“Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.” — Doug Couplan
Language is a useful tool. It is intended to help us ease communication. However, language can distort and mislead us.
Language is interpretive, created out of mind and therefore capable of great story-telling. And as we know, stories can be based in fiction or nonfiction.
Stories may oversimplify, use unnecessary complexity, misdirect, lack specificity, distort information and be overly dramatic. In spite of our mind’s ineffective or inaccurate interpretations, these stories are all we have to describe our mental state.
And it is from these stories that mental health professionals create diagnoses and treatment plans. It is also from these stories that the story teller develops and reinforces attitudes and belief systems about him or her and the world.
When someone sees a mental health professional, he or she describes an experience they are having. The descriptive words are considered “symptoms.” These symptoms are then used as evidence of a disorder, such as depression, anxiety, etc.
What are we really describing when we relate our symptoms? What is driving the story we are telling? Is our interpretation accurate? First, let’s consider what symptoms really are.
Symptoms are the result of the accumulation of an individual’s unconscious internal experiences engaging with external forces. In other words, symptoms are caused by waves of internal energy.
These waves of energy come from genetic forces, experiences in the womb and at birth, childhood experiences, and more recent experiences of adolescence and adulthood. Our experiences are absorbed by the brain and all the cells in our body. These experiences are stored as brainwave and cellular energies. They are then triggered or stimulated by something within our environment creating a feeling (a wave of energy) and the resulting symptom (emotion).
Sometimes when emotional symptoms become so uncomfortable that our own healthy and not-so-healthy efforts to soothe them fail, we find ourselves in the office of a mental health professional telling our story. But again, when our story is a description of so many unconscious experiences, how do we know the story is accurate? Unfortunately, more often than not, the desire for relief from discomfort overrides the need for accuracy.
Regardless of the accuracy of the story, some interventions may offer some relief.
Counseling can help soothe by altering the story, giving the story a new twist, resulting in an altered belief and a different current experience. (We do know that our beliefs can affect our cells and therefore the energy produced. For more, read “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton).
Medications may help change the experience of the energy waves previously described and provide some relief (along with some potential side effects).
Exercise, a change in nutrition, improved sleep and other lifestyle changes can alter the effects of the energy waves.
Meditation can have short-term and, with a dedicated practice, long-term impact on how energy manifests within and can therefore reduce symptoms.
There are a variety of alternative and traditional modalities that can alter the effect of old energy patterns. There are even processes (“The Presence Process” by Michael Brown and Brainwave Optimization by Brain State Technologies are examples we have discussed in previous columns) that are viewed to alter energy at the causal point.
Why have this discussion? If we are to most effectively change our experience, we need to be conscious of the unconscious patterns that exist within and work with those energies rather than the triggers to their activation.
Our tendency is to blame the current circumstances for our discomfort. A co-worker, a spouse, a friend may be blamed as the cause of our discomfort when in fact they are mere triggers to old energy patterns. Aside from trying to get back at the perceived offender, we may even consider dramatic reactions like changing our workplace, getting a divorce or getting rid of the friend. These reactions are akin to trying to fix clogged pipes by cleaning out the sink.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are being abused by a co-worker, spouse, or friend there is no discussion. Get away from the abuse.
Since unconscious patterns are driving our symptoms, the first step is to make them conscious. This will place the blame firmly where it belongs, on old energy patterns.
Getting conscious requires slowing down reaction time. Practice will tell you what will work to create greater consciousness and change the intensity of your reaction.
Here are some tips to getting conscious and becoming less reactive:
- Don’t blame the other person or situation for your discomfort. “This is my reaction and I will manage it.”
- When you are experiencing discomfort, ask yourself, “Does the current situation match the intensity of my reaction?”
- It is often helpful to remove yourself from a situation for a brief time to get conscious. A brief restroom break with an adult conversation in the mirror may do the trick.
- Have you experienced this emotional state before? Is it similar to a childhood experience?
- What are the words you are using to describe your experience? Are they accurate to the current situation? If not accurate, offer yourself a more accurate description.
- Stay with the facts. Ask yourself to look at the interaction that triggered your discomfort and remove the drama. What are the facts without your emotional interpretation?