Imagining the Worst

It’s amazing the little games we play in our heads.  What’s sad about them is that those games often run our emotions and our lives while “we” feel we don’t have any control.  Our rapidly developing healing method of guided head movements has given us a new tool to stop the games and our experience with it has caused us to look at what we think and feel much more closely.  We’ve been making good use of the “digital readout” of finger Kinesiology and a little (dare I say it?) analytical thinking to sort out just what is going through our wordless thoughts and why.  The most fascinating part of it has been finally recognizing some of our outmoded, compartmentalized, convoluted, and unworkable strategies for navigating our lives for what they are; outmoded, compartmentalized, convoluted, and unworkable…, not to mention the fact that they rarely succeed and make us feel even more miserable.

One such strategy we’ve come to recognize as rampant is imagining the worst.  Many of us were taught to do just that when we were kids, because our parents firmly believed it would keep us safe or were just repeating what they had been told by their parents.  (“Don’t play in the street… You’ll get run over!”)  It’s easy to repeat clichés, and a lot harder for moms and dads to give thoughtful advice to help children find their way through life without instilling fear and worry.  Once their kids reach school age, many parents can’t or won’t take the time to engage in the process of actually giving their children experience with adult aspects of living life along with requisite patient reassurance.

Largely, our parents just wanted to protect us, but the patterns set a little too well for many of us and we unconsciously came to use worrying as virtual reality protection in a danger filled world.  Now in our adulthood, not only do we make pictures in our minds of what we don’t want to have happen, often it’s the most painful, disastrous result we can think of and we wig ourselves out.  The picture is so horrifying to a part of us that it turns on all our inner fire alarms and shuts down our motivational engines, stopping us dead in the water.  (It’s better to be really, really careful…) 

We think of situations going astray way before they ever do, often before we even make a move toward dealing with them.  For many people, negative imagining goes on constantly in the mind and is so habitual that it goes largely unnoticed by thoughtful awareness.  It repeats and repeats because the pattern isn’t recognized in an enlightening way.  It lacks a triggering “aha” moment.  The amazing thing is how we actually feel the emotional pain of (bad) results we envision happening as if we were already experiencing them.  They’re not happening in sequential time and may never, but it is so completely real in our own minds that that it “is”, right now.

Usually this is done with little or no proof that our fantasy scenario will ever happen.  It comes from F.E.A.R.—False Evidence, Appearing Real.  It’s not just the evidence that’s false, it’s our belief in the appropriateness of our emotional response in the face of a lack of knowing what the outcome will really be.  We all have access to knowing outcomes in advance (it’s called intuition) and there are practical ways to get there.  First we have to clear our minds of cyclical fearful imagining.

For some, worrying is gravely incapacitating.  They “know” that their delayed medical test results are because they have a fatal illness and tie themselves into knots when it’s just a busy week at the lab.  They have fantasy conversations with the boss that end in their request for a raise turning into a demeaning confrontation, so they don’t ask.  They hesitate to return calls from the bank because they’re sure they’re overdrawn when it’s just a customer survey.  I know.  I’ve done similar things for years.  It’s a tough way to live.

Happily, as I came to heal a number of pieces of my worry system I was able to start observing it in action in a calm, rational way and lately could stop it before my fearful imagining would get too intense.  What was truly remarkable for me was the day earlier this week when I realized that everything would be peacefully resolved with something I was in the heat of struggling with; setting up the new blog on our Mesa website.  I had an experience of, um… “feel-knowing” it on some new level even while my mind was still fretting and my emotions were churning out fear and doubt.  I witnessed the polarity of these two opposing realities and recognized that the situation I was dealing with could and would go another way; calmly and successfully.  I knew-knew it would simply be a matter of time.  I didn’t need to get suddenly smarter or call in the cyber Marines to handle it for me.

This, I feel, was a benefit of many healings with our guided head movement technique.  When I have been the recipient of these healings, I can absolutely feel that each will eventually allow me to reset my inner operating system about the issue at hand and resolve my resistance into acceptance and knowing.  I have no doubts, the only unknown being how many repetitions it might take.  (My record is something like 14.)  Somehow the process has been allowing me to slowly let go of worry as a pseudo coping mechanism and wade into life’s deeper waters without it.

I suppose that the trouble was that when my parents showed me how to worry about being a small one in a big world, they never told me when I could stop.  When would I be old enough to get things done with adult facility and confidence without feeling like a helpless child?  I robotically followed the program in the absence of a new command.  You’ve seen the cartoon version of this:  The absentminded inventor instructs his mechanical creation to cut up the vegetables for soup.  “Don’t stop until you’ve cut everything up,” he says, rushing off to a meeting.  The robot proceeds to chop up all the veggies, and then starts in on chopping up the furniture and everything else in the kitchen because it wasn’t told to stop chopping.  It’s funnier in the cartoons than it is in our lives.

Using muscle testing, we found that it was not “I”, the more outward, impersonal, savvy part of myself that interfaces rather freely with the world that didn’t know when to stop imagining the worst.  It was that inner, deeper, more private and emotional me, the part that knows itself as “You” (as in “Didn’t I tell You not to do that?!!”).  That part of me knew that worrying didn’t really help to solve things, but literally couldn’t help itself from engaging in it.

It couldn’t stop.  It couldn’t not do it and the bond was palpable.  It knew how to, but a circuit breaker had been set and padlocked in place that prevented it somehow.  I saw it consciously ,but couldn’t get around it and into action.  As my wife, Kate, helped me with the guided shaking and nodding of my head as I made the statement “You can’t stop imagining the worst,” I could feel the padlock come off with a whole body-compressing twitch.  Then I felt something inside of me expand.  It only had taken a few repetitions to shift.  That’s how lightly that iron fetter was held in place.

When I went back to the computer, I found solutions to all of the problems I was having setting up technical aspects of not only the blog itself, but also how to seamlessly link it to our website.  I found them on Google, the same place I had unsuccessfully searched the same body of information the previous day.  After that it was only a matter of mouse clicks; robotic work, but done by me with new emotional ease, confidence, and awareness.  I had gotten past an emotional wall and I felt a new kind of capability, without having any new skills.

The experience was a reminder that memorizing facts or learning sequences for doing tasks are not the only keys to learning.  In our souls, we have an innate faith and optimism in our human potential that can help us to solve any of life’s riddles.  We just need to begin to deconstruct our layers of old habits, mind games, and emotional escape routes for that Light to shine through.  It starts with becoming diligently and more honestly self-aware.  It’s easier when we have the support of people who really care to hold space for us as we take baby steps.  We’re here to teeter along with you and catch you if you stumble.  Let’s take a walk.

About Brad Silberberg

Brad Silberberg, director of The Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh area) is an artist, holistic healer, spiritual leader, and change agent.
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