Category Archives: Self-Help

THE REAL THING

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We have been assured that Coke is the “real thing.”  Also Jesus is the “real thing” and Hillary WAS the real thing but actually, come to think about it, whatever you really believe in [ or are promoting ] could be construed as the real thing. In my experience, this is a dangerous proposition because it simultaneously implies that all other participants in the domain – Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Buddhism, Ted Cruz – are merely pretenders to to the throne, wanna-be’s. Because the REAL THING, for Christ’s sake, is the precious fragment of pure gold lying in a sea of impure alloys. It is our self-appointed mission as human beings to find this thing and forsake all others.  Like a soul mate or something.

Forget about it. You’ll be a lot happier.

 

LANGUAGE & REALITY

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Words matter.  Whether spoken aloud or self talk, words are the FABRIC that weaves together our perception of the way things are. It’s not that the words have magic, it’s more that we give them magic — they have the power to influence, magnify, focus and set the entire framework that we use to view the world.  In other words, language creates and maintains our psychological “reality.” Words and thoughts are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them. Can you have a thought without words?  Can you have words without thoughts? Shakespeare though it was possible but not a great idea:

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

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Clearly our choice of words influences, insults, and charms other people. But perhaps more importantly, if we say the right words to ourselves often enough, they can completely alter our attitude.  The good news is that the mind is very susceptible to positive programming. The bad news is that the programmer is often asleep or in some endless daydream of worry and anxiety.  Wake up and encourage yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

THE FEAR OF DEATH

THE FEAR OF DEATH  by Dr. Michael Thweatt

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Seasons don’t fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun or the rain.  We can be like they are…

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As human beings, we fear a lot of things. If the fear becomes exaggerated and irrational, it is considered to be a phobia. Always high on the phobia list is fear of snakes, spiders, heights and crowded spaces.

 

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Ironically, FEAR OF DEATH (THANATOBIA), is often missing from the lists of most common phobias.  Death is so scary and so avoided it is not even considered a phobia by a lot of people.  Of course for the fear of death to be a true phobia, it must be irrational – so therein lies the issue: is it RATIONAL to fear death?  Can there be a “rational” fear of death, compared to a more obsessive “irrational” fear of death?

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WOODY ALLEN & DEATH

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WOODY ALLEN once observed that the fear of public speaking was the number one reported phobia, even ranking above the fear of death. He concluded that people must be more afraid of delivering the eulogy than being in the coffin.

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“When the music’s over, turn out the lights.”

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 It could be argued that people fear death above all else, because it is the end of all other projects. As JIM MORRISON bleakly but succinctly puts it:

This is the end, my only friend, the end.  Of our elaborate plans, the end.  Of everything that stands, the end.  No safety or surprise, the end.   I’ll never look into your eyes, again.”

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THE DENIAL OF DEATH

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In his astonishing masterpiece, the Denial of DeathErnest Becker argues that death-denial propels us to engage in activities, beliefs and “projects’ that affirm our immortality, despite strong evidence to the contrary: 100 Billion human beings are estimated to have lived and died since the emergence of homo sapiens. What makes you an exception to the rule? 

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StephenWright

Comedian STEPHEN WRIGHT declares his IMMORTALITY PROJECT with more simple honesty than most humans:  “I plan to live forever. So far, so good.”

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RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL RESPONSES TO DEATH

CHRISTIAN

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Christians believe in a Life after Death, in which the individual personality is preserved.  In other words, the body-less “soul” remains an individual and furthermore retains awareness of others so that they may be recognized in the “here-after,” thus enabling a reunion in heaven.

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EXISTENTIAL

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For Existentialists, the key problem is that people can’t conceive of non-existence and so we make the fundamental error of importing existence into the concept of death. To put it simply, people are terrified of being dead, but you can never BE dead, because when you die, you ARE NOT. So, we mistakenly project a continued consciousness past death and create the horrors of hell and wonders of heaven to fill the vastness of eternal time.

You experience dying, you don’t experience death. There is no blackness, void, loneliness, pain, burning in hell fire, glory in heaven, etc. There is not even nothing because nothingness is a concept. There are no concepts, no words, nada. To talk or think about death is self-defeating because you are imposing language and the dynamics of consciousness on that which is not.

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BUDDHIST

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Buddhist believe the “self” is not a permanent thing.  The self is a socially-constructed, temporarily convenient invention.  Useful, but it doesn’t have the inherent “realness” of the body.   So, grieve not, nor should you ask  for whom the bell tolls, because we are ephemeral as individuals. Attachment equals grief because all things must pass.

 

ANXIETY, TIME & LANGUAGE by Dr. Michael Thweatt

ANXIETY, TIME & LANGUAGE  by  Dr. Michael Thweatt

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ANXIETY is the mother of most psychological disorders and problems. Alcoholism, phobias, drug abuse, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, all stem from anxiety.  In fact, it’s fair to say that many psychological problems are merely symptoms of the fundamental disease – anxiety.

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Anxiety comes from dwelling on  the PAST or FUTURE.   Of course, it’s natural to “visit” past events and future scenarios – but if you start to dwell there, live there, establish your residence there, it can become a real problem.  if you start to import past regrets and future concerns into the present, then you lay the foundation for anxiety.

TIME JUMPING

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“Time jumping” into the past and future  is one of the legacies of acquiring language.  Awareness of it is the key to moderating anxiety.   It helps to develop a sensitivity for the trigger words that send us temporarily away from the present.

For Past Time Jumping, a key phrase is “if only.”  If you stop to think about “if only” is about the most useless and self-destructive mental exercises you can engage in.  “If only” is at the heart of all regrets.  If only I had done this other thing, instead of what I actually did, life would now be perfect.  Wrong.  But we obsess about it anyway.  Let’s consider some specific examples:

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IF  ONLY I HAD STAYED IN COLLEGE

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IF ONLY I HADN’T PUT THAT MESCALINE IN MY BEER.

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IF ONLY I HAD ASKED HER OUT ON A DATE.

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IF ONLY I HAD BOUGHT 100 SHARES OF MICROSOFT IN 1986

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WHAT’S THE POINT OF SAYING ‘IF ONLY” ??

It is completely ridiculous to cry about “if only.”  You can’t go back in time and re-write history, so why wonder about it?_____________________________________________________

For Future Time Jumping, a key phrase is “what if?”  Let’s consider some specific examples:

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WHAT IF I GET ATTACKED BY FIRE-PROOF ZOMBIES AND THERE’S NO WHERE TO HIDE?

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WHAT IF I FORGET TO SEND MY GIRLFRIEND A VALENTINE CARD?

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WHAT IF BATMAN HAD THE POWERS OF THOR & SUPERMAN?

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DON’T WASTE TIME WITH “WHAT IF”!

Most of the future “what ifs” we worry about will never come to pass.  So it is simply an anxiety project to speculate about them.   If you can slow down the inevitable human propensity to time jump and dwell in the simple present, you will be much calmer.

But WHAT IF you can’t slow down enough to BE HERE NOW?
IF ONLY you had studied Zen Buddhism at an earlier age….