or go on a shopping binge. These solve nothing and you don’t need to do them anyway. All you need to do is learn how to stop worrying.

Sixth, understand that worrying is itself an addiction. The more you worry, the more anxious you will get. Then Headmind notices you are anxious and starts worrying again, in a vicious, unnecessary, circle.

Here are the solutions:

1. Distinguish between problems and worries. Problems are things that are happening now, not in the future. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not a problem. Problems are solved by checking the facts, getting advice, experimenting with solutions, and patience. Not worry.

2. When you catch yourself worrying, run the worry again in your mind, this time using the voice of an idiot. That could be Homer Simpson, it could be a politician, or it could be someone you actually know. Run it until you laugh, get bored with it, or get angry at its nonsense.

3. As soon as you hear this idiotic mind-tape or one of its ridiculous films STOP wasting time on it and immediately do something that occupies your full attention. Vigorous physical exercise, or shouting, dancing, singing and laughing are all good to do.

4. Procrastination. If the worry won’t go away then write it down and then put it in away in a drawer, promising yourself you’ll look at it in a few days. Then forget about it. I used to do this myself. Looking at those scraps of paper a week later, I couldn’t remember what the hell most of them were about.

5. Worry periods. If they are still insistent then hold 10 minute ‘worry periods’ each day until you get bored with them. This method works on reverse effort. What you do is to work very hard to worry. Get yourself worked up abut them. Imagine the most exaggerated, over-the-top, outcomes. Try and make yourself anxious. You will find that this is, in fact, extremely hard to do. Then go off and enjoy the rest of your day.

6. Practice Bodymind awareness. This is a staple of Reverse Therapy. The more time you spend ‘in’ your body the less time you will have to spend listening to Headmind mischief. It doesn’t matter which method you use – Yoga, Tai Chi, Breathing exercises, Self-massage, Feldenkreis, Alexander technique, or just being aware of your feet pushing down on the floor – just do it. Today.