The following is shared freely to demonstrate the concept that a person’s perceptions about life can be altered. Concepts are borrowed from theoretical philosophies such as: universal principles found in many major world philosophies, Relational Frame Theory, and Contextual Cognitive Behavioral Theory. We don’t represent either of those disciplines, nor is what is provided to be considered “professional advice”. The following, is our philosophy based on contextual sciences, intended to be informational, and provided with a “take it or leave it” approach.
Our mental impressions form the “real” moments of our lives!
Keep in mind that the way in which we see the world is influenced by a combination of many factors which include: brain chemistry, past experiences, learned coping methods, observations, etc. All of these factors influence our unique “reality”. What we “view”, what we learn, and therefore, what we remember from a “real” experience, is largely a unique interpretation. An “impression” is what we call this combination of factors (sites, sounds, thoughts, feelings, overall mental image) that we form, and then store as a memory.
Stare for a few seconds at the image below.
Our mind creates the illusion that it the image above is moving. You have probably realized by now that it actually is not moving.
Once we learn that it is not moving, we may continue to perceive movement, but we have awareness that our mind is fooling us.
All of our beliefs, thoughts, perceptions and each impression (mental image) that we make of our circumstances can be altered – with a little bit of gained insight.
Does having the awareness that the perceived movement is entirely an illusion, prevent you from continuing to see movement? Probably not, as awareness alone, doesn’t “stop” our brain from perceptions, but it can help with how we choose to respond. However, with the awareness that the above is an illusion, we most likely would not bet our lives that the image was an actual cartoon, gif, or other form of moving image!
Guess what, not only does our mind “mess with us” when we are looking at an optical illusion; this same mind that is sometimes provides us with helpful information, can sometimes misinterpret, or even provide us with information that may be truthfully accurate, but unhelpful towards motivating us. We have learned to trust this “mind”, that has regular input into everything that we see, and comments about what is happening or has happened to us. It is as if we have a built-in biased news commenter, or critical radio host!
Life contains real pain (physical and emotional), but we unwillingly add to it by “buying in” to our mind’s impressions, and some of these “dark” impressions are unhelpful, because they provide mental obstacles which stand in our way of being fully present in our life.
You might find yourself saying, “but my life circumstances are truly bad!
I can not simply just change the way that I think and feel better!”
We can’t always stop the cosmic 2×4 from hitting us when we least expect it; however, we have the potential to interpret things in a more meaningful way, and then increase our ability to respond in way that is more consistent with the type of life that we want to live.
It is not necessarily that our thinking is “wrong”, nor is it as simple as mentally “flipping a switch”, and suddenly thinking positively.
On the contrary, life can be full of challenges. Realistically, some of the situations that we will find ourselves in, may very well be emotionally (or even physically) painful. When life presents challenges, we can only make it better or worse for ourselves, or for the people that we care about, by the unique ways in which we respond to stressors.
You have the potential to learn skills that help alter your patterns of thinking and to change the ways that you respond to stressors. Some of your old ways of coping, that may have been helpful in past situations, may no longer be “doing the job” (or perhaps even making your life, or those around you, worse).
Many people believe that they must eliminate their negative thinking or prevent it from happening. Many people think that they must “stop” their uncomfortable emotions and “change their negative thinking to positive thinking”, in order to have a more meaningful life.
People who hold on to the concept that they must somehow eliminate all negative thoughts, and/or try to prevent negative thoughts from happening, are surprised when they are informed of our belief, that:
It is not necessarily the case, that your thoughts and feelings are totally “wrong” or “irrational”, or even that these thoughts need to change. Instead, it is more likely that you have an unhealthy relationship with your thoughts and feelings.
This unhealthy clinging relationship, of “buying in” to every interpretation, even the “dark impressions” – the unhelpful thoughts and feelings, is what needs to be changed. You, like most all of us, have a tendency to fall for unhelpful interpretations, and try to fight against feeling some uncomfortable feelings – therefore unwillingly giving your thoughts and feelings power over you!
Our Mind is not necessarily our enemy, nor is it always our friend!
Sometimes our mind gives us very useful information and directs us in ways that may benefit ourselves or others. Some examples:
Your mind tells you:
“Swerve to the right or you will hit that dog!”
“Need to get new shoes soon, because these hurt my feet.”
“This test will be easy – you know the answers.”
Other times, the information your mind provides may not be useful, nor healthy:
Your mind tells you:
“You are not good enough to be doing this!”
“Life sucks, it’s just one bad thing after another.”
“You look terrible and everyone is going to notice!”
“Can’t handle this! Can’t get through this!”
Our mind is doing what it is supposed to be doing: interpreting, problem solving, and providing feedback and/or direction.
The mental “image” that we form in our current circumstance, which consists of our mind’s interpretive feedback, is what I call a mental “impression”. Many of these mental “impressions” (mental images that we take of each circumstances) can be altered by practicing ways of sometimes “stepping back” from our mind’s interpretation, or what I often refer to as “not buying in” to it.
You can gain more insight through practicing some skills that help you catch yourself believing that your mental impression is the only way of seeing things, and that your possible ineffective behavior pattern is the only “right” choice. You may discover that who your “mind” is, is not truly who “you” are. Most philosophical and psychological based systems call this practice “mindfulness” or “mindful awareness”.
Through practice, you can develop a more active awareness of how your mind is like a radio broadcaster, providing feedback 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
WCRAP Radio: “Ready to give you real, unbiased news and information (and mix in a little rotten and unhelpful info in there as well)! WCRAP 24 hours per day – seven days per week! Do what we say! WCRAP!”
When you hear a radio or television show host say things that you disagree with, do you have to “buy into it” and/or do whatever he or she says you should? No! We tend to treat our mind like a infallible authority. However, it doesn’t always have to work that way. Just as we have the ability to mentally respond “thanks, but no thanks” to the radio host – one who is telling us that we must vote for a particular presidential candidate (a candidate that we don’t agree with or approve of), we can also learn to do the same to our mind whenever our built in commentator is providing us with some of the biased and/or unhelpful information. We don’t have to obey! We can do activities that lead us closer to a more meaningful life, despite whatever our mind tells us to do. The accuracy of the information provided may not be as important as to whether it is helpful or unhelpful in motivating us to get closer to pursuing a life full of meaning.
As human beings, we are probably unique among other species because we: attach meaning to inanimate objects (i.e. a teddy bear), re-experience scenes from our lives when we hear certain songs, cry when a fictitious movie character has a tragic end, and we have the ability to imagine a whole bunch of calamities that can happen to us. We can feel intense anxiety right now, over stuff that hasn’t even happened yet (or may never happen).
Not only do we fall into falling for unhelpful interpretations, we also may fall into ineffective patterns of actions.
The “ACE Agenda”
As mentioned previously, we encounter pain in life, and then we have unique ways that we unintentionally add additional suffering. Not only do we, give certain thoughts and feelings power over our lives, we sometimes responded to stressors by falling into some ineffective patterns of reacting.
Most of us don’t like emotional pain. Sometimes we can prevent, delay, or seem to have control over emotional pain, through activities such as: avoiding social situations, numbing ourselves through sleep, escaping through the use of intoxicants, or somehow trick ourselves into thinking that if we worry or ruminate enough, we have some control over things that may be outside of our control. Sometimes these strategies to avoid, prevent, escape, control, or delay will work! However, in the long run, many of our strategies become ineffective. When an ineffective strategy to avoid emotional pain works, it often make us feel better, but typically the effect is only temporary. The cost of following this Avoidance, Control and Escape agenda (what I like to call the “ACE agenda”), is that we either miss out on meaningful life experiences, or that we may be unintentionally making things worse for ourselves, or others, right now, or in the future.
What can we do to change? This is just our thoughts, not professional advice:
- Get support! Don’t go it alone! Find support groups and/or professionals that you can turn to for motivation, support, and a perspective that is outside of your own and/or your loved one(s)’.
- Be careful not to delay doing productive action! Don’t wait to start doing things that are beneficial to your well-being and bring you closer to the kind of life that you want to live. Too often, people say “I will wait unit I am ready, or until _____happens.” If you wait until you are “ready” or “feel up to it”, then you may keep on delaying and never change! Change is difficult and scary. Are you using the ACE agenda to avoid getting better?
- Obtain more information. However, also remember that information alone, doesn’t equal change, nor substitute for practice. There are many good books available about topics such as mindfulness, mindful awareness, and other similar philosophies. Seek assistance from someone knowledgeable in this area.
What are your trying to sell me, what is your agenda?
We offer no “buy now” products, no powders or herbal remedies that supposedly cure illnesses, nor ask of you to pledge your devotion to a spirituality, religion, or even our above mentioned philosophy. There is no “risk free guarantee”, nor is there any type of guarantee offered. There is no promise made that if you follow the above philosophy that you will be free from suffering or any problems in life. We do not believe that by practicing the above, that you will obtain the powers of something like a spiritual master who can move things by mental power! The founder also does not make any claim to be a guru, nor enlightened being. The above is not to be taken as professional advice, counsel, or in any way offered as a recommendation, nor treatment for any physical or psychological condition.
You can choose to think about the above, to take it or leave it, to agree, or disagree (and then click away to a different website).
What our agenda is, to offer a website containing some concepts to think about, some creative areas to explore, and some information that you may or may not find useful! If you like what you have read so far, please read our blog and then subscribe to it!