When we’re a child, we’re biologically wired to seek the approval of adults around us. Otherwise we would die. Humans are born with very poor individual survival instincts, so we are reliant on our parents and other caregivers to teach us how to avoid threats to our well-being. We are born to instinctively trust our parents and to seek their love and approval, however misguided they may be. We learn pretty early on in life to do what we can to keep them happy. And while we also develop our own ideas about what we want quite young, often we get punished harshly when our desires conflict with those of our parents. Some parents withhold their love and approval when we disobey, which uses the power of our own instincts against us. This is why you see so many parents giving their children behaviour-reinforcing proclamations like “good boy/girl!” or admonishments like "bad boy/girl!" (more…)
It's been over 20 years since I did The Landmark Forum and life since then has been a constant series of breakthroughs and breakdowns. But there's been one persistent irritation over that time: other people. I consistently find myself in challenging situations with other people thinking: "This asshole would be a lot easier to deal with if they did The Landmark Forum". I even had a friend once who made me wrong for using the phrase "made me wrong". [caption id="attachment_2042" align="alignright" width="300"] It's not a cult[/caption] I'm a little tired of being a circle adrift in a sea of triangles. I suspect that the whole world would be a better place if everyone did The Landmark Forum; especially the people who don't think they need to, because they tend to do the most damage. Some of these people really need to be slapped around the head by a Landmark Forum leader. (more…)
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?[/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 StateWhatever 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…)
So you're sitting in a room by yourself at your computer/phone, searching the Internet for the umpteenth time to try and work out what the hell is wrong with you.
You have abandonment issues, obviously!
Here are thirteen other clues:
- You feel a deep inner sadness when the cute girl/guy sitting next to you on the bus gets off.
- You break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of rejection.
- Your heart aches when nobody retweets your last hilarious tweet.
- You ended all your past relationships, but somehow it still feels like they left you.
- You've had years of therapy, but you're still angry with your mother.
- You begin all your sentences with the word “you”, even though you really mean “I”.
- You meditate/pray with your eyes open, to make sure the other people are still there.
I used to get tremendously anxious about what other people thought of me. Hang on a second; used to? Who am I kidding? I'm still as neurotic as the next person. But I have been making some inroads into this particular phobia lately. [caption id="attachment_1757" align="alignright" width="640"] Do You Worry Too Much What Other People Think? Chill The Fuck Out![/caption] It helps is knowing where it comes from, and it's partly an evolutionary thing: we evolved in tribes where individuals specialised in what they were good at, because that gave the tribe an evolutionary advantage over individuals living every-Neanderthal-for-themselves. Our ancestors were interdependent, and that meant they needed to get along with each other. Since the cook couldn't hunt and the hunter couldn't cook, rejection by the tribe meant certain death; so we learned to worry about what other people think of us. Or I could just blame my mother. She used to say “Who cares what other people think?” But the way she hid her feelings, and her intolerance to criticism left me thinking that unconsciously she worried about what other people thought of her a great deal. I probably learned this habit by osmosis. Regardless of where it comes from, while consideration for others is a good think, worrying too much what they think is something I've overdone in the past. If I were to describe my fear of what other people think in terms of a limiting belief, it would be something like:
Other people's thoughts can hurt me.
Sounds pretty crazy on the face of it, but try telling that to my hyper-vigilant nervous system.
With that in mind, I decided to run this irrational belief through the 26 thought reframing patterns from L. Michael Hall and Bobby G. Bodenhamer's book Mind Lines: Lines For Changing Minds to see if I could neutralise it with a little neuro-semantic magic.This gives me 26 Ways To Chill The Fuck Out About What Other People Think: (more…)
My previous work as a Confidence Coach helping men to relate better to women required me to keep my fingers abreast of the ever-changing world of the modern female psyche. With this in mind, I recently read the phenomenally successful Fifty Shades Of Grey. [caption id="attachment_1728" align="alignright" width="195"] Why "Fifty Shades", anyway?[/caption] Literary critics have been quite scathing about the quality of the writing in the book, but to me that's a bit like criticising the cinematography in Debbie Does Dallas. While the depiction of the female anti-hero in the book may not represent or be typical of many modern women, it has clearly struck a nerve of some kind given it's legendary best-seller status amongst its mostly-female readership. However, it is a bit of a tedious read if you happen to be a man. So, to save my fellow men from having to thumb their way through 514 pages of mommy porn, here are Fifty Things I Learned About Women From Fifty Shades Of Grey: (more…)
I have a friend of mine whose relationship looks to me like the emotional rollercoaster from hell. When it's good, it's very very good; but when it's bad, it's horrid. From what I can tell, his girlfriend has a very high analytical intelligence but lacks emotional intelligence. Whenever she's upset, she treats him like crap and he has a tendency to let her walk all over him. He really likes her so he swings between being happy as Larry and anxious as all hell. Recently he's started to man-up and tell her that it's not OK for her to treat him like trash. When he does this, she settles down and starts to take responsibility for her own feelings instead of just dumping on him. Then later on she blows up again. (more…)
When I was young, my parents used to argue... a lot. They got really good at it, because they put so much time and effort into practising. Screaming, shouting and hurling painful insults at each other was the order of the day. The more cutting the insult, the more points they scored off each other as their mutual self-esteem gradually wore lower and lower while they verbally pummelled each other into the ground. Winning the argument was more important than anything else. They had the ability to drag a single argument out for days, weeks, months... even years! It was like being on the sidelines of one of those long and boring tennis matches that just goes on and on and on long past your bedtime, swinging from advantage server to advantage receiver depending on who had just fired the most powerful volley at their opponent. They may have started out at love all but gradually wore each other down bit by bit until they were too exhausted to play on and the match eventually got halted mid-play to be continued the next day. (more…)
I know a lot of people are struggling these days with the whole concept of rejection. An invitation to grab a coffee with a cute member of the opposite sex is rudely declined, and you're left feeling all alone in the world with nobody to console you. An offer to dance is declined because they're “too tired”; and yet suddenly have a mysterious burst of energy when the next potential suitor comes along straight after. You send an SMS or leave a voicemail, and your so-called “friend” never gets back to you. Some days it's just one rejection after another. Rejection stings because it reminds you just how much you hate yourself. Someone else affirms the negative beliefs about yourself that you've got stashed away deep down in your unconscious, and suddenly you're flooded with all the feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy that you've been avoiding ever since your earliest childhood experiences when you just weren't good enough to make the grade. But hang on a minute... who are they to put you in touch with such repressed inner pain by discarding your generous offer like that? You don't deserve it. You've spent a lifetime avoiding that pain, and you're certainly not about to go delving into it now. What's all this “taking responsibility for your own feelings” bullshit anyway? Fuck that. So here's how to really handle rejection; by getting even: (more…)
Over the last few years, I've inadvertently adopted a strategy for dealing with troublesome neighbours based on the theme of the reality TV show Survivor: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Well, maybe not so much outwit and outplay, but outlast seems to be working for me with these people:
Cranky Old Men
First up was nasty neighbour Charles. I first met Charles while exploring the common property soon after buying my apartment. He a relatively short man around his mid 70s, with dark black hair, and a slight arch in his back which suggested that he was past his peak and was now growing shorter rather than taller. At first, Charles oozed charm and smarm: he was very friendly and welcoming in a rather disarming kind of way.
But things turned nasty only a couple of weeks later at the first body corporate meeting. The hot item on the agenda … Continue reading…