Tag Archives: Fears

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.


“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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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Ignore Their Fears and Follow Your Dreams

So I had just finished lunch yesterday. A friend and I went to this new bagel shop in town. It is underneath a movie theater I like to go to, next to a game center. The game center has a small place outside where people can sit and smoke, because there is not smoking allowed inside. The problem is that most of the people that go to the game center are Junior High School students, so I think they take the outside smoking area as an invitation to light up. As a result, whenever we leave the bagel shop to go upstairs to the movie theater, we have to pass through a gang of chain smoking 14 year olds, trying their hardest to look dangerous.

One thing I like about the bagel shop is that they make a wide variety of bagel sandwiches, and even stuff that isn’t on the menu, they will make as a special order. Some places only know how to make what is on the menu. That is one of the reasons that it’s my favorite bagel shop, is because they are really flexible. They aren’t limited to whatever decision somebody made before on what kind of menu they should have. They have the awesome ability to look at all your resources, and combine them in whatever combination the customer asks. It doesn’t matter if it’s never been done before, or if they think it is strange, or unusual. They have made the decision to be completely open minded, and as a result, their business has been able to consistently make more money, and attract more people to come and eat in their bagel shop.

So as we were leaving, (I had just finished a peanut butter, fried egg and tomato and cheese on toasted onion) we were walking up the steps to the movie theater. I saw this older gentlemen that looked strangely familiar. I’m sure you’ve had this happen before (seeing a familiar face, not eating a peanut butter, fried egg, tomato and cheese bagel), right? Except that I wasn’t quite sure where I’d seen him before, or even if I knew his name.

I once had the embarrassing situation of seeing a girl I was sure I recognized from a social situation, so I walked up and starting talking to her as if we were long time friends. She looked a little taken aback. I didn’t realize until about halfway through the conversation that I actually recognized her from where I take my shirts to be cleaned, and I’d never exchanged any words with her before. Turns out that she owns the shop with her husband, and she was wondering why one of her many customers was talking to her like she was an old friend. That is an awkward situation to be in, as once realized my social blunder, I had quickly and painlessly extricate myself from the conversation, the whole time trying to look l knew what I was doing. It was a while before I felt comfortable enough to go back to her dry cleaners. She must think I’m some kind of kook or something.

So as I was mentally scratching my head, he was looking at me with the same look of half realization and half “who are you?” when he got a sudden burst of realization in his eyes. I was relieved, as he was going to be the one to explain how we knew each other, so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself again.

“You!” he said.
“Yep, me.” I smiled.
“It really is you!” He said again.
I smiled again.

“How’ve you been?” He asked, clapping me on the shoulder. He was alone.
“Pretty good. Pretty good. Yourself?” I responded. Waiting for some information.
“Oh, same as usual. Before we left last time, there was something I wanted to tell you.”
“Oh?” I asked. This ought to be interesting.

What I wanted to tell you was about that thing you are thinking of doing. I know you aren’t sure if it will work out or not, or if you will be completely successful, but don’t let that stand in your way. You need to really focus on your dreams, and not let others stand in your way. That’s what I wanted to tell you. Many people will tell you not to go ahead with what you want to do, but the reality of the situation is that they are really afraid. And although most people will try and tell you that they are trying to look out for your best interests, don’t listen to them. They are really just imaging themselves in your shoes, trying to do what it is that you are going to do, and it scares them. Most people want an easy, comfortable life, where they don’t have to risk anything. And here you come along, telling them of all your dreams and plans, and it makes them nervous. So they tell you their own fears and anxieties, but they dress them up to make it sound like they are really concerned about you. Don’t let yourself be influenced by others fears. The sum of most people’s lives is just an obedience to their fears. Don’t listen. Just smile, nod your head, say thank you and go on your way.

I was shocked. I don’t remember ever telling anybody my secret plans, but here this stranger (I still don’t know who he was) was telling me exactly what I needed to hear.

It’s cool when something like this comes out of nowhere to inspire you.

How to Slay the Demons of Your Fears

I was having breakfast with a friend this morning. She wanted to try out this new restaurant that opened up nearby. It’s interesting how difficult it can be to open and maintain a restaurant. They can be incredibly rewarding, if you open up in the right location, and have the kind of food and environment that people like. There are a lot of variables that go into it. I remember reading a survey a while back, asking people what was the most important thing about a dining experience. I think the quality of the actual food came in third or fourth behind ambiance, and the general feeling of the place. Even McDonalds’ mission statement stresses “experience” over anything else. Experience can be a tricky thing to define. It can be really subjective, many people experiencing the same thing as different. Some people might not really enjoy something, but others can really like this. It’s like when you see this, you can really think to yourself how much you can enjoy this.

My friend was telling me about how she came up with an interesting way to help her toddler overcome nightmares. He is three, and is starting to have scary dreams. She was telling me how her physician told her that some children have more bad dreams than good dreams, so it’s important to develop good strategies to help overcome  fears. She had read a few books on child development, and being an ex kindergarten teacher, she was pretty well equipped to handle these kinds of things, so of course I was interested in what she did.

She said that whenever her son would wake up from a nightmare, she would ask him to describe it. She noticed that the more he described his dreams, the scarier they got. The monsters became meaner, with bigger teeth and hungrier looks in their eyes. Sometimes he would even imagine that they had blood dripping from them. So my friend decided to try something. She gently helped her child change some of the things that he’d experienced in the dream, without really changing the actual content. She changed the meaning behind the content.

For example, instead of having teeth that were dripping blood, the monster suddenly had teeth that were dripping chocolate sauce. Instead of having hungry looks in his eyes, the monsters eyes were red from laughing at a funny cartoon. And instead of having a mean look on his face, it became a look of consternation as he was trying to quietly fart without drawing attention to himself.

I asked her if this worked, and she said that it didn’t take long for her kid to begin to do this on his own. He would wake up, and as he started to recall his dream, he could change the pictures around so it wouldn’t be as scary. She said the trick was to take whatever pictures you come up with, and play with changing around certain aspects of them. You can use it for things other that scary dreams. You can use it on memories, or imaginations of the future, as well.

For example, if you have a particular memory you’d like to change, you can still remember the actual memory the same way, but change the meaning of the content. Like if you remember somebody yelling at you, you might have remembered that it was because you did something wrong, which would in turn cause you to feel not so good. But if you remember them as yelling at you because they were in a bad mood because they themselves got yelled at, it’s not so bad.

She went on to say that you could also play around with changing the actual content. For example, you can take a memory of a teacher yelling at you in front of the class in third grade, and shrink the teacher down in your mind to where she is only three inches tall, and her voice sounds like Mickey Mouse would if he had inhaled some helium. Then when you remember the class laughing in the background, you can remember them as laughing at her, and not you.

I thought that that little three year old is pretty lucky to have a mom that would become so interested in making sure that you can do these things to make your fears go away. I’ll be interested in seeing how much he can turn into a more resourceful person with so many skills to help others.

Listen to your Fears and you will be Free

Once there was a little chipmunk. He was a very nervous chipmunk, and he was always worried about what was going to happen. Every day he would get up and scurry down the bark of his tree that he lived in, so he could collect enough nuts. Winter was coming, and he had to stash enough nuts inside his tree to last him through the whole winter. Because nuts don’t grow in winter, if he didn’t save enough nuts, he would die. He wasn’t old enough to have his own chipmunk family, but he was old enough to have to collect his own supply of nuts to carry himself through. Not yet a provider, but no being provided for. He lived in the neutral zone between receiving and giving.

He had just barely made it through last winter. He’d remembered how close he came. He had thought that he’d collected enough nuts to last him the winter, but as he kept waking up, to check his supply he continuously grew more and more worried that he wouldn’t have enough to last. His biggest fear was that he’d wake, and there wouldn’t be any nuts left, and he would starve. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the occasion to experience this, but when you wake and feel nothing but fear of lack and poverty, it’s hard to go back to sleep.

He wasn’t going to let that happen again. He was going to make sure that he prepared enough nuts for this winter. He used his fear from last winter to spur him on to make sure that he wouldn’t feel that horrible feeling of lack when he woke up in the black cold dead of winter. As he collected the nuts he began to rage at mother nature. Why did she come and destroy all the plants every winter? Was she doing this just to exert her power over the lowly creatures that inhabited the earth? Every time he imagined waking up, he was reminded of his terror from the previous year. And he grew angrier even still. Several chipmunks didn’t make it. Would he be one of them this year? Is why winter came ever year? Did nature revel in her ability to kill a select few every year? Was she angry at them? Did they fail her in some way? He continued to collect nuts, and raged at the heavens.

Finally the time came. He was proud. He was content. His supply of nuts were more than double than what they had been last year. He was sure that he’d have enough nuts to last him though the winter. He began to feel remorse for his anger at nature. Nevertheless, the time came, and he slept. Only this time, every time he awoke, he was comforted by his large supply of nuts. The storehouse in his tree that gave him such fear and despair last year only made him feel content with the abundance that he’d created. And during his long winter sleep, he had a wonderful dream. The goddess of nature came to him, and spoke:

Young chipmunk, you have done very well. You did not fall into the trap of your friends that didn’t make it through winters past. You were spurred to action by your fears, and not distress. Your fears are a gift from the heavens. Because you were able to listen to them, and heed their guidance, you were successful. Because you were able to use your fears to propel yourself forward, you now have a great stockpile of abundance that will be waiting for you when you awake this spring.

The chipmunk awoke in the spring, filled with abundance as the dream goddess had foretold. And as it happened, the chipmunk met a lady chipmunk and started a chipmunk family, to whom he could pass on his lessons to.


Remember to Forget for Fun and Happiness

I remember once I was watching my niece in a dance club performance. They were all doing some pre practiced dance moves that was choreographed to a popular musical number. In case they forgot their steps, their was a giant dancing bear on stage to follow for guidance. They were three and four years old, and the dancing bear, or the person dressed in the dancing bear costume, was eleven.

They had these ornamental neck wrap necklace things. I’m sure here is a technical name for it, but since I’m not that into three year old dance fashion, I’m not really sure what it is. It is kind of a long, frilly decorative thing that you loosely wrap around your neck, and it is supposed to enhance your dancing movies by trailing from behind.

What happened was that this girl stepped on her trailing frilly thing, and in the process knocked her stool over. Of course she naturally bent down, picked her stool up, and re wrapped the frilly thing back around her neck so that it wouldn’t happen again. And looked around at her friends, and once or twice at the dancing bear, and she was back in sync again with all the rest of the kids.

And then a thought struck me. She hadn’t yet learned that you are supposed to be nervous on stage. She hadn’t yet learned that you are supposed to be self conscious, and dream up a bazillion terrible things that can happen whenever you are standing up and talking or performing for other people. She hadn’t learned yet that there is many more important things in life than to simply have fun and express yourself. She hadn’t learned that mistakes are cues from nature to feel guilty and embarrassed. She was somehow under the impression that a mistake was something that you just lean over, grab and re arrange and then look around to see how everybody else is doing and then do your own thing.

And then I wondered about how I used to believe in Santa Clause, and now I don’t. And there was a time that I didn’t even know what a Santa Clause was, let alone worry about whether or not he was a concocted fantasy. I didn’t know who he was, then I was told about him and decided to believe in him, and later decided to discard this old belief. I began to wonder how it is possible to do the same thing with stage fright.

There was a time, obviously, when you didn’t know you were supposed to be afraid on stage. Then for some reason, some people learn to be afraid. What happens when you realize that fears are just a concocted myth, like Santa Clause, that you can easily learn to forget so that you can go back to being a kid again?

And that is when you can really start to find the cool stuff in life.


Snakes on a Slope

This morning I was walking down the steps from the temple where I do my morning Qi Kong exercise, when I noticed a large snake stretched across one of the steps about halfway down.  It was almost, but not quite stretched out perfectly straight, as if he was seeing if he could stretch from one side of the step to the other. He hadn’t quite made it when I almost stepped on him. I paused and waited for him to finish his trek across the step. I wasn’t sure where he was going, but as I wasn’t in any rush, I didn’t ask him to hurry up. I’ve never really had any fears of snakes. Although once I was at a place called “Snake Alley” in Taipei, Taiwan, which is a street with a lot of weird shops. Some of which are shops which specialize in snakes. (Hence the name.) There was a woman standing outside with a rather large boa constrictor trying to entice customers to enter. I had just finished my second shot of snake blood liquor, (at least that’s what they said it was) when I decided to ask the woman if I could take a picture with her.

She didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Chinese, so she misunderstood me. She didn’t realize that I wanted to take a picture with her and the snake, and thought I wanted to take a picture with only the snake. As I stood next to her, and handed my camera to my snake blood liquor waiter, she proceeded to take the rather large boa constrictor and drape it around my neck. As I stood smiling for the snake blood liquor waiter to take what seemed like several long minutes to figure out my digital camera, the snake started to explore the side of my face with it’s tongue.  Finally, the waiter snapped a couple of photos and that was that.

I have a friend that would pass out cold if something like that happened to him. He is deathly afraid of snakes. Yet he is an avid skier, and the only time I went skiing with him, I was petrified to follow him down some of the jagged rock exposed, triple diamond runs he went on for fun.

He has been able to develop a skill which allows him to see a potentially dangerous situation as something to use to have lots of fun. He has gone on that particular run so many times, that his experience tells him that everything is ok. I, on the other hand, haven’t yet been able to develop good experience with respect to skiing, and perhaps I never will. For me, it is just too scary to think about being able to put in the effort in getting good at that so the good feelings naturally outweigh the bad.

It’s interesting when two people can look at the same experience and have two completely different interpretations of it.  It’s not like either of the snakes really had the time to decide whether they wanted to eat me or not. Besides, I don’t even like snake meat.