Overcoming the Amygdala Part 106


In trying to handle each part of your life to lift it up towards the ideal you have set for it, you can often run into a lack of realism.

Maybe you are suffering from a health condition but have set yourself an ideal of ‘Olympic athlete’.

Perhaps you are having marriage difficulties and have postulated an ideal of ‘Blissful marriage with no arguments for the rest of our lives.’

Possibly you want a better job and so have written down ‘I want to be a millionaire within a year without having to work.’

Consequently, you will find that your planned progression towards that ideal will be a struggle and strain — you’ll lack appropriate resources and be stumped almost immediately.

A couple of things wrong here: firstly, such an ideal will not help you to find a correct underlying reason for your difficulties; and secondly, your ideal is totally unrealistic. It’s the second thing — the unrealistic ideal — which will cause the first.

When you have pictured a correct, realistic ideal, you will immediately be able to see a set of departures, gaps, missing things, lies, distortions or whatever, lying between you and the ideal. Tracing those down to their cause will give the reason why they exist — and that will open the door to progression towards the ideal.

Conversely, an incorrect, over-the-top, too ambitious ideal will throw up a different set of departures and those will lead you astray.

It goes like this:

You have a health condition — let’s say a hernia. If you postulate being an Olympic athlete, what shows up by way of departures? A huge gap between your existing overall health and that required to enter the Olympics: general stamina, muscle tone, metabolism, diet, the whole lot. You will be staggered by the enormity of it all, and be unable to trace departures that large down to some workable reason.

However, if you postulate instead ‘Improved muscle tone leading to more mobility and a reduced hernia’, what will show up will be more defined, more precise: a lack of upper body fitness, perhaps, or a diet which is adding weight to your torso to the detriment of the hernia region. Instantly, you can use these departures to trace their underlying reason — perhaps something like ‘an imbalance in lifestyle leading to a neglect of upper body health’, or something along those lines. That reason at once opens the door to improvement — simply make some slight adjustments to your lifestyle to restore balance, and hey presto! your upper body health starts to pick up straight away, your muscle tone improves over a few weeks, and you note that the hernia reduces markedly.

Do you see how this works?

Take the example of marriage difficulties: the ideal of ‘Blissful marriage with no arguments for the rest of our lives’ is certainly an ideal — but it’s also probably unattainable in the mortal realm. Instead, try something a little more realistic, like ‘Improved relationship leading to us spending more argument-free time together over the next six months’. This is measurable and falls within the scope of something that might be accomplished. It will also show up those things currently cutting across it: routines, habits, communication patterns, discrepancies, on a daily, weekly and monthly level. Trace those down and find the reason why they keep cropping up. You might find something revelatory, like ‘your partner is trying to avoid you because he feels guilty about his relationship at work with his secretary’. Address that guilt and boom! your relationship immediately improves without any apparent effort. You move towards your ideal and have noticeably fewer arguments.

At work? Yes, you may well want to experience an ideal of being a millionaire within a year without having to work for it, but such an ideal is a dream and not really within the realms of accomplishment. Instead, write down ‘A generally improved work scene and a substantial raise within a year’ and you’ll see the ‘shadows’ the departures which trip you up in your job, the missing things, time factors, interferences, untruths and so on which prevent your situation from getting better. Trace them down to their cause — perhaps a work colleague who is actively sabotaging the company — get that addressed and voila! Things pick up. The whole company does better and your contributions are noted: you get a promotion with a consequent pay rise.

Once you have a real reason for the situation, you can pretty easily figure out what to do about it — in fact, usually a solution ‘leaps off the shelf’ right in front of you. The answers will always, always, always be within your resources — you won’t have to go out and find them, they’ll be right there. If they’re not? If things look just as foggy and uncertain as when you started? Then you haven’t got the right reason, simple as that.

If you address the wrong reason, the situation will deteriorate and a worsening condition will quickly become apparent.

In the examples given:

Let’s say you find, incorrectly, that your health difficulties stem from too much of a certain component in your diet. You cut out that component completely — but instead of getting better, you find that your hernia continues to deteriorate and that you feel much worse. Wrong reason.

Perhaps you come to the conclusion that, marriage-wise, you had been neglecting your partner and so go over the top with romantic dinners and so forth. But your partner, who is harbouring a secret guilt, is made to feel far worse by your positive treatment of him and he flares up more and more often. It’s because you haven’t addressed the right thing.

Work-wise, perhaps your investigation into things concludes that the reason why things aren’t great at work is because of a lack of discipline amongst the workforce. You impose stricter schedules and tighter rules — and watch as the statistics crash and people hand in their notices. Wrong reason.

Incorrect, unrealistic ideals shine too bright a light on the existing scene and blind everyone; correct, realistic ideals shone an appropriate amount of light so that you can accurately see what’s going on.

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