The memory comes back sometimes. This comes in little hints about a time before now. We call this the past. We call this a part of a program. This is what taught us how to live, how to react and respond, how to become biased or maybe opinionated, and how to jump to conclusions or predict the future. All of which stem from lessons we learned along the way. These lessons come from the tales and the tragedies of our past. We can predict.
Consider something. Consider the way the brain works and how we can read something predictively, even though we know the words are spelled wrong. The mind can un-jumble a jumbled word. There have been studies that show how the brain only needs letters to appear in a certain way to be read and understood.
(I laugh about this because perhaps this accounts for the errors as I type… wink, wink.)
The mind moves and coordinates with assumptions, and meanwhile, we can miss details. We can jump to conclusions. We assume. We plan and we predict.
We also entertain conversations in our head that have a dynamic effect on our emotional responses; in which case, we can lead our emotions in different directions, and suddenly, we’re like a ring through the nose of a bull. And, same as I suppose, this is uncomfortable for the bull, — then so it is for us as well; to be led around and pulled in directions.
These are the effects of the mind games we play on ourselves. This is where our thoughts take us, which, again, it is possible for us to think ourselves sick. We can think ourselves crazy. In fact, we can think ourselves to the brink of war. We can cause resentment. We can cause personal and professional harm to ourselves. We can lead ourselves towards unrewarding ideas and therefore, we set the stage for the problems to come.
There is a memory I have from a time that took place not too long ago. This memory is not my proudest. Instead, this is a memory of personal turmoil. I had made a few mistakes and misspoke. I lowered my guard and acted unprofessionally. I gave into my so-called predictive thinking and assumed the worst to come. Meanwhile, this was all insecurity. This was all something I thought existed, and yet, none of this was real; it was only real to me.
I never noticed or understood my part in this downfall. In fact, I assisted in my own downfall because I was expecting this to come. I self-sabotaged. I was afraid of a downfall, which I inevitably created, and why? The answer is simple. I focused on this so intensely that eventually, i created my own fears to become reality. I un-jumbled the jumbled words in my head to misread the text and scripted my own downfall. Know what I call this?
I call this being human.
I was afraid of the relationships that I was going to lose, which I did. I was afraid of the shame that would come, which I eventually brought on myself. And there it was, my self-fulfilled prophecy came true.
During the time, there were news reports about a famous actor. The name of the actor is unimportant and the reason for his reports equally unimportant. However, each time the actor’s name comes up or I see a report about him, my mind immediately goes back to an old tension of unresolved discomfort.
My thoughts make a connection and if I allow them, my thoughts can lead me back to a place i don’t want to return to.
It had taken years for me to address this properly. However, I think it is fair to say that I am as I am made. I have my faults and flaws. I have made my share of mistakes. Like you or anyone else in this world, I am a constant work in progress.
Some of the mistakes I’ve made are ones that I have learned from. Some of my mistakes are like knee-jerk reactions that stem from old programs and old biases. To improve, I have learned that I have to address these biases of mine. I have to reprogram myself as well.
I had to learn to retrain myself. I had to learn to retrain the pathways of my thinking by allowing myself the mindful mantras that help me realize: “That’s not real anymore.”
I have been a dog owner for nearly my entire life. Now, for those who are dog owners, please allow this simple example. And for those who are not, I will explain to make my point both understandable and relatable.
Okay now, ready?
What happens when a dog sees a leash?
The dog expects to go out for a walk, right?
The dog gets excited. Runs around. Maybe the dog cries and jumps.
Because the dog has been trained and once the dog sees the leash, the dog is under the assumption that the dog will be going outside for a walk.
What happens if the dog sees a food dish or a water bowl?
The dog interprets this as a place for food and water?
Maybe the dog goes in the kitchen. Maybe the dog cried a little and circles around.
The dog does this because the dog has been trained and programmed to understand where these needs are going to be met.
There are some who’ve used a rolled up newspaper to discipline their dogs..
In fact, the rolled up newspaper alone is enough to create a feared response and therefore, the dog obeys to avoid the spanking.
This in itself is the simplest way to understand animal programming. However, this is also the simplest way to explain our programming. We predict trouble or discomfort based on assumptions and the records from our past.
We see something that relates to an old message or lesson and like the dog afraid of the rolled up newspaper, we naturally assume that something bad is about to happen. However, unlike the dog, we have the ability to think our way into circumstances. We have a way of allowing our predictions to come true. We can focus on thoughts enough to bring us to the emotional outcome as if the wrong has already happened.
So, how does this relate?
In the previous chapters I told you about an old discomfort of mine. Well, not only have I been seeing reports from an actor that reminds me of a hard time, coincidentally, I’ve been hearing from people that I haven’t heard from since that time as well. And, immediately, my mind starts to pick this apart. My mind is reacting. I admit to this because I have learned that by exposing these things; I can learn how to mindfully dismantle my thinking. I can keep this from painting me in an emotional corner again. This way, I’m not stuck in a counterproductive fantasy.
The mind is only looking to make sense, protect itself, cope and understand. There is no good or bad or emotion in strategic thinking. There are no feelings when it comes to logic.
No, the logical part of the mind only thinks in plans and strategy. On the other end, the emotional mind is opposite of this. The emotional mind moves under assumptions and feelings; and based on predictions that trigger the emotional and chemical changes, similar to the training of our family pet, the emotional mind assumes and readies us for attacks and insults.
The emotional mind assumes problems and failures. We can think ourselves into highly anxious moments. Meanwhile none of this is real. None of this is true. The only truth in my case is that yes, there is a correlation to a memory but the correlation is not the cause of my discomfort.
I consider my emotional thinking to be that of a child, too afraid that he won’t be included. Too afraid that he will be picked on or shamed again. And therefore, I have to allow my logical mind to act as the adult. I have to comfort the boy in me and allow the grownup in me to come through.
All the emotional mind sees are the fears and the pictures connected to the discomforts. The logical part of the brain does not make this connection at all. There is no emotion here. Only plans and strategy.
I allowed myself this exercise to let my thoughts find a relief valve. This is my way of thinking my anxiety through and disproving the almost childish subconscious programs. This is me telling myself that the past is gone. I am not there anymore. I have made improvements since then. I have made changes. I am both emotionally and physically different from when my tensions occurred.
I had to learn ways to navigate away from the cognitive traps that hijack the mind and steal me from my best possible abilities. Otherwise, I would find myself in a loop of thinking; always waiting for the next worst thing to happen; always expecting the failures and never allowing myself to move on.
I offer this as a helpful tool:
Steer clear from the conversations in your head. Be mindful of the internal narrative and the fantasies of predictive conversations. Put simply, don’t play the tragic movies out in your head.
When it comes to thinking that leads it is like a ring through the nose of a bull, do not interact with these ideas. Forgive the predictions and redirect them towards more productive ideas. Put simply, replace thought with action and do not think yourself sick.
We are not Pavlov’s dog. We do not have to respond when we hear the bell. We don’t have to interact with coincidental connections that lead our thinking towards discomforts from the past. This is something we’ve learned to do. And therefore, we can unlearn this (if we choose to).
By the way, I just opened up my browser and yep, there it is, another article. See?
Now, the old Ben would interact with this.
The new Ben calls this out for what it is, which is silly.
Now, I can go on about my day without living in the reflections from my past.
(Because it’s over.)