Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

GrayBall, The Brain – a/k/a “The World’s Worst Terrorist”

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I’m convinced – at least on some days – that without a whole cadre of anti-terrorism tactics in place, GrayBall would be burning and pillaging it’s way across the entire  landscape of my future life right now.  After all, it was an experience  all too familiar from my younger years.

And I know that I’m not the only one. Admit it.  You know who you are.

Do you have a potential or a possibility for the future, but . . .

Are you anxiously asking yourself “what if questions” about your future hopes and dreams?

If so, you’re being terrorized by the ‘world’s worst terrorist.”

What is it with GrayBall anyway?

Why is it – just when we should be feeling excited and passionate about all the possibilities in front of us – does it begin to terrorize us with thoughts of failures past, broken dreams and disappointments?

Well, chalk it up to GrayBall’s wonderful self-preservationist attitudes.  It often thinks it’s under attack, and feels the need to defend itself against future failure.

GrayBall loves to lob bombs from the past and create all manner of chaos and mayhem into our soon-to-be future.

Have an upcoming presentation?  You’ll suddenly remember the time in the 3rd grade when, in a panic, you forgot the only two lines you were required to remember for the school play.

Have a prospective first date?  You’ll start to reflect on how badly your last relationship turned out.

Trying to land that new job?  Rejections, rejections, rejections are all you can think about.

It’s hard to believe the future will turn out anything but badly.

How could it? As you’re inching ever closer to the inevitable doom of stepping on that landmine out in the future that GrayBall has so loving placed there.

Yep, I said lovingly.

Because Gray Ball really means well.  That’s why it’s a bad terrorist.  In fact, it’s the world’s worst.  Because it’s trying to help us … not harm us.

It’s trying to protect us by helping us to pay attention to what might happen that we don’t want to have happen.  But this is like trying to help you navigate a mine field by laying down more mines so you’ll remember they’re there.  Kinda crazy, huh?

Here’s another reason GrayBall is the world’s worst terrorist: all the bombs are really duds.  They don’t really exist.  They’re memories from the past…. things we’ve already endured and lived through.

That alone should convince us that our ‘not yet successes’ in the future will turn out okay in the end … because they always do.  We can learn, grow and evolve.  You aren’t the 3rd grader who didn’t remember your lines, you’re an adult fully capable of stringing two sentences together, your past relationship taught you to stop trying to change people and look for someone who already possesses the qualities you’re looking for, and you’ve endured enough rejection to realize you’ll live to fight another day.

So while GrayBall is rooting around in the past for those duds to toss out into your future ask yourself, “What have I learned that will help me achieve my not-yet future success?”

And more importantly, GrayBall is simply a misguided friend.  Not a foe.  But, more on that later.

 

The Ongoing Adventures of GrayBall-the-Brain ~ This episode: The Worried ‘Psychic’

Monday, February 13th, 2012

“I no longer question whether or not the future can be changed. I question whether or not the future exists as future. I think not.” (jc)

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want happiness and peace of mind. All living creatures want to be okay.

I think it’s built into the Big-Bang Blueprint.

Even people obsessed with acquiring objects are really trying to get something they believe is vital to their well-being. They just go about it very poorly because they think that having things is the secret to having peace.

It isn’t.

Of the many peculiar behaviors of GrayBall-the-Brain (the principal in our story, henceforth known as GrayBall for short, or Brain for shorter) the one I want to discuss is its tendency to compare, and to look for negative, scary things. It’s probably a survival mechanism. Had it been unable to distinguish between what’s helpful or harmful, none of us would be here.

But, when basic survival skills for GrayBall become obsessions of the mind, unhappiness becomes a lifestyle; a way of being.

That’s what happens when Brain compares what it desires to what it actually has. And thinking that it needs the object of its desire to be happy, GrayBall feels unhappy NOW, begins to worry, and becomes anxious about its future.

You know anyone like that?

I do. I have a friend who says she worries about everything.

Everything is a lot to be worried about,” I said.

I asked her to make a list.

She did. It really was everything.

Yikes!

And the last item was ‘worried about being worried.’ Kind of a tough spot she’s in, wouldn’t you say?

Strictly speaking, no one can be worried about everything because no one knows what everything is. So, we got to work and narrowed it down to specifics.

All the items on her revised list were of possible-scary-future events. And fear and worry are future dependent.

Nobody’s worried about what might happen in their past. The past is over.

And no one is worried about an event that occurred in their past–unless they’re thinking about how it might effect their future. See?

My friend, like many people, was focusing on the scary things that might happen; that could happen.

But what might happen–also might not happen. Almost anything could happen–but it also could not happen. And most things that could’ve happened–never did happen. (Think about that one.)

Anyway, I’m very worried about her. (ahem)

If you’re worried about future events–something that may or may not happen–you’re worried about something that isn’t real. 

Because the future doesn’t exist as a fact. It’s all made up.

And if it’s all made up, then there’s nothing to worry about.

Instead of planning for the best and being watchful for the unexpected, my young friend was absolutely certain of disaster. And that’s what she was afraid of.

But nothing on her list was real. GrayBall-the-Brain was playing psychic.

I said, “If you really can predict the future, you should become a professional psychic. You’d be rich, and worry number two would be gone.”

She asked me what she should do.

“About what? None of your problems are real.”

“You’re not helping, Jim!”

“There’s no answer to your question, because it’s not a real problem. You’re making it up.”

Her eyes went all squinty. “I’m not making it up! You’re not making any sense!”

“Then show me the facts as you know them for certain. Show me the evidence. Can you take a picture of your scary future? Can you hold it in your hands? If not, it isn’t real. It’s in your mind.”

“I’m going on the evidence of my past. A bad past means I’m going to have a bad future. That’s how I know.” (Read that bit again and see if you can spot the error in her thinking.)

“But the past is gone. It’s only a memory. Take a picture of how your past means your future. Show it to me. You can’t–because the meaning isn’t there! What you’re worried about isn’t real. It doesn’t exist because your future hasn’t happened yet. GrayBall is making up scary stories–and you believe them. That’s your real problem.”

“So what do I do?”

“Make up a better story with a happier future. Make up a possible future you’d like to have instead. Then plan and work toward that.”

“How do I do that?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll tell you how in Part II. In the meanwhile, I want you to consider something.”

“What, more PICTURES-OF-EVIDENCE?” She had taken a tone.

I went all zen-ish on her. “Anything that hasn’t happened yet can change,” I said. “But nothing can be changed before it has happened.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean? It’s like I’m talking to Yoda!”

“Yeah, well, think about it. It’ll mess with your mind.”

“Thanks, dweeb.”

 

Stay tuned for  “The Practical Approach to a Worry-Free Brain” coming next installment.

Hi. Welcome to my Universe.
If you enjoyed this, please Like, Share, Tweet, Comment, or everything to the left of this dot.
And thanks for being you. You’re the only you there will ever be. That makes you awesome.

You and Your World~Metaphorically Speaking, Part II

Monday, December 12th, 2011

“If you really want to know what’s going on in your unconscious mind, look closely at your life–because it’s telling you the truth.” (jc)

In Part One of this series, I posed a question about possible strategies for dealing with a brain at war with itself.

Well, there’s lots of tactical manuevers people use in this kind of war hoping to emerge victorious.

One popular approach is to get the conflict diagnosed as a mental illness. Then you get to exact vengeance upon your brain with prescription chemical warfare until it burns out and surrenders.

Or, you could enter into desperate negotiations with your brain, hoping to garner a truce. But do any of these really present a useful solution?

I think you know the answer.

But there’s another more solution-oriented approach to finding peace by resolving the conflict. One that most people aren’t aware of.

You remember that beliefs generate our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, right?

Well, lurking beneath statements like I’m at war with myself, or I’m stuck in a rut, or I just can’t handle all this *stuff* hanging over my head, is the structure of the beliefs that are creating the difficulty.

These, and other similar statements are among the countless metaphors people use to describe their life situation.

Your metaphors reveal the landscape of your internal reality.

The experience you’re having right now is the effect of living your life within the metaphoric landscape of what you believe to be true. See?

And while you may be profoundly aware of the effects of the belief, the structure of the problem created by the belief is usually outside of your conscious awareness. Because a person can be aware of how they feel and what they do without actually knowing the cause.

Have you ever noticed a peculiar behavior or puzzling limitation of your own and wondered, “What the heck is that all about?”

Here’s a Mind-Warp for you.

If you were caught in a trap that you could see and feel–like a cage or a pit–you could study the characteristics of the trap and have a good chance of finding a way out, couldn’t you? You might even discover that you had a number of choices for implementing a solution.

But what if you were caught in a trap–and didn’t even know it? What chance for escape would you have then?

Well, practically speaking–none. Your choices are limited to the information you have. How’s that for freedom of choice?

Most people don’t realize they’re living, or are trapped, within a metaphoric world. And because they don’t realize it, they’re unable to find their way out.

Problematic states like chronic depression and anxiety are common examples of this situation. People living within these problems are often caught in a closed recursive neurological loop–a trap consisting of limiting beliefs. And they don’t know that. So the problem persists.

But there are solutions; even for some of the most difficult of these problems. And sometimes they’re so simple, it boggles the mind.

Uncovering the structure of the metaphor within which the problem exists is like bringing the ‘invisible trap’ into view. Then, the specific characteristics of the trap can be observed, and more often than not, a solution created.

Your inner world is made up of beliefs.

And the structure of that world is evident in your behaviors and language patterns–in the form of metaphors. These metaphors have distinct qualities and characteristics including boundaries, textures, various climates and multiple dimensions–just as you would expect of any material landscape–but with some startling exceptions.

The metaphoric world exists within the universe of imagination–of mind. (Anyone thinking about that Twilight Zone music right now, raise your hand.) And, unlike the denser 3-D world of stuff, where pesky things like gravity and aerodynamics rule, in the universe of imagination such rules don’t exist.

Hence, anything is possible there.

The trick is to use your imagination to create a more useful metaphor wherein lies a solution that can be applied in the 3-dimensional world.

In other words, your imagination may be filled with magic carpets and flying automobiles, but unless it was built and tested for flight in this world–don’t go driving your car off a cliff. (*wink*)

Until next time, here’s a simple challenge: what would you say is the only thing powerful enough to change a belief? If you get this, you know more about the rules for change than most.

Want a hint? Recall what beliefs are made of…

(More mind de-boggling coming soon. Stay tuned.)

Hi. Welcome to my Universe.
If you enjoyed this, please Like, Share, Tweet, Comment, or everything to the left of this dot.

And thanks for being you. You’re the only you there will ever be. That makes you awesome.

Meanwhile, you can click here to discover more about the world of metaphor from Andrew T. Austin – an emerging Master of Metaphor.

Overwhelmed and Stressed

Monday, November 14th, 2011

A Case For Never Picking Up Strangers

If we only get one body, then why do I sometimes feel like I’m walking around with two heads?

Of course I’m now at an age where I get to blame it on hormones.

But perhaps that’s just a convenient excuse for explaining why I keep forgetting where I left my keys only to realize minutes later where they are.  Which just happens to be after I’ve already locked myself out of the house.

But if I’m really being honest, it’s because the busier I become, the behind-er I get.  My mind is one step ahead of where I’m trying to go and I’m . . .

Overwhelmed and Stressed

Overwhelmed and her evil twin sister, Stressed, seductively lure you in.

One minute you’re going down life’s highway minding your own business.  The next?

There they are – with their thumbs out asking for a free ride.  There’s a reason Mom warns you to never pick up strangers.

Because just like some strange hitchhikers you’ve picked up and forgotten to drop off along the way, pretty soon you’re driving them around and they haven’t even paid a nickle for the gas.

Not only that, but the longer they hang around, the more entitled they feel to shout directions – in stereo – from the back seat, “Do this, do that, go here, go there – now, now, now!”

 Suddenly “too much” meets “not enough.”

And, surprise:  the “not enough” has nothing to do with time.  You always have all the time there is.  There’s nothing you can do to change “clock” time.

What I’m talking about is too much information and not enough “sorting criteria.”  And this inevitably forces you onto the road where Sisters Overwhelm and Stressed are waiting to be picked up.

This is how it happens.

Let’s say you start out with a few things you need to get done.  Each of them is important in its own way.  So you put up a mental remember to do list.

Which is fine, if you only had a few things up there.  But as life gets increasingly busier and busier?

Pretty soon your mental checklist is greater than your capacity to easily recall . . . which, in case you were curious, is around 5 to 9 “bits” of information at any one time.

So let’s say you’ve got about 20 To Dos on your list and 5 of them are about to go nuclear.

At this point, it’s no longer a remember to do list, it’s now become a remember to worry about this list.  Your mind now tries to keep you on track by unconsciously bringing all those To Do’s  to your attention (even if only for a millisecond in between other tasks).

The Proper Way to Eat an Elephant?

What started out as a simple remember to do list now occupies your mental airspace with ever increasing demands on you to not forget to do.  Sisters Overwhelmed and Stressed have just jumped on board.

Because you’re focused on not forgetting, your mind becomes busy at trying to remember everything.  Now by the time you think of the last remember to do, you’re already mentally circling back to the first.  You’re suddenly in a roundabout.

You’re caught in an infinite loop, a Wheel of Worry, where the end of one thought is simply the beginning of another.

What’s even weirder?  Once things start going round and round, you haven’t any way to prioritize your to dos, or to distinguish the big from the small.   Everything is equally important and equally challenging.  Cleaning crumbs out of the cutlery drawer is lumped together with finishing a client presentation.

You might try to ignore Sisters Overwhelm and Stress who are suddenly along for the ride on this Wheel of Worry, but they’re pretty much a case of the “elephant in the room.”

They’re loud, they smell, they take up too much room, and they’re hell to feed (not to mention the constant clean up).

Well Done and Always One Bite At a Time

But there’s a way to get out of this roundabout and drop the Sisters off at the nearest intersection.

First, you need to do a mental purge.

Here’s an easy way how.

Breaking all your “to dos” into smaller, individual, bite size tasks gives you a way to create sorting criteria.  You’ll be able to evaluate and prioritize your way out of your mental roundabout in no time at all.

Simply grab a bunch of different colored index cards.  Choose a color for each category (i.e., green for household, blue for business, etc.)

Now write each to do onto its own separate index card by category.  Keep writing until you exhaust your supply of mental to dos.  Don’t stop until you’ve mentally purged each and every one onto a card.

No matter how many to dos you have, eventually you’ll reach the end of your list.  It’s no longer infinite.

Now take your cards and sort them according to category.  Once you have your categories, each card within your category can be evaluated.

Can a bigger task be broken down into smaller steps?

If so, create individual cards that represent those smaller steps and clip them in a sequence to the back of your larger to do.

Once you’ve done this, organize your cards by:

Category and/or subject and

Priority (using a numbering system 1 through 10, ten being most important).

Make sure you’ve noted on each one:

The steps needed to accomplish each task, and

How much time you need to accomplish it.

From these, calendar the necessary time based on priority.

When I do this I find that I do indeed have enough time.  I can get everything done . . . just not all at once.

I’ve soon left the Evil Sisters Overwhelm and Stress at the curb and I’m headed down the road again.

Cleaning crumbs out of the cutlery drawer doesn’t seem nearly as important or herculean an effort as it used to be.  And my presentation is calendared into smaller, more manageable steps that I can easily finish in time.

Simply by breaking things down to their smallest elements, I suddenly find I have all the time I need to get everything I need to get done.

And since I’ve written it all down, I can relax.   I can let my cards hold onto the information while my mind is free to focus on the task at hand.

Mom was right, never pick up strangers!