The other night I was flipping around the TV and I came across an old episode of Seinfeld. It was the one where George decided to do the opposite of everything he’d normally do and he suddenly had fantastic results. He would walk up to girls and tell them he was unemployed and lived with his parents, and he would have startling success. It was pretty funny. I hadn’t watched a Seinfeld episode in a couple years, so it nice to get a dose of that style of humor.
For some reason, it reminded me of this seminar I attended a few years ago. It taught of a strange mixture of skills, from NLP to hypnosis to a bunch of other stuff. While it was only a three day seminar, there were several speakers who came and gave lectures, and did demos, and showed us how to do some pretty cool stuff with language and intention and all sorts of metaphysical style exercises, like throwing energy balls at each other and stuff. It was remarkable how well that stuff seemed to work.
One of the speakers was talking about how prolific metaphors are in daily life. He referred a couple of times to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s work on metaphors, starting with their groundbreaking “Metaphors We Live By,” and how most of our language is shaped purely by metaphors.
For example, when you say something like “I’m in a meeting,” why do you use the preposition “in” instead of on, for example? According to Lakoff and Johnson (and many other linguists) whenever we use an intangible noun, we have to fit it into a category, in our brain, of a tangible noun, so we know what words to use when we talk about it.
For a meeting, it falls under the “container” metaphor. The beer is in the fridge, the pizza is in the box, and I’m in a meeting.
Another example is that in English, “up” is generally good, and “down” is generally bad. Things are looking up. Why do you look so down, etc. This guy at the seminar said that it goes much further than that. He said that our brains are hard wired for up to be good, and down to be bad. As an example, he had us stand up, hold our heads level, and look up with our eyes. In this position it was quite hard to think unhappy thoughts. On the other hand, when we stood, heads level, and looked down, it was pretty easy to think negative or depressing thoughts.
I suppose this could be explained going back to our evolutionary past. If you were looking down all the time, you might miss out on some food, or get eaten by a tiger. So people that developed an aversion to looking down lived longer, reproduced more, and made more people with the same aversion to looking down.
Another thing he talked about was more vague and far-reaching metaphors. He said that we have two basic strategies in life. One as children, and one as adults. Back in the old days of tribal style nomadic living, there was a clear boundary between the two. If you were a kid, you were a receiver. If you were an adult, you were an achiever and a provider. If you were an adult, and didn’t achieve or provide, you either didn’t find anybody to mate with, or you were outcast from the group. It wasn’t a very good strategy back in those days to be a freeloader.
He said that women made the metaphorical transition from childhood to adulthood pretty naturally. When they had kids, they naturally switched from being a receiver to a provider. Of course that required that they do a good job of selecting their mates, so they would be stuck raising a kid by themselves. There’s a pretty good “thought experiment” regarding different scenarios in Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene.”
But men, on the other hand, unless they were actually forced out on a hunt, in a live or die situation; they would stay in the childhood “give me” mode of thinking. That’s why societies developed those coming of age rituals for males but not for females. Females had them by default whenever they had kids.
But in modern society, it can be extremely difficult to go through that coming of age process without forcing yourself into it. He said that what makes it even more difficult is that you can do pretty well for yourself simply by expecting to receive.
One trap that people fall into is that we expect to get things because of “who we are,” instead of “what we do.” This guy said that the “who we are” is based childhood thinking. We want something; therefore we expect to receive it. That only works until you are about ten years old. After that you’ve got to start getting stuff on your own. But many people never fully break out of the “because of who I am” mindset.
This is confusing, because there really is no “who you are.” Every day you have new experiences, which affect your beliefs, which affect how you see the world. Even on a molecular level, you are constantly changing. Since you are always in flux, there really is no “way you are,” or “who you are.” Sure, there’s that self-awareness at the center of all this, but that awareness is simply that. You who are aware of your constant changing and updating state of being.
He said that it can take a long time to switch from the “give me because of who I am” to the “obtain because what I do” mindset. But when it does, it can seem uncomfortable, because the world can seemingly flip upside down. Things that used to work donâ€™t any more, and things that you would never have dreamed of even trying only a couple weeks ago are working like a charm today.
The greatest part comes when you completely release the “because of who I am” mind set, the fear of rejection, in all situations, completely vanishes. Since there is no “who you are” to reject, everything simply become strategies and how effective they are. “Who you are,” doesn’t factor into the equation at all.
And once that happens, you can pretty much get anything you want out of life. You’ve just got to figure out the right strategy, and it’s yours.
To determine exactly what you want and precisely how to get it, click on the link below: