Posts Tagged ‘negative emotions’

Yesterday’s News

Friday, April 11th, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image691204The story of our Now is eventually Yesterday’s News.

If we enacted even half of our mental patterns—the stuff we do in our heads—out in the real world, we would immediately see a kind of insanity taking place. Here’s one example of what I mean.

Imagine you’ve decided to get a ticket for a highly rated show. You go to considerable lengths to ensure your future experience. You camp out in line for hours, endure freezing weather, and then pay a small fortune for your ticket.

You’ve waited weeks for the big day to arrive, and finally it’s here!

Now, you drive through a snow storm, wait in another long line to get into the event, and endure the occasional rude person before finding your seat. You sit eagerly anticipating a wonderful show, only to discover it’s the worst experience you’ve ever had. Baahhh!

Okay, so you’re hugely disappointed—maybe even a little sad, betrayed, or angry—that THIS PRESENT MOMENT EXPERIENCE is not all that you want it to be. But eventually, not soon enough for you, the show ends. You leave the venue a little older, a little disappointed, but none the worse for wear.

I have a question. Would you—after all of this—eagerly buy a ticket to attend the same event again the next day? I’m imagining your answer is, “Of course not! Why would I go back? That would be almost masochistic!

That’s because no one in their right mind would willingly purchase a ticket to re-experience an unhappy event. And your old ticket will soon wind up in the trash—and out it will go—along with yesterday’s news.

But here’s where it get’s interesting.

Why then, upon leaving the event, do some of us feel immediately compelled to call or text our friends to tell them what a terrible experience we just had? Metaphorically speaking, buying a mental ticket to an unhappy event we only moments ago said we wouldn’t re-purchase a physical ticket to experience again? Clearly, we’re psychically reliving our misery, aren’t we?

And for some of us, for the next few days—maybe even months—we’ll repeatedly re-purchase a ticket by narrating the story of our unhappy experience.

It was the worst night ever! I can’t believe I wasted my time and money! I’ll never go to another show by that group again!

Blame it on GrayBall, The Brain. Our ongoing complaint is GrayBall’s desperate—and totally ineffective—attempt  to make right our past (this should never have happened to me) or defend our future (I’ll never let it happen again).

It fools us into believing that the solution to our unhappiness can be achieved in regurgitating our past—that somehow we can right the wrongs and avoid future failure. So, it takes yesterday’s news and writes today’s, and sometimes next week’s, headline with it.

You see, Brain likes to make up rules that the world should live by. That way it can know what’s going to happen next; it’s a survival thing. Unfortunately, Brain’s version of “how things should be” often conflict with the reality of “how things really are.”

Here’s GrayBall’s logic: “I had a rule for how this was supposed to be. It wasn’t fair that this should have happened to me. Therefore, I need to complain and get people to agree with my point of view. This way I can feel triumphant—as in, I win”—when someone agrees with my self-generated unhappiness. And, I need to reinforce my unhappiness so that I can avoid future unhappiness. After all, if  it happened once, it can happen again; and I wouldn’t like that one bit! Making myself unhappy is my way of reminding myself that I don’t want to be unhappy again.

Poor GrayBall! It can get so confused at times. It believes the only way it can feel “okay,” is to try to correct the past and/or make safe the future.

This is why, when we’ve had a bad experience, GrayBall encourages us to replay it over and over again in our mind. So, we repeat unhappy stories to ourselves and to anyone willing to listen. GrayBall’s reading yesterday’s news as though it were today.

GrayBall’s tricked us into believing that we can make ourselves feel better now and in the future with this crazy strategy. We keep on repurchasing tickets to bad memory shows we would never physically choose to attend again. Because we don’t question this mental habit, we never uncover the truth about how crazy it actually is.

Is this beginning to sound familar? It should. We all do it. We don’t realize we’re buying a mental ticket to unhappiness. By remembering and reciting an unhappy history, we’re reliving it. And GrayBall makes it all too easy to get caught up in our own stories. But nothing changes when you’re reliving it. It’s just the same old, same old—yesterday’s news.

But, take heart. Time doesn’t exist in the way GrayBall would have us believe. It’s simply a strategy that helps us measure the Great Unfolding of Life—in other words, change. There’s no Big Ben in the Universe’s Living Room ticking off the hours. The reality is that we’re carving up the Infinite Is-ness to accommodate our sense of personal history within it.

And—then again—even within our personal history, the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet. All we have is Now. And paradoxically, The Now is an eternal constant that is constantly changing. We are in fact on the edge of Creation. This moment—right now—has never in the history of Creation existed before. That is, of course, unless you get caught up in GrayBall’s version of Now, and imagine it’s still  yesterday!

So here’s an interesting perspective shift to consider.

Your What Is will soon become your What Was—a history you can’t change. And once it’s gone, you can only report from it, like yesterday’s news.

Try instead to learn from it. Your past experiences can become an opportunity to make new choices, develop new skills, assume new perspectives, and create new responses. Essentially, you get to rewrite the news of yesterday with a new story line. And that can give you a different kind of history that actually might be worth repeating.

So the next time you find yourself complaining about your past experiences, stop for a moment. Put down that paper and check the date. This moment is the only moment in time there actually is. Otherwise it’s yesterday’s news!

 

 

 

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.

 

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!