MALADJUSTMENT AND LEVELS OF REALITY
1.1 WHAT DO WE CALL MALADJUSTMENT?
In each of the experiences we live throughout our lives, situations appear (Objective Reality) that each person tends to interpret and live in a different way (subjective reality). THERE IS A DISTANCE BETWEEN OBJECTIVE REALITY AND OUR SUBJECTIVE REALITY, AND WE WILL CALL THIS DISTANCE A MALADJUSTMEN. It is natural and potentially enriching that we have different opinions or points of view about the same circumstance; but we forget that we interpret Reality based on the programs that are installed in our mind during our learning process. Not being aware of this HANDLING is the origin of our problems; the tendency to CONFUSE our point of view with Reality is what closes us to Real Learning and makes us clash with Reality and the “realities” of others, who are just as convinced as we are that they are right. Our Quality of Life is a consequence of our ability to manage the circumstances that Reality presents us with.
Here’s a very complicated question: When you are handling anything, will the quality of the outcome depend on your actual understanding of how that thing works? It is going to be yes. The result will tell you exactly how much of maladjustment you have in that thing (so you have something to learn/adjust in the way it works). If you agree with this, what interests you most is to know the 3 factors that mark our degree of Maladjustment when interpreting any issue or circumstance:
- INFORMATION LIMITATION: the information we have, both in amplitude and depth, about the circumstance we are dealing with is usually very limited. Amplitude refers to the data we have about what is happening and depth refers to the patterns that cause the circumstance. It is very important that we assimilate that Reality contains infinite variables and, consequently, is changeable and unpredictable.
- THE POSITIONAL SESSION: The role we play or “think we play” in a given situation will mark our way of interpreting it (perhaps that is why it is called “point of view”). We are not impartial; in order to control this Maladjustment factor we will need to recognise and act on our tendency to consider things only from our point of view and based on our prejudices. The position of a mother or father is not the same as that of a child, or that of a boss and that of an employee, and so on. Our position marks the view we have of the circumstances.
- EMOTIONAL DISTORTION: This is determined by emotional involvement, i.e. it will appear depending on the degree to which what is happening affects us. This is the most dangerous variable of the Maladjustment and it will be the first one that we will learn to control; because as long as emotions dominate our way of living, besides creating many problems, they will not allow us to act on the other 2 factors (limitation and bias). We all know that emotional states tend to close “the vision” and to make us even more stubborn in the position that is creating the conflict.
In short: OUR ADJUSTMENT IS OUR LEARNING ZONE. Reality indicates to us; through symptoms such as discomfort, conflict, mental noise and suffering; that there is something we need to adjust. It is not so difficult to understand: when we have a health problem; we know that something is out of adjustment and we go to the doctor. The problem is that we have “normalized” psychological and emotional discomfort, demotivation and conflict; and as a consequence we consider them “natural”. We are very wrong; they are all clear signs of mental-emotional mismanagement, that we should make adjustments in the way we function in the different experimental areas that life presents us: personal, family, social, work… The Adjustment Method indicates the causes of these symptoms and negative signs (diagnosis), the necessary measures to recover well-being and good functioning (treatment) and the indicators to adequately measure progress (monitoring).
Of course, in order to diagnose our areas of maladjustment, we need to know as well as possible the differences between Objective Reality and our way of living it (personal or subjective reality):
1.2 OBJECTIVE REALITY: A Matter of Degrees and Levels. Variables and Patterns.
1.2.1 DEGREES OF REALITY
WITH REALITY THERE ARE ONLY TWO OPTIONS: TO CONFORM TO ITS LAWS OR TO COLLIDE WITH IT. We have seen so far that our habitual way of functioning leads us to collide with Reality and we all know the effects of this. Objective Reality is not personal or small or isolated, like our Subjective Reality. It is a vast field of experimentation that never tires of giving us opportunities to develop and enjoy our innate potentials. It works with natural laws or criteria (variables and patterns) that we need to recognise in order to harmonize ourselves as well as possible with them. It is imperative that we understand that this is the only logical way to achieve our maximum development and avoid so much unnecessary conflict/suffering.
Reality, like everything else, is a matter of degrees, not all or nothing, so let’s look at the criteria that define the degree of Reality:
- The Real has to be Authentic: Our subjective or personal reality depends on our learning, experiences and degree of involvement in the matter (fears and expectations). No one is handling Reality, but a more or less maladjusted version of it. As we have already seen, we are only capable of capturing a small part of the information contained in Reality, then we encode and interpret it, and our brain fills in the missing information with what it finds more coherent with its way of seeing the world and what it expects from it. Therefore, the first thing we have to assume is that what we experience as “our reality” does not meet this requirement.
- The Real has to be Complete: Our egocentric point of view does not comply with this law. It is very important that we recognise that what we perceive of whatever we are dealing with is very limited and superficial information. With that mini-information we tend to judge and classify everything too easily, thus closing off the opportunity for better understanding and better results. As if this were not enough, to the extent that the subject affects us (in the most “important” subjects for us), an extra emotionality appears that closes our comprehension capacity even more.
- The Real must be durable and independent: Everything we perceive varies over time and depending on circumstances. It looks very well in the world of sensations and ideas, but it happens also with objects; everything that appears in our consciousness is impermanent, our physical body changes, the people and situations we meet also, what we think, what we feel… everything changes; today it is one way and tomorrow it is another. So what I experience as “real” does not meet this criterion either.
So, it is TECHNICALLY indisputable that everything we perceive is a very limited, variable and biased mental representation of Reality itself. What is the reason that we make such a thing true? Because our mind is bent on trying to achieve certainty in a naturally uncertain scenario. The Adjustment Game is about learning to deal better and better with the uncertain scenario in which our life unfolds; adjusting ourselves to Objective Reality is the only way to develop our potentials, to save ourselves a lot of unpleasantness and to achieve a higher level of well-being.
IF WE DEVELOP OUR INNATE INNER RESOURCES AND REDUCE OUR LEARNED EXTERNAL NEEDS, THE RESULT WILL BE AN INCREASING LEVEL OF SATISFACTION OR FULFILMENT.
***1.2.2 LEVELS OF REALITY
Reality is very varied and contains very interesting nuances that we can detect with a minimum of observation; to adjust to it we need to know its main characteristics. We have already seen that Reality is not an all or nothing thing (which is how it is usually seen from an egocentric or low level of adjustment position) but is a matter of degrees and probabilities depending on the variables or characteristics we have analysed above. But Reality can also be divided into 3 Levels; it is essential to distinguish them in order to successfully address our Adjustment Challenge. We are going to analyse them starting from the most superficial level:
LEVEL 3 – MENTAL LEVEL OR VIRTUAL REALITY:
– Description: This is the plane or level of “Reality” where our beliefs are and where our thoughts and emotional impulses occur (among other things). No one has difficulty recognising it and in fact it is the plane that occupies most of our Attention and Time. It is at this level that we have our main problems because it is the VIRTUAL REPRESENTATION of the world that we use to function. We can also call it the Unreal Plane, because its contents can be a retouched version of what exists (partially unreal) or totally unreal (as in the case of paranoia, dreams and hallucinations).
– Origin and Dependence: The Personal Mental Level comes from the Material or Physical-Chemical Plane that we will see later; specifically from the part of the Nervous System that we call the brain; so it is hierarchically dependent on it. This means (as we already know) that any change in the brain will have a determining influence on the functioning of our mental level.
– Components: It is usually divided into 3 parts:
1- The Conscious: this is the part that we are aware of and therefore what we handle as “our reality”.
2- The Subconscious: it deals with most of the mental/psychological activity (they say about 90%). This is where the instrumental programs that help us to do the most habitual and routine things (walking, talking, hygiene, driving…) are installed, so it is very useful for unloading the most instrumental part of our lives from the easy work. But in the Subconscious are also our main beliefs; which are the origin of the impulses, expectations, fears and prejudices that condition and mark our way of living and, as a consequence, our quality of life. For this reason, this is where we will carry out most of the adjustment process.
3- The Unconscious: This is the information that comes to our mind from our innate (unlearned) tendencies. There are clear temperamental differences between people from birth; but they can also be adjusted if they hinder our quality goals.
– Mechanisms: The contents of our mind are manufactured by the following procedure:
1- Sensory process: Through it our senses collect part of the information from the environment (visual, acoustic, olfactory…) and transform it into electrical and biological signals so that our brain can interpret them. We all do this part in more or less the same way if our sensory organs are working properly.
2- Interpretative process: Here is the hubbub. Our central nervous system takes these signals and encodes, organises, interprets and classifies them. All this complex elaboration is done using 2 types of programs: some Innate (fundamentally desires and fears associated with survival) and others Learned (reference models, beliefs, expectations, conditioned fears…) all of them acquired through our past experiences. And it is in these Learned Programmes where we have the problem; they are the main cause of our Mismatches and our bad results. They depend fundamentally on the educational environment that has touched us, they are usually full of errors, they create enormous interpretative differences between people and end up complicating our lives. These differences, despite being virtual/mental/learned, are taken so seriously that they are the main source of our personal conflicts (internal and external). You will understand that the bulk of our project is focused on making appropriate adjustments to these Learned Interpretative Programmes.
– Contents: Everything in the mind is a virtual re-creation, more or less misaligned, with Reality (different degrees of unreality depending on the limitation, bias and distortion of the interpretative process). The most determinant learned mental programs are: Beliefs, acquired Desires and Fears, Expectations, Attachments and Learned Emotional Reactions.
– Functioning: We will see that most of these contents are installed by conditioning (emotional blackmail depending on the cultural environment) and imitation. What are engraved in our mind are associations between external stimuli and our internal reactions; these mental associations are circumstantial and relative and will depend on our learning experiences. HERE IS THE TRAP: this learning (completely relative, biased, fallacious and changeable) is converted into neural circuits that (using chemistry) are able to generate sensations so real that we act on them without a moment’s hesitation; they become part of our body and that is the reason why we identify with them. It is important to understand this mistake and correct it if we want to control at least our most harmful automatisms.
– Characteristics: The first thing we need to understand is that everything on this Level is only in our brain and not outside. What appears in it is usually a misaligned interpretation of what is outside, but it can even be something completely invented (beliefs, trials, delusions …); so its contents are usually not subject to the laws and limits of Reality (they are technically virtual). It is by far the most unstable and circumstance-dependent level; as a consequence, it is the one in which there are more and more differences between individuals and the one that separates and confronts us the most.
***LEVEL 2 – MATERIAL LEVEL OR IMPERMANENT REALITY:
– Description: Obviously we refer here to material things, those we can see and/or touch. The material plane of a person is his physical body, and since that is what we call “I”, we are going to focus on it.
– Origin: Every physical manifestation necessarily has its origin in an underlying energetic plane; the prior presence of energy (wave) is required in order to create any kind of matter (particle). In the case of the human body we call Life or Vital Energy the cause or origin that has created it and keeps it alive.
– Components: Head, trunk and limbs. In the head we find the brain and the cerebellum (the most primitive and emotional part); in the trunk we find most of the organs, viscera and pipes; and in the extremities there is not much but they are the most useful. It is also interesting to know that 70% of our body is water. Do you think it would be a good idea to open a line of clothing inspired by water jugs or canteens? Think about it, it might work.
– Mechanisms: DNA and the 12 systems (neurological, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, immune, etc.).
– Functioning: Subject fundamentally to bio-physical-chemical laws, it manages 2 types of energy: Mechanical (which it takes from other foods) and Vital (which it takes from the underlying energy level that we will see later). Its main biological program is the one in charge of Cell Reproduction and Renewal through DNA and RNA.
– Characteristics: Unlike the mind, the physical body is subject to Reality and its natural laws: birth, growth, maturity, decay and death. As for its stability, the body is constantly changing; although it may not seem so, all our organs are constantly renewing themselves, so it seems quite stable, but it is not stable at all. It depends on the physical environment to breath and feed.
The differences between individuals are much smaller than on the mental level and depend on the area of the body we are comparing: the biggest differences are in the physical appearance; but if we look at the internal organs they are much more similar and the cells I am not telling you anything. In fact, it is already known that the DNA of any two human beings is practically identical; so we have to agree with Jesus Christ when he said that we are all brothers and sisters. Moreover, if he were to say that we are cousin-siblings of rats, we could not argue with him either, since the latest research points to more than 90% similarity between their genetic code and ours. Similarities aside, the physical body is an extraordinary tool that we use to experiment with Reality in this laboratory of practices that we call the world. Our whole body is a waste of intelligence, balance, complexity and efficiency; I recommend that you search the web for videos about the human body so that you can check it out.
Within this fantastic vehicle, what stands out for its importance and capabilities, is what is called the Nervous System, whose undisputed leader is the famous brain. Curiously, the same is not true of the brain as it is of our Energy Level, for although no one has ever seen it, we are all convinced that it is there, even though most of the time there is no sign that it is. Joking aside, I am going to ask you a couple of very serious questions: Do you really believe that you are that pile of flesh, guts, pipes and liquids? And what factor makes it possible for such a complex “thing” to appear, evolve and maintain its functioning in such an amazing way? Well, it’s our Life Energy; the one we don’t see but which is there all the time, until it’s gone… and that’s the end of the practice. Let us look at the third Level of Reality to which this Energy belongs:
LEVEL 1- ENERGETIC LEVEL OR PERMANENT REALITY:
– Description: At this level are all the energies of the Universe (both Classical Physics and Quantum Physics have confirmed this to us); we cannot perceive them with our senses but we can know they are there because we perceive their effects. Some of them we have quite “controlled” because we have discovered their laws or patterns of operation; this is the case of gravitational, nuclear, chemical, electrical, magnetic, etc. energies. But others still elude us, as is the case of the Vital Energy that animates living beings and to which throughout history we have given names such as soul or spirit (we must be very careful with these names, because they have been much manipulated). What we call life (bio) is the effect or manifestation of that Energy; and it appears through a series of processes among which we can highlight the biochemical reactions, which are nothing more than the Vital Energy using chemical energy to create what we call living beings.
– Origin: Evidently, all energy must have a cause or origin, a background or source from which it has arisen, capable of creating it and ordering it on the basis of a series of principles and laws. But if we know little about Energies, we know even less about their Source; so let’s focus on what we know scientifically.
– Mechanisms: There are a lot of laws that manage this Energetic Level, but the one we are interested in highlighting here is the 1st law of Thermodynamics or the Conservation of Energy which, in its most popular version, says that “energy is neither created nor destroyed, it is simply trans-formed” (it passes from one form to another); that is why we have called the Energetic Plane Permanent Reality (it does not disappear). Since the same does not happen to bodies (they appear/be born and disappear/die), that is why we say that they are part of the Impermanent Reality.
– Functioning: This Energetic Level, generated from an unknown causal level, handles vibrational and flow variables based on aspects such as frequency, intensity, polarity, attraction-repulsion, etc.
– Characteristics: Thanks to quantum physics, we know that at this level there are no real time-space parameters, which, it has been proven, are dimensions used by the mind to organize the signals it perceives. As for the differences between individuals in terms of Life Energy they are even less than on the physical plane; and as for stability, it is more stable (OUR LIFE ENERGY IS WHAT WE ARE ALL THE TIME, while all the components of our physical and mental levels change).
So we have 3 Levels of Reality (virtual/mental, material and energetic) and each has different functions and characteristics. Let’s see how we are using them:
***1.3 “MY REALITY”: Learning and Personal Mental Model:
Our mental interpretations drive our life and do not allow us to see that our experiences admit many more options and possibilities. BEFORE WE GO INTO DETAIL, WE ARE GOING TO SKETCH A FIRST SCHEME ABOUT HOW OUR MIND MANAGE TO MAKE US FUNCTION/LIVE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER:
1- It interprets Reality: what is REALLY happening, based on a series of BELIEFS (mental programs installed in the subconscious during our learning process). This is how we TRANSFORM THE REAL SCENARIO INTO A MENTAL SCENARIO – OUR SUBJECTIVE REALITY.
2- This interpretation (more or less maladjusted) appears in our consciousness in the form of thoughts, worries and JUDGEMENTS (a series of “noises” that can be more or less clear and persistent).
3- And here’s the catch: We pass to Truth those conclusions that are completely relative and personal. Why? Because our nervous system uses the drugs in our biochemical arsenal (neurotransmitters and hormones fundamentally); to convert that interpretation into a SENSATION/EMOTION. WE NO LONGER JUST THINK IT’S TRUTH, NOW WE FEEL “IT” IS TRUTH.
4- That Sensation (usually emotional) triggers an automatic reaction or REACTIVE BEHAVIOUR which, as we shall see, has been programmed in our Catalogue of Learned Responses. Our nervous system looks for the one that corresponds to the emotion we feel and drives us to act in that way. Moreover, this mechanism becomes especially problematic because it tends to be stronger and more maladjusted in the most delicate circumstances that have a greater importance in our quality of life: the family, social or work environments. In other words, the most maladjusted attitudes tend to occur in the areas where it would be in our best interest to act with a broader and more controlled vision.
WE WILL CALL THIS PROCESS THE MENTAL CHAIN (BELIEF-JUDGMENT-EMOTION-REACTIVE BEHAVIOUR) Does this sound like an appropriate name? Of course, because it is a non-conscious, automatic and inertial process that keeps us completely chained.
Who thinks, decides and acts? Us? NO; ALL THIS IS ORGANISED BY OUR MIND, AND WE GO ALONG WITH IT BECAUSE WE CONFUSE OURSELVES WITH IT. We think we think, feel and act like that because we are like that; we forget that we have learned to function like that. We don’t quite believe that our mind is directing our lives based on our learning, which prevents us from adjusting it if it gives bad results.
Our experiences are an exchange of information and possibilities between what we call “I” and what we call “World”. The problem is that we are not aware that this exchange takes place through an Intermediary: our Mind. To the extent that your Mental Chains are Misaligned, your results (internal and external) will be better or worse. DO NOT LET YOUR MIND PREVENT YOU FROM SEEING THE IMPORTANCE OF SOMETHING SO CLEAR AND OBVIOUS. The only reasonable way to better manage our experiences is to apply a technology that allows us to reprogram our most misaligned beliefs. To do this we first need to understand how the Chains we need to adjust have been installed:
1.3.1 LEARNING. HOW HAVE WE BEEN PROGRAMMED?
Learning is a lifelong process, so it is not voluntary; what is “optional” is to learn well or badly. If we do not direct our Learning we do not direct our Life; that is its importance. Not knowing our Learning mechanisms makes us very vulnerable.
Through Learning we not only acquire knowledge or skills, we also internalise beliefs, values and attitudes. This is what our environment programs us; the result is obvious: a lot of effort for a poor to mediocre result. We tend to stagnate rather than develop; we become trapped in our dependency zones; because with such bad learning we lose our self-confidence.
What we learn is essentially a catalogue of responses to different situations, ESTABLISHING ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN CIRCUMSTANCES -STEMULES- AND THE CORRESPONDING RESPONSES. Simplistically, these are our main types of learning (see if they sound familiar):
- a) Natural Learning (trial and error): This is what we bring as standard. It is based on the active and innate attitude of investigating the things that interest us and discovering the answers that give the best results – effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency – with clearly positive sensations and that bring us Real quality of life: Real Enjoyment, Learning, Satisfaction and Sum.
This would be the main pattern of Learning and the most adjusted to Reality, but our environment “already knows” which things we should be interested in and which answers are “convenient” for us to learn, so they opt for other more passive and less rational methods:
- b) Passive learning:
- By Imitation: we copy the way of thinking, feeling and acting of people we admire or with whom we want to integrate.
- By Conditioning (training or domestication): this is the most used pattern, many of the behaviors learned by this system are installed by Emotional Pressure (if you want me to value you, to not make me angry…you have to…) and therefore they are Emotional Responses. Our Way of Being (that which we call “I”) comes fundamentally from this environmental training. It is based on teaching us the modes of response approved by the environment with the Model in turn as a reference (family, social, cultural, educational, affective…):
First we are “guided” (told what to do) and then we are supervised to do it. If we don’t want to get into trouble, we learn the established model well, we end up thinking “that we came up with it” and we follow it automatically. It is completely stupid, because those who domesticate us have been domesticated before us and demand that we act according to their beliefs (yes… “for our own good”) even though they have had a hard time swallowing them and they are working badly for them.
Conditioning is the mechanism responsible for most of our learned behaviors. It works by means of mental associations that elicit automatic reactive responses to certain stimuli. The stimulus can be an internal sensation or an external situation – circumstance, person or thing – that our mind detects and has to interpret in order to respond to it.
Stimuli are of two types when we are born:
- Unconditioned: Our organism brings as standard programmed and unconditioned responses that are linked to survival and basic needs. Some are Internal: breathing, learning, thirst, hunger, cold, heat; and others External: repulsion, fear and attraction. Reflex and innate responses to these types of stimuli are Unconditioned Responses.
- Neutral: these are the rest of the stimuli; they do not provoke any emotional reaction, they will do so as a result of a CONDITIONING PROCESS which can be of 2 types:
A- Classical Conditioning: This is the one that is in charge of programming new behaviors in our minds. In this case, environmental pressure is used to associate a reward or punishment to a given behaviour. The importance of this mechanism lies in the fact that it is capable of generating fear or attraction towards anything, however absurd it may be.
B- Operant Conditioning: This is focused on modifying existing behaviors. It is used to increase or reduce the frequency or intensity of an already operative behaviour. The mechanism used is the height of originality: reward or punishment. The only thing that needs to be clear to us is that reward or punishment occurs when there is a change in behaviour in the direction that the other person wants.
Acquired responses through conditioning are so powerful because, if we feel strongly enough a couple of times that something “is bad”, the association is programmed into our subconscious and becomes automatic; even if it is unreasonable and gives us bad results. Because IT IS EMOTION AND NOT REASON WHICH CREATES OUR AUTOMATIC THOUGHTS, UNFAIR, NEGATIVE AND/OR BLOCKING BEHAVIOUR. Not all conditioning is wrong, some learned beliefs and behaviors can be useful and adaptive; but the problem is that we don’t tend to check the ones that are not.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE KEYS TO THIS MECHANISM BY WHICH WE MANIPULATE AND ARE MANIPULATED. In the first and most important years of our learning, we are totally dependent on our immediate environment and, in addition, we have no experience or ability to reason. It is understood that this situation makes us very vulnerable to being “emotionally programmed”; what is not so logical is that we maintain this tendency as we grow older, gaining experience, knowledge and analytical skills.
***1.3.2 PERSONAL MENTAL MODEL: MENTAL PROGRAMMES AND MENTAL CHAINS
126.96.36.199 Personal Mental Model: My Subjective Reality.
We have already seen that from Reality our mind recreates “our personal reality”. It is obvious that we cannot encompass all the Reality that we have in front of us; so we interpret from a few data to build a “mental-virtual reality” (sensory, mental, emotional…); but the “film” is so well elaborated that we confuse it with Reality; it does not even occur to us to think that there is a difference or mismatch between what we perceive and what we really have in front of us. Let’s see now how our mind invents an expectation, sees if it is fulfilled, and if it doesn’t (that is, most of the time), it seems wrong to us, we believe that it is Reality that is out of adjustment and we start to fight with it to see if we can get it to adapt to us. Incredible? Well, that’s exactly what we are doing.
THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT: IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR WELL-BEING AND YOUR RESULTS, IT IS YOU WHO HAS TO ADJUST “YOUR PERSONAL AND SUBJECTIVE REALITY” TO THE VARIABLES AND PATTERNS THAT REALITY IS PRESENTING TO YOU. AS LONG AS YOU TAKE YOUR SUBJECTIVE REALITY AS TRUTH, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REALLY LEARN OR IMPROVE THINGS.
Our Personal Mental Model contains all our LEARNED MENTAL PROGRAMMING (our autopilot) and determines the way we live: it sets our goals, judges us and the “world” and pushes us to act or react in one way or another. Do you think it is important for us to analyse these Subconscious Learned Programmes? I hope so:
188.8.131.52 BASIC PROGRAMMES:
– Attachments and Dependencies.
I am afraid that we are still so manipulable because our real weak point is DEPENDENCE. That is why it is so important that we understand how this variable works:
It is clear that there are four Real or Natural needs that are linked to survival (air, water, food and shelter). The key is to be very clear that everything else may be desirable but not necessary. ATTACHMENTS are created needs, desires that reach the level of need. Therefore they can and should be adjusted or eliminated, because they are the main source of our suffering and conflicts; for two reasons:
- Being learned they are mental, and we have already seen that the mind is not subject to the limits of Reality, so it can generate infinite attachments and dependencies.
- Our mind does not distinguish an attachment from a Real need, so we feel just as bad when we BELIEVE we need something as when we really need it. I find it difficult to qualify the degree of mismatch we can reach; take note of this: a created (believed) need can be put ahead of a Real one (example: Anorexia; the need to be beautiful/thin according to the cultural model overrides nutritional and survival needs). And beware of thinking that this only happens to others.
- MOST OF OUR BELIEFED NEEDS OR BELIEVED DEPENDENCES ARE NOT DEPENDENT ON US (especially affective ones). This is the real reason why we are so manipulable.
Logically, we feel unhappy when we do not get a need fulfilled. When we feel this way because of a real need, it’s not pleasant but it’s OK, because it drives us to look for something we really need to survive. The problems start when what we “need” is not possible, requires too much effort, complicates our lives or is too dependent on others. This scenario (that we create ourselves) is the origin of all our problems and conflicts; because we need to “sell ourselves” and manipulate others to get those things we think we need. We will see that affective and valuing needs are at the top of our created needs.
To revise your created dependencies or attachments you only have to reflect very seriously on these 2 things: the suffering that attachments generate and the capacity of our mind to create infinite attachments.
This Method proposes a Game of Adjustments that is not based on abrupt changes but on adjusting, little by little, our way of living based on simple and concrete objectives. To do so, we will recover our Real Capacity to Decide through a process of De-conditioning that reduces our Level of Learned Dependence. To do this we need to understand a little better the package of programs that Conditioning has installed in our mind:
– The Manipulators: Desires and Fears.
The affects are the basis of all our internal and external movements. They are a list of things we want to happen – desires – or not to happen – fears. Our functioning is that sophisticated: attraction and repulsion (it is incredible that we give ourselves so much importance). OK, if it’s that simple…why does it get so complicated? Because we don’t control the intensity of our fears and desires, and we don’t distinguish between those that are appropriate and those that are not.
Of course, desires that pursue Real Needs – breathing, drinking, eating and sheltering – and fears that avoid Real Dangers – fleeing in case of survival – are adequate. So could be desires that offer Real Satisfaction at a reasonable cost or the avoidance (not fear) of situations that do not please us and/or may bring us problems.
Inappropriate, problematic and maladaptive are Learned Wants and Fears that reach the level of need and generate uncontrolled emotions. It is one thing to think “I could do with”, “I would like to have” or “I feel like” and quite another to think “I need” something.
NATURAL NEEDS TEND TO RESPECT NATURAL LAWS, BUT CREATED OR LEARNED NEEDS ARE GUIDED BY IMAGINATION, and we have already seen that our mind’s greatest potential is its capacity to imagine, and that its greatest flaw is that it does so without our permission and turns its speculations into Reality. Inventing needs is the shortest way to dissatisfaction.
Have you ever noticed how short-lived satisfactions are? And how easy it is for our mind to desire so many things and turn them into compelling needs? It does so by elaborating a Catalogue of Beliefs:
– Learned Beliefs: neither true nor mine.
BELIEFS are simply relative points of view; often erroneous; they depend on our learning and environment, but we live them as truths and think they are ours, so we follow them without discussing them and we feel attacked if someone contradicts them and, as soon as we can, we try to manipulate others to think and act according to them. THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE HAVE IDENTIFIED WITH THEM WITHOUT REALISING IT, AND WE ARE VERY STUBBORN WHEN WE STAND UP FOR SOMETHING WE IDENTIFY WITH. The Learned Beliefs that most influence the way we live and are the cause of most of our problems are:
- The Identifications: I am…, people are…, the world is… …. and Self-identifications and Hetero-identifications (labels in general).
- Attachments/Dependencies: I need…, I have to…, I should…, I shouldn’t…, my wife should…, my child should… people, the world should or shouldn’t….
Because of the importance they have on our lives, let’s get to know them a little more in depth:
***- The Identifications: I-My-You
The most serious Conditioning; because of its repercussion in all areas of our life; is the Conditioning or FORMATTING OF OUR WAY OF BEING. We are not aware of our Real Capabilities because we confuse ourselves with our Way of Being, we identify with it because we have always been valued according to it, and we do the same with others.
This Identification is a very serious misunderstanding; for when we repeat a way of thinking, feeling or acting we do not realise that we ARE acting that way because of our learning, but we tend to believe that we ARE that way. We are not a way of being, but a Being that can act in many ways and still be the same. If we were our “way of being” we would not be able to change it or have such a clear sense of identity.
Identifications are learned mental mechanisms, we are taught to call “I” what is seen, first our body and then what our body does (our way of being). Let’s look at the functioning of our Identification Generator. To do this we will describe the four different “I’s” that we handle:
- REAL SELF: Three Capacities (Affective, Understanding and Executive). We are and have always been this, our true identity, what never changes in us. Those capabilities or potential capable of expressing themselves in multiple ways. We cannot see it, but we can FEEL it and experience it if our mind calms down and stops manipulating us all the time using its automatic subconscious programs. In the practical part we are going to expose techniques that focus on our natural processes to be able to feel our Real Self and progressively regain control of our Capacities.
Experiences are expressions of our Real Self, that is, of our inner capacities. But when it expresses itself, it is no longer the Real Self, but one of its possible versions:
- EXPERIENCE SELF: This is the form that our Real Self takes in each of our experiences. Whether it expresses itself in one way or another depends fundamentally on the Conditioned Mental Model.
These first two “I’s” are real; but there are two others that exist only in our mind (they are elaborated in our subconscious without our knowledge and are therefore virtual). The most unfortunate and paradoxical thing is that… they are the ones that determine our way of living and our Quality of Life:
- IDEAL SELF: It is the star product of our Personal Mental Model, formed by all the ACQUIRED BELIEFS; about how we should be or not be, what we would like to be or not be, how we should do or not do, what we would like to have or not have… but not only with respect to ourselves, also to others and to the world; that is “our” IDEAL SELF/WORLD. Therefore, if we don’t do something about it, the Ideal Self will tend to use the energies of our Real Self in the direction of its instructions, and will try to block those that go against it.
OUR REAL SELF IS BEING MANIPULATED BY OUR IDEAL SELF ALL THE TIME AND THE RESULT IS OUR WAY OF BEING AND FUNCTIONING (EXPERIENCED SELF), but that is not enough; after manipulating us like a puppet, it starts to JUDGE what we did:
- IDEA SELF: It is the one we call “I” and psychology calls “EGO” (it is the Self we identify with; so it is the “I” we “live” as real (the same goes for the world: we live our Idea World, not the Real World). Stop and think about this because what I have just said is very big.
Let’s see how it works: MY SUBCONSCIOUS MIND DRIVES MY REAL ME/WORLD THEN LOOKS AT THE RESULT (ME/WORLD EXPERIENCE), COMPARES IT WITH ITS IDEAL ME/WORLD AND THE RESULT IS MY IDEA ME/WORLD. This absurd mechanism makes us value ourselves and others on the basis of RELATIVE beliefs that manipulate us, that keep us pending on what is “theoretically lacking”, that do not allow us to recognise our real capacities or to enhance them or to value properly what we have and end up complicating our lives. This mechanism makes us feel stupid, ugly, introverted, clumsy or undeserving of anything. When we label ourselves, we limit and block the capacities that we are and the possibilities that we have in front of us, that is, we block Reality. You don’t have to be very smart to see the effects that this stupid functioning has on our quality of life; moreover, we can observe them constantly in ourselves and in others.
SO WE CALL “I” A MENTAL INTERPRETATION OF A CONDITIONED VERSION OF OUR REAL SELF. Our mind denies the Real Self (Capabilities) because it does not see it, it sees its manifestation, the Experience Self, – our body thinking, feeling and acting – that is why we have no difficulty in identifying with our body and what it does. But when we are asked who we are we don’t answer “my body”, we think we are being asked about our Idea Self; so I observe what my body does, I judge it, and I pack a series of names and qualifiers based on My Model (I “am” blah, blah, blah…and we can go on for 2 or 3 hours). We are none of that, all that can change and we are still the same; in fact we have already done it many times throughout our lives.
From all these false identifications come those problematic Attachments or Dependencies that we have analysed; everything that I BELIEVE is mine or that I need to have. The first thing an Attachment or Dependency does is to create an Expectation that hijacks our Attention to take it towards the object, person or situation that we “believe” we need. Where we put our Attention we put our resources and capacities; Attention is the rudder of our life and it happens to be hijacked by our Learned Beliefs. Our Dependencies mark the importance we give to things and extremely limit our Capacity to Decide.
Let us now look at the Operational Programmes that our Personal Mental Model uses to manage us like puppets:
***184.108.40.206 OPERATIONAL PROGRAMS. THE MENTAL CHAIN
Learned Beliefs, especially identifications (I/World Idea) and attachments or dependencies (I/World Ideal + I should/I should not) have become Mental Programs or Ideas and create a dynamic of which we are not aware: they generate alarms in our mind to check whether or not our expectations are met and take over the reins of our behaviour. It makes me laugh when I hear someone say that they are not believers. Let’s see how these beliefs manage to run our lives:
It’s that complicated. That’s what we’ve been calling the MENTAL CHAIN; see if this rings a bell:
1- JUDGMENT: Child of Beliefs and Father of Conflicts.
A judgment is a balance between two beliefs: the difference between what “I BELIEVE should happen -I/Ideal World-” and what “I BELIEVE is happening -I/Idea World-“. If the balance is negative, which is the most common, there are complaints, annoyances, victimhood, manipulation, conflicts and so on.
To function with judgments is to function with faults or deficits, thus creating a progressive state of dissatisfaction and non-acceptance of Reality that leads us to fight against it (instead of managing it by trying to understand it better).
Belief is the root of the Mental Chain, but Judgment is the one that makes us go from “opinion mode” to “truth mode” as it is the one that triggers the corresponding Emotion/Sensation. This way of functioning is very problematic because we have no control over it and it extends to all areas of our lives – family, social and work – but it affects to a greater extent the issues in which we are most involved. The more “important” an issue is (dependency) the more we tend to get emotional and go into “truth mode”. Therein lies the rub, because it is in these matters where we are most urged to adjust to Reality and improve our criteria for action; because if we leave it to our Mental Chains the judgments can be very biased (egocentric) and the reactions quite problematic.
This Method is going to help us to adjust those misaligned beliefs, but first it is essential that we assimilate these evidences:
- WE ARE NOT CONTROLLING OUR BELIEFS; THEY CONTROL US. We are talking about programs that are installed and uninstalled in our subconscious mind through a process of conditioning that depends on the environment. We are under constant pressure to think, act and be a certain way.
- WHEN A BELIEF REACHES THE “TRUTH DEGREE” IT CLOSES THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND OPENS THE DOORS OF CONFLICT. The more beliefs the less freedom and the more problems. Our mind justifies the veracity of a belief by using others that are also false, no one is in possession of the truth; let’s remember that there will always be a mismatch to Reality. We have to realise that all beliefs, our own and others’, are nothing more than a limited and relative opinion, and this will change our lives. If we can become aware that we are all dealing with simple opinions or points of view, we will prevent our judgments or those of others from having control over the way we feel and act. You can’t imagine how much conflict (internal and external) you can save yourself just by adjusting that.
- It is in our best interest to rehabilitate our innate capacity to observe, learn and ask questions.
Do I like to be judged or told what to do? Why do I then do it to others? If there is no one to change my views, why do I insist on arguing or changing others’? Where does this divine gift to be right when I judge something come from? What do I really achieve by judging myself or others? Why do I then do it?
Any mental or emotional discomfort indicates that we are acting on the basis of unrealistic and irrational should and judgments…because we have learned to function with MENTAL CHAINS. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT IT CAN BE CORRECTED BECAUSE IT IS NOT NATURAL; IT IS LEARNED.
BELIEFS such as: “should” “must” “have to” “this is so” “can’t” are dogmatic and inflexible and tend to close the door to reasoning and open it to emotions. They indicate that we have no control over our lives.
CRITERIA type: “it would be convenient” “it would be convenient” “I would like” “probably” “I think it is reasonable to think” serve to set goals, are rational, flexible and revisable. They indicate that we have some control over our decisions.
2- LEARNED EMOTIONS: The Power of Stimuli
In case it is not clear: “truth mode” and going into automatic mode is the same thing. When we believe we have a truth, the opposite happens that “truth” has us at its beck and call. Our mind sneaks us one of its judgments (and we are totally convinced that we have elaborated it); then it looks for the corresponding emotion in its Catalogue of Learned Emotions and plugs us a good jet of neurotransmitters and/or hormones…and off we go. It does it so well and so fast that we are completely convinced that we are deciding; we are not aware that there is a Mental Chain managing what we feel and do. The stimulus appears and, almost at the same time, the emotional movement appears; that’s why we associate it directly and we are convinced that “it gets on our nerves”. Our Mental Chains are the ones that give circumstances a power they don’t really have, because they give them access to our emotional system.
The good news is that just as we have given control to stimuli by unconscious conditioning, we can take it away by conscious de-conditioning, and that is one of the aims of this Method.
3- LEARNED BEHAVIORS: Reactive Responses
We have already seen the way we function, which is why we call our body/experimental vehicle the “Ultimate Monkey”, because it is all the time at the command of our capricious and demanding mental tool. Our body unblinkingly follows mental instructions (desires, fears, beliefs, attachments, judgments and emotions) that lead us to feel this or that and to do that or the other. The origin of this tangle of fallacies is impossible to trace: parents, siblings, grandparents, friends from childhood, high school, adolescence, partners, work colleagues, teachers, the Beatles, Isabella the Catholic, Marx, the Marx brothers…. there is no way of knowing where all the ideas that have been installed in our personal milking machine (subconscious) and with which we have manufactured the leash and collar for our “poor” monkey came from.
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO BECOME AWARE OF THIS TRAP: BELIEF-JUDGEMENT-EMOTION-BEHAVIOUR.
THESE FOUR COMPONENTS CONFORM THE DNA OF ALL OUR DISCOMFORT AND CONFLICTS; BOTH ON AN INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE LEVEL. NOW YOU HAVE ONLY ONE REAL PROBLEM: THAT YOUR “BELIEFS” DON’T LET YOU TAKE THIS ISSUE SERIOUSLY. LOOK TO SEE.