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Overcoming the Amygdala Part 98

Overwhelmed as many of us are by the signals coming from our amygdalas, it’s often hard to grasp that we can pilot a logical way out of it all into a better life. Still less feasible, it seems, is the idea that there might be a reason for our worries and difficulties in life — that is, that it’s possible to trace a single cause for most of what bothers us.

But it can be done.

I’ve used these procedures time and time again to solve problems in people’s health, relationships and businesses. It’s possible to solve most of society’s problems, at least on paper, using the same techniques.

What’s involved is a different mode of thinking. A person has to ease out of the ‘departure-react-panic-cope’ mode of operating and get into using what is happening to them and around them as a set of tools for finding out the reasons why it is happening.

The reason why will be a basic departure, underlying all or most of the other departures, which, when addressed, leads to a recovery of sanity and a motion towards the ideal.

Get this wrong, and you end up with an ‘unsolvable problem’. Like ‘staff absenteeism is caused by staff feeling overwhelmed.’ Or ‘My marriage is suffering because I feel stressed.’ Or ‘I am feeling unwell because there’s a bug going round.’ These wrong reasons all sound fairly acceptable at first, but they are simply explanations, not reasons.

Staff absenteeism may seem to be being caused by staff feeling overwhelmed, but that doesn’t help solve the problem, does it? ‘Feeling overwhelmed’ is too vague and general, and may apply differently person to person. It doesn’t really explain staff absenteeism as much as excuse it. The real cause for the absenteeism would immediately open the door to less absenteeism. As long as you can ask the question ‘Why?’ as, in this case ‘Why do staff feel overwhelmed?’, you know that you haven’t gotten to the bottom of things yet.

A marriage suffering because of stress sounds plausible. There may indeed be a great deal of stress in the relationship. But what’s causing it? If you can ask ‘Why is there stress in this relationship?’ you can make progress to discovering the real reason why the marriage is in trouble.

Similarly, there may well be a ‘bug going round’ which ‘explains' why someone is sick — but why did that individual fall sick and not another? Is that person more vulnerable to the bug? If so, why?

The real reason, when found and fixed, leads straight back to the ideal. A wrong reason, even if you manage to fix it somehow, will not lead to any improvement.

In the case of the above, a confidential survey of staff revealed that many of them felt bullied by a senior executive and took every opportunity not to come to work as a result. Sorting out the bully produced an immediate vast improvement in staff attendance, with all the increase in productivity which came with it.

The marriage was under stress, yes, but it was so stressed because the husband and wife didn’t understand the basics of communication and were withholding destructive secrets from one another. A simple education in how to talk to each other and a big confession session restored the marriage and took it to new heights.

A person may have caught a bug, but closer inspection revealed that they did so because their basic hygiene was almost non-existent. Putting in some simple procedures to improve that produced a rapid recovery and reduced frequency of illness over coming months.

Here’s another example: two private schools lose students and approach non-viability. ‘It’s the financial crisis,’ both heads of the school claim. They both look over their figures and financial projections. One buys the ‘explanation' of the financial crisis and, based on her projections, calls the trustees together and devises a plan to close the school, despite its 400-year-old history; the other, unhappy with the ‘explanation’, surveys parents and ex-parents and finds that many are struggling to pay the fees but would immediately enrol or re-enrol their children if fees were markedly reduced. This head decides to offer hugely discounted fees which seems crazy at first glance, as there is a real financial crisis — but what happens is that the uptake of the new scheme for fees is so great that the school fills up in a matter of a few months, and, while not a great deal more money is made because of the reduction in the fees, the school becomes once again buzzing and thriving.

You have to really understand logic to see the difference between a real reason for something and a superficial explanation. ‘Explanations’ abound all the time in the media — economies crash, businesses rise and fall, trends and movements arise and perish, all based on ‘explanations’. We see this all around us and call it ‘normal’, but what we are looking at is simply masses and masses of illogic.

How can you tell the difference between an ‘explanation’ and a real reason?

There are a number of ways, but two infallible rules of thumb are:

1. Can you still ask ‘Why?’ and

2. Does it open the door to an improvement?

Have fun looking around at different things going on in your life. How many ‘explanations’ have you bought? How many times can you ask ‘Why?’ How many real reasons can you find?

Let me know.


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