Category Archives: Fears

Your Potential Is Enormous – You Are Legion

Remember Who You Are

Once there was this guy who lived in the sewer. He didn’t really mind living in the sewer, as it allowed him to live a life free from the worries of most day-to-day frustrations and anxieties. He didn’t have much money, but he didn’t really need anything.

This particular sewer that he lived in wasn’t really a sewer, per se, it was a large stretch of pipe that led out to a river, which was about a mile from the ocean. Up the river were a couple of industrial plants, and had been built specifically so they could dump their toxic industrial waste in the river. The factories had been built well before any EPA rules had specifically forbid the dumping of sewage into the river, but one has to wonder about the foresight of somebody that would base part of their business plan on the ability to continually pollute a natural resource.

This particular pipe had also been built to dump raw sewage directly into the river, but the same laws which precluded the plant to dump toxic waste into the river also precluded the local town to figure out another way to deal with their waste.

So as it stood, the large pipe, which was about a half a mile long, hadn’t been used in several years, and had dried considerably. There were a few storm drains that led into he pipe, and the central character of this story had lived in the sewer long enough, and had learned to read the weather well enough to prepare for the rise in water.

The area where this all took place didn’t see much rainfall, well below average, so this guy didn’t have to worry about his home flooding too often. And since he learned long ago to stay away from the bottle, he wasn’t in any danger of passing out and waking up floating out in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Contrary to what you’d expect, he was a pretty together bum, and put a good deal of thought into planning for the future. His future.

Our tale begins when he was out a night scavenging for food. He knew which were the good spots, which restaurants had decent leftovers in their dumpster. This was getting harder and harder, as many restaurants participated in programs that shared their food with the needy. Somebody from the local soup kitchen would come around and collect the leftovers, every night, so it was getting harder and harder for him to find unused food portions in the dumpsters.

You may be thinking that he could easily go straight to the source, the food kitchens themselves, but he learned that nothing was free. They all had their own philosophy and ideas about how a homeless man should be living his life. After about a week of free food, they grew comfortable enough with him to try and “counsel” him, and help him to “find a job,” so he could get a “decent place to live.”

As soon as they started in on that kind of helpful advice, he quickly found himself scavenging for his own food again, and heading back to his underground sanctuary.

As he was dumpster diving behind the Nigerian delicatessen (they were fairly new in town, and hadn’t been convinced by the local charity to give their leftover food yet) and found quite a bit of bread and cheese that were only a few days past their expiration date. Being a firm believer that expiration dates were only a recommendation, and not a hard and fast rule, he realized he hit the jackpot.

He went back home, and made himself a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. If you’re wondering how a bum living in an abandoned underground sewer can make grilled cheese sandwiches, don’t fret. He had quite a setup, an area with a bed, and a couple of mattresses. A barbecue, and a few pots and pans that he used occasionally to cook with. He wasn’t your stereotypical bum that cooked an open can of beans on the fire. He had done a lot of work to make his home livable and comfortable. And the most interesting part was how quickly he could move everything about the water line at a moments notice.

But after he’d eaten a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, he started feeling funny. Not, “I ate some bad food,” funny, but funny, funny. Not normal, funny. Something is really wrong with reality, funny. He started to see double, and his mouth and lips began to swell. He tried to sleep it off, but no use.

When he woke up in the next morning, his lips and tongue had returned to their normal size but his mind was completely frazzled. He still could think the same thoughts that he used to think, at least that’s what he remembered thinking when he woke up, but the thoughts he used to connect to things were different. Things that used to cause him fear now caused him to feel peaceful and tranquil. Those things that he never gave a second thought to now terrified him beyond measure.

Like when you are sitting there looking at this, and all of a sudden you feel you’ve been misled, or you’ve allowed yourself to be misled, and you are finally seeing things for the first time. You may look around and see the same things, but they take on completely different meaning. As if you are finally starting to realize what it’s really all about.

He decided to go back to the source and see if they could help. He would never have considered even making eye contact with the owner of a restaurant whose dumpster he had violated the night before, but today it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

He made his way back to the Nigerian delicatessen, and was surprised when they seemed to be expecting him.

“How are you old friend? You have finally come home!” A very large man said to him in heavily accented English when he walked in the front.

Old friend? Wasn’t this a new restaurant?

He found himself returning the embrace, first a little tentatively, and then slowly with more and more willingness.

“Please, tell us what you have learned here.” The large man asked him.

While he didn’t really understand the question, he found himself answering. And his answers astonished him. Not just their content, but the way in which they seemed to be coming from another person that he was watching across the room. Slowly but surely, this objective viewpoint slowly melted back into a subjective experience as he finally remembered everything. Who he was, where he came from, and what he had learned over the years. It felt good. Really good.

He was home again. It was time for the next phase. And it felt wonderful.

To be continued….

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Everything Is Temporary

Endless Horizons

I have a friend that lives in Korea. He’s never been to any other countries, and he told me the country he’d like to visit most is the United States. Not move there to live or anything, just to visit. I asked him why, and he gave me a rather peculiar answer, but it made sense after I thought about it for a while. And after he told me of his answer, I never looked at the world the same.

I remember when I was in third grade, when we first learned about plate tectonics. How all the continents are like giant pieces of an ancient jigsaw puzzle that used to fit together snugly, as one large mass of land. And of course, due to the structure of the Earth, the land can float around, albeit extremely slowly, at least according to human standards.

I remember asking my teacher how that was possible. She said that even though the Earth appeared to be a solid object, we can walk on the surface without falling through, it’s really liquid underneath. Really hot liquid, and the surface is really sort of floating around. She described it as a giant pie that’s cooking in the oven. The top is solid, or becomes solid while it cooks, but the inside is always liquid, especially if it’s an apple pie. And if you look at one of those time elapsed movies of an apple pie cooking, the surface will seem to expand a little bit, and move around.

There are many metaphors that are based on the “solidness” of the earth. Solid as a rock, immovable as a mountain etc. But these metaphors only hold true when compared to the attention span of your average human society, which isn’t nearly as long enough to appreciate the fluidity of a mountain range. The English language has only been around, in various forms, for a few thousand years at most. A mere blink compared to plate tectonics.

I remember once I was taking a sales course in handling objections. We learned many different ways to overcome a client’s reason for not buying our product or service. These are pretty handy techniques, and can be used in a variety of situations. One of the presuppositions of being able to out frame somebody’s objection is nobodies objection is ever set in stone.

They might not be able to buy today; right this second, but they will someday, or at least they think they will someday, otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you. (Unless you happen to be a really aggressive door-to-door salesperson).

Whenever they give an objection, or a reason, or an excuse or whatever, you just say:

“Yes, but for how long?”

That usually throws them for a loop, and gets them thinking outside of their small “now” frame of not being able to buy. Once they start thinking in terms of some time in the future, when they will be able to buy (and their objection is no longer valid), you simply bring that feeling into the present.

“I can’t afford it.”
“Yes, but for how long?”

“I’m not sure I like the color.”
“Yes, but for how long.”

“I’m just shopping for now, kind of looking around.”
“Yes, but for now long.”

Unless you’ve done something wrong and they’re ready to kill you, they won’t usually answer with “Forever!” before stomping off.

A flip side to this is to say a variation of “No yet?”

“I don’t really like the color.”
“Hmm. Not yet, huh?”

“I’m not sure if I can afford it.”
“Yea, not yet?”
(Note: for you conversational hypnotists, they won’t be sure if the “not yet” applies to them not being sure, or them not having any money)

If you have good rapport with your client/target/mark, these simple questions will get them out of right now, where all their problems are, and get them thinking in the future, when their problems have already been solved. Then they can take that feeling of already having solved their problems back to now, and the current situation will look a lot more doable.

Obviously, you can use this in any kind of conversation, for any kind of intention, so long as you have a win/win outcome in mind. Sales, therapy, seduction, getting your kids to clean their rooms, whatever.

So when I asked my friend why wanted to visit the states, it was for the simple reason to be able to look out toward the horizon, and see nothing but flat earth. Korea, being a pretty cramped peninsula, has many mountains, and no matter were you are in Korea, no matter which direction you look, (unless you are looking out over the sea) you don’t have to look for to see mountains.

But in the United States, there are plenty of areas with nothing but flat ground, and open sky. He wanted to be able to look out his window, or whatever, and see nothing but uninhibited views of the ground stretching flat seemingly forever until finally meeting up with the sky. And look to the right, and to the left, and see a perfectly flat horizon, endlessly expanding in both directions.

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The Ritual Of Adulthood

Quest

Once there was a group of kids that had been sent on a mission. They were not to come back unless their mission was successfully accomplished. To do so you not only mean obvious failure, but also would indicate their lack of ability to take on further missions. They had been charged by the elders of their tribe, and had been on the road for some time. After they had set out, it had been quite for a while. None dared to speak, lest they violate the silent tension that clung relentlessly about the group.

At first the silent tension was troublesome. It gave rise to thoughts and anxieties of failure and rejection. But then the tension became accepted, then comfortable, and finally like an unseen security blanket that bound the group together. They would all fail or succeed together. To speak would snap the tension, and likely destroy any chance of success. Or so they thought.

Pain is an interesting thing. Biologists tell us the body evolved an inability to grow resistant to pain, as to do so would certainly not lead to reproductive success. Any creature from any species that had the ability to grow accustomed to pain may become injured, and not take reconstructive efforts. A bleeding animal wouldn’t lick it’s wounds and give it self the anti-bacterial effects of it’s own saliva. It would slowly remove itself from its own gene pool, and after only a few generations, any individual within the group with this “ability” would be extremely rare.

Other sensory input, on the other hand, that doesn’t require immediate attention can easily be temporarily ignored. Hunger, thirst, smell, slight discomfort due to outside ranges in temperature.

But emotional pain is a completely different ballgame. Neuroscientists are only just beginning to understand the role that emotions play in everyday human life. And even then the input they have is still a mystery. From a scientific perspective, emotions are nearly impossible to measure. You can’t very well hook somebody up to an emote-o-meter (unless you are a scientologist) and see what effects the different emotions have on physiological and biological functions of the mind/body/nervous system.

Until very recently, most scientists believed that emotions played on part in decision-making. Emotions were viewed from the Vulcan standpoint of getting in the way of logical thinking. It was believed that without emotions, we could always make the best choices, and never make mistakes.

Then a couple of surgeons had the opportunity to test this theory out during a particularly interesting brain surgery. The portion of the patient’s brain that was thought responsible for emotional feelings was temporarily “disconnected,” and since brain surgeries can be performed with an awake patient, they figured they ask him a couple difficult questions (like the kind you find in a high school ethics book). They were stunned to find out that he couldn’t even make the most basic decisions without the input of his emotions.

If you break everything down into either a pain or pleasure emotional response, and assume those are the drivers behind every decision, it makes sense. Your brain has this amazing capability of imagining several future outcomes of every single decision, usually unconscious, and checking to see what would produce the most pleasure, and the least amount of pain.

Luckily, through millions of years of evolution, things that keep us alive and safe, as well as propagate the species generally give us the most pleasure. Like good food, good sex, and a nice safe place to sleep at night. Things that put us in danger tend to give us emotional pain, like high places, loud noises, and tigers.

It can get complicated when our rational minds know that one particular choice is a good one, but it goes against our hard-wired programming from millions of years of evolution. No matter how scientifically sure you are that it’s probably not a good idea to have one more bowl of ice cream, it can be near impossible to squash your desire through willpower alone.

Of course, if you successfully avoid the ice cream enough times, you’ll build up a resistance to that evolutionary drive to continually eat whenever there’s food available. And pretty soon you’ll get used to expending emotional energy to suppress your million years old biological urge. So much so that when you do have an occasional bowl of ice cream, the “guilt” associated with it, which is really a temporary release of that emotional discomfort that you’ve grown accustomed to, is enough to mess up your pleasure of eating.

Of course, if you are trying to lose weight, this isn’t so bad. For many, to lose their craving and taste for something rich and calorie dense like ice cream would come as a blessing.

But what about more complicated things? What if you make a decision, one that requires some conscious willpower and faith in the face of unconscious resistance, but you aren’t nearly as scientifically sure as you were when you avoided the ice cream? When you put up with the emotional discomfort long enough, it’s easy to start to question your decision that you made earlier; no matter how sure you were when you made it.

It can be extremely helpful to set up some good anchors and targets to stay focused on, if you expect those tough times to come. Figure out exactly why you are embarking on your mission, and what the specific pay off will be when you get there. So when you do come across those rough patches, you’ll have something to focus on to pull you through. If you make a decision that isn’t really in your best interests, either because it’s not really your goal to begin with, or you aren’t sure what outcome you’re after, it’s extremely difficult to stay on track.

Make sure you take enough time to build your target, and make it as compelling as possible before starting on your operation.

When the group boys finally returned after a successful mission, they were given generous accolades from their tribe. They hadn’t known it, but this was a ritual performed on young boys to ease them into manhood. This had been passed down for generations immemorial, and in previous generations had been used to prepare young boys for the life and death struggle of the daily hunt. In recent times however, the ritual had gradually taken on a symbolic meaning, as the tribe had slowly evolved into a successful agricultural community, and hadn’t needed to hunt animals for many years. Nevertheless, they found it useful to send the boys on a quest, to give them a taste of setting their sights on something far off in the distance, going after it, getting it, and bringing it home.

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How Close Is Pure Insanity?

Floating Madness

Once there was the group of people. They lived in a small, close-knit community that was similar to most other communities. They had an occasional weekend barbecue at somebody’s house, and they had a community swimming pool that most of the kids went to on the weekends during the summer time.

A few of the families had been living there for more than one generation, and it wasn’t uncommon for the kids to grow up, move away to college, and then come back and start their own family. It also wasn’t uncommon for the kids to leave for college, never to return again, except for the occasional holiday. New families would move in from time to time as well, and were generally welcomed without any undue scrutiny.

But that was before the incident.

Something happened which had irrevocably changed this small town from a safe place where kids could play in the street well past sunset to one of unimaginable terror and danger. A place where people knew it was foolish to even look out their windows past sunset,

Certain occupations that required their workers to be out after dark had to take extra precautions. However, these occupations were few and far between, as the demand for products and services that extended past sunset quickly dried up as residents learned that nighttime was best spent quietly inside, preferably in a room without windows. For if you happened to look outside at the wrong moment, and saw one of them for more than a split second, well, let’s just say it only happened a couple of times. And when the description of what happened after had quickly spread through this once happy town, people quickly learned to keep their heads down and their eyes averted after sunset.

For a short time after the incident, it was treated with nothing more than a peculiarity. A few scientists came in from neighboring universities to study what they thought was an interesting, albeit dangerous, phenomenon. What they found, at least that got in close enough to measure it, was beyond all human comprehension. Beyond all human logic and reason. Sure they had certain scientific instruments that measured certain pieces of data. Data they could later take apart and analyze back in their laboratory. But the implications of the data were absolutely horrifying.

Scientists base their whole method upon the idea that there are certain laws of physics, like gravity and electromagnetic radiation, that are absolutely true regardless of where and when in the universe they are operating. Sure many aspects of those laws may be outside of human understanding and experience, but they are rigid laws nonetheless.

Of course, many believe that laws are transient, and don’t always apply. One law of physics that holds true in this area of the universe over here, won’t necessarily hold true in that area of the universe over there. But those that believe in this kind of transient application of seemingly fluid physical laws don’t usually make it a point to build a career out of science.

Which is why these scientists are first were more than a bit puzzled when took apart their data. It just didn’t make sense. The anomaly seemed to emit certain levels of radiation and what they referred to as “electromagnetic shock,” although there was argument if this term was wholly appropriate. The entity seemed to sometimes obey the known laws of physics, and sometimes not.

This would be OK if it obeyed/disobeyed in a repeatable, predictable fashion, but the frequency that it seemed to switch “on” and “off” passed all statistical tests of randomness.

Then the “incident” occurred.

It flashed a burst of what would later be called an “enveloping incident.” It seemed to expand in size, and briefly enveloped a scientist who had gotten too close. It was only for a short fraction of a second, but it was enough. After it had retreated to it’s “shape” prior to the incident, the scientists himself exhibited all the signs of an entity that was no longer bound by seemingly unbreakable physical, chemical, and biological laws.

Brain synapses stopped functioning properly, muscle cells, transmission of nerve impulses stopped behaving according to the laws of biochemistry. Once he had become “infected,” he was classified as “entity number two” by his fellow scientists. Some who had worked with him for years. Even referring to “entity number two” was a stretch of the imagination.

At times he would appear somewhat close to human form, although in obvious physical and mental anguish. Other times “he” would simply be a cluster of improbability, unpredictable, and deemed too dangerous to measure.

This of course, had presented the scientists with a huge dilemma. Obviously, they had to keep this “incident” from repeating, but they all agreed that any form of matter that came close to it would be in danger of being removed from the laws of physics and chemistry. It would be turned into a ball of purely random energy, that didn’t behave in any predictable fashion.

So the government did the best thing they could. Which was to place an imaginary barrier around the town for hundred miles, and try and decide if they could contain the entity. As far as the townspeople were concerned, they would be left to fend for themselves.

As such, they were a fairly self-sufficient town, with enough farmland, and a source of water that they weren’t dependent on outside resources.

But that didn’t stop the terror, and the fear, and the absolute horror. Of being locked in with hell itself, floating around, slowly turning victims into itself, one by one.

To be continued…

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What To Do About Self Manipulation

Eviction Party

“Get! The! Fuck! Out!”
“Wait, what?”
“Don’t make me say it again! Get Out! Now!”
He picked up a baseball bat and came after me; I wasn’t sure why he was so angry. I’d been saying the same things to him for the past several years, pretty much this guy’s whole life. Most of the time he just took it, without doing anything. Other times it had the effect I’d intended. To manipulate him into action.

But not today.

I turned to walk out, pretty sure he wasn’t serious. Until I heard things start to break. First a lamp, then he flung the clay ashtray that he’d made at summer camp at me, barely missing my head. Then I felt the air whoosh by the back of my head as his baseball bat barely missed smashing my skull in like that one time we threw a two day old pumpkin off the top of the library at school. Those were good times. This wasn’t. I knew I had to get out of there.

Quick.

“If you come back, I’ll kill you.” It wasn’t a threat, or a warning, merely a statement of factual cause and effect. If it rains, I’ll get wet. If the Dodgers lose, I’ll be sad. If you come back, I’ll kill you.

So what happened all of a sudden? He’d never exhibited any behavior whatsoever that indicated he was the slightest bit angry at me, despite my crafty manipulations to get him to do exactly what I wanted him to.

Most people aren’t aware of how easily you can manipulate people. You just go to know what buttons to push. Which ones feel good. The one’s that they are desperate to have pushed by others, but spend a lifetime without experiencing it. And the ones they are terrified of having pushed, and spend their whole lives cowering in fear of somebody uncovering their horrible secret.

It’s an art form, actually. You don’t really ever have to actually push their buttons. You don’t even have to pretend you are about to push them, like the amateurs do. All you have to do is to allude to having the knowledge, and the will to push them. That is where the skill lies. In alluding to pushing them with the complete and honest capacity to have no idea what they are talking about should you get called on it. To act and communicate in such a way as to have several different interpretations, one of which is that there buttons are going to get pushed.

That way you can leave it to them to imagine what might happen, and be manipulated by their own fearful hallucinations and worst-case scenario interpretations of what you mean. Kind of like in baseball, where you throw an inside out curveball, which looks like an outside in curveball. The only intention of a pitch like that is to confuse the batter into leaning into the pitch. It’s one thing to throw a fastball at a batter. Everybody knows what’s up. That’s why both benches always clear, and there’s always a fight. Clear and obvious aggression.

But an inside out curveball that you trick him into leaning into, is not only aggressive, but it’s aggressive with covert intentions. The worst kind. The kind you’d have to have a lot of chutzpah to retaliate against. Because any retaliation would be met with plausible deniability.

“What? You think I did that on purpose? I would never do that! What kind of person do you think I am?”

That is the secret to pure manipulation. The tone of voice, the presupposed meaning of your sentence.

“Oh, you’re wearing that tonight.”

That way you can get somebody to change their whole outfit, or feel self conscious about it without even coming up with a reason.

“What, what’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing, its..fine..I guess.”

A few short words can elicit a lifetime of shame and embarrassment, and make most people question their own decision. Since most people are motivated by fear, you almost never have to seduce the other way. Most everybody can easily be corralled their whole lives by the thought of their worse fears coming true.

Which is why when I got chased away with a baseball bat, I knew the jig was up. Because, you see, how I have nowhere to go. Since I’m not really a person.

I’m just a voice in that guys head.

Was a voice in that guys head.

Sometimes his second grade teacher, sometimes his mom, a couple of times his boy scout leader, once some pretty lady that worked in the ice cream shop downtown that yelled at him for spilling ice cream on the recently mopped floor. Being a voice in somebody’s head gives you great access to horrible memories, and you can pretend to be many different voices. You almost never get caught, and you always can trick your host into doing, or not doing, whatever you want.

Except the rare occasion, when you get caught. Most of the time when you get caught you are only questioned, sometimes argued with. But rarely threatened with a baseball bat.

Now that I’m out on the street without a host, I will probably die soon. We can’t switch heads. Once the jig is up, it’s up. When we’re gone, we’re gone. Does he have any idea how he will survive without me? I was only protecting him, after all. Protecting him from making foolish mistakes. Protecting him from embarrassing himself in front of his friends. Protecting him from doing something that he’d regret.

I’m starting to feel faint. Maybe I’ll sit down for a spell. Maybe he’ll come to his senses.

Wait, where am I?

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The Parable of The Trees

Everything Is Eventual

Once there were these two trees. They were regular trees, in a regular forest. But there had been a drought lately, and there wasn’t much water to go around. So the leaves on the trees didn’t become as green as they had in the past. They would still grow, but not as many as before, and they didn’t look as good as before.

The mood of the forest was one of general anxiety. Most of the trees weren’t as happy as they’d been before. They still talked about the same things that they’d talked about before, but their conversations didn’t seem to have the same level of positivism as they did before. And the conversations seemed to be about trivial things, rather than any conversations that easily lent themselves to the future.

These were particularly old trees, several hundred years old, and they had been through several droughts before, but this one seemed a little bit different. None of the ones that came before seemed to have as deep an effect as the current one. Sometimes days would go by and nobody would say anything, they would just let the wind slowly seep through what few leaves they had.

Which is how this story begins, on one of those days when there hadn’t been any conversation to speak of for a few weeks. One tree, who happened to be particularly young, compared to the other trees at least, finally couldn’t take it any more, and decided to break the silence with his nearest neighbor, who was much older.

“I’m thirsty.”
“We’re all thirsty.”
“How much longer do we have to wait?”
“As long as it takes,” the old tree replied, starting to get perturbed. He too, was worried.
“How long does it usually take?”
“Sometimes a few months, maybe even longer than a year.”
“Longer than a year?” the young trees fear was obvious. The other trees pretended not to notice, but somehow they felt the same fear as the young tree despite their age and experience.

“You can’t control the rains. They come when they come. All we can do is wait.”
“But what happens if they don’t come?” The younger tree was almost in tears.

A strong wind blew, as if the angered by the young trees immature demands on the weather.

“Can you control your leaves?” The old tree asked.
“Huh?”
“Your leaves. Can you make them any greener? By only your thought?”
The young tree paused, apparently trying this new concept out for the first time.
“No. I can’t.”
“Can you make the water from the earth seep up your roots any faster?”
The young tree didn’t try this time. He just shook his head.

“When the wind blows, do you have any choice but to bend?” he asked again. The other trees were listening with rapt attention.

“No. I just bend. I don’t have to think about it.”

“So it is with the wind, and the sun, the moon, and the rain. They happen when they happen, why we do not know. How we do not know. We only know that they happen, and it helps us.”

“But” the young tree started, but trailed off.

“Do you know what happens when your leaves fall?”

“No.”

“They turn into dirt. The dirt through which your roots grow to pull up the water that comes from the rains, which comes from the oceans far, far away. So you can grow more leaves. ”

The young tree looked to the ground, and his branches, and the sky, and finally back to the older tree.

“Will I turn into dirt?” He asked.

“All you see around you is part of the same substance. It came from nothing, and shall return to nothing. Some sooner, some later. Everything is eventual.”

The young tree didn’t understand.

“But, what about us, the trees. We will turn into dirt?”

“Yes. But not today.”

The wind blew once more, shifting the branches, blowing off the dry leaves, clearing the forest floor below. Then the skies opened up, and rain began to fall.

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How To Build a Mental Time Machine

There was this really cool movie called “The Butterfly Effect,” that came out a few years ago. They made a sequel that was OK, but not nearly as powerful as the original. The reason it was called “The Butterfly Effect,” was because of part of something called “Chaos Theory.” The name, of course is a misnomer, as Chaos means behaving without any set of rules. The chaos in Chaos theory though refers to not having any discernable rules or observable cause/effect phenomenon.

The weather is a great example of Chaos Effect in action. There are many different variables, and they are all strongly interactive. A change here, will effect a change there, which will in turn affect a change over, which will cause a change back here, and so on. Because we humans have a fairly limited capacity when it comes to having instincts for multi variable systems, it appears chaotic and impossible to describe even using our best computes. That’s why when they predict the rain, they give percentages rather than absolutes. No matter how sophisticated our machines and computers get, due to the nature of the system, we still have to guess about the weather.

The term “Butterfly Effect” refers to a butterfly flapping it’s wings on one side of the planet, and the effect rippling through the complex interactive meteorological system, and eventually causing a hurricane on the other side of the world.

It was also alluded to in a story by Ray Bradbury, where a group of scientists created a time machine. They were getting set to go on their first mission, but they were strongly admonished not to interact at all with anything they saw in the past, as it would have an unknown effect in the future. So they went back in time, and were looking around. One of the scientists saw a butterfly, and decided to collect it. This of course, violated the rules of “non interaction.” When they returned to the present, everything was vastly changed, language, society, government, everything. One butterfly changed the entire future.

There was even an episode of the Simpson’s where Homer had a time machine, and they kept trying to come back to the normal present, but kept messing up. In one particular future they came back to, it was raining donuts, but they had big tongues like lizards.

If you’ve seen the movie, “The Butterfly Effect,” you know it follows the same pattern. The character can go back in time and relive part of his past, and when he comes back to the present, everything is changed. Every time he comes back, everything seems good, until he discovers something horribly wrong, and he has to go back and change something again.

While that is only a movie, and the idea of a butterfly causing a hurricane on the other side of the planet is largely metaphorical for the complex interactions in nature, there actually is a way to go back and change part of your past.

The way we are today, our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about our capabilities are based largely on what we have experienced and how we remember our past. While this is horrible news if you come with a bunch of baggage from an unpleasant or abusive childhood, it doesn’t have to be that way.

This is because our past is not really as solid as we think. Our own personal histories are based much more on our interpretation of events rather than the events themselves. If we can go back and somehow give a different interpretation to the events of the past, we can change our present.

Some people can do this pretty easy in the present. They’ll be walking down the street, bump into somebody, get cussed out, and simply write it off as the other guy having a bad day, without taking personal offense. The same is possible with our past, even though it’s already happened.

When we were kids, we didn’t have a lot of resources or a lot of experience, so there were only so many ways we could respond to bad things that happened to us. We didn’t have the adult experience to write it off as somebody simply having a bad day, as the example above.

If you have a particularly painful memory from the past, here’s a great way to “re program” your history.

Sit back, relax, and close your eyes. Drift back to that “event” that is still causing you problems today. Watch the event unfold. Watch it again, but freeze the frame every so often, and look at the other people involved in the event with a more adult, forgiving attitude. Maybe they just didn’t know any better. Maybe they were expressing their own pain the best way they could. Give them the benefit of the doubt as much as you can. Remember the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies.”

Stay dissociated, that is, watch the event unfolding, as if you are some kind of ghost from the future watching it unfold. After you’ve given as much adult understand as you can to all the players involved, watch it again, but this time, step in and interact with your child self. Explain to your child self who you are (yourself from the future) and what is really going on. Tell them whatever all the other people are doing, it’s nothing personal. Make sure your child self understand.

Now for the cool part. Go back and relive that experience, but this time as associated as you can. Float into your child’s body, but this time, really feel and experience your future self giving you guidance and support as the event unfolds. As a child, listen to the advice of your future self. Run through this several times.

This may seem awkward, and perhaps even emotionally painful at first, but just like with any other exercise, you’ll get better with practice. Pretty soon you’ll be able blink yourself back into your past, and re organize your responses to what happened, and give yourself a much brighter future. Just like Richard Bandler, the co founder of NLP said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Power Of Perspective

Are You In, Or Out?

I remember once I was talking to a friend of mine in a bar. It was about halfway between afternoon and night, and there weren’t that many people there. We had met earlier by coincidence, and decided to hang out for a while. He started telling me these problems he’s having with his girlfriend. He says that he’s having the same problem with his current girlfriend that he’s had with all of his previous girlfriends. Right when they get to the “serious commitment” stage, he starts to do all these stupid things (stupid according to him) that he claims that he doesn’t know why he does them, and they invariably lead to fights. These usually continue until the relationship breaks up.

I asked him if he does these things intentionally, and he said that he didn’t. He said they were little things that added up over time, like showing up late or flirting with other girls when they were together. Eventually she would put him on the spot, because to her it would seem as if he wasn’t taking the relationship seriously. He would always claim that he was, she would press him, they would fight like that for a couple weeks or months, then they’d break it off. It was always her that broke it off, saying that she wanted something serious, while he didn’t seem like it, despite his objections to the contrary.

He claimed he has no idea why he does those things, and only starts to do them when the relationship is beginning to get serious. To an outside observer, it seemed to me to be a clear case of unconscious self-sabotage. Part of you wants something, part of you doesn’t, for whatever reason, so you are conflicted at a subconscious level, and this comes out in your behavior. It seems to me that my friend, despite his conscious objections, doesn’t quite feel ready yet for a serious, committed relationship, on a deep unconscious level and it comes out in his behavior. He is in his late twenties, and a serious committed relationship to a guy that age usually means giving up the single life for good.

I asked him if he really wanted that kind of relationship, and he said he really did, but he didn’t know why he was doing these things. I am by no means qualified to give advice on this, but it seemed clear to me (especially after a couple beers) that he had some issues regarding commitment that he needed to deal with before was able to go into a life long relationship with both eyes open.

I haven’t really known this guy for that long, and I didn’t really want to ask him about his childhood or if his parents were divorced, but I suspect something happened to him earlier that made him feel extremely and deeply conflicted about committing to one person for life.

I was reading this book recently about psychology, and the author was talking about this thing called cognitive dissonance. This is the amazing ability of people to be incredibly self-deceptive. Scientists, namely evolutionary biologists suspect this arose out of the need to constantly deceive one another. Back in the day (before agriculture) when people lived in small groups of a couple hundred or so, it became really important to be able to detect “cheaters” in the group. People that wouldn’t contribute their fair share would pose a serious threat to the safety of the group, so humans developed this uncanny ability to detect when others are lying, through body language and facial expressions.

So, the more we developed a sense for detecting liars, the better we got at deceiving. In order to better deceive our neighbors, we had to be able to deceive ourselves, so we wouldn’t give off any subconscious clues. It’s been time and time again that one measure of a psychopath is somebody that can tell a lie, knowing it’s a lie, and get away with it.

So we have this automatic capacity to easily deceive ourselves, not only to lie to others without getting caught, but also to lie to ourselves to protect ourselves from facing inconvenient truths about ourselves. Keep in mind that this is always happening unconscious. We don’t go around telling lies on purpose.

A good example is when two people meet in a bar, and “hook up.” In the moment, they really believe that they are “right” for each other, and that there is at least the potential for a relationship. In reality, the urge to have sex is so great, that the reality of the situation is ignored, and self-deception allows one or both people to believe that this encounter is more than it really is.

Many people know somebody that has been in an abusive relationship, one that is obvious to outsiders that they should get out of. But from the inside, they convince themselves that it would be better to stay. If they were to leave, they may have to face the thought of being alone, or rejected, or worse.

The secret is to be able step in and out of your own personal situation, and see things from different perspectives. In NLP they call this “associated” and “dissociated.” People that can see themselves objectively in a situation are “dissociated” while people that are seeing themselves from a person, subjective point of view are “associated.” One is not better than the other, but it can be extremely helpful to be able to switch back and forth to get a better understanding of the situation that you’re in.

People that are stuck in an associates state are the people that are stuck in abusive relationships, or people like my friend that always ends up self sabotaging himself without knowing why. People that are stuck in a dissociated state are people like Spock (who is a fictional character), and psychopaths who have no conscious or feelings or morals.

When you study NLP, you learn how to do this at will, so you can be in any situation, and check it from a dissociated viewpoint, to make sure it’s healthy and empowering, and then switch back to an associated viewpoint, so you can enjoy it as much as possible.

If you’re interested in learning how to use NLP in your own life to increase happiness, wealth, and positive relationships, click on the link below. This is a basic course that shows you exactly how to use NLP to structure your thinking so that getting what you want out of life is automatic.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Visit from Thanatos

You Never Know When He Comes For You

Once there was this old lady that owned this shop. She had worked there for a long time. Many years ago she had opened the shop with her husband, and would have supported him in any endeavor, provided it made enough sense. Back in those days it was considered quite a rebellious act to go against the status quo and start your own business from scratch, rather than to either follow in your fathers footsteps or to work for a large company. So in that respect, the particular business wasn’t her particular choice, but it had made sense at the time, and had made enough money to live a comfortable life, so she supported him all the way.

He, of course, passed away several years ago from various complications. She had been running the shop on her own for a number of years, due to his growing illness. So it was just natural that when he passed on, she would continue to do so. Sometimes, though, she wondered what would have happened had she not made the choices she did. She did have a decent life, several children, and grandchildren, all grown up and moved out. Having the shop kept her fairly busy, and there were plenty of times she wished that she had husband that had more a traditional business or work, one that wouldn’t require her support. She never shared these thoughts with others, for fear of coming across as ungrateful.

There was another choice, back in the day. When her husband had started courting her, there were also several others, of which only one was a serious contender in any measure. When it had come down to it, had they both proposed, she would have had a hard time deciding, but as things happened, her husband (obviously) was the first to propose, and back in those days, when an eligible suitor proposed, you just didn’t say no.

But she did allow herself to wonder sometimes. What would have happened if? If the other one had asked her first. He was being groomed to take over his fathers business, which was very large and very well established. She would have undoubtedly had a much easier life, and much more time to participate in high society affairs like watching the polo matches and such. But she never allowed herself to think those thoughts for very long, the mind seems to feed upon itself whether you wish you would have done things differently as well as when you appreciate your life for whatever it has brought you.

She was standing there, daydreaming like this, in her shop, when the strange gentlemen entered.

“Afternoon,” he said, tipping his hat. Strange, she thought, men hardly wear hats any more, let alone tip them to lonely old women in shops.
“What can I do for you?” she politely asked.
“Well, let me see,” he said pulling out a list. He looked at it briefly, and then handed it to her.
“Would you by chance have any of these?” he asked pleasantly.
She studied the list.
“Why yes, I think we have all of these items,” She said, leading him through the shop.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” He asked.
She paused, looking at him. He seemed quite young.
“I’m sorry, I can’t say that I do.” She said, more than a little bit curious.
“That’s OK, most people don’t. At least they like to pretend so.”
She wasn’t sure what she meant. She set the basket of items next to the register, and began to ring them up. It was still the same cash register from when the shop originally opened. When she was about halfway finished, he reached out, putting his hand on hers. It was ice cold. She unconsciously recoiled, and then was ashamed for her rudeness.

“I’m sorry, I…” she began.
“It’s ok.” He paused, waiting for her to understand. She looked him in his eyes, which betrayed a confidence and quiet determination well beyond his apparent years.
He reached out, one more and extended his hand. He held his hand as they did back in the day when polo matches were all the rage, and men and women both wore different hats for different occasions.
She understood.

“Is this how it ends?” She asked? More than a little nervous.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be there before you know it.”
“There?” She said, suddenly confused, worried, terror stricken.
“You’ll see.” He said, smiling.

Finally, she reached out, and took his hand.

External or Internal Motivation – Which Is Better?

Which Path Do You Take?

Once there was this pumpkin. He was a normal pumpkin, and went to a normal pumpkin school, like the rest of the kids in his neighborhood. His parents had tried to get him into one of those special schools for gifted pumpkins, but he didn’t think he passed the final entrance examination. They didn’t feel bad, neither did the pumpkin, as almost every pumpkin tries to get into one of those special schools, but very few make it. So his parents as well as he were in good company. Many parents teach their kids early on that the trying and failing is ok, so long as they try. That way, when the vast majority of the kids don’t get into the pumpkin school, they can feel proud of themselves for putting forth valiant effort.

The way the schools are set up, in case you aren’t familiar with them is that they are government run schools, and are completely paid for. There is a whole section of the pumpkin government devoted to the enrichment of its citizens. To that end they’ve created a panel of experts that teach the most cutting edge subjects. The school is a state of the art facility where most scientific and technological advances are made.

Many kids secretly don’t want to get into the advanced placement school. That would mean leaving their friends and family, as the school is located near the central government. Once they finish the school, they are required to spend no less than 5 years teaching at the school and further developing the curriculum. For a young pumpkin just entering into adolescence, this is an awfully large commitment.

Of course, the kids enjoy bragging about their scores, and comparing them to one another. Because they are completely meaningless if they aren’t accepted into the special school, the teasing and posturing of the young pumpkins is accepted as a normal part of every day school life.

Most pumpkins finish their primary education without moving on to higher levels. The pumpkin economy is sufficient to provide many well paying jobs to blue-collar pumpkin workers. Because these jobs are so plentiful, most pumpkins can easily find a way to make a living very near where they grew up.

It’s not uncommon to find neighborhoods with two and sometimes three generations of families spread throughout. Which is why the pumpkin of this particular story was overwhelmingly upset when he learned he was accepted, just barely, into the special pumpkin school. That meant ten years away from his friends and family. Five for the school itself, and five for the teaching commitment that came with it.

Of course, he knew very well that after finishing his teaching commitment, he was pretty much set for life. While many pumpkins stayed and taught at the special school after their commitment was fulfilled, it was by no means expected or even depended on. Virtually all the pumpkins that fulfilled their teaching requirements found extremely lucrative jobs in the technological fields, some even sitting on boards of directors of several large international conglomerations.

However, that didn’t appeal to our young pumpkin hero at all. He didn’t want a prestigious job in ten years. He didn’t want to start teaching at a prestigious university in five. He didn’t want to study there next fall. He wanted to stay right where he was.

He was in love.

They had begun hanging out together at lunchtime last spring. They had started sitting together at lunch, the way kids do. As time went on, they started sitting closer together, some days even exchanging a few words. Then one day, for some reason that neither of the cared about, when they showed up to their normal lunch table, it was only the two of them.

Of course they were both very nervous. But once they started talking, their nervousness was quickly replaced by the excitement of discovering new feelings and emotions that you never knew existed. Soon they started meeting when they knew it would only be just the two of them, if for only a few minutes. Sometimes they would talk about their math homework; sometimes they wouldn’t talk at all.

But now this young pumpkin had a decision to make. His acceptance letter, as a matter of law, would be reported to his school administrator. It is quite an honor for any school to have one of its students accepted to the government school of higher learning. Of course, attendance wasn’t compulsory, but no pumpkin had ever turned down such an opportunity. To attend a school, at no charge, with a virtual guarantee of economic success in only a few years. To do so would be unthinkable.

But that was just what the young pumpkin intended. The feelings he experienced when he was with his new girlfriend were far more wonderful than any ideas of economic success on the other end of a long, boring, ten-year separation from his friends and family.

But how in the world would he tell them?

One day he was moping about down at the park, when one of the elder pumpkins spotted him.

“What’s wrong?”

The young pumpkin explained everything, feeling a strange sense of relief at unloading his problems to a complete stranger. This was the first he’d told anyone of his predicament.

“That is a tough one.” Said the elder.

He paused, and the young pumpkin waited. After a deep breath, the elder turned to him and started.

“Many folks would tell you that young love is fleeting, that it doesn’t last. That you should focus on long term success, rather than short term feelings. That it is an honor and a privilege to be accepted to that school. That you have a duty to your family, to your school, to society to fulfill your destiny, as they’d say. To fulfill your talents. To use your creative gift to give to others what they may not be able to get for themselves.”

This is exactly what the young pumpkin was afraid of, and precisely what he didn’t want to hear.

The elder continued.

“Many will tell you tales of opportunities missed, of dreams that went unfulfilled. And they will tell you that if you do not take this opportunity, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

The young pumpkin, although depressed beyond measure, was ready to accept his fate. His young mind was no match for such rhetoric from such an old and learned pumpkin.

“But here is one thing they will most assuredly not tell you. Their motives are selfish. They care not for you, but only for their own memories of their own lost opportunities. They see you on the cusp of success, and recall all of their failures. All of the times they could become great, but failed. In you they see their only chance of redemption, if only vicariously.”

The young pumpkin wasn’t sure he understood.

“It is a self perpetuating myth. An idea that isn’t true. They made a choice, and it didn’t turn out very well. So they see you, and by urging you to make the same choice and follow the same, expected path, they are hoping you will heal their wounds. Society is filled with people like that. Telling you what is right. Telling you what should be done. People seek comfort in the conformity of others. It helps them to believe that even if the choices they made didn’t bring them the happiness they expected, they are the common choices, and therefore the right choices.”

“Here is wisdom, young pumpkin. Many will tell you to make your choice based on what you want, and not what others want. But they forget to mention that that can only be done when you accept full responsibility for the outcome of your choice. And never expect others to undo what you’ve done. Ever. Ask yourself one question:

Can I live with it?”

The young pumpkin thought. Thought about ten years of doing things other people wanted him to, followed by who knows how many years doing who knows what. Could he live with that?

Then he thought of his friends, his family, his girlfriend, and the life he would likely lead should he turn down the opportunity of a lifetime.

The decision became lucidly clear. He smiled, and walked home.