“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts” - Buddha
Have you ever been just going along, minding your own business, when suddenly and out of nowhere your brain decided to do something totally distressing? Perhaps it made you feel extremely anxious, or stressed out, or did you feel some other negative and not in any way helpful emotion.
“Why?” You go, and why indeed – how come this little biological supercomputer you carry between your ears can, sometimes, be such a troublemaker?
Genetically gifted for survival
Well, part of the answer is very simple. Darwin! In essence your brain and your emotions are a product of evolution. Ever since humans climbed down from the trees, and even before that, every one of your ancestors was genetically wired to survive and replicate. Those that didn’t survive and replicate didn’t become your ancestors.
So genetically speaking your brain is wired to survive and replicate – not to be harmonious and happy.
Now, if a caveman is to survive the daily walk he’d better be full of fear rather than happy go lucky thoughts, as he passed by the tigers cave 🙂 ! Fear is the friend of survival!
And pain – talk about useful feelings – just consider for a moment the people suffering from CIPA, the rare genetic disorder which makes people incapable of feeling pain. There is no natural system in place which stops them from doing any of the damaging activities no person who feels pain would ever do - continuing to touch the hot stove for example … No wonder the brain is so good at producing painful emotions!
How are you using the most advanced nervous system on the planet?
It is a bit of a paradox really. Here you are, blessed with a human nervous system, the most marvelous nervous system on this planet, the one which makes available – at least potentially – a supremely wide range of experiences. And yet, what do human beings do? They stress out in traffic, worry about how what they said yesterday may have been interpreted, worry about what will happen tomorrow, suffer panic attacks for no reason, even suffer from fears that will even interfere with their abilities to handle some situations.
And all those feelings – it doesn’t work to just be macho about them and pretend they don’t exist. Since survival is the highest priority they will just pop back up. In fact, sometimes suppressing negative emotions just makes them stronger and more likely to return.
And it’s not just when there is something real to worry about. It is enough to just imagine something for the body to start reacting to it. (Imagine biting down on a lemon – really feel the taste of its juice – can you notice how your saliva increased?). Again, it may have been useful for the caveman to be full of adrenaline when he imagined a tiger – but it’s hardly useful for you to break into a cold sweat when you imagine your next negotiation with your boss!
And it is entirely possible to create a big, big, big snowball of negative emotions. You start with a small one, it reminds you of something similar, something, which also results in a negative emotion, and now the ball starts rolling, gathering new negative thoughts and emotions layer by layer. And before you know it, your little snowball has grown into a (seemingly!!!) insurmountable mountain of bad feelings!
And the bad feelings are often a result of learning really stupid learnings. If a teacher humiliated you in front of the class for whatever reason you may end up having problems talking in front of groups.
And the bad feelings often have bad consequences. Some people attempt to medicate them away with drugs and alcohol. Or food, TV and shopping. Or express them inappropriately, and too much anger and blame can be a burden both on one’s partner and one’s children, not to mention Buddha’s saying: “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”
In conclusion we are trapped between a rock and a hard place, it’s lose-lose all around: We have bad feelings for no good reason, they don’t feel good, and they have bad consequences. And if we attempt not to think about negative feelings we lose, but if we think about them we also lose.
So how can we escape – how can we live to enjoy life rather than suffer through it? These are the questions we will answer in our next popcorn for the soul, as this popcorn for the soul is designed to get you to think, and notice all the situations in which you entertain yourself by having unresourceful, unproductive, angry or said thoughts…To prepare you to start observing them and the situations in which they creep up! In other words, we invite you to be mindful of not just your actions and behaviours, but of the stuff that is causing them – your thoughts!
With this in mind, we invite you to become a spy of your thoughts, write them down if you so wish, as next week’s popcorn will unravel the secret as to how to get from a seemingly lose-lose, to a consistent win-win state!
Wishing you a miraculous week and sending you oceans of love
Your evolutionary NLP trainers,
Lidija & Thomas
Upcoming NLP trainings in Brussels and USA
We would like to invite you to join our Internationally accredited NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainings in Brussels
and USA. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lidija Markovic Rosati – ITA NLP (International Trainers Academy of NLP) Accredited New Code and Classic Code NLP Trainer and Master Coach, Hypnotherapist and Psychological Counsellor.
Thomas Björge - ITA NLP (International Trainers Academy of NLP) Accredited New Code and Classic Code NLP Trainer and Master Coach and Designer of New Code Game ‘Arrows’, to be featured in Dr. John Grinder’s upcoming book.