Overcoming the Amygdala Part 85

Learning how to think isn’t easy.

That’s because what we call ‘thinking’ is probably our oldest and most ‘trained in’ activity as human beings. We absorb our surroundings as young children, and come to conclusions about them in often the most brutal way — by bumping into things, scratching ourselves on things, burning ourselves and so on, not to mention all our emotional encounters with the world around us. Before we are very old, we think we know enough to be getting on with — but by then the long-term damage has probably been done, as we have picked up ways of ‘thinking’ which don’t help us at all and which end up placing us in all kinds of situations from which the amygdala thinks it has to rescue us.

One of the most serious errors in the usual approach has been mentioned earlier: the attitude of ‘fixing departures as they arise’. We think we see something wrong, something that doesn’t fit, something that conflicts with a notion we have, and so we set about ‘fixing’ it in isolation from everything else. No sooner have we done so — or even before we have finished — we see something else that needs ‘fixing’, and so we go off to fix that.

Many people’s lives consist of nothing else than this endless chain of ‘fixings’. Many jobs are comprised of no more than this — fix one thing, then move on to fix the next, and so on forever.

One of the hardest concepts to communicate is not that of departures — we see them all around us all the time. It’s the idea of ideals — the things which we project onto our environments. Only when we fully grasp what ideals we are projecting can we see, as clearly as the shadows cast when we shine a light, what the departures are. And only when we realise that we can adjust what we project do we begin to perceive the correct departures.

As a quick example, look around the room which you currently occupy. Project onto that room an ideal scenario of some kind — the ‘perfect room’, if you like. Note that you would first have to swiftly determine the purpose of the room before you could decide what would make it perfect or not — but having done that, and having beamed out that ideal onto the space around you, you should now immediately see where the departures from that ideal are. Perhaps the room is cluttered and untidy; or perhaps, conversely, it’s too bare and sparse. Perhaps there are numerous other things which you can now see don’t ‘fit’. The departures you see depend directly upon whatever you projected onto it, don’t they?

Keep doing this until you get the concept of ideals and departures and can project an ideal scenario easily and rapidly onto a range of environments.

But now we come to the next hardest thing to get across…

The Biggest Departure

Once you learn to spot a departure in relation to an exact ideal, rather than just as a vague ‘something wrong’, you are faced with an extraordinary task: you have to start counting and analysing those departures if you want to get off the endless ‘departure fixing’ treadmill.

That means not reacting to them.

This is easier said than done — but unless you can get beyond your reactions, you might not be able to analyse calmly and correctly.

For some, small errors are large departures: a piece of burnt toast, a hair out of place, a bus that is one minute late, all send some people berserk. These are tiny irritations which are indeed departures but which, if fixed individually, will probably lead to nothing being permanently handled. The people who go crazy at the slightest departure are the ones most trapped o