38 provocative thoughts

Much was decided before you were born.
You don’t choose what happens  in life.
Your actions are driven either by passion or by regimentation.
Regimentation comes from failed cultures.
Passion belongs to the divine in you.

You didn’t choose your gender.
Men and Women are from different species.
The correct attitude to the opposite sex is playfulness.

You didn’t choose your race.
Racial differences are really cultural.
The correct attitude to other cultures is curiosity.

You didn’t choose your parents.
You maybe didn’t get the parents you would have chosen.
The correct attitude to your parents is objectivity.

You didn’t choose your education.
Much that is taught in schools is based on ideas that were once alive but which are now dead.
The correct attitude to teachers is scepticism.

You didn’t choose the Law.
Laws are created by people in authority.
The correct attitude to the Law is caution.

You didn’t choose the Society in which you live
Social rules are based on customs.
The correct attitude to those customs is pragmatism.

You didn’t choose the people who love you.
Your relationships chose you.
The correct attitude to relationships is love.

You didn’t choose your Body.
Yet your Body decides your health, your emotions, desires, moods, and temperament.
The correct attitude to your Body is wonder.

You didn’t choose your gifts, talents, or your inner self.
The core of who you are is determined by your Daimon.
The correct attitude to your Daimon is obedience.

You didn’t choose your actions.
Your actions are decided by the needs and expectations of the moment.
The correct attitude to past actions is amusement.

You didn’t choose God.
God is another term for whatever it is that keeps the universe in being.
The correct attitude to God is silence.

How to be a victim

Victim1 Being a victim is hard work. For those of you out there who think that it is important to become one here are my top tips on how to make victimization work for you.

1. Live in the past.

This is the golden rule. Thinking that you have been fucked up by your childhood, or by people who bullied or abused you, is a cast-iron guarantee that you have joined the Victim Club.

2. Hand your power over to others.

This is Rule number 2. You simply have to see other people as more attractive, happier, and more powerful than you are. Be sure to think of these people as part of an unspoken conspiracy to do you down.

3. Whinge – often.

One sure way to draw attention to the fact that you are a victim is to complain a lot. This takes practice, I recommend that you use a dictaphone and develop a script which explains why you can’t do things you want to be doing but your childhood, bad luck, current illnesses, the system, the authorities, your enemies, etc., won’t let you do them.

4. Keep listening to the bad thoughts.

Like: “I am a stupid/bad/guilty/fucked up/useless failure”. Be sure not to do anything else with your day but sit around and listen to Headmind.

5. Do as little as possible.

Good losers don’t actually do anything. They just sit around and think about the what-might-have beens.

6. Do resentment

This is really a re-run of rule number 2. Gossip as much as you can about people who appear to be better-off than you are. Be sure to dwell on their weaknesses and problems and try to make out that they owe everything to ‘luck’.

7. Do Depression

This is related to tips Number 4 and 5. If you want to be a victim then think as much as you can about your past failures and your future hopelessness. Learn how to be depressed and do it well.

8. Be a pessimist.

Professional victims believe they are doomed. That they are in the power of things that they cannot control. That little they do makes any difference, That the world is in the grip of evil powers. Be sure to think the same way.

9. Blame your frustrations on other people.

When Bodymind notices that you are acting like a victim it creates an emotion called frustration. This signal-state is actually telling you to get a life. But don’t do that. Instead, tell anyone who wants to listen that your horrible emotions have been caused by dark forces beyond your control.

10 Do things that demean you.

This is a tricky one. You could stay in a dead-end job. Or you could stay in a relationship that’s past it’s sell-by date (see next item). You could also stay in a rut. Or focus all your attention on other peoples’ problems. But the safest tip is to always talk yourself down. Don’t stint on this: keep telling people how miserable you are.

11. Keep doing dysfunctional relationships.

Victims never learn from their mistakes. They keep choosing the same stupid partners again and again. Always do internet chats/fantasize about/go to bed with/marry people who are losers just like you. Be sure to end the ‘relationship’ by telling as many people as you can how awful your ex-partner was and how this has screwed you up even more than before.

12. Believe everything you are told.

Spend as much time as you can reading the newspapers, watching morning television, or Googling items that explain why you are a victim. Then go and see a Therapist.

13. Visit doctors/psychiatrists/psychotherapists/counsellors – often.

See Rule 2 and Rule 12. Because you are a victim you will need constant help. Help in understanding why you are a victim. Prescription drugs to help you through the pain of failure. Counselling so that you can become a proficient whinger and get even more stuck.

14. Do lots of courses that promise a better life – and fail.

You might need some government grants for this. Always choose dodgy courses that
suggest that you will cease to be a victim once you have mastered the
formula for success. Then, once the course has finished, you can blame
your failures on the trainer.

15. Rage on about conspiracy theories.

See Rule 2. Adolf Hitler – who was perhaps the most famous victim in history – believed that the Jews were behind a plot to do him and his friends down. Other groups that control victims include the ‘System’, the Freemasons, the Templars, Opus Dei, the Illuminati and spaceships from Venus. Follow Adolf’s example and use monotony to explain why your life has been spent in a long struggle against dark forces.

16. Ignore your passions.

This could well be Golden rule number 3. It’s important to understand that you are not important. You are not here for any particular reason and nor have you been provided with any particular gifts, talents, or Personal Genius. Because you live most of the time in your Head you find it unbelievable that Bodymind is continually using emotions to prompt you towards being a real human being.

Getting rid of your bananas

This is the follow up to the blog I posted last Saturday – Why people get Obsessional. In that post I describedEscape_2
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.

  1. 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.
  2. The next step is to train your awareness on yourself.
  3. The third step is to identify the bananas themselves, and the damage they do to you.
  4. The fourth step is to take ownership for the needs denied by the banana
  5. The next step is experiment with a different way of life.
  6. A potential sixth step is to start doing the opposite of what your banana forces you to do.
  7. 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.

Awareness

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‘.

Experimenting

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.

Good Hunting!

 

Are you obsessional?

Today I worked with a client who asked me to work with her on identifying and eliminating her ‘bananas’.

For those of you who haven’t read my book then let me explain:

A banana is a fixation or a compulsion, which dictates inflexible, repetitive, self-defeating behavior.

The metaphor is taken from an ancient method for catching monkeys – still practiced to this day in parts of Africa and Asia. Here’s how the capture works:

The Hunter lays down a wicker basket with a banana inside it, in a grove where monkeys are known to forage. The cage is so constructed that the monkey can get at the banana but can’t pull it out because the bars of the cage are too narrow. Indeed, it cannot withdraw its hand at all unless it drops the banana. Most monkeys are smart enough to let go of the banana and go and look for better opportunities. But a minority don’t – that banana just means too much to them. They stay put, holding their booby prize until the hunter comes and throws a net over them.

Like some monkeys, a lot of human beings would rather be slaves than let go of their bananas.

Here are some examples of common bananas:

  • I have to be liked
  • I should be in control
  • I must be successful
  • I must not let people down
  • I must never get angry
  • I should always put other peoples’ needs first, no matter what happens to me
  • I must be strong

Notice that what makes the banana obsessional is the absolute demand to always act or be that way – as conveyed by the ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ contained in the injunction. There is nothing wrong with being loved, attracting success, and helping people out. The problem arises when no deviations from the rule are permitted. If that is the case then when we can’t cope, we wear ourselves out. Or, when we meet with rejection, failure, bullying or stress, then we no longer know what to do. We go on repeating the same destructive behavior like a broken record. Hoping that, sooner or later, it will work.

Some people get upset when you question their bananas. Their Conscious Mind sees that as a threat to its grasp on reality. To such people, their
obsession with the banana is an ‘obvious’ way to be. Not acting that way is deemed by them to be ‘selfish’, ‘unrealistic’, ‘immature’. etc. So holding on to bananas – even when they don’t apply – is viewed as a right way to be, while discarding them is bad, immoral or stupid. This explains their compulsive character. As does the fact that some people believe that something terrible will happen to them if they let go of their bananas.

This is why so many of us repeat the same toxic relationships over and
over again – exploited by ‘must-have’ employers, abused by ‘caring’ partners, manipulated by ‘helpless’ children, let down by ‘unlucky’ friends’, controlled by ‘wonderful’ parents. Meanwhile, Bodymind is sending us emotional signals to tell us about the way things really are and what we need to be doing about that – saying ‘no’ when we are tired, asking for help when we are overwhelmed, taking a break when we are frustrated, demanding fairness when we are angry. But if we go on ignoring our emotions, obsessing about bananas and dwelling in toxic relationships, we end up with depression, panic attacks, or what, in Reverse Therapy, we call non-specific illness.

On Monday I will return to this topic, describing how we can give away those bananas!

Why your most useful ideas are delusions

One very strange result of studies on depressed people is that they are a lot more realistic than the norm. Their judgments about what they can and can’t do, their predictions about events, and their guesses about what others really think about them, are a lot more accurate than non-depressed people. Even the bets they make are more likely to make a (small) profit. You can read more about this discovery here.

Studies on non-depressed people show that most of us are ‘unrealistic optimists’ who believe we have far more control over events, and more talents and skills than is actually the case. We also tend to be irrational in our judgments about the future. For example, most of us tend to over-estimate our scores on ability tests, exaggerate the differences between our own abilities and those of people in the same job, and have a rosier view of the future than experience warrants.

The fact is that pessimism is usually more realistic
than optimism. And this got me thinking about the difference between the two types of thinking.

Here are two lists that I have compiled more or less off the top of my head.

True ideas that will depress you:

  1. On average, 50% of your decisions will be wrong
  2. You are a lot less talented than you imagine
  3. Many of your achievements owe something to luck
  4. Any success you have will be temporary at best
  5. Most people you have met are indifferent to you
  6. You have little influence over your own life

Unrealistic ideas that will make you happy:

  1. You can make a difference
  2. You are special
  3. You are likeable to most people
  4. You have free will
  5. You make your own luck
  6. You are continually growing and learning how to be more successful

The bottom line is this: Headmind thoughts, beliefs and judgments – no matter how accurate they are – make NO difference to your quality of life.

Take another look at the two lists and ask yourself what the main difference is.

Here is what I notice: The first list is reactive (based on past experience), impersonal and leads nowhere. Depressed people may have many true thoughts but they avoid work, stay away from people and spend a lot of time being miserable.

The second list is personal, affirmative emotive, and leads to action – community work, self-development, communication, decision-making, risk-taking and experimentation. Following those activities will keep you engaged in life, and experiencing the full range of emotions from joy to despair – rather than just observing it. No matter whether the outcomes are unrealistic or not, the journey is everything.

There is a poem by Cavafy that illustrates this point, If Odysseus had thought about the journey home to Ithaka, and all the problems he was likely to encounter, he would never have started. Neither would he have been reunited with those he loved. And he would have missed out on some rich experiences. As we say, in Reverse Therapy, ‘Don’t think about it – just do it!’


Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
 
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
 
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Cavafy