Friday, October 21, 2005

The Guys: On Fear Regarding Health

"Look well into thyself.
There is a source of strength which will always spring up
if thou wilt always look there."
~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ~

This is a transcript of a session done with someone facing a possibly serious illness.

Client: I've been really worried about my health. There's recurring pain, I'm thinking the worse case... like cancer. Mentally I'm saying it's OK it's really nothing, don't get all worked up. It's that part of me that expects the worst that's the problem.

GUYS: We would encourage you to not tell yourself what is or isn't the case when you don't know. Doing that doesn't work when you're frightened because you'll argue with it. There's a rational Adult part of you that's going to say "well you can't know that", and that part of you will be right. So it undermines the very process of calming yourself. The key is not "oh no it won't happen". The key is: "I can deal with whatever happens." That's what will calm you.

When you're a "fear based personality" everything is potentially frightening. The first response to something new or unexpected is always fear. What you need to learn is that it's not your first response that counts. It's your second response.

Your first response may be fear for the rest of your life. If you know that, and get comfortable with it, then you can discount your first response and see what the second response, or the third response is. It will usually be something that puts you into a space where you can get calm and reasonable about what's happening.

It might go like this:
"OK, I have preferences. I would prefer for whatever it is that I'm afraid is happening, not to happen. I have other plans for myself that don't really include that. But if it does happen, I can cope with it, I can deal with it, I can manage it. I have coped with and managed so much already in my life, that I can deal with this."

The tragedy of childhood is not the pain, is not the confusion,... it is the loss of self-trust. That's one of the things that gets triggered and produces fear when something comes up. The Kid genuinely believes that you're not trustworthy and that you cannot and should not trust yourself to be able to handle a situation when it's difficult.

Actually, there couldn't be anything further from the truth. The very fact that you are sitting here having this conversation means that you are imminently trustworthy... that you are ultimately reliable and that you are beyond capable... you're nearly superhuman, if you really take into consideration what you've had to manage and cope with, and the duration and the severity of it. Whatever it is that may be going on now is certainly workable.

Client: When I feel pain I go wacko and I've been in alot of physical pain the last few weeks.

GUYS: Its very reasonable and smart to do something about that and you have the capacity to find out what to do.

Client: OK, so besides my health, I've been worrying about money. So my first response is fear, then I keep remembering that everything always works out, I won't be destitute.

GUYS: Again do yourself a favor and put that in past tense rather then future tense. You're going to have a part of you that won't believe you if you put it in future tense. There's a massive discrepancy between what you're trying to learn and understand in these sessions about staying in the present, and what you're telling yourself to soothe yourself.

So, you might say instead: "I have never run out of money, I have always managed, no matter how bad things were they have always worked out for the best. I have no data or information to indicate that it shouldn't continue to be so."

See how clean that is? Completely honest and no magical thinking, no fortune telling, no projecting out into the future. It's just best guess, best shot. You can't know what's going to happen, that's not the point, no one can know what's going to happen at this point.

But, you can take yourself seriously and recognize that you are someone of massive capability, wondrous intelligence, with a deep desire and intention to take good care of yourself... that you will do the best that you can to act on your own behalf, as soon as you figure out what it is. So then that will kind of guide you into the right direction which means .."well I can't know what's going to happen but I can try and figure out what I think is the best way to take care of myself in this situation."

This is very difficult. The kind of things that you were told as a child when you were afraid made no sense whatsoever and when you're frightened and upset you have a tendency to say things to yourself that make no sense whatsoever. It's habitual. Somehow you were supposed to have been soothed by something that made no sense. Now you figure you're supposed to be soothed by saying things to yourself that make no sense.

Client: Makes sense, I just do these mind trips on myself.

GUYS: Please understand that when you're frightened the natural and normal course of events for you is to go in and try to do what has worked in the past. When you don't know what to do, you look to what you've already done. But, if you're frightened enough, the Kid will come in and take over that whole process. She'll tell you what you should look at and do/not do again, based on a premise of there being something very wrong with you. The Adult would examine the whole thing differently.

There's a way of thinking in a crisis that is habitual... that the Kid has always done. She says the best thing to do is to get really, really scared because that will motivate you to make sure that you do the right thing otherwise, ....." you are sooooooo lazy and you are just so worthless and useless, that you are not going to do anything and then it'll be too late and it'll all be your fault because you're just plain wrong."

That's basically the Kid's message in one form or another. Whatever you are is bad, and the only way that you can get yourself to do something good is by being mean to yourself. Where did you learn that?... Home!

Now your Adult has a whole other set of opinions about this very thing. It goes more like: .."If I'm nervous and confused about what's happening in my body what is the best way to motivate myself to check it out? Get mean? Beat the hell out of myself and scare myself so badly that I basically become paralyzed? I don't think so. What else can I do? Call a friend, get more information. Then, think about what I've done in the past that has helped me feel better, I can go through my medical history and see if this hooks up with anything I'm familiar with, there are thousands of things I can do that would be more productive than beating the hell out of myself."

Now, you can recognize the Adult in that, can't you?

Client: Yes. And it's gotten better. I've been sleeping so much, so tired..

GUYS: How grown up of you to recognize that and do something about it.

Client: I've been like the wind this past week, blowing all over the place;.

GUYS: Yes. If you think that that means something bad about you, and is a sign of things going downhill from here, then you're going to be frightened when you go through these periods of being slightly overwhelmed, confused and upset.

But if you recognize that you're in a PROCESS of changing these automatic responses,'re not somebody who's already done that,.. then you're going to see it as an opportunity to practice getting off your case. You can't get too much practice getting off your case. There's no single thing that you can do that is more productive then to stop blaming yourself and stop scaring yourself about what's wrong with you.

It is the single most productive thing, because once that's out of the way then there's a space to think about what actually is happening. When that's in the way, all you're thinking about is everything you've done wrong,...and that you could do wrong. Then you end up in this pool of energy that is more depleting and less useful then anything you could do. That includes watching TV for 48 hours and eating junk.

There's very few things that we could think of that would be more of a waste of your energy. You could lie in bed all day reading comic books, watch TV etc... and be better served then spending anymore time beating yourself up. There is virtually no value in it for you.

Now, there are a few people we would not say that to. There are some people who take refuge in blaming others for everything, never once think it might be their fault or something they're not thinking clearly about. So we have to point them in the direction of recognizing what it is that's keeping them from looking at their own culpability. But you're not one of them.

Client: No, I'm an expert at beating myself up.

GUYS: You could teach it.

Client: Sometimes I think that what's going on with me physically is a direct result of how I mentally batter myself. I woke up in so much pain that I went and got a massage and just by doing that it cleared up somewhat.

GUYS: Excellent. You can see that when the adult takes a look at what's going on, and goes looking into the history for what to do when you're in pain, that's the thing that the adult will reach for. Hmmm, the last time I was in this much pain I went and got a massage and it helped.

When the child goes looking into your history to try and figure out what to do-all it finds is all the things you've done wrong.... "This is just like the last time I felt this bad, I've always felt this bad, nothing has felt good...not ever! I don't remember ever feeling good, I must be nuts or in denial, ..whatever made me think I was making progress. Otherwise this wouldn't be happening." And it just builds from there.

It builds that way because the child doesn't know that there's nothing wrong with you.

...Guess who has to know that in order to educate the child that there's nothing wrong with you.


At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, an excellent blog..helping me face physical challenges as well. thank you.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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