Suicide Joke Gets Heckled at the Local Open Mic Night

I went to a local open mic comedy night here in Sydney on Wednesday night, to get up and do a four minute set.

There is plenty of angst on display by the comedians on the night for the audience's entertainment. The MC leads the charge with a series of acrostic poems clearly displaying his disdain and resentment towards his stepfather. I didn't even know what an acrostic poem was, so it turned out both enlightening and educational. He also does several bits in between other comedian's sets, about his experience of depression, and of ironic conversations with his therapist.

Comedians Feel Like This about Hecklers and Step-Fathers Sometimes.

Comedians Feel Like This about Hecklers and Step-Fathers Sometimes.

Several other comedians also speak about being depressed, taking antidepressants, seeing psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors or therapists. Most of the stories sound funny, most of the time. But these people are clearly suffering.

I get a strong sense that a lot … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

Friday Afternoon Music Therapy

I spent this afternoon playing drums with my new musician friends from kirtan, for two different local groups of disabled people. I have never actually played with this group before, so I'm not sure what to expect. Although I've been [intlink id="751" type="post"]playing drum kit[/intlink] for a while and used to play tamborim in a samba band, I've never played the drums I'm playing today before either (a cajón and a dunun), for more than a few minutes. So really all I can do is wing it on stage in front of our captive audience. [caption id="attachment_1816" align="alignright" width="300"]How Hard Can It Be? How Hard Can It Be?[/caption] The first gig is for a group of adolescents with Down syndrome. Despite my lack of practice, experience or rehearsal, they love it. If there's one thing to be said for people with Down Syndrome, they sure know how to let loose and have a good time. Before long they are up dancing, jiving and laughing, showing far less inhibition than I have. One of the guys gets down on the floor and breaks into a spontaneous rap dance. We aren't even playing hip-hop. But that isn't about to stop him. Before long, one of his mates joins him; both of them writhing around on the floor unselfconsciously to our beats. (more…)

By Graham, ago

26 Ways To Get The Hell Over Your Fear Of Making Mistakes

I'm not going to lie to you: making mistakes still freaks me out. There's something about getting things wrong that causes me to break out into a cold sweat. Even if I'm at home playing music by myself, just the thought "What if I get it wrong?" induces enough panic to throw my concentration out, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy. [caption id="attachment_1808" align="alignright" width="300"]Does Making Mistakes Still Freak You Out Too? Does Making Mistakes Still Freak You Out Too?[/caption] It's easy enough to see where this paranoia comes from. I grew up with a mother who criticised my father for almost everything that he said and did, and this led to arguments that I found very frightening. Most of those arguments were about who was right and who was wrong in the previous argument, so I learned from a very young age that it was extremely important to be right all the time if you wanted to avoid degrading humiliation and terrifying conflict. Add to that a religion where you burned in hell for all eternity for being a flawed human being, if you didn't accept the correct saviour. Even as a young child I knew that there were other religions from the one I was being indoctrinated with, so there were other possibilities to choose from. Being wrong about my choice of religion/saviour/deity had eternal unpleasant consequences. And then there was an education system where your social status bequeathed by the teachers in the form of grades and your position in the class hierarchy depended on me giving the answers that they liked. Get too many things wrong, and I would find myself condemned to the class full of dead-heads. This kind of thing can leave a lasting impact. I'm still upset about being marked wrong in 5th grade for answering that π equalled 3.1415926535897, rather than the “correct” answer of 22/7. When I look at the beliefs that I internalised about making mistakes and getting things wrong, they pretty much boil down to these two:

If I make mistakes, people won't love me

If I get anything wrong, I will be punished

I've long since abandoned much of the perfectionistic family, cultural and religious belief systems that I grew up with, so I no longer consciously believe that making mistakes is a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs. But just try telling that to my hyper-vigilant limbic system. So lets see what happens when I run these beliefs through the 26 “Mind lines” from L. Michael Hall and Bobby G. Bodenhamer's book Mind Lines: Lines For Changing Minds to see if I can neutralise them with a little neuro-semantic magic. The book makes a distinction between External Behaviour and Internal State. In these two beliefs, the external behaviour is “make mistakes” and “get anything wrong”, while the Internal State is “people not loving me” and “being punished”. Bring on 26 Ways To Get The Hell Over Your Fear Of Making Mistakes: (more…)

By Graham, ago

Daily Affirmations For Dealing With Anxiety

I was at a rebirthing/breathwork workshop on the weekend, and we did an exercise called Primal Law. Our Primal Law is our most negative belief about ourself. I started out with the usual list of negative thoughts about myself that I've come up with in workshops a million times before:

  • I'm not good enough
  • I'm bad
  • I'm wrong
  • I have nothing to offer
  • I will fail
[caption id="attachment_1784" align="alignright" width="263"]No Wonder I Feel So Anxious No Wonder We Feel So Anxious[/caption] But the one that really resonated with me was something somebody else came up with:
  • I'm not safe
Well, no wonder I feel so anxious with a Primal Law like that. The next step was to convert the Primal Law into an Eternal Law that represents the truth of our existence; even though it seems like a lie at first, given what we've been telling ourselves for so long. (more…)

By Graham, ago

26 Ways To Chill The Fuck Out About Whether Other People Like You

I grew up in an environment where everybody kept their feelings to themselves. I was a sensitive kid with very strong emotions that I didn't know how to express constructively. The people around me didn't seem to have emotions, because they never talked about them. Over time I developed a deep sense of shame about my feelings, and learned to suppress, suppress, suppress. [caption id="attachment_1778" align="alignright" width="300"]Are You Still Worrying About Whether Other People Like You? Are You Still Worrying About Whether Other People Like You?[/caption] At the same time, strong feelings of emotional abandonment as a child led me to become terrified of rejection. I didn't know at the time that feelings are what build empathy and connection between people, and that the emotion-less communication strategies I had learned from the adult role models around me made the very thing I was most afraid of, rejection, more likely to happen to me. As a young adult, I had panic attacks when strangers I met declined to talk with me. I developed a tremendous anxiety about what other people thought about me, and tried very hard to be perfect so that other people would like me. I thought that if I tried real hard to get people to like me, they'd be more likely to want to hang out with me. All that did was make me even more self-conscious. It turns out that none of these strategies work in the real world. Over time, with enough painful interactions with other people under my belt, I developed a paranoid default belief deep down in my unconscious mind:

Other people don't like me.

Given that relationships have the most significant impact on our life satisfaction, this painful limiting belief is a real joy-killer. And it got buried not just consciously, but subconsciously, unconsciously, neurologically, limbically, and in every nerve cell of my body where it lurked waiting to rear its ugly head by getting triggered any time I encountered a potential rejection. How do you overturn a painful belief that goes so deep? I recently read the book Mind Lines: Lines For Changing Minds by L. Michael Hall and Bobby G. Bodenhamer, which offers 26 ways of neutralising painful limiting beliefs like this one via a neuro-semantic process known as “reframing”. Many of the patterns work by defusing the formula by which we create our distorted inner reality from our painful external experiences:

External Behaviour →/= Internal State

Whatever the fuck that means. I wish they'd explain themselves more clearly when they create some new pseudo-mathematical notation. I think it's supposed to mean that external events don't necessarily have to adversely affect our feelings. Somebody else behaving in a way that I used to interpret to mean that they didn't like me, doesn't necessarily have to make me feel bad. So let's see if this stuff works by applying the patterns from the book to the belief: “other people don't like me”. This gives me 26 Ways To Chill The Fuck Out About Whether Other People Like Me: (more…)

By Graham, ago