How’s your week been? Did you happen to do any deep dives into the ways that you perceive the world? Or have you been focusing on finding the perfect cheese burger? Whatever your focus, perfect. But meat is murder – that’s vegan joke. No, it’s not.
While we are on the topic, what do you think about vegans? Crazy psychos? Heroes of the planet? Do you get violent thoughts or do you give them a hero’s cape? Whenever you have a strong feeling, that can be a good insight into the ways that you generalise, distort or delete information and certainly give you feedback on the fuzzy world of your internal representation. Why would someone who doesn’t eat meat make you feel violent? Why do you want to punch your husband for lying on the couch? Why do you fantasize about feeding your boss’ gonads to a rabid Bali dog? What are your reactions to these things telling you about yourself?
Let’s remind ourselves of last week’s introduction to NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and take a glimpse at the NLP Communication model (referenced at the end Nerds).
You can think about how each of us can process the same situation differently in the ways that we filter the information that we receive. So while we might hang out in the same restaurant eating the same food I am sure as shit only listening to the guy on the next table crunching his krupuk (rice crackers), while you might be actually enjoying your meal. We might head to yoga and you are crying tears of connection while I am thinking of ways to slice off the head of the mouth breather beside me. All of the ways that we filter the world, the different ways that we triggered or cued to feel different emotions, make up our model of the world which impacts our thoughts, our feelings, and the health of our precious bodies.
Often we go through life as though we are robots; we enter a location and that triggers the same thought process that it always triggers. For example, as soon as I enter the school gates, it’s on. The endless list of things to do, the resentment, the stress, the annoyance. Oh and the joy. Nothing has even happened yet but my arrival set a certain program running. When I enter a cinema (if I dare) my ears start scanning for anyone who dares to eat popcorn so I can sit far away (misophonia pro tip: sit in the very far corner in the very front row. It’s hard to see the film but fuck it, you can’t hear those crunchers).
In order to break out of our habitual patterns, we can play around with the brain, remembering that the brain has the ability to change over time and we don’t have to be stuck forever on a nightmarish loop. First step: awareness, know what triggers us, and pay attention. Think about what it is trying to teach us. Another NLP presupposition is that there is no failure, only feedback. So, how do you deal with your mistakes? Do you get into a loop of self-flagellation, cursing yourself for being so unworthy and unloveable and just a plain dumb ass? Or do you get curious about the insistent thoughts that are starting to loop around and wonder what they are trying to teach you and if indeed they are true.
Last time, I mentioned creating an anchor. This was the one where you think of a powerful time that you felt a positive emotion and use that memory to anchor a part of your body, such as a knuckle or an ear lobe. An anchor can help you to break a state or a repetitive mind-guilt-torture session. The task for this week uses that powerful anchor to play some tricks on your brain and take it to places it didn’t expect to go. This can work as a pattern interrupt to break us out of that robotic mode of thinking.
This is a process known as “Breathe and Anchor” and this task will be done for 5 days, break for 3 days and then do it again for another 5 days.
What you have to do is to think of an event that happened that brought up a lot of emotion. If you are sound sensitive, it can be about that, or anything else that happened recently that you really felt uncomfortable about.
The first thing I thought of was the coughing of my helper. She is literally sick, probably has Covid, but every time she coughs I think “oh for fucks sake”, then I think “you are such a bitch, she is SICK” and then I think “I have to get the hell out of here before she coughs again”. This situation and the emotion attached to it will be my first topic for 5 days (choose a new topic for the second 5 days).
What you do next is find a comfortable place to sit and pay attention to your breathing to come into the present moment. Breathe in and out a few times. Then you need to breathe all the way out and hold your breath while you remember this situation that made you feel discomfort. Really bring it into your mind and think about the feelings that are associated with it; how do you feel, where do you feel it and what emotions are associated with it? You don’t need to find the words to describe it, you only need to feel the feelings that are happening.
So you don’t need to go “Oh I think I am guilty, oh and also angry oh and then…”, no, you only need to feel it all in your body. All of this while holding your breath (by the way if you can’t get there, stop holding your breath and start again – no need to pass out for positive change).
While you are holding these feelings in your mind, fire your positive resource anchor created last week, and enjoy a feeling of calm or confidence. Hold it for 3 breaths in and out. Then let it go and keep breathing in and out for 3 more cycles, take one more deep breath, let it go and open your eyes.
There is some trick here in breaking the expectation of part of the brain that is geared up for stress by filling it with calm and joy, and this confusion allows for a new possibility, even if a small one, that the previous pattern of freaking out about sound and feeling bad, can be jerked aside for a new, positive feeling.
Try it out.
Next week, we will start digging into real transformation by doing parts work. Parts work is about just what it sounds like; how we are made up of a bunch of different parts. Part of you may want to eat chocolate cake and another part may be freaked out by gaining an ounce of fat. But you eat it anyway.
With misophonia we can think of the ways in which we are split into parts by watching our own children crunching a pack of potato chips. Part of us loves our children, part of us wants to rip that pack away and flush their head in a toilet and yet another part feels so guilty for having horrible thoughts about our beloved children.
Or to get back to vegans. Part of us loves bacon, part of us gets told vegans are always talking about veganism and are annoying, parts of us go into the backfire effect when people try and question our reality, part of us feels bad about eating a piggy, and part of us feels righteous anger when people press our triggers. Phew, so many parts. I need some bacon to process (not).
Tune in next week to discover some of your parts.