A personal Introduction to Social Anxiety Disorder

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Social Anxiety Disorder is an emotional virus which, like other pathogens, lay dormant for years before materializing. It’s likely you were infected during adolescence and the potential disorder lingered in your system for years or decades before making itself known. Any number of situations or events could have triggered the initial contact; it might be hereditary, the result of some traumatic experience, and/or environmental. You could have been subject to bullying or a broken home. Perhaps your parents were overprotective or controlling, or unable to provide emotional validation. What I try to address is the solution before the cause. Get out of the rain first; then look into global warming.

The following email, reproduced verbatim, appeared in my inbox on February 2, 2019. It describes, from a personal perspective, the destructive capabilities of Social Anxiety Disorder.

“I suffer from anxiety to the point that I have know life and am afraid of most everything and really don’t know why? It keeps me from dating and I really want to learn how to have more self confidence and have friends. and a part time job. I’m 48 and the anxiety seems to worsen as I get older. I don’t want to die alone. I have know family, and I’ve only been living in san fran for almost one year, from North Carolina. What I’m trying to say, anxiety has crippled me, locked me in a cage and has become my master. I want to learn how to be free and be and do the things I wan to do without second guessing myself. I want gay friends and to start dating. I want to love and be loved!! I’m not getting any younger and I’m so lonely on so many levels. With that said, please let me know if I can afford this group, please. thanks and have a great day.” Continue reading “A personal Introduction to Social Anxiety Disorder”

Social Anxiety and Resistance

Resistance is your primary impediment to recovery! Your craftily constructed inflexibility is so inhibiting, only five percent of you will seek immediate help. This is unfortunate but understandable. If your family dentist keeps pulling the wrong tooth, it’s unlikely you’ll trust another. Persons experiencing social anxiety maintain a tenacious resistance to new concepts and ideas because nothing has worked so far.

Nonresistance is a prerequisite for change and transformation. You must open yourself to unfamiliar experience. Resistance is the damn that stems the river’s flow. The universe sustains itself on fluidity: smooth, elegant, and endlessly changeable. Resistance is counterintuitive to growth, prosperity, and the natural order.

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I’m not suggesting you accept every new idea that comes your way; some are ill-advised, most ineffective, and few support your particular needs. But the mindful person regards every opportunity a possibility. You have to be willing to risk the consequences. It’s illogical to insist you don’t like broccoli if you refuse to taste it. Make up your own mind; don’t allow others to do it for you.

Resistance is closure; consideration is opening yourself to alien viewpoints. Resistance impedes both access and egress; nothing comes in so nothing goes out. You can’t give away what you don’t have. You do have a choice, however. You can remain where you are, mired in your perceptions of inadequacy and ineptitude, or you can consider new possibilities.

Refusal

Repression is unconscious suppression of things that prevent compliance―a defense mechanism that prevents certain feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to the conscious mind from entering it. There are experiences so deep and dark, you can’t even admit them to yourself. Resistance, on the other hand, is your deliberate attempt to prevent something by action or argument. Repression is unconscious; resistance conscious and intentional. A person unwilling to entertain novelty exposes inflexibility and parochial bias. When you yield to new ways of thinking, broader dimensions of consciousness materialize. But the light can’t enter until you unlock the shutters.

Resistance is devious; a deceitful entity is a feeble one. Resistance is evasion, underscored by ignorance and gratuitous fear. Ignorance is not a crime; it’s a lack of certain knowledge. Deliberate ignorance is adverse to growth and transformation. Don’t be fool yourself into believing that your intransigence is assertive and dominant when it’s really frightened and impotent. The resistant person gets angry when confronted; nonresistance embraces constructive criticism. Anyone can argue or be contemptuous; the courageous individual listens, contemplates, and concludes. Nonresistance will not deprive you of your individuality or your uniqueness; it only broadens your perspective. Your uncertainty of the unknown will be overwhelmed by the knowingness that the unknown is accessible.

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In this esoteric sense, nonresistance as your doorway to possibility opens your consciousness to the substance of the universe which you otherwise deny yourself. This is not hyperbole. Your nonresistance is testament to your willingness to accept what is fundamentally your inheritance. By dismantling the damn you constructed with twigs of suspicion, fear, and feigned indifference, you open yourself to the orderly flow of the universe. You are no longer isolated but appreciate your inherent role as both inlet and outlet, as receiver and giver.
Overcome the resistance that engulfs you because of your social anxiety and consider the possibilities. You have been thinking and acting irrationally for much of your life. That is the main symptom of social anxiety. Anything you do, think, or say detrimental to your well–being is irrational. You were created to do good things. The natural inclination of all humans is to strive for excellence. Evolution is the escalation of complexity. You are hard-wired to expand, to unfold, incapable of devolution.

There is no logic in self–denial; shunning new experience only aggravates your hopelessness. A rosebush without water withers. There is no logic in self–abuse; making yourself miserable is irrational. But you continue to self–destruct because that’s how SA sustains itself and that’s all you know. Your social incompetence, substantiated by supposed inadequacy and ineptitude, confirms your perception of worthlessness. If you have no value you are undeserving of the things other people take for granted like prosperity and happiness. SA thrives on this sort of irrationality. You are being asked to change concepts and ideas you have accepted for years because they are wrong; who wouldn’t be resistant to that? But consideration of new ideas and concepts is the most rational and intelligent thing a human can do. And rationality is poison to social anxiety.

Your resistance compels you to settle for insufficiency even though you’re disillusioned by it and secretly desire your entitlement. These dual modes of desperation manifest in an inner contradiction, pitting fear against desire. In essence, you shut down, unable to give and unworthy of receiving, disabling any motivation to participate. This manifests in avoidance, defiance, hostility, and self–sabotage. You persuade yourself that your intransigence―the refusal to compromise or to abandon your old concepts and beliefs―is assertive and courageous when it is actually foolish and depriving. You must open yourself to new thoughts and concepts simply because the old ones haven’t been working.

Experiencing Social Anxiety? Meet Your Subjugator.

Social Anxiety destroys lives.
39 million U.S. adults suffer from Social Anxiety.
It’s time to take it seriously.

Let’s put a face to this thing we call Social Anxiety. A visual representation might help us better understand the complexities of its possessive power. We’ll call him Schemer. Schemer is a high–level Director of Big Brother, Orwell’s repressive agency in1984. Schemer exists as the embodiment of Social Anxiety, his power derived through the complicity of those living under the political regime that is Oceania. Schemer’s all-powerful department feeds on the fear and negative self–reflection common under subjugation. Its role is to shatter any thought of resistance through methods of severe reprisal. Imagine yourself a “citizen” of Oceana, subjected, daily, to assaults of mindspeak propaganda: ”slavery is freedom,” “ignorance is freedom,” “you have no value”.

Irrationalaty

Schemer despises your complacency; he is contemptuous of your emotional instability and self–disparagement. He fantasizes wringing your scrawny neck while whispering in your ear like a spiteful over, “You are nothing without me. You can’t function without me. You will always be a failure. And there is nothing you can do about it. Freedom is hopeless.” That’s the objective of social anxiety: control through subjugation. It closes the door on alternative, shuts the windows to possibility, and stokes your reticence to opportunity. As only water can destroy the Wicked Witch of the West, Social Anxiety can only be defeated by rational thought and action By self–affirmations conducive to your prosperity and self–reliance, convictions designed to counter decades of wrong–thinking and false perception. Only by recognition of your inherent strength and determination can you overwhelm a lifetime of propaganda designed to keep you from that to which you are inherently entitled. Only by reclaiming your birthright can you reclaim what social anxiety has taken from you―the promise of a life of productivity and prosperity.

Big Brother

This is how you defeat Schemer and his destructive propaganda. You revolt. You refute his authority. You not only oppose what he stands for, you use every opportunity to challenge his legitimacy. You stop feeding him with your false self–perceptions. You reclaim the qualities that celebrate your uniqueness and rechannel your self–destructive, false perceptions into pride of your individuality. You consider the value and wisdom of anything and everything counter-intuitive to your current condition because every belief, concept, thought, and action you held or acted upon while under the spell of social anxiety is wrong! If they held any logic or validity you wouldn’t be suffering!

Social Anxiety can be overcome. “robertfmullen.com”

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

A Holistic Advance on Standard Behavioral Therapy.

ReChanneling is a progressive program of self-motivation to address issues detrimental to your self–reliance and prosperity. ReChanneling transcends contemporary psychology in its recognition of the universal aspiration towards excellence, the compulsion to self–reliance and prosperity.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors overlap and intertwine. A positive outcome in one factor leads to positive changes in all factors. CBT has been proven to work for many different mental health problems including depression, anxiety and other disorders, and substance abuse. CBT is structured, short-term, goal-oriented and focused on the present and the solution.

Diverged Roads

Cognitive theory assumes that maladaptive behavior and neurosis (components of dis-ease) are the results of inappropriate or irrational thinking patterns caused by ingrained reactions to situations and conditions experienced by the individual. Cognition addresses the restructuring of the mind―the physical rerouting of our neural networks―by disputing these irrational thoughts and beliefs and substituting rational ones in their place through repetition until they become automatic and permanent replacements. The behavioral component of CBT involves participation in active, structured therapy groups, training the individual to modify negative tendencies by means of positive repetitious activities commensurate with standard therapeutic methods.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed to help people cope with unstable emotions and harmful behaviors. DBT is an evidence-based approach to help people regulate emotions. It started as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, and current research shows it may help with many different mental illnesses or concerns, particularly self-harm. Key differences between CBT and DBT are validation and relationships. DBT teaches you that your experiences are real, and it teaches you how to accept who you are, regardless of challenges or difficult experiences. CBT teaches you to take responsibility for your current condition but initiates immediate and proactive steps to ameliorate the malfunction.

RECHANNELING’S COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL RESTRUCTURING (CBR) INCORPORATES THE BEST OF CBT AND DBT WHILE ADDRESSING ALL INTEGRAL FACTORS OF YOUR BEING―YOUR MIND, BODY, SPIRIT, AND EMOTIONS WORKING IN CONCERT. SUPPLEMENTING YOUR POSITIVE PROGRESS, RECHANNELING SIMULTANEOUSLY FOCUSES ON THE PHYSICAL RESTRUCTURING OF YOUR NEURAL NETWORK.

Something in your life is interfering with your well being, your peace of mind. We’re all broken in some way or another. Events, emotions, situations, and relationships are often problematic. You have a choice. You can either continue to do what it is that is isn’t working, hoping for a different result or you can rechannel it into a different perspective or perception which results in a positive transformation in thoughts and behaviors. Understanding the interrelationship of your four factors is crucial as each influences the others and can manifest behavioral. A harmful emotional reaction is challenged by an intellectual evaluation. Why do I feel this way? What led me to this distress? Debilitating workplace pressure is immediately ameliorated by physical activity or spiritual contemplation. Issues become less desperate when they automatically generate a new perspective.

Until recently, CBT and DBT have been largely provided on a therapeutic basis which tends to fixate on feelings and experiences related to past events. ReChanneling is more focused on the here–and–now, finding a solution to the problem, be it depression, anxiety, or another neurosis. While some issues go deeper and may require therapy, their influence on your daily life is greatly diminished, You are in control of them rather than the reverse. If you experience the crushing pain of an unhealthy tooth you first seek relief for the pain and then determine the underlying issue. ReChanneling emphasizes self–reliance over therapy through practicum, which puts the onus of responsibility on your shoulders. It provides the recipe for productivity and prosperity―you bake the bread. ReChanneling is comfortable in one-on-one, group, or motivational seminar settings. Although cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavior therapies, as their names suggest, are most often associated with ‘therapy,’ it is well known that their philosophical stance and powerful techniques can be applied in many different areas.

A product of both psychology and philosophy, ReChanneling provides a much broader understanding of the many factors that influence your life and underscore your condition―and how they are easily managed. This is what we provide to the client.

The Importance of Listening

by Paula Schneider
Transform Myself Inc.

The author is a hospice and end-of-life care coordinator who trains organizations on Advance Directives and has facilitated numerous Death Café events – popular informal gatherings that explore the many issues surrounding death and dying. To date, there have been 7500 such events worldwide.

As a caregiver who works with other caregivers and the people they are caring for, I am always trying to improve on my listening skills. It is so easy to get carried away with the teaching part of my consulting duties that I forget to let someone else talk! When I first meet a patient and his or her family, I have a tremendous amount of information to impart in a short amount of time. I have to remind myself that listening to what they have to tell me is equally as important as what I have to tell them.

A study done by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital revealed the first physiologic evidence that humans are actually wired to connect with each other. Researchers studied 20 unique therapeutic sessions between a psychologist and his or her patient. And the findings showed that, during moments of empathetic connection, humans reflect or mirror each other’s emotions and their physiologic processes move on the same wavelength. Incidentally, in the study, an interesting finding popped up: there was more physiologic concordance when the therapist was listening than talking.

Paula article

I was excited to read this study because it reinforces what I have always believed about the importance of listening for caregivers such as nurses, doctors, family members, and others. When we listen, we are actually in sync with the other person and then the goals of hospice, which are peace and comfort, can be realized. If we as hospice professionals go in with an agenda and a laundry list of topics we need to cover without actually allowing the family to verbalize, we are missing the boat.

Active listening is a technique I learned in nursing school and have practiced for over 30 years, with varying degrees of success! When I use this technique, I attempt to recapture what the speaker is telling me by repeating it back to make sure I’ve heard exactly what they have said to me. It is always a surprise to find that I did not hear correctly, but over the years I have improved in my listening skills quite a bit. I do realize, however, that many times patients and families do not hear me correctly. This happens especially under moments of extreme stress. I have come to realize that as someone’s anxiety level increases, his or her ability to hear correctly decreases. That is why, in hospice, we frequently end up repeating things over and over. Until the patient or caregiver’s anxiety level goes down considerably, effective communication is not going to occur.

In working with people who are living their last days, a lot of teaching and listening takes place. My goal is always to listen better and correctly so that I can meet my patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. It’s not always easy, but with enough practice, I know I am becoming a more effective listener.

Reading this, we are encouraged by the empathetic interaction sought–after in hospice care. Empathetic interaction is engaging other(s) with intent to intuitively grasp their holistic being in order to cultivate a genuine connection. Empathetic Interaction is understanding through vicarious participation within the other. Moods, perceptions, desires, feelings, intents, ambitions―all are experienced by subtle inter-connectivity. It is the highest level of interaction.

THE FLUID PARAMETERS OF RESPONSIBILITY

SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER

In publications and workshops, we emphasize that anyone committed to positive change must shoulder unequivocal responsibility for his or her condition. While not responsible for the cards dealt, we are responsible for how we play the hand given. Those of us resolved to modify our behavior or condition cannot abrogate responsibility to another. That being said, there are limits to this responsibility. Let’s explore this using social anxiety as our point of reference.

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. It is the debilitating fear and anxiety of being negatively evaluated and judged. It is a pervasive disorder that affects multiple areas of a person’s life. It keeps people in self-initiated solitary confinement. Fittingly, its acronym is SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). SAD is chronic because it does not go away on its own―but it can be remedied. Since less than 37% of those suffering choose to receive treatment, the nickname, SAP (Socially Anxious Person) suggests that a person with SAD is, indeed, a SAP if he or she chooses to avoid successful methods of recovery and continues to wallow in misery and isolation.

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults or about 18% of the population. In the LGBT community, somewhere between 30 and 60 percent deal with anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. That rate is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts. Our San Francisco based, gay social anxiety workshop generated over 300 participants in the first year. You are not alone!

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SAD Defeatism

Let’s assume you are a person with SAD. When you enter a social situation, you are affected by the unsubstantiated criticisms of others. These feelings are aggravated by your own self-defeating narratives. You worry about your appearance, what you might say, how you are perceived by others. Your Integral Human Complex (body, mind, and spirit) is overwhelmed by self-doubt. Physically, you may hyperventilate, your stomach in knots, as you avert your eyes and sidle to a safe zone. Emotionally, you’re consumed by self-doubt and hesitancy; spiritually, depression and isolation overcome any sense of belonging. The irony is, you have far more to fear from your own distorted perceptions than the opinions of others. Your imagination takes you to dark and lonely places. Upon leaving an event or situation, different self-esteem issues emerge as your imagination creates false scenarios and you obsess about your prior behavior.

Your neurosis underscores a degree of self-absorption that borders on narcissism, the psychoanalytic definition of which is self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external object―from the reality of the situation. This is a common characteristic of SAD. Narcissism does not have to be a disorder, however. To clarify this abstract assertion requires an understanding of classicist definitions of love.

The Greeks’ delineated eight types of love including sexual passion, brotherly love, puppy love and so on. Philautia describes a type of love that can be either selfish or selfless. The adverse is self-centeredness―a destructive preoccupation with the perceptions of others. Healthy philautia, on the other hand, is the kind of self-affirmation produced by an inveterate sense of inner-worth and value―the emotional competence that allows you to embrace your capacity to empathize. It is extremely difficult to accept love unless you have the ability to initiate and reciprocate, and that ability is generated by your own sense of self-assuredness. In the throes of your illness, you immerse yourself in the selfish aspect of philautia. As you recover from SAD, recollection of your own suffering encourages you to become increasingly sensitive to the needs and conditions of others.

Perceptions

Conditioning is an individual’s current state of being as consequence of his or her reactions and adaptations to experience and circumstance. Each of you is blessed with the qualities and uniqueness of your conditioning. It is these sensitivities that dictate your beliefs, peculiarities, fears, aspirations, and so on. They define you and you are defined by them. They unremittingly adapt to, and are augmented by new experience and circumstance. No individual can truly grasp at your totality because you are in constant flux. You are subject to your unique conditioning. Perceptions are, at best, uninformed and biased speculations. We emphasize this to illustrate that opinions are specious and inaccurate reflections of individual, singular fears, prejudices, affections, disappointments. They are perpetually flawed and not worth a proverbial tinker’s damn. Only your opinion of you is an opinion worth examining.

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It is your own negative self-worth that permits you to be negatively affected by the opinions and thoughts of others. Accepting their impressions and opinions as certainty is a self-defeating existence. It is your uniqueness and individuality that is of import and, if your condition is flawed or distressed, then it is up to you to seek remedy for your own self-mortification.

Not Your Problem!

When we expose ourselves to others in social situations, we subject ourselves to three correlating forms of feedback: first impressions, reactionary opinions, and post-impressions

First Impressions are meaningless. Initial reactions are prejudicial and gratuitous consequences of an individual’s condition. No one can make a well-informed assessment of someone they see for the first time. Yet, it is your own stuff, your personal negative narcissism that legitimizes these non-constructive impressions corrupted by another’s experience and circumstance. You may physically remind someone of an abusive ex-lover or an annoying teacher. An obese person may be affronted by your figure. In any case, one thing remains constant. An assessment generated by first impression is meaningless. It is Not Your Problem!

Reactionary Opinions are assumptions made during or immediately following interaction with a person or group. Best-selling teen author, Simone Elkeles writes “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one but they think each others’ stink.” They are emotional reactions to scattered aspects of your presentation. Your presentation is the way in which you present yourself and any reaction to this presentation is perverted and distorted by condition. Your personality may conjure images of a mother-in-law or a teenage bully. The tenor of your voice may bring an unconscious memory, your race a bias, and so on. It is imperative that you recognize that you are not responsible for someone else’s uninformed and meritless opinion. If you are attempting to be as authentic as you can be in your current condition, there is no reason in-the-world to assume responsibility for unsubstantiated perceptions. It’s Not Your Problem!

Post-impressions: once you have left the event or situation you, obviously, have no control over what people think. What’s done is done. You can’t revisit the past. You can’t change it. Yet, more often than not, this is when your fragile psyche subjects itself to the greatest damage. Why did I tell that joke? Did I drink too much? Why didn’t I talk to him? Did I wear the wrong color socks? It’s called Second Guessing Neurosis (SGN). SGN is defined as retroactively changing the construction and outcome of a situation or event. In colloquial jargon, it’s fantasizing a different result. So you made a mistake, called someone the wrong name, said something inappropriate. Join the club of this too shall pass. Learn from it and move on.

One more piece of irony. Not only does your insecurity seduce you into rewriting reality, it compels you to subvert the positive. In other words, because you doubt the probability that you made a good impression, you dwell on your perceived gaffes and errors-in-judgment. No matter how good an impression you make, you pervert the experience by tearing it down. It’s characteristic self-destruct by the SAP. You have the choice between darkness and light and you choose to blindly walk into walls.

Overall, you worry too much about what someone else thinks of you. In the film Bridge of Spies, Rudolf Abel, the Soviet agent faces the possibility of the death penalty. His lawyer, befuddled by Rudolf’s impassive demeanor, whispers, “Aren’t you at all worried?” The convict shrugs. “Would it help?”

Rather than bemoaning, why did I do that, rechannel the emphasis. Why did I do that? What persuaded me to react or respond in that way? Everyone makes errors-in-judgment, says something inappropriate, tells a bad joke. A good comedian will take the ‘bomb’ and turn it into humorous self-deprecation. A teacher who is not getting though to a student will instinctively try a different approach. A politician will change the subject. Although they make it appear spontaneous, they have rigorously trained themselves to do so. Rather than obsessing about your mistakes and miscalculations, use them as learning tools. You’re only allowed to blame yourself for your mistake if you ignore the lesson―if you don’t learn from it. You’re not stupid or an idiot or a jerk for making a mistake or acquiescing to your fears―you’re human! (You are a few fries short of a Happy Meal, however, if you don’t attempt to fix the problem.)

Change Your Focus

Your being, your totality is blessed by three separate yet complementary components―mind, body, and spirit. It’s important for your health to find a balance amongst the three, and to learn to use them in support of one another. For example, when you perceive yourself being attacked, learn to rechannel that sinking sensation with something positive. Mentally replace the injury by going to a familiar place of confidence. Rechannel your emotional reaction by intellectually affirming that unjustified criticism has no validity. Temper your angst, spiritually, by closing your eyes, breathing deeply, or taking a short walk. Simply stated, train yourself to instinctively replace the maladaptive behavior or reaction with one of positive and superior value. Rather than feeling persecuted, control the situation.

SAD 5

Step outside yourself in your tiny world, and visualize the situation as an outside observer or film director. Analyze your presentation from an intellectual perspective. Study your behavior, evaluate it. Compliment the things you did well and work on what you perceive are deficits. That’s cognitive behavioral therapy in a nutshell. In simpler terms, know yourself.

You are unique. You have distinctive DNA, different experiences, beliefs, sensibilities, tastes. Some of you are great at math, some nature lovers, some like astronomy, some are intuitive. There is no one like you, you are one of a kind. That makes you special. Reexamine the qualities that celebrate your uniqueness and rechannel any perceived lack of self-worth into pride of your individuality. If you are doing your best and truly desire to tap the kindness and strength resident within you, then you have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear.

ReChanneling is a method of recovery and revitalization for those who struggle for self-affirmation. It is a program designed to assist in developing ways to replace negative addiction and maladaptive behavior caused by your neurosis through cognitive-behavioral therapy and auxiliary learning techniques―mechanisms constructed to teach you to rediscover your innate value and self-worth.

Creator and facilitator of ReChanneling, Dr. Mullen suffered from SAD for many years. His recovery is illustration of the dynamic potential inherent in all of us.

ReChanneling
ReChanneling@yahoo.com
robertfmullen.com
415-305-5895

The Significance of Our Insignificance

We have determined that recovery from immoral and maladaptive behavior is achieved only through unequivocal acceptance of our condition, and our willingness to change. It is recognition of our moral infirmities that motivates us towards transformation. Do you really like who you are now? Are you truly satisfied with the person you believe you have become? While not liable for events beyond our control, we are responsible for how we react and interpret those events. As the cliché goes, while we do not have control over the cards we have been dealt, we are responsible for how we play the hand we have been given.

Our adamancy―fomented by religion and ego―that humanity is supra-special because of perceived hierarchal dominance is a consequence of three very human considerations. First, it is our awareness of being aware―the primary factor of our humanness―that offers hope, piques our imagination, and enables self-reflection. Second, it is recognition of this awareness that is human consciousness as we know it, an underdeveloped and fearful consciousness that compels the rationale that we are the chosen, and we resent our conditional discontent because we believe, as chosen, we deserve better. Finally, we have convinced ourselves that humanity is the apex of cognitive development, and that nothing supersedes our species except ethereal forms we create in our image and likeness.

Darwinism determines, if humankind is the successor to a species then it must also be the forerunner. Since 99% of all species that ever lived on our planet have been consumed by nature, logic dictates that homo-sapiens also has a shelf-life. In the current known universe (approximately 4% of total) there are over one-billion-trillion stars. Where, in this vast expanse of space and human nescience is the significance of our being? How does humanity maintain its perceptual superiority within such a great and formidable reality? Is there significance to our insignificance? The answer is a resounding yes. Our significance is sustained in our innate potential to improve our condition, to enhance, expand, and evolve, to embrace our virtuous and empathetic natures, to share these and other qualities with others―to lift the human spirit. Teilhard de Chardin (1955) hypothesizes we are entering the sixth epoch of complexity, the one in which the universe wakes up. Evolution guarantees accelerated complexity.

The only higher-power that needs to be acknowledged and accessed is extant within each of us, as all things have consciousness due to the consequences of involution-evolution, which logically claims that it is impossible for some-thing to evolve from no-thing.

Humanity’s evolved state of complexity demands reevaluation of its primitive concepts. We are children of the universe(s). Our god’s are earth gods. We were not created in their image and likeness. The origins of morality determine that we created gods in our image and likeness―only of intangible stock. They are our egos, endowed with the powers to which humankind aspires and does not believe is worthy. Promises proffered by our gods are manifestations of our own fears and desires. When we attempt to personalize what we call god, we minimize it with mundane language.

gods_of_rome_by_pelycosaur24-d5qhwgk Courtesy of www.crystalinks.com.

Our impartial awareness of what little we know does not devalue our significance, it compliments, because it illustrates the premise of evolution, much like the bud anticipates the bloom of the rose, its awareness resident in the seed. Our higher power is reciprocal energy, reciprocity confirms our necessary participation; may the force be with us. Energy is the measurer of that which passes from one atom to another in the course of their transformation. We seek to transform and cannot help but do so. It is nature.

Let’s embrace the speculation that, rather than the infinite endurance of our egoic consciousness, our good moral character is validation of our significance―the immortality of our spirit that is passed between generations, the ever-evolving reconnaissance of our minds. Where would humanity be without the broad shoulders of those upon whom we stand, and where will that same humanity or its successor be without the formative actions of each generation on the one before and after? We are not useless, separate entities passing each other, autonomous and alien, like proverbial ships in the night; we are integral and interrelated to all things, the life’s blood of being, the ultimate, dynamic, creative ground of the universe(s). “I am in heaven, in earth, in water, in air; I am in animals, in plants, in the womb, before the womb, after the womb, everywhere.” Whitehead’s (1978) Philosophy of Organism states that the actualities of the world are fundamentally interdependent—every actual entity is present in every other actual entity, while his Principle of Process determines that the composition of an actual entity is a constant process of becoming, its being constituted by and the result of that same process. We belong to all things and all things are part-and-parcel of our being. We are, as all entities, active agents of all future becomings. Our conscious moments of experience are products of all past experiences of occasion and conduits to all in the future. As human beings, we are creativity itself; we evolve from creative occasions and all our present occasions of experience preserve and pass along the entire history of our universe. This perpetual act of creation is another example of the validity for which we desperately search: that of our advanced species laying the groundwork for a superior one.

The dynamic role of the future is being systemized by our present existing selves. With little asked of us other than participation in being, we evolve as increasingly complex things and, science informs, the higher the degree of complexity, the more substantial the consciousness. Self-consciousness evolves in organisms with increasingly complex brains. It did not first emerge with humans. Awareness of self-consciousness emerged. Humankind is no longer recognized as the center of the universe anymore than is our planet the centerpiece around which our tiny solar system revolves.

Too often we substitute complacency for contentment, grateful for brief moments of serenity but forgoing any hope of durable happiness because we have been instructed that such a phenomenon is only attainable in a spurious afterlife, an enigmatic supposition which values our existence in an ‘incredible’ world in lieu of the one we currently inhabit. Rather than accepting commendation for the hard work and obligations achieved by maturation, we condone this prevalence of despondency because we believe suffering is the predetermined causal to post-life fulfillment‒a destructive and psychologically counterproductive assumption. We worship sacrifice and interpret dukkha as suffering when it is more reasonably translated as discontent. Suffering denotes a predestined condition; discontent is something over which we have control. Rather than re-informing our perception of prevalent miserableness, we sheepishly embrace it! We cling to our illusions because it is easier than confronting life as we know it, even though life as we know it is our experiential state-of-nature. We loudly display our misconceptions of eternal consciousness, persuaded that it represents our being, our memories, our intelligence, our bodily organs, as they are supernaturally transported whole to an otherworldly plateau, one replete with joy and reconciliation.

To understand our reason-for-being, our niche in this vast wilderness of speculation, perhaps we should pay closer heed to those spiritual masters upon whose wisdom we precariously rely in attempts to see beyond the knowable horizon. They tell us to divest ourselves of the ego, of the desire for worldly goods, of our arrogant belief that humankind, an ignorant, childish, and childlike species, is the final, evolutionary apogee of consciousness.

Charlie

As humans, we are inherently motivated to search for answers, yet ignorance of the events and circumstances that underscore the structure of our being promotes discontent and agitation. A certain calm urgency is required to grasp at the things that encourage homeostasis, a state-of-being achieved through transformation. We are energy. We are potential.

The acquisition of good moral behavior is easily impeded by the attractiveness of the old lifestyle, and it takes continued restraint to avoid repeating the same mistakes. The struggle for excellence does not eliminate the influx of triggers that have the power to alter our perception of personal value; the temptations flourish but, through a clarified understanding of the consequences of pandering to baser enticements, we make more profitable decisions. Again, “if we believe we know what the good (the best) thing to do is, and it is accessible to us, we will do the good” (Brody 2015). Through the elimination of any outside source as scapegoat, we accept full responsibility and continue our commitment to society as a contributing member to the evolution of excellence.
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Full acceptance of one’s humanness involves an awareness of one’s connection with others and the world. Life may go on more or less as usual, but there is a deepened, intimate sense of involvement. … One no longer has to betray one’s true self, or the darker aspect of oneself, in order to feel in community with others. (Bauer et al. 1992)
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Upon commitment to remedy, the conditions responsible for our maladaptive behavior loosen their destructive hold. The initiation to effect recovery underscores our desire for and transformation towards the greatest goodness.

Sources
Bauer, L., Duffy, J., Fountain, E., Halling, S., Holzer, M., Jones, E., Leifer, M. & Rowe, J. O. (1992). Exploring Self-Forgiveness. Journal of Religion and Health, 31 (23), 149-160. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27510687

Brody, A. (2015). Addicts, Mythmakers and Philosophers. Philosophy Now, 90. Retrieved from https://philosophynow.org/issues/90/Addicts_Mythmakers_and_Philosophers

Dewey, J. (1994). The Moral Writings of John Dewey. J. Gouinlock (Ed.). New York: Prometheus Books.

Erickson, E. H. and Erickson, J. M. (1988). The Life Cycle Completed (Extended Version). New York City: W. W. Norton & Company.

Kurzweil, R. (2005). Journal of Evolution and Technology, 20: 1, p. 15. Boston, MA: Institute for Ethics & merging Technologies.

Hanegraaff, W. J. (2005). Human Potential Before Esalen: An Experiment in Anachronism. On the Edge of the Future. p.21. Eds. Jeffrey J. Kripal and Glenn W. Shuck. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Piaget, J. (1971). Psychology and Epistemology. (A. Rosin, Trans.). New York City: Grossman Publishers.

Steinhart, E. (2008). Teilhard de Chardin and Transhumanism. Quoting Kurzweil (2005: 15). Journal of Evolution and Technology, 20: 1, pp. 1-22. Boston, MA: Institute for Ethics & merging Technologies.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre. (1955.) The Phenomenon of Man. Tr.: Bernard Wall. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought.

Trimbur, C. (2015). Theories of Developmental Stages – Stages of Development. Psychology Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/183/Developmental-Stages-Theories.html

Whitehead, A. L. (1978). Process and Reality. New York: The Free Press (Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.).

Addiction is a Habit; a Habit is Not an Addiction

It’s easy to conflate ‘bad habit’ with ‘addiction’: they are both behavioral mechanisms, both evidence an inability or unwillingness to abstain, and both manifest themselves in cravings that involve periods of remission and relapse. Take that morning ‘cuppa joe’, for example. Caffeine provides an adrenalin rush and a feeling of warm comfort but, unless abuse leads to pathological displays of aberrant behavior, moderate, repetitive consumption of coffee is a habit. A habit is not an addiction; an addiction is a habit. A bad or negative habit can become an addiction based on abuse over use. There are good habits and bad habits; addictions remain pernicious. It’s confusing because “we speak of ‘addictions’ to all manner of behaviors that would have been called ‘choices’ just thirty years ago” (Hoffman 2002).

Equate that caffeine fixation to a line of cocaine; both indulgences are guaranteed to stimulate the desired effect, but one is more detrimental to the overall well-being of the consumer. So let’s clarify while simplifying the differences between a negative habit and an addiction. Rather than professing to have a bad habit if, by bad, we mean significantly detrimental or pathologically injurious, let’s call it what it is―an addiction. If we purport to have an addiction to chocolate because we very much enjoy an occasional hormonal stimulation, let’s call it something else―an urge, an intermittent habit that occasionally wants gratification. To many, addiction over negative habit equates to mortal over venial, potentially pathological versus neurotic, eternal damnation or three Hail Mary’s, reincarnation as a fine human specimen or an incontinent sloth. But it’s not quite that cut-and-dried. It’s a matter of intent and degree; they are different rungs on the same ladder.

confused kid

I have a bad habit, I like to skin pet calico cats
. That, my readers, is not an annoying habit like leaving your dirty dishes in the sink overnight, but is a unsettling, onerous dysfunctional behavior. Both bad habits and maladaptive addictions are addressed through ReChanneling and other cognitive-behavioral programs, each immoderation requiring a certain due-diligence of recovery work because it have disrupted our psycho-physiological growth for an extensive period of time. The deficiencies didn’t appear overnight, but are assiduously cultivated through reactions to input and conditions, desires and appetites. While the brain’s chemistry is a major component to addiction, any habit can alter our neurological structure. Scientific evidence focuses on one dimension of brain adaptation, ostensibly ignoring the sociological implications of the situational inconsistencies, contradictions, and anomalies that addicts and those with habitual maladaptive behaviors confront as part of the human condition. This is where motivational and recovery programs can be most helpful. Your thinking, the content of your mind, is conditioned by the past: your environment, upbringing, culture, experiences, and so on. “The central core of your mind activity consists of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns that you identify with most strongly” (Tolle 2005).

Are all addictions destructive? What about addictions to meditation, exercise, healthy eating? There is an argument to be made about positive addictions and it is important to provide clear distinction. Glasser (1985) makes the claim that addictions can “strengthen us and make our lives more satisfying.” Positive addictions can enhance our confidence, creativity, health, and overall life. Glasser also claims that a “positive addiction does not dominate one’s life; it stays confined within a time frame” (O’Conner 2014). The definition of addiction provided by experts in addictive medicine states that addiction evidences an inability or unwillingness to abstain, and an advocate of daily prayer and exercise certainly has the ability to refrain for a day or two should he or she desire. However, the definition goes on to say that addiction is characterized by
impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death (Addiction 2011).

The concept of habitual negative dependency being of positive value contradicts the assertion that addiction evidences itself in “impairment in behavioral control [and] … diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships.” Also, the letters ‘dys’ or ‘dis’ prefixing functional or ease negates the meaning, i.e., dysfunctional means not functional and disease actually implies ill-at-ease. The more accurate translation of the Latin prefix includes such words or phrases as ‘apart,’ ‘asunder,’ and ‘having a privative, negative, or reversing force.’ O’Conner wonders why “healthy behaviors that contribute to happiness” should be considered positive addictions? “What is gained by naming them addictions?” For our purposes, an addiction is a psycho-physiological ‘dysfunction’ that, in no way, contradicts positivity. Both bad habits and addictions are repetitive maladjusted behaviors―activities or emotions that facilitate desires or needs, which become habitual through repetition―that interfere with ordinary life obligations such as work, relationships, or health, affecting singular growth by subverting good goodness and thus impeding expansion into greater goodness.

GOOD, GREATER, and GREATEST GOODNESS

Let’s briefly illustrate the three primary degrees of goodness. GOOD GOODNESS is the deliberate preference of right to wrong―the evolution of altruistic social impulses, primary instincts for survival. GREATER GOODNESS is more complex decision-making through experience, reflection, and inner-discourse, underscored by option-oriented decisions made through cognitive analysis. Greater goodness is accessed by humankind’s innate advanced human potential via evolution, and enhanced through demonstrable, data-driven methodologies. GREATEST GOODNESS is values that should be, and ought to be sought. They reside in the realm of the desirable but are, as yet, unattainable. Greatest Goodness is a quality with which individuals flirt without consummation. It is perfect moderation, the state of consistent equilibrium.

Recovery from habitual or addictive maladaptive behavior is difficult. CBRT―Cognitive Behavioral ReChanneling Therapy (Mullen 2017) addresses the restructuring of the mind―the physical rerouting of neural networks―by disputing irrational thoughts and beliefs, substituting more judicious ones by means of cognitive repetition until they become automatic, habitual replacements to the irrational thoughts. The behavioral component of CBRT requires the individual’s participation in an active, structured therapy group consisting of people with similar distress or neuroses. These individuals are habituated to modify their negative tendencies through exercise and repetitious behavioral activity geared to address the cause and consequence of the dis-ease.

Stanislavski’s authenticity method (Mullen 2016) teaches the protagonist (self), to foster a genuine interconnectedness with the antagonist (other) through attentiveness, perception, physical and emotional analysis, and so on, in order to open the curtains to reveal the genuine character of both self and other as they interrelate. In theatre, there is commonly a single protagonist; in life, both participants are protagonist and antagonist, reflecting and responding to each other.

Abhidharmic mindfulness is the scientific data-driven application of the eightfold path of right practices. Mindfulness is the proactive partner to Stanislavski’s learned reactive ‘method’ as they co-facilitate the self’s ability through relational emotional cognition and practice, in order to improve the authenticity of the interaction. In a perfect world, both self and other would mutually drop pretence and interact with authenticity, but this is not a perfect world. However, any attempt at personal interaction delivers, to variable degree, a positive outcome. A person of authenticity, as used herein, is one who lives in accordance with his or her desires, motives, ideals, and/or beliefs, and whose sum of intents and actions are thus manifest as beneficial to self, other, and society.

The cessation of a compulsion insinuated into day-to-day operations is a formidable and time-consuming task, a life durational work-in-progress. Lao-Tse (1988) informs that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ReChanneling is designed to be more practicum than therapy, providing methodological avenues of recovery while allowing the participant (client) to control the pace of the journey. (We don’t know the extent of the Chinese prophet’s travels but legend has it he remained in his mother’s womb for eighty-years so he was arguably restless.)

Not only must we diligently apply ourselves to ameliorate a bad habit or addiction, but we have to be sure we are prepared to compensate for the emptiness left by that which has been eliminated. Rather than simply replacing the negative tendency with a comparable, positive one, ReChanneling encourages a superior replacement, accessed through our natural metanormal capacity for growth. Metanormal (extraordinary, supernormal, supranormal, transformative, etc.) is evidence of upward human ability, accessible through practice, which surpasses the typical functioning of people under normal circumstance (Leonard 1992). There are multiple methods to motivate and activate this functioning, many of which surpass what is contemporarily understandable. As Augustine (2014) said, “Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” I urge you to peruse Michael Murphy’s (1992) The Future of the Body for a number of data-driven examples. Without upward mobility, humanity would still be huddled in damp caves wondering how to harness fire. We are creatures of evolution, capable of wonderful things; we need only reactively participate in evolution and proactively tap our inherent metanormal potential.

Those of us who have hurtful tendencies that we have determined demand rectification do not eliminate the problem by simply and arbitrarily eliminating the negative impulse (which in-and-of-itself is far easier said than done). That negative expression, that flawed disagreeable habit, must be rechanneled into a positive one―one with preferably superior components―to fill the void left by the elimination of the maladaptive behavior. For example: perhaps your particular poor behavior―your negative habitual inclination, if you will―is a craving for harmful gossip. The loss of that behavior must be aptly compensated (replaced) by a positive, superior one. A suggestion might be to rechannel the gossiping into volunteer work: being kind and attentive to people rather than denigrating them. Another example: say you are prone to falsehood or self-exaggeration (overcompensation for perceived lack of). It might be of value to re-examine the qualities that underscore your uniqueness, and thus rechannel any lack of self-worth into pride of your positive accomplishments and individuality. The generated self-esteem would hopefully refocus your attention to the needs of others, rather than your own perceived deficit of character.

In clinical and motivational sessions, I share with participants the eight categories of love, delineated by Greek sophists, that are natural constituents of human-nature. The first is celebrated EROS―the clinging of romance novels, songs, and films. Eros is a precarious and ephemeral love that overwhelms the senses: the wistful longings accompanied by deep sighs and obsessive behavior. It is the irrational and mundane type of infatuation that underscores the phrase, Mom, I’m crazy about him. I’m madly in love. Eros is an exhilarating and arguably universal experience of ambiguous endurance.

The second type of love is PHILIA or brotherly love, the friendship of a good friend or comrade-in-arms. It embraces that robust youthful bond of a football team when collectively facing opposition, or grunts who battle to the death as a cohesive unit, or even the instant familiarity of a thousand people protesting what they believe is social inequity.

STORGE is the natural love between parents and their children, and PARMA the endurance and loyalty we cultivate to adapt to our partner in a marriage or long-term relationship. LUDUS is the puppy love of adolescence, the flirtation in the bar, prick-teasing, dancing with strangers. It is not an intimate sharing of affection but a suggestiveness that reinforces a trivial but self-important aspect of identity.

AGAPE is the love one has for humanity which, unfortunately, rarely supersedes nationalism, race, religion, or political affiliation. We are consistently susceptible to cliques, mobs, and organizations because they provide that much-needed sense of belonging. Mistakenly construed to be the highest form of love, agape is primarily reserved for the heavenly embracement of god by man and, in instances, man by god. Agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends reality, and ostensibly persists regardless of circumstance.

The remaining two forms of love are the binary aspects of PHILAUTIA which, negatively possessed, is obsessive narcissism. Notoriety, self-aggrandizement, and the preoccupation with ‘success’ take precedence over affection, intimacy, and philanthropy. One who dwells in this fanciful self-adulation cannot authentically embrace another because the pond is only large enough for a single reflection. The depravity of the narcissistic self overshadows the value of the other, effectively subverting any altruistic motivation.

HEALTHY PHILAUTIA, on the other-hand, is the kind of self-love that is the product of an inveterate sense of inner-worth and value―the emotional competence that allows us to treasure our deep capacity to share. It is extremely difficult to accept love unless we have the ability to initiate and reciprocate, and that ability originates with the respect generated by our own sense of self-assuredness. It is this form of love that generates empathy and compassion. As we cumulate, more and more, the formidable aspects of healthy philautia, we experience true compassion and empathy, and become increasingly aware of the needs and conditions of others. It is this innate ability that is promoted and facilitated by the program of ReChanneling.

MODES OF LISTENING

Like the actor on the stage, through authentic listening and attentive interaction, the protagonist (self) transmutes to unitary being with the antagonist (other) and begins to ‘feel’ the other, which is the foundation of empathy. Jacque opines to Duke Senior, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare 2005) a meritorious concept. The program of ReChanneling utilizes Stanislavski’s stage method of emotional awareness to generate authentic interaction in the world-at-large.

Empathy: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :the capacity for this” (Merriam-Webster, 2017).

Conversation: informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.

Empathy is not sympathy. In the latter, we feel sorry for someone; when we empathize, we vicariously experience someone. This entails opening ourselves to a novel participation, being with and within the other, the resulting osmosis experiencing the other’s physical, emotional, and even spiritual presence. Empathy is generated through robust attentiveness, and an interactive and heightened method of ‘listening’ which involves the verbal, the physical (gesture and spatial), the intuitive (moods, and attitudes), and the experiential. Empathetic listening is the most respondent and conscientious form of listening.

IGNORING LISTENING is an apathetic type of listening, what Covey (2004) describes as “not listening at all.” It is calling attention to ourselves without consideration for the other(s). In Ignoring Listening, the only thing we listen for is a break in the conversation where we can intervene to promote ourselves. Any pause, any inadvertent intake of breath is a cue to jump-in with whatever we feel like saying. Our only use for the other(s) is his or her accommodating presence so that we can invade it.

Example: Your companion(s) are discussing ramifications of the Republican’s assault on ‘Obamacare.’ Without acknowledging the issue, you jump in with an enthusiastic description of your home run in the recent game of gay team baseball.

COUNTERFEIT LISTENING is ingratiating ourselves into a conversation without contributing to it. We pretend to care about what the other(s) think or say by imitating or mimicking their emotions so that they like us. We nod when they look profound, we smile when they smile, laugh when they do. We pander ourselves into the good graces of the other(s), without contributing to the conversation. Counterfeit Listening is an obviously blatant and disingenuous act of deception.

Example: The discussion is about a recent episode of the TV series Transparent, which you have never watched. Discussing a scene, the others laugh and you join in, later nodding you head in agreement at the mention of the brilliant writing, adding, “What a terrific show!”

In SELECTIVE LISTENING we only hear what we want to hear, what suits our needs. We’re not as interested in what the other(s) is saying as we are of making a good impression. We wait for topics to which we personally relate, ignoring anything that doesn’t have the potential to make us appear accomplished. Afraid of appearing ignorant or boring, we only hear things that allow us to display our astuteness. Essentially, we display contempt for the other (s)without knowing it. We come off as self-serving and arrogant.

Example: The conversation/discussion centers around the politics of the Republican party and their commitment to defunding social organizations including Planned Parenthood. You immediately jump in and talk about something cute your son did at breakfast that morning.

Peanuts

HOSTILE LISTENING. Participating in a conversation with a defensive or insecure attitude can generate subconscious or intentional hostility. Finding ourselves uncomfortable in our surroundings— the office party, a gathering that our partner insists we attend—we subvert conversations through ignoring, counterfeit, and/or selective listening. When under the stress of an uncomfortable situation, we often defer to our baser instincts; resentment easily leads to hostility

ATTENTIVE LISTENING is an honest attempt to pay attention to what the other(s) is saying. We listen carefully to the words but neglect to analyze the motivation expressed within and between the words. We strive for content over context. “Words alone can be misleading … we fail to grasp the speakers’ intentions and the various social positions from which the words and intentions emanate” (Hollan 2008). Attentive Listening is an honorable attempt at authentic communication, and if we have reached this level of listening, we should take credit for a conscientious and caring effort. There is one form of listening that surpasses this, however—a holistic interaction that takes into consideration the inner motivation of the other(s), the desires, fears, apprehensions, intent, and so on.

Example: You attempt to engage a young man in conversation. He responds appropriately to the standard introductory questions. You lead into a discussion of a film you both have seen. He responds with verbal appropriateness yet is distracted and keeps looking about the room. You assume he is not interested in continuing the conversation or establishing a friendship. You assume he is unenthusiastic about your presence. You walk away without the knowledge that his father died the day before.

EMPATHETIC LISTENING is engaging with the other(s) with intent to intuitively and intellectually grasp his or her holistic being, willing to embrace the depth of motivation to cultivate a genuine interaction. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Experts estimate that ten percent of communication is represented by words, thirty by sounds, and the balance by body language. Our use of words is intentionally ambiguous because we need a means-of-escape should they be misconstrued, misappropriated, or exploited. The sounds we make―the grunts, the sighs―have meaning beyond words. As do the gestures, the facial expressions, the physical stance. Moods, perceptions, desires, feelings, intentions, ambitions―all are expressed through subtle physical signals. Empathetic Listening is understanding through participating within the other.

Example: Following-up the conversation with the young man in the “Attentive Listening”—during the discussion, you become aware of his shuffling of feet, lack of enthusiasm, difficulty with direct eye-contact. Rather than assuming it is because of you, you direct your attention to his urgencies. You recognize the possibility that he has something else on his mind. Perhaps you ask, “Am I making you uncomfortable?” If he shows interest in continuing, you might comment, “You seem distracted, What’s on your mind?” In any case, you have directed the emphasis away from you onto him. Yes, there is the possibility you will be rejected but you have already won. You have revealed a genuine empathy for another human being.

With ReChanneling and other revisionist methods of growth and recovery, we reclaim that goodness forever extant within, anxiously awaiting for reaffirmation. Experiences, circumstances, conditions cloud and distort our perception of who we are meant to be, and supersede our innate good goodness, shrouding it in apathy and ego, audacity and envy, buffoonery and self-indulgence. Goodness is never absent, never lost; it merely needs to be retrieved and brought back into the light. Once we reacclimatize to our good goodness, and begin to eliminate the selfish impediments to our growth, we rediscover that pleasurable feeling of strength and determination to do and be better, an acquisition that transforms the temerity of the reactive into the profound and formidable character of proactivity. It is during this process of recovery that our greater goodness begins to replenish our grace―not of religion but of inner quality and self-awareness―and that invigoration reanimates our aspiration to reach for the brass ring of greatest goodness, said aspiration catalyst to metanormal evolution. Although inaccessible in our current condition of wisdom, greatest goodness pre-conditionally makes itself available to the occasion of humanity’s collective ascension to the next level of consciousness, that excellence of being of which prophets, poets, and philosophers longingly speak.

SOURCES

Addiction. (2011). Definition of Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Rockville, MD: ASAM. Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction

Augustine of Hippo (2014). The City of God, 21.8. Pickerington, OH: Beloved Publishing LLC.

Covey S. R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 253. New York City: Simon and Schuster. Covey provides the basic concepts for the types of listening discussed.

Glasser, W. (1985). Positive Addiction. New York: Harper Colophon Books.

Hoffman, M. B. (2002). The Rehabilitative Ideal and the Drug Court Reality. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 14 (3/4), 172-178. From “Drug Sentencing: The State of the Debate in 2002.” Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20640422.

Hollan, D. (2008). Being There: On the Imaginative Aspects of Understanding Others and Being Understood. Ethos, 36:4, 479. San Francisco: Wiley for the American Anthropological Association. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20486593.

Lao-Tse. (1998). Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way. Ursula K. Le Guin: editor and coauthor. Boulder, CO: Shambhala; New edition.

Leonard, G. (1992). How to Have an Extraordinary Life. Psychology Today, 25:3, p. 2. New York: Sussex Publishers.

Murphy, M. (1992). The Future of the Body. Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

Mullen, R. F. (2016). The Art of Authenticity. Journal of Literature and Art Studies, July 2016, Vol. 6, No. 7. New York: David Publishing. Retrieved from www.davidpublisher.org/Public/uploads/Contribute/57426420547ed.pdf.

—– (2017). ReChanneling: Refining, Redefining, and Reinstating your values through the infinite fusion of mind, body, and spirit. Academia.edu, pp. 4-6. San Francisco: Academa.edu. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/32545782/ReChanneling.

O’Connor, P. (2014). Are There Positive Addictions? Psychology Today. New York: Sussex Publishers. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/philosophy-stirred-not-shaken/201411/are-there-positive-addictions. It is O’Conner’s article that alerted me to the erroneous findings of William Glasser.

Shakespeare, W. (2005). As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII. From William Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Stanley Wells, Editor. Oxford New Shakespeare, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition: Oxford, England.

Tolle, E. (2005). A New Earth , p.60. New York City: Westminster, London: Penguin. A Plume Book.

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© 2017 ReChanneling
Dr. Robert F. Mullen
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Dealing with the Loss that Accompanies Recovery

One major factor of Rechanneling is addressing the perception of loss that occurs at the elimination of the negative behavior. A common consensus is that the replacement of the bad behavior with an honorable, preferably, superior one generates enough positive feedback to mitigate any feeling of loss, and the accompanying feeling of emptiness; this is a false assumption. It is human nature to grieve the absence of a behavioral attachment that has been part-and-parcel of your being for years. However, as the godfather of human potential assures us, “…the loss of illusions and the discovery of identity, though painful at first, can be ultimately exhilarating and strengthening” (Maslow 1968).

How is the transformation from anxiety, dis-ease, and maladaptive behavior to recovery affected by Kübler-Ross’ stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance? The dynamic that detriment-lost is compensated by value-acquisition does not eliminate the sense of loss. While adjustment is contingent upon adaptability to change as well as the subject’s personal dependency, the stages of grief-in-recovery, be they Kübler-Ross’ or amended models, provide the transforming subject a clearer recognition of the feelings of uneasiness that arise upon commitment-to-recovery and its corollary perception of loss and emptiness.

WHEN WE CHOOSE TO REMAIN IN-DENIAL, WE RELEGATE BLAME TO ‘OTHERS’―PERSONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES THAT OFTEN HAVE NO TANGIBLE RELATIONSHIP TO OUR CONDITION

DENIAL
Prior to transformation, we dwell in a false reality of self-deceit and delusion. Reconciliation with, and recovery from immoral and maladaptive behavior is achieved only through unequivocal acceptance of our condition, and our willingness to change. As the foundation for action is established, this new awareness negates denial. When we choose to remain in-denial, we relegate blame to ‘others’―persons and circumstances that often have no tangible relationship to our condition. Our personal duplicity remains so ingrained, it challenges our potential to change out of fear of losing our illusory complacency. Unequivocal acceptance of our condition, a necessity for ReChanneling, encourages and facilitates the dissolution of denial.

ANGER
Although Weber (1919) advises that “bearing the (foreseeable) consequences of [our] actions,’ requires that [we] be able to face realities ‘with inner composure and calm’” (Williams 2008), the discomfort caused by our fractured Beingness complex (mind, body, spirit) often expresses itself as anger directed at self, friends, strangers, loved ones, speculative entities, family―even irrelevant associations. It is all too easy to deny situational reality through blaming, nagging, and shaming ‘others’. The substance-abuser will blame the intoxicant―I was so high, I didn’t know what I was doing―rather than taking personal responsibility. Remedying a life consumed by dis-ease demands personal accountability; our anger a positive ramification as it instigates self-analysis necessary for recovery. Once we accept our condition, this anger, turned inward, can be a catalyst for deeper introspection and self-examination. Animosity is thus rechanneled to deliberation.

BARGAINING
Many anonymous programs appeal to values based on religious beliefs where the bargaining stage is characterized by an attempt to negotiate with a ‘higher power’. Arbitrarily subordinating our will to that of another is a stultifying impediment to self-improvement. Scapegoating as substitution for personal accountability is a capitulation of the extraordinary power and will of the recovering individual. The only ‘higher power’ required for transformation is extant within us. Bargaining is a natural component of our defense mechanism. However, Rechanneling is less a negotiation than a positive acquisition towards transformation.

DEPRESSION
Depression manifests by an overwhelming sense of futility. Symptoms include the inability to function in a current job or family environment, emotional instability, and feelings of overwhelming hopelessness that often lead to thoughts of suicide. Depression is a conspicuous consequence of recovery because change is difficult, and loss formidable. This stultifying condition will linger even as we commit to recovery and conduct ourselves accordingly. Depression can reveal itself in lethargy, apathy, dispassion, anger, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, a sense of isolation, guilt, inept social engagement, issues of execution, and substance-abuse. Robust self-evaluation of the cause(s) of our injurious behavior will assist in the amelioration of depression.

ACCEPTANCE
Acceptance is honestly taking full responsibility for the existential, behavioral reality of our condition―who we are, why we have become who we are, and why we persist to be who we are in light of associative feelings of uneasiness.

IT IS RECOGNITION OF THE CAUSES(S) AND CIRCUMSTANCES(S) OF OUR CONDITION WHICH MOTIVATES OUR WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE

Until we begin the necessary steps towards transition, we remain dis-content. Contentment is a stasis of happiness, of satisfaction, synonymous to the fulfilling of purpose. Commitment to renewal is underscored by the acceptance of what can be altered, and what cannot, both fundamental to transformation. We cannot change the harmful actions of past events and circumstances, but we can confront them, analyze them, and place them into proper perspective. We can do likewise for things for which we are responsible, commit to not repeating them, and rechannel them to more worthy pursuits. Acceptance allows us to move beyond; it is recognition of the cause(s) and circumstance(s) of our condition which motivates our willingness to change that which is destructive. Acceptance leads to a renewed life with new potential, the breach to new possibilities.

Acceptance determines that we recognize the need and the means to confront and evaluate our current existence and its accessory behaviors. Whining that we want things to be different does not make them different. Rather than flailing about in our self-created, emotional morass of self-delusion and illusion, we need to clarify our role in our discomforting condition through introspection and inner-discourse, and strategize methods of reconciliation.

Acceptance is not acquiescence, resignation, or condoning. It is acceding to our ability to transform. We are endowed with a formidable capacity for change―the potential, no matter our disposition, to rechannel and modify issues that are psycho-physiologically detrimental to our innate goodness, thus granting accessibility to greater goodness.

FORGIVENESS
In addition to the stages-of-grief proposed by Kübler-Ross and subsequent revisionists, there is another element or stage indispensable to resolution―that of ‘forgiveness’. We cannot hope to function as a fully conscientious being without absolving both our self and others whose behavior contributed to our negative behavioral addictions. This forgiveness, which underscores the attributes of compassion, love, and introspection, is indispensable to the revival of our innate goodness. The ability to forgive is essential for transformation so that we can disencumber ourselves of the unresolved antagonisms of resentment and hate. The manifestation of maladaptive behavior is a consequence of choice. By adolescence, we have been made aware, either by example, cultural maturation, or instruction, that behavior no longer hinges on the actions of others but remains, primarily, a function of our own cognitive decision-making. The realization of our need for accountability is facilitated by a deep awareness of self and its interconnection to others as we recognize our “humanity and [commit to taking our] place in the human community” (Bauer et al. 1992). This requires opening our hearts and letting go of our misplaced identities, expectations, and beliefs. It opens us to new possibilities. It encourages us to “break out of the old and rigid patterns of thought” (Paranjape 2007) and opens us to nerw possibilities. The act of forgiveness yields a future undetermined by the past, granting us the wherewithal to access our innate greater goodness.

THE ACT OF FORGIVENESS FALLS TO THE FORGIVER AND, AS FORGIVER, WE REAP THE BENEFITS.

Forgiveness is a virtue that must be embraced in order to promote a homeostasis within our Beingness complex. Forgiveness is imperative, even for those acts deemed unforgivable; recovery is severely inhibited when we allow past transgressions to overwhelm our capacity to transform. Forgiving is purification; forgiveness of others cleanses the forgiver more than the offender. Forgiveness does not excuse or forget the act but absolve us from fixating on the perpetrator. Forgiving is the overriding of bitterness with positive feelings, thoughts, and behavior. We forgive in order to promote change within our self; the act of forgiveness falls to the forgiver and, as forgiver we reap the benefits. It is not an easy task―to forgive. Our innate drive for vengeance can be formidable, and even offenses unremembered, subconsciously cry out for retribution. That is why, when we forgive, the rewards are considerable. Forgiving is the disposition of the bitterness and anger that permeates the mind-body-spirit complex, freeing up space for things beneficial to our transformation.

SELF-FORGIVENESS
The act of self-forgiveness is more demanding than forgiving others because we treat our own perceived abominations more rigorously. An important aspect of the self-forgiveness process is experiencing the grief that accompanies the loss of an obsession that has, for so long, permeated our being.

Self-forgiving is the letting go of our guilt and the abandoning of the things that fill us with so much negativity, we leave little room for possibility. Our psyches are splintered by the internal clash between the self that wants to change, the consciousness that innately realizes its evolutionary potential, and the self that impedes and obstructs. (Mullen 2016)

In efforts to facilitate recovery, we must initiate inner-discourse by pitting our self as interrogator against our self as responder until we reach a unifying consensus. Self-forgiveness begins when we reach the conclusion that the disconnectedness, brought on by our unwillingness to confront our condition, becomes so fundamentally discomforting that resolution is essential for emotional survival.

It is imperative to realize that we are not alone nor are we bad; we are lonely, fractured, and ignorant. Acceptance of our condition and commitment to remedy initiates reparation. “Everything that is good, then, is good to the extent that it is unified in a balanced and harmonious way, and its being good is explained by its unification” (Kraut 2010). Errors in judgment are merely experiences when we commit to rectification. Vitz and Meade (2011) propose the following, inherent to the “healing aspects to self-forgiving which are said to explain its effectiveness”: Accessing our innate ability (a) to make self-reparation to atone “for that crime’s bad effect on the self”; (b) to reintegrate after splitting; in other words, to incorporate the core integrated person that results from the collaboration of our gain of our good self with the loss of our bad self; and (c) to self-transcend, which is the purpose of forgiveness and subsequent transformation.

References

Bauer, L., Duffy, J., Fountain, E., Halling, S., Holzer, M., Jones, E., Leifer, M. & Rowe, J. O. (1992). Exploring Self-Forgiveness. Journal of Religion and Health, 31 (2). 149-160. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27510687

Kraut, R. (2010). What Is Intrinsic Goodness? Classical Philology, 105 (4), Special Issue: Beauty, Harmony, and the Good, 450-462. Chicago: The University of Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/657030

Kübler-Ross, E. & Kessler, D. (2104). On Grief and Grieving. New York: Scribner.

Maslow, Abraham H. (1968.) Toward a Psychology of Being. New York City: D. Van Nostrand Company.

Mullen, R. F. (2016). ReChanneling. Academia.edu. Retrieve from https://www.academia.edu/32545782/ReChanneling_ReChanneling_Clinical_Motivational_Seminars_Workshops_Education_ReChanneling_Refining_redefining_and_reinstating_your_values_through_the_infinite_fusion_of_mind_body_and_spirit

Paranjape, K. (2007). Creativity in Arts and Science. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 88, 219-243. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute: Pune, Maharashtra, India. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41692095

Vitz, P. C. & Meade, J. M. (2011). Self-forgiveness in Psychology and Psychotherapy. A Critique. Journal of Religion and Health, 50 (2), 248-263. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41349785

Weber M. (1919) Politik als Beruf [Politics as a Vocation]. In Gesammelte Politische Schriften. Potsdam, Germany: Potsdamer Internet-Ausgabe, Universität Potsdam. Retrieved from http://www.uni-potsdam.de/u/paed/pia/index

Williams, G. (2008). Responsibility as a Virtue. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11 (4), 455-470. New York City: Springer. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40284254.

© 2017 ReChanneling
Dr. Robert F. Mullen
robertfmullen.com
ReChanneling@yahoo.com
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