Overcoming the Amygdala Part 100
Maybe you’ve reached a point now where you want to be able to evaluate your life correctly, find out some real reasons why things are the way they are, and pilot your way towards a more ideal situation.
Maybe you’re fed up with the amygdala grabbing the steering wheel every time you get going, and you want to direct your own journey a little more.
With all this talk of departures over the last few articles, it’s possible to lose track of what we are trying to do here, and that is to lift our lives out of the swamp of reaction and into the broader uplands where things make more sense and are more under our control. You might not ever be able to achieve 100% control or perfection, but rationality suggests that you can approach an ideal more closely than you might have so far.
To help you to do this, here’s a format which might assist you to keep track of what you’re trying to do.
On a piece of paper or screen, set out the following:
1. Ideal: firstly, sketch out an ideal — a picture of what you are trying to achieve, personally, in relationships, socially, in business or whatever. Try to keep it simple, include a time frame and a statement of purpose if you can.
Some imperfect but possibly insightful examples:
‘My health over the next year improved to the point where I can get out of my house and enjoy my surroundings more.’
‘My marriage enhanced over the next few months so that we can make the most of the summer holidays and emerge happier than ever.’
‘My job made saner and more productive so that, in 12 months’ time, I can move into a higher position.’
2. Stats: what measurable quantity can you use to indicate whether or not you are approaching your ideal or drifting further away? This could be a negative stat like ‘Reducing hospital visits’ or a positive stat like ‘Weekends away with my wife’ or something more mundane but useful like ‘Income’ — come up with something that is measurable, that you could graph and compare to earlier quantities.
3. Data: here’s where you start to list all the departures — gaps between what is happening and what you would like to happen— that you can observe. The stats show you where to focus; defining each departure and listing it starts to show you what your problem actually is as opposed to what you thought it was.
Using the above examples, you might start to break down your general ‘health’ into specific departures — perhaps different types of health issue, arising in different places at different times over the period of observation. Look for departures of various kinds: missing things, altered time, wrong sequences, lies, changed significances. You’ll start to see them grouping together the more you count them.
In terms of a relationship, you might start to see the specific things which are cutting across your time with your wife; you might begin to detect patterns, even spot individuals who are consistently interfering, or perhaps habits of your own that are not helping. List them all out and they will start to gather around key people places, things.
In some ways this is all easier in the workplace as there is often less emotional attachment. Look for gaps, odd things about time and sequences, falsehoods altered importances. Where are they coming from? Is anyone originating them?
4. Biggest Departure: after a while, you’ll spot the largest gap between the existing scene and the stated ideal above. You might get it wrong at first, but as you keep observing, it will become clearer. It will probably get more obvious and larger the more you look.
In health, it might be something in your diet which you always thought was harmless that turns out to be the cause of 80% of your troubles; in a relationship, perhaps the main problem turns out to be someone you thought was a friend who keeps lying to your wife about you; at work, it might be that the way a department is organised means that it is doomed before it gets going.
As soon as you isolate the Biggest Departure, you can usually perceive the reason behind it.
5. The Reason for the Biggest Departure: this is the Holy Grail. Spot this and you will immediately start to see a way of recovering.
Healthwise, that dietary factor, if analysed and then changed, suddenly produces a reversion to almost full health; in your marriage, you focus in on that one third person and decide to cease seeing them and things quickly improve; at work, you shift a few personnel around in a particular department and abruptly everything works smoother.
To do this properly, you’ll need to learn to observe rather than react. You might have a dozen painful episodes healthwise which create panic attacks before you get to the bottom of what’s really going on — don’t succumb to the panic, use it to track down its cause.
You might have several arguments with your wife which make you feel like giving up, but instead observe the arguments — how did they arise? When did they occur? What were they about exactly? And then use that information to track down the reason for them.
At work, you might have to wade through various disasters before you finally establish the one thing which is undermining the business’s operations. Use the disasters as clues on the trail to the ultimate cause.
You’ll be tempted to act immediately to simply correct any departure you encounter, but that means you’d be preempting the evaluation which will lead you behind the scenes to what’s really going on.
Acting on departures without any kind of evaluation is folly. It will keep you in the ‘departure-react-panic-cope’ lifestyle to which you are accustomed, and from which you are trying to escape.
Use the above format and escape to a better life.