Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong – TED Video

What does it feel like to be wrong? The answer will probably surprise you.

Another fantastic TED video, this one by Kathryn Schulz and the topic is “On being wrong.”

How does it feel — emotionally — how does it feel to be wrong? Dreadful. Thumbs down. Embarrassing. Okay, wonderful, great. Dreadful, thumbs down, embarrassing — thank you, these are great answers, but they’re answers to a different question. You guys are answering the question: How does it feel to realize you’re wrong? (Laughter) Realizing you’re wrong can feel like all of that and a lot of other things, right? I mean it can be devastating, it can be revelatory, it can actually be quite funny… But just being wrong doesn’t feel like anything.

I’ll give you an analogy. Do you remember that Loony Tunes cartoon where there’s this pathetic coyote who’s always chasing and never catching a roadrunner? In pretty much every episode of this cartoon, there’s a moment where the coyote is chasing the roadrunner and the roadrunner runs off a cliff, which is fine — he’s a bird, he can fly. But the thing is, the coyote runs off the cliff right after him. And what’s funny — at least if you’re six years old — is that the coyote’s totally fine too. He just keeps running — right up until the moment that he looks down and realizes that he’s in mid-air. That’s when he falls. When we’re wrong about something — not when we realize it, but before that — we’re like that coyote after he’s gone off the cliff and before he looks down. You know, we’re already wrong, we’re already in trouble, but we feel like we’re on solid ground. So I should actually correct something I said a moment ago. It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right.

That resonated with me. Mistakes only feel like mistakes when we realize them to be mistakes. Until the error is realized and accepted by us we feel like we are correct. We can roll through years of life after a mistake is made before the light goes on and we change direction.

Emotions are handy. There’s a very good reason why a human being will feel confident after they make a decision. ANY decision that is made that does not injure us IS an effective action because we did not get injured. It feels wrong to make the decision to do something that we know will injure us. The spontaneous emotion (feeling wrong) tells us that there is a pattern in the immediate environment that matches something from the past in a particular way. In the absence of both an emotional response and a logical reason not to do something, we feel nothing, which is to say we feel correct.

Experts in an area understand this more than most because very often they feel the errors before they can identify them. When coaching movement, seasoned trainers will tell you what the issue is with a client before they can tell you how they know. When you ask them about this many will say that they got a feeling about the imbalance or recruitment issue and then noticed the symptoms.

Sadly though, this doesn’t just apply to work. It applies to ALL areas of life. Everything that feels right does so ONLY because you didn’t get hurt before. But this is a very low quality way of moving through life as it only helps us avoid situations that were injurious. Things that are an aggravation, cause us to remain average, or simply don’t work for us anymore don’t feel wrong because they aren’t hurting us enough to register that way.

Your Brain Talks To Their Brain

Let’s take a moment to consider what is actually happening during a conversation; we’ll take a few passes at it striping away the layers of narrative to reveal something wonderful.

Two people are talking, exchanging ideas and information.

The ideas and information are created, stored and processed by the brain. The ears and mouth are the tools the brain uses to transmit and receive information.

The sound waves are manufactured by the vocal chords based on the nerve impulses that represent the information the brain is trying to transmit. The sound waves are received and shake the ear drum of the other creating nerve impulses that are channeled into the brain for processing.

The brain is the center of all information processing, the body is a tool that the brain uses to give-out and take in information.

During a conversation, two brains are interfacing to trade information. Any other distinction we add serves only to complicate what our understanding of what is happening.

So what?

This simplifies things. The fact that you are talking to the other persons brain, and that it is actually your brain talking to it, opens-up the ability to alter the way the other persons brain processes the information. The brain does not do the same thing with all the information that comes in. First off, different parts of the brain do different things with information. These parts are all interconnected so the combination of possible routes through the brain is limitless. Next, not all parts of the brain are active all of the time – the ramifications of this are that certain types of information / information processing services may not be available all of the time. This can be due to lack of fuel, chemical inhibition, or the conscious by-passing of processes.

It also complicates things. After all the narrative stuff has been stripped away we’re left with two of the most powerful information and pattern matching machines interfacing to exchange ideas. But how often does one really consider this fact during a conversation? Rarely. For most of us, there are two people, separate from each other and their environment. They are talking, exchanging stories, facts and feelings. They likely believe that what they are talking about is important and of significance in their lives. The impact of these narrative layers is powerful and it can bias the way the information is received, twisting the way one perceives facts. Imagine, for example, the impact a volatile relationship can have on the stories one tells their brain about what the other person is doing.

What does this mean?

Well, if you have the self-awareness to realize that there’s a lot going on in your brain and that you are only aware of a small portion of what it’s doing, you’ll see that there is a big difference between knowing this to be a fact and not knowing that it is a possibility. Those that know gain insight and control over their thinking simply because they accept that the brain is a machine and that consciousness and spontaneous thought are just consequences to it being a brain. Emotions are other consequences and they reflect a match of a pattern that is significant for some reason. Pattern matching isn’t perfect, and miss pairings are very simple given the amount of sensory input flowing into the brain while something is happening. Realizing that you are your brain is liberating. We can learn new patterns / pairings, we can stop thoughts at will and direct our mind onto the things we want, we can accept that some of our automatic behaviors are based on poor information collected years ago and we can replace them by doing the things that work for us.

Those that know that they are their brain are at a distinct advantage when they engage other people because they know how the other person can approach the world – as self-aware or not. This distinction is very important when communicating effectively with others. If a person doesn’t have much self-awareness, you are talking to their mind, their understanding of the world, all the assumptions and lessons they hold. With a self aware person, you are talking to someone who realizes that their mind can add or remove the different levels of narrative (those mentioned above when describing what is happening during a conversation) so you are able to engage the each other in the most effective way – your brain talking to their brain.

The One Thing About This Year

Sharyl asked me what was the most useful thing I took out of the last year and I said “that I don’t know what my motivations are most of the time and most people have no idea why they do the things they do.” I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

It has been liberating because for most of my life I accepted that the reason why I thought I did something was the actual reason why I was doing it. In retrospect, this is ridiculous. The decision to accept that my first thoughts about a motive were accurate failed to consider that my initial thoughts about a situation tend to be emotional or reactive before they are logical and pragmatic.

My tendency to accept the first thing that popped into my mind effectively ended the search right as the more logical brain processes come on-line and the most effective problem solving takes place. Since these processes never tackled the question “why did I do this?” my initial assumption never got challenged or balanced with an alternatives. The brain assumed everything was correct and then devoted the rational thought processes to solving or engaging an erroneous assumption. This is why two people can end-up arguing passionately about something they don’t care about. It’s also why a number of people become extremely abusive during conversations or arguments.

For example, the immediate reaction to someone saying “you are asking me to do something that you didn’t do yesterday or the day before. In fact you never do what you are telling me I have to do” tends to be defensive; and sometimes aggressive.

The word “you” triggers something akin to being pointed at. Most people feel singled out when they hear it used in what they interpret as a negative situation. This feeling is automatic and unconscious, and it is chemical – it’s an emotional release in response to a match between the current situation and something stored in long term memory. The chemical make-up of the emotional release will be shaped by the earliest experiences and there is a diminishing marginal impact with further experiences – what happens later in life will have less and less impact on the automatic emotional response to similarly matched patterns REGARDLESS of increasing levels of maturity and brain development. Once the match has occurred, logical thinking will be impaired for as long as the emotion is sustained. NOTE: If ones first experiences of feeling singled out in a negative way were resolved effectively and in a way that allowed the experience to be balanced with facts, they won’t interpret “you” the same way as someone who did suffer abuse from their caregivers in response to being singled out for a negative thing.

So the statement already has them acting emotionally (illogically) and they then need to stew on being called a hypocrite (while it wasn’t said, this is what people hear). This has them become defensive and start looking for reasons why it is fair to ask you to do something that they are have not yet been willing to do.

There’s a lot of bull shit in all of that and it all has to do with trying to stop being the center of attention for negative reasons – in this case that goal is achieved when the other person is wrong in what they are saying. This is exactly WHY seemingly decent people will become raging assholes when confronted with facts about their behavior.

The next thought that springs to mind after the urge to defend (IF it is allowed to come forward) will usually be very logical. It tends to be something like “hey, I just felt the emotions float over and out of me!” then “what do I really want from this person right now and what is the request I am actually making of them?” Then maybe “yeah, I haven’t done that ever. Maybe I shouldn’t expect someone else to do it for me” or “I don’t know what I’m talking about here” and hopefully the words “I’m sorry, it isn’t fair of me to expect you to do that when I haven’t. Ultimately I’m hoping we can agree on the following….” or something like that. It’s a very different conversation.

That’s the big thing I took out of this year. My initial reaction will be defensive, as initial reactions should be. But by not taking action, I’m actual able to figure-out why I’m doing stuff because I’m not trying to dig myself out of an imaginary hole or pummel on someone to get them to say that I wasn’t wrong.

Visit to the Juravinski Cancer Centre – For Glioblastoma Multiforme (Brain Cancer)

Today was the first visit to the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton for my dad, with my mom, brother and me. This was the first time I had visited a cancer center and the last few weeks are the first time in almost 30 years that I have actually given cancer much of a thought.

I like the center. It’s clean and it was warm and I had the thought that it would be a comfortable temperature in the summer. There is a hospital like feel to the place and there’s no mistaking that you are in a health care facility. Missing though, thankful, was the chaotic semi-shell-shocked movements and anguish you get from the masses in emerge. At a cancer center everyone is there for a reason and everyone inside the building knows it. It’s all about the cancer and the people it’s killing.

The way this place worked today was simple. It’s a clinic and there are a team of doctors and health care providers who are specialized in cancer treatment. Our team had a neurosurgeon and a neurologist because of my dad’s diagnosis of Glioblastoma multiforme or GBM (brain cancer) – I would imagine that they’d have a specific type of surgeon and specialist for different types of cancer – along with an oncologist, 2 radiation doctors and a nurse.

The nurse introduced herself, chatted and collected a detailed health history, current medication, information about how my dad ended up in the hospital, symptoms, and she asked for any imagining that had been performed. She asked if we had any questions and left with the CT and MRI results.

The oncologist was next, he came holding, among other things, a picture of one of my dad’s MRI images. He chatted about about the key stuff – the last 6 weeks and ultimately what the neurosurgeon has said at the hospital 2 weeks ago – GBM, a brain tumor that cannot be removed. This doctor agreed. He showed my dad the MRI and pointed to a thing in the center that doesn’t look like anything else on the page.

He preformed a complete neurological exam and explained the next hour. The team of doctors would meet and review all of the information and then would be available to discuss the opinions on treatment and the prognosis. “Come back to the same room in about 30 minutes.”

He was nice, like the nurse. It sounds silly to say “nice” but that’s what they were. Try walking into a room with a time bomb, hand it off to a family, and still have them think you were nice. It was completely professional and if it hadn’t been for why we were there, I think we would have talked about how nice the whole thing was while we waited to hear what could be done about it.

Some food at the cafeteria / lounge that had a piano but no singer. The family chats back and forth about stuff. I’m looking around and starting to feel strange because as I look at each group of people I’m trying to guess which one of them has cancer. If you haven’t played this game, you don’t really win when you guess correctly. There’s a table of 3 people, one is dying, the two that aren’t are going to be grieving their asses off soon. You can’t guess who is who without looking at their faces and when you do, you see a 21 year old son with his mom and grandmother, mom’s in a wheelchair because she has cancer. I felt rage deep inside that made me want to wreck something for what’s about to happen to this poor kid. I suddenly wonder what type of cancer killed the cafeteria singer and as I do, my eyes meet Des’ and he’s just seen the kids future too. I glace away towards my dad unwittingly winning another round of the stupid game my brain is playing.

We head back to the room and the doctor returns. He presents the treatment options. The tumor cannot be removed so my dad will never be cured. If he wants to fight it, they’ll remove as much of the tumor mass as they can, give a course of radiation and chemo, some recovery time and then more radiation and chemo. He’s free to do nothing about it, and that isn’t an unreasonable choice. The nurse and doctor spoke candidly about GBM and what’s in store when you battle it. Your life lengthens by months. But they have to open your skull and cut pieces of tumor out while avoiding causing serious brain injury. The goal of this is to create enough space for the swelling caused by the radiation and chemo to fill without causing cognitive impairments.

The fight is brain surgery, then radiation and chemicals to kill cells. Give the body some time to recover from all of the trauma and go at it again.

It’s reasonable to say no thank you because it can be a rough ride, with no guarantee of doing much. And there are no halfway measure. You’re 100% into the fight or you are not. It’s becomes a philosophical issue more than a problem to be solved by science because with cancer, the science isn’t strong enough to offer guarantees. You throw the kitchen sink into the battle or you don’t. Either way, you are now dying from something.

The team of doctors came in and answered all of our questions. They removed the shame from making any choice while offering 100% of their focus to fill their piece of the treatment puzzle. Again, it was really professional and the conversation was honest and caring. The time-lines are estimates, the tumor is serious, the treatment is not a cure and it can be rough. Consider your options and we’ll talk next week. After the thank yous and the goodbyes we head home and they go to meet their next round potential soldiers in the fight against cancer; which is good because these are the type of people you would fight for and they are also the type of people you would not feel bad saying no to. They made it clear that there is only one right choice and that just happens to be the one that my dad will make.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back to the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton. Right now that’s up to someone else. But if I go back it won’t be with a sense of trepidation or fear because my dad would be in good hands there.

Afternoon Naps

I have never really enjoyed sleeping in the afternoon. For one thing, waking up the second time is tougher. For another, the quality of sleep isn’t of a very good quality for me. But the main reason why I’m not a fan of afternoon naps is because of the hypnagogia phase of this type of sleep. This state always kind of bothered me because the imagery of dreams doesn’t tend to happen here and you get a raw stream of clear pictures and dialogue about EXACTLY what your brain is processing.

A couple of weeks ago, a Tuesday afternoon, I had a dream were I was telling someone that my uncle Kevin (oldest brother on my dad’s side) “had gotten it from exposure” in reference to his cancer. In the dream I was attempting to create a logical difference between my uncle and my father. As I drifted awake I became aware that I could hear my parents talking in the computer room. I wasn’t able to make out what they were saying, but the tones of their voices was causing me to come awake with a touch of anxiety. “Are you having a stroke?” I hear my mom say. “No” in a soft relaxed tone is my fathers reply. I’m now standing looking at my mom and dad. I ask my dad how he’s feeling, go through the stroke check list and there’s nothing alarming. He’s fine. His thinking is seems a little off, but not really. It’s tough to tell to be honest. A few days later, after returning from the doctor with my brother, there’s a change to his medication for his heart rate and a “there seems to be something I’m not getting” from the doctor. The next day he improves so the crisis ends.

Sunday my dad is thinking a lot more clearly but his stomach hurt. Monday he’s tired and not feeling so good. It looks like a stomach flu, a fair possibility. I take an afternoon nap. Out for a short while I wake-up hearing my mom say “we need to take your dad to emerge”. And off we go.

He gets a CT scan, there’s something in his brain that shouldn’t be there so he’s transferred to Trillium Health Sciences (Queensway / Hurontario) Mississauga’s neurosurgery department for an MRI to find out what it may be. It’s around 11:30 am Wednesday when he gets back from the MRI. He’s sleeping and his vitals are normal. I take a some time to research brain tumors on the internet.

Turns out brain cancer as a primary tumor is rare. Most brain cancers are a result of a cancer spreading from a different part of the body. Brain cancer as a primary tumor is rare in people above 70. There is a genetic link, but that accounts for 5% of it. My uncles bone cancer was the result of exposure at work. My dream from the week before was starting to settle very unpleasantly on what was suddenly become a new reality that was hard to understand and manage.

When the neurosurgeon gathered around the family at 5:40 pm and said glioma my heart sank.

Now what does this all mean? The hypnagogia phase is a possible gift of insight for a lot of people. What I did with the information that I was given the week before the cancer diagnosis is sort of a mystery. I didn’t say to anyone “my dad has cancer.” You don’t say that unless it’s true and I didn’t want to be right about what I had felt in the dream. I did pay more attention to his movement and the things he said, but other than the stomach pain he was improving. To the best of my knowledge, I hadn’t considered the possibility of my father having cancer before that nap. But the thought had been present and working on my brain for 8 days before the doctor said it.

The family is stunned. My dad is 68, hasn’t been a smoker in years, rarely worked with PVC (the only chemical conclusively linked to glioma), is active and healthy, and has always had a fantastic brain – a natural problem finder and solver, an ongoing learner and an articulate communicator. It just strikes me as a little unfair that everything about him is still in great working order, that he’s taken care of himself, his body and his mind and now as he begins to enjoy his retirement his genetic code presents this new challenge.

I’m not sure when I’ll take another afternoon nap, I suppose when I need some more of that hard hitting unfiltered clarity that my conscious mind can’t seem to draw out.

Physical vs. Narrative Memories

I have a fairly good memory for events and things that happened. It comes in handy for stuff, like remembering programs, exercises, bike routes, etc… I remember these things well because they happened. My body traveled the bike route, I have witnessed people squatting correctly, I thought-up and wrote down the program. At a very simple level, a measurable amount of matter moved through the world allowing for the potential for physical memories to be created. These memories are static, nothing can be done to reverse them because we cannot go back in time. Normal people will not debate them as they are fact.

But I create other memories too, ones that are sort of based on reality, but not entirely. These memories are the result of my narration of what is or what has happened. Given that the voice in my head is there most of the time, it is easy to mistake what it says as fact vs. just being a subjective account of what happened or is happening. When it’s sunny outside and you hear yourself thinking “it’s sunny out” there isn’t an issue. The sensory input matches the narration. You KNOW that it is sunny out because you can see that it is sunny. But when the narration doesn’t match sensory input, you begin to tell a story that moves or keeps you away from reality.

An example, a new couple are watching TV. A fit attractive guy comes on the screen and the female says to her new boy friend “why can’t you look like that?” and laughs. The new boy friend gets angry and calls her a selfish and leaves. The relationship ends. Seemed crazy to hear but it’s really simple. The physical memory is clear, two people watch TV, one says something, the other says something else in anger and they stop making physical memories.

The narrative memories about the event are two completely different stories. The women made a joke, she didn’t consciously intend to make the guy feel anything negative, it was just an observation, possibly. His response was unreasonable. He got angry and there is no place for that in her life so she ended it. Her narrative is understandable and when she repeats it, it can be presented in a way that makes him seem like a complete knob.

His narrative is very different. He’s enjoying the evening with his new girl friend. He’s feeling comfortable and good for the first time in too long. In her he’s found someone who likes to exercise, cooks well, which are things he needs help with because he’s gotten kinda fat since his marriage failed a few years ago. Suddenly on the screen he sees something he wants to be like because he’s feeling like he deserves it. Life is coming together, he’s feeling good, he’s got a great girl friend who believes in him. He’s feeling better than life and out of her mouth he hears her say “I wish you looked like that” followed by a mocking laughter. He got angry, he called her names. He didn’t mean to, but why would she rip him from the happiness and remind him that he’s a failure, lost marriage, lost the house, shaky handle on reality and a fat disgusting piece of garbage? He’s better off with out her, better off without anyone. This shit isn’t worth it anymore.

I get both stories. He heard confirmation of his insecurities in her words and she wasn’t aware enough of his insecurities to NOT to say what she said. Their narrative stories are completely different although their physical memory is basically the same.

Since the narrative memories are not the same for both people, both are not accurate and given that they are fairly different from the physical memories, both need to change a little bit to reconcile these differences. And both SHOULD change to eliminate the dissonance between reality and perception. Experience, knowledge, counseling, time, evolution of thought or enlightenment are the things that will change narrative memories. Anything that provides more information can be applied to narrative memories and change them.

And your narrative memories SHOULD be adjusted repeatedly over time when new information becomes available.

The reprocessing of narrative memories tends to be the result of uncovering the cause of something that did not work, and the impact can be profound, changing an enemy into a friend when you realize their motives were not sinister. In the example above, the guy may realize that his girl friend wasn’t very aware of how sensitive he was and that he needs to fix himself before he gets into another relationship; words should not cause him to respond the way he did. She may realize just WHAT he heard vs. what she said. His response wasn’t appropriate but neither was what he heard. Sensitivity and caring are important in a relationship and when starting one you should find out what things make your new partner feel like crap and avoid saying and doing them.

You cannot change the past, but you can change the story you tell yourself about it. And you should change these narrative memories when you get new information. It’s an important part of putting the past away and learning from life.

Due Diligence And Making Decisive Decisions

A few weeks ago I was talking with a couple of friends and the topic of making decisive decisions came up. Jeff, being one of the most decisive people I know, stirred things up.

I asked him how he deals with the voice of doubt he gets after making a decision. He looked at me like I has just spoken a different language. I looked at Sean and asked him if he knew what I was talking about, he did. Looking back at Jeff “how do you make the voices stop?” Same look. I look back at Sean, nothing unusual with him, he knows what I’m asking.

Pause.

The three of us consider, in our own heads, what is happening. Jeff doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Jeff is really pragmatic and is a very decisive thinker and doer. What if he doesn’t hear the voices? What if they aren’t even there? He can’t possibly know what I’m talking about and if the voices aren’t there, his decisions can only be decisive.

The conversation starts again.

You don’t hear voices do you?

No, you guys do?

Yeah, almost constantly and about the stupidest to most important of decisions.

Oh. Hmmm. {I’m paraphrasing} I guess I don’t hear the voices because before I make a decision I review all the information I can and do a benefit cost analysis. Any costs I engage logically and if eliminating them will make the decision the right one, I factor that action into the decision making process. Once I’ve addressed all of the issues I’ll move forward and make the decision KNOWING that I don’t need to think about it again.

Kind of like a to-do list of things to address before you make a decision, if they can’t be cleared, you don’t action?

Yeah, that’s a fair way to look at it.

Jeff performs due diligence with his decision making so he only needs to review his choices when there is a compelling reason to – new information, change in environment – which rarely happens when you make decisive decisions because you don’t create experiences that requires you review your choices; you look towards the future vs. stirring on the past.

It was a great practical lesson for structuring decision making to allow you to make better decisions that you won’t review in the future with a doubting consciousness.

Thanks Jeff!

Think And Be Unhappy – The Reason Why It Happens

My good friend Kate gave me a copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill {open .pdf file in new window} in the middle of July. She raved about the book, relating some of the stories and generally talking about it with a greater sense of excitement and optimism than normal. When Kate is this enthusiastic about something you just listen to what she says and do what she’s suggesting you do. I brought the book up with me to the cottage at the end of the month so I would the time to focus on it. Honestly, I wanted some of what Kate was having and taking it at the cottage seemed like the best way to gain that insight.

First off, read the book. Start doing the exercises immediately – when he says “now take some time to complete the following” do it. Fight the urge to believe you know what is the best way for you to learn. If you are reading it because you have a poverty or scarcity of money consciousness, you do NOT know the best way to learn and apply the information needed to gain a money consciousness. This is fact. Maybe 2 percent of the population have or will in their life time engender the consciousness needed to move away from scarcity forever. These are the people who naturally apply these lessons, were taught how to apply them or accepted that they don’t know or can’t apply them and made the decision to learn how. Simply put, if you start doing the exercises immediately your life will begin to improve immediately.

What have I been doing wrong? Well, strangely, not much. I’ve been taking the right actions, just directing their influence onto something else. I’m like most people in this regard, intuitively doing the right things with the wrong thing.

This book quickly filled in a lot of the gaps that my time at and since university didn’t fill in. It was a theory gap and not an experience gap which meant I was ready to move quickly once I knew what it was I needed to do. Basically, I have a voice in my head that says things, some call it thinking – most of the time it chatters away, some of the time I actively control or influence what it says, the rest of the time I am unaware of it (sleeping, exercising intensely). For a lot of my life it has been a monkey on my back slagging me about stuff, reminding me to be anxious or to think about things that I don’t need to think about which creates emotional reactions to things that aren’t happening. To silence it, I would exercise or do things that were distracting. Mediation was an effective way to gain some control over it. With effort, I’ve been able to decrease the negative impact of the voice and I’ve had some success at shaping it or silencing it. Which is where I have been going wrong.

For me anyway, that voice is a powerful influence, so powerful that I’ve dumped a lot of energy to get away from it. So powerful that everything it has said has come to reality. Amazingly (but not really when it actually starts to work) the human brain has the ability to make transmutate thoughts into reality through action. Don’t believe me, look at your life and one of the goals you have achieved. That is an example, you already have the ability to do this. Look at any of the goals that you tried to achieve but gave-up on. Your decision to quit started as a thought and your brain made it a reality. This is another example of this transmutation of thought into reality.

Since everything that voice says seems to come true my mistake has been not using it to help me get what I want. Regardless of where my goals come from – me consciously creating and directing energy towards achieving them or them being unconsciously created and thrust into my awareness by the voice – I achieve them consistently through immersion and hard work. Good or bad, positive or negative, this is what I do, and this is very likely what you do as well.

We tap into the power of that voice through auto-suggestion, which is basically a way of priming you unconscious brain with the things we want to think about or achieve. What is critical for this to be effective is to pair what you are suggesting with an emotional release. This is important because emotions seem to impact how these thoughts are stored and retrieved since they are processed differently in the brain. We need to consciously shift what goes into the brain under emotional situations from away things we don’t want onto things we do want. This is very simple to do, the book outlines it. You just need to do exactly what the book says.

Some have dismissed this book outright when I talk about it, unknowingly proving the books accuracy. “It’s new agey” or “that’s that Secret thing”. Yeah, it is exactly those things if you tell yourself it’s those things. But if you tell yourself it’s an instruction book on how to move your underlying conscious narrative onto the things you like and will eventually become, it’s that. Not wanting to believe that you have the power to make your life whatever it physically can become does not change the fact that you have been using this power for most of your life to make your life exactly how you narrate it to be.

Now if you know you have the power and can see that you have been wielding it, pick up the book, read it and follow the instructions like your life depends on it. Come back to this post a year and let me know how your life has improved.

Closure Begets “Closure”

For a very long time I have struggled with closure when it comes to past relationships. I thought I had a handle on it, it’s the feeling you get after a relationship has ended when you no longer think about the person, the relationship you held and no longer wish for the future you believed you would share with the person. This understanding seemed to cover it for a very long time, I just thought that I wasn’t very good at it. Closure was just a skill that I was deficit in.

But that’s really silly when I stop and think about it. There isn’t such a thing as closure. There’s “closure” but that’s a concept, talking point, mental state about which people talk like they have a common understanding of what it means. But I don’t think I have the same understanding of closure as a number of my friends, clients and even members of my family.

The state of mind “closure” is the “not really thinking about it in a negatively influential sort of way” that I always understood it to be. There’s mostly agreement about this.

Closure, or the action we take that allows us to reach the closure state of mind, is decisive action to commit to a different future that is based on a logical analysis of all the information available. It is decisive because you run through a check list of all the concerns, eliminating them one by one until there is no reason left NOT to commit to the new future. The doubt is eliminated by this thorough examination of the facts as you know them. If at some point in the future you were to question the decision, you can be confident that you don’t have to be concerned because you performed your due diligence. You’ll adapt and change based on new information, but you don’t need to think about it again unless you get new information. This is the process by which we get closure and achieve the closure state of mind.

When I chuck this realization into my brain and let it do battle with my world view, there is an exciting feeling that builds right where my unconscious mind materializes as awareness. The sense is that of a lightening of mind, a freedom, like I’m suddenly able to run again, and as I do, useless pieces of me are burning off and that helps me run faster. It’s like I’m escaping the gravity of something that was dark and I’m off into an open expanse of nothingness.

For the more scientifically minded, it’s like the mental energy that was being sapped by continuing to think about things that had not been properly analyzed and actioned on is now available for other tasks and this is experienced as a boost in brain processing efficiency.

The consequences of this are pretty cool. First off, you get to stop thinking about stuff that you shouldn’t have been thinking about anyway. Second, you get to feel better because you aren’t thinking or agonizing about this stuff. Finally, you are smarter in a relative sense because you do have more processing capacity, which will improve you concentration, memory, and other executive functions. Lumped together, these represent a huge improvement in the quality of life.

So if you’re stuck on something from the past or have gotten into something now to stop the pain of the past, that a few moments today to write-out the check list as to why you’ve close of that part of your life. You may be surprised to find that a much better quality of life is just one self-dialectic conversation away!

The Moment Of Possibility – Where I Go Wrong

I wrote the following on April 25, 2011, 11:21:01 AM.

These are fine moments in life! If there is a time to allow yourself to live in your head it is when you find yourself being liked by someone you like too. Right now before many words are spoken, before many actions are taken, thoughts of the possibilities exist without the constraints of reality. There is nothing now so the only possibility is that of anything. It doesn’t last long. Words will be spoken, actions will be taken, reality will soon introduce something that begins to shape the future by eliminating certain possibilities.

This will happen because that is what happens. One moment becomes another as time rolls on. No matter what becomes of it, it is fun to stop and think about a bunch of things that are not there, yet or never will be.

I dream about a future that does not exist, I float through thoughts of things that are pleasing, exciting, confronting, enjoying them, trying things on to see if they are something I’d like to do. Then, I being to manufacture the circumstances by which I’m  able to make the chosen dreams a reality. Setting-up meetings and making excuses to chat, all the while releasing my mind from my commitments to the old dreams that don’t seem to matter anymore. I change my attitudes, my behaviors, and the way I think about life.

It’s obvious where this was coming from and it’s obvious to me why it doesn’t work very effectively for anything other than creating a muse, and heart ache. It helps me write, it helps me feel like I am alive after feeling dormant and waiting for so long, it does feel like it’s real and like it’s what I’ve been wanting for so long. But it won’t last because it isn’t real. It is fantasy tangent taking me away from that which they know into a world that cannot possibly come true.

It’s a poets love, rooted in make-believe and about to melt down.