Saturday, November 23, 2013

The End of Neurosis

During days of quiet reflection at the Shed, one of the most powerful insights that comes back to me time and again is that you can never change other people.  They will stay crazy right up until they decide to change all by themselves.

Oh, sorry, did I use a non-PC word there?  Crazy?  You are correct: therapists strongly dislike the word "crazy."  It makes it sound like any fool can become a therapist without years of medical, scientific and psychiatric study and training.  Now, that actually is the situation, but they still don't like it to be generally known.  That is why they prefer to call crazy people by a another name that makes it sound as though they knew something meaningful about it:

Borderline Personality Disorder

Therapists also do not like to work with crazy - uh, I mean individuals exhibiting Borderline Personality Disorder, because they know that there is nothing they can do to "cure" them.  Because you can't change other people; people can only change themselves when they decide to.

Stop Whining about the noise and sparks,
and let Angle Grinder Man cut your chains off.
And crazy people (just get over it, ok?  It takes less time to write and amounts to the same thing) never, ever change because part of being crazy is that they are utterly convinced that they are not the ones with the problem.

I don't have to define crazy (or BPD) because you know it when you see it.  Everyone knows someone with wild swings of emotion, likely to bite the head off of anyone at the slightest whiff of what they believe to be an attack on their self image, or people that get mad at you and sulk for weeks over something you don't remember doing or saying.  We label them drama queens, rage-a-holics,  people with issues, narcissistic, co-dependent and so forth.  But really, they're just plain-old straight-up Crazy.

(I'd like you to immediately, right now, buy and read this book: Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder.  Do it now.)

The most important thing you can do now to ensure that your life is not infected with crazy is to stop hanging around crazy people.  You'll be glad you took this step, and the sooner, the better.  (I know a good divorce attorney if you need one.)

The next step is to swallow the bitter pill and look in the mirror.  How does a person who consciously chooses to no longer be crazy actually make the change?  Perhaps you're not full-on bat-shit crazy, but just, say, a little on the neurotic side.  Maybe there's just a touch of some social phobia, anxiety, anger, brooding over past bullying or trauma, or a wee bout of addictive tendency.  If that's the case, then you're actually pretty normal.  Therapists love people like you!

Crazy people never question for a moment the existence or meaning of their emotions.  They have intense emotions set to explode on a hair-trigger.  Ordinary neurotics have less intense emotions that underpin their various behaviors, and the trigger isn't as sensitive, but in principle, it's all one of a muchness.

The whole thing, the entire spectrum of human irrationality, suffering, self-sabotage and discontent, hangs on just one thing.

The one thing that allows all of this stuff to exist is your unquestioning belief in and unwavering devotion to the illusion of consciousness.

Break that illusion, that spell, that waking, life-long trance of the mind, and all forms of neurosis vanish like smoke.  If you can crack that facade even just a little, you can begin to do things that make an enormous difference to your happiness, success, suitability as a marriage partner, sense of fulfillment in life and rankings on Google.

For example, you can begin to understand that emotions are not actually real.  This admits the possibility of questioning your emotions.  As the observer of the mind, whenever you discover an emotion forming within you, always ask this question:

"What would a person have to believe in order to actually choose this emotion?"

You can also begin to question the validity of your experiences and the people that inhabit them.  Your mind, based on what it senses and what it unconsciously believes and assumes, pieces together the objective world around you and the people within it and projects a simulation of this onto your consciousness.  That is in fact the only possible way for a conscious being to experience anything at all.  While there most definitely is an underlying objective reality outside you, you only ever experience a subjective, carefully-filtered and not-100%-accurate simulation of that reality.  That is why people in your reality sometimes say, do or think things that they did not actually say, do or think.  Crazy people fly off at shadows and imagined threats; non-crazy people discipline their mind not to make those assumptions without first considering the illusory nature of consciousness.

When people moan and say they can't change, that means they are still 100% convinced by the illusion of their own mind. Pain still exists, insults still cut deep, fear and past trauma keep the unformed future and the unchanging past alive within them at all times. Suffering goes marching on.

But as soon as you know how the magic trick is done, the show is over.  The veil is lifted and it is the End of All Neuroses.