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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Get Out of Despair First; Brainswitch, then Brainstorm

Dear A. B.

I like the sound of your theory, but what if you don't know the positive alternative to program into your brain? Personally, I am having a hard time finding positive thoughts to supplant the negative thoughts & subsequent sad feelings that I have about my falling home value. So many people across the country are being affected by the economic crisis, in a number of ways & to varying degrees.

The economic turndown presents an ideal "laboratory" in which to test your theories and our mettle, I can see that. I'm just not always smart enough to know what to tell my "thinking brain" when daily it seems, I am presented with more bad news about the economy.

I do tell myself, "It will get better, it will rebound, it will bottom out then improve." But will it, and when and how? I know you're not an economist, I'm not asking for your forecast for our nation's recovery, but this is heavy on a lot of minds right now. What is the most helpful way to view and deal with this crisis that is hitting us on economic, cultural and personal levels?

Dear Ginger,

Hardship comes to all of us in some way at some point in our lives.. Nobody gets off scott free from serious problems and terrible disappointments. Sometimes we get so discouraged we wonder why we should bother anymore.

And we can mourn our losses . However at some point we have to stop mourning our losses and make something out of what remains to us.  Bad enough we should have the reverses. Why should we also beat ourselves up day after day with suffering over them? If we spend all our mental energy suffering, we won’t have space for creative solutions, or at least moving toward solutions.

How do you shoulder disappointment and move ahead with your day? Again the simple process of brainswitching works to get you up out of the frozen state of depression and discouragment and start you in the right direction. At some point, when honest mourning starts becoming the chemical imbalance of depression caused by all the negative thinking, you can always do a few dumb mind exercises to block the onslought of all the fear and negative thinking. You can decide that any more negative thinking is not an option because it won't do any good. Once your brain is on a positive track, perhaps some new idea will occur to you.

If economic woes are the problem, perhaps you will think of some idea to bring in more income, a part time job, some item to sell. If it's the general economy that finds your net worth diminishing, you have a lot of company. Sometimes during huge crises, whole nation is thrown into war or economic disaster we must keep our mental strength so that we can not only be self-sufficient, but so that we can be a help and support to others who are also suffering. Today, for instance I hear many people saying they are "buying American made items even when they are twice the price of imports" just to support small businesses here. But you don't even think of positive moves to make when you are stuck in discouragement. You have to get out of the dark place before the light of creativity has a chance to function.

Here’s where magical thinking comes in handy. The brain doesn’t know the difference between being happy and pretending to be happy. Happy thoughts ultimately stimulate happy feelings. The feelings are genuine even if the thoughts that encouraged the production of those feelings were fake. This is the reason that groups of people all over the country meet regularly every morning for 30 minutes of laughing out loud.

We know the brain is powerful. Magical thinking may be a way we can set the powers of the brain to help us even though we may not know the full extent of those powers. Here's one the the magical thinking exercises from my book, Brainswitch out of Depression.

            This is the most famous, most widely used, and probably the very first mind exercise ever devised. Emil Coue was a French pharmacist who introduced to the world a psychotherapy in the1880s based upon hypnosis. In those days it was called “Suggestion.” Coue was the first modern psychologist (Mesmer and Paracelsus were much earlier) to suggest that our ignorance and weakness were causing our problems rather than some overwhelming outside force. The solution was to become strong and informed The implication was that anyone could do it.
            Emile Coue was the originator of positive self-talk, and would take on a new patient only if he would agree to repeat one phrase over and over to himself as a daily habit, “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better and better.”
            The mind, through learned association, puts these affirmations in touch with the knowledge and experience, already programmed into your memory banks that can help carry them out. The mind is a wonderful servant in this respect. It already has the ball, and can make the touchdown if you point it in the right direction.
            Here’s the exercise: Say to yourself either out loud or silently, “Every day in every way I'm getting better and better. Every day in every way I'm getting better and better.” Keep at it for two minutes, five minutes. As long as it takes. It is not a waste of time. What is a waste of time is thinking I am so stressed out and worried, I’m so depressed. In the case of a skin condition: “Every day in every way my face is becoming clearer and clearer.” In the case of a messy house: “Every day in every way the house is becoming neater and neater.” In the case of forgetfulness: “Every day in every way my memory is getting better and better,” etc.
            Once we have taken the edge off the pain of depression with Brainswitching, we can follow that up with this slightly different Directed Thinking technique. We can choose thought patterns which set the brain to working on the actual problem, if only symbolically. Working on the problem, “magically,” points the mind in the right direction to subsequently find more realistic solutions.  

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss           

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Thanks for your detailed reply, A.B. I will put into practice the exercises and tailor them to address my concerns. Also your point, " Bad enough we should have the reverses. Why should we also beat ourselves up day after day with suffering over them?" really resonated with me.

I do indeed "beat myself up day afer day" over having bad judgement, buying when the market was high, not having a crystal ball! I guess I need to tell myself "Every day in every way my house is becoming more valuable." (Of course,that feels very funny to say!)

I certainly take care of my house and yard, but often feel a sense of dread, fear and gloom about it. Repeating the affirmation, no matter how silly it may seem, may be a way to create better feelings about my house and my efforts toward it.

I gave my self a "back attack" yesterday, & today I'm still in excrutiating pain. I know it's from the tension over all this. I've had this syndrome before. Still, I made muffins for us this morning and am cooking chicken right now, trying to ignore the pain & get on with things.

I have an appointment with someone tomorrow to discuss master bath remodeling. Part of me wants to cancel it, because I feel like why put more money into something that keeps sinking in value?

As you said, I must remember that it's a waste of time to dwell on stressful and worrisome thoughts, so I will keep the appointment and focus on doing something positive. Fear-based/love-based decision-making comes into play here as always.

husband & I will