Stress does not come from the environment, it comes from the mind of the individual under stress. We make certain assumptions about the world, and we become attached to those assumptions.
We believe our interpretations of reality intensely, and we want other people to join us in our interpretations to make us feel secure. We believe our interpretations are reality and if we can get enough votes we will prove it.
The duration of this developmental stage, the stage of pretending and trying on roles to establish or invent who you are, depends on the culture in which you live. The more technological the culture, the longer the stage endures. Bush-men have one year—from 11 to 12 years of age—to form their identities; by the age of 12 they have chosen a vocation, gotten married, started making babies, and assumed adult roles. In our culture, adolescence lasts from age 11 to about 30 or 35.
The job of psychotherapy is to re-ground people in the world of experience. We run around in the world while running around in our minds trying to live up to standards we imagine others are requiring of us, while we starve for the nourishment that comes from commonplace experience. We end up trying to eat the menu instead of the meal. Menus are nutritionally without value and taste like shit no matter what pretty pictures decorate their surface.
Once we have re-centered ourselves in our experience, which is the position we inhabited as children, we can finally use our minds as instruments for creation rather than as defense systems for our image of who we are.
Managing the disease of moralism is done by telling the truth like children do before they lose their innocence.
When we hear, we are creating sound. When we see, we are creating what is seen in our visual cortex. When we integrate sight, sound, smell, touch, balance, movement, etc., our involuntary nervous system creates the world.
We are afraid of losing who we think we are, which is special, and we are afraid of becoming who we actually are, which is not special.
“Oh, but I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.” —Bob Dylan
We fear we may destroy others with our truth-telling.
The three levels are: 1 – revealing the facts; 2 – honestly expressing current feelings and thoughts; and, finally, 3 – exposing the fiction you have devised to represent yourself and your history.
A successful life, in contrast, is one in which you can share with others openly, as your life happens, without all that rehearsal.
Honesty, however, is a behavior and is something I can choose or not choose. I cannot decide to love or trust, but I can decide to be personally honest or not. And when I choose to be really honest and say what I experience and what I feel, I am showing that I can be trusted.
“I’m too tired,” “I can’t take it anymore,” “It’s not worth the struggle,” and “I’ve got to get out of this place,” are products of incomplete disclosure of feelings toward, and thoughts about, others.
If you have never truly embarrassed yourself by what you had to say about yourself, you don’t know shit from shmola about transformation.
You confess that you developed your act in order not to appear lost and in hopes of finding your way by faking it.
Level three is sharing with other people in ways that occasionally allow you to overcome your own egotism, including the egotism that comes from thinking you are great for telling the truth.
But the practice of taking it less seriously can’t be taken too seriously or we are back in our minds again. The less credence we give to our minds’ ongoing activity, the more we detach from identifying with that activity, the less it wears us out.
Life is a game in which the rules change as the game progresses, and you have to know where you are in the game to know what rules to play by. Furthermore, you can’t ever be certain where you are in the game, and the rules don’t always apply.
You work and work and work and finally give up. Then, once you have lost hope, if you keep playing, you’re a pro.
When we reveal more, we have less to hide.
In this way, telling the truth makes intimacy and freedom possible.
I feel virtuous and proud to be the kind of guy I am. (author)
Learning to balance consciously the daydreaming and living requires a clear distinction between lying and the truth. What clears the space for that distinction is getting to where you don’t care what anyone knows about you.
You see, all that I just said about myself is true. All of what I just said about myself is also a joke. All of what I just said about myself is just a memory, kept alive for a few seconds again so I can feel consistent about who I think I am. Getting born again feels real good for a while, until we get to thinking that who we are is someone who got born again. That someone who got born again needs to die again, and get born again, again. And so forth.
The language of the being is descriptive language. The language of the mind is evaluative language.
Language has the power to evoke the being of human beings and rescue them from their own minds. Skill in the use of this kind of language develops through the practice of telling the truth. The clearer I am willing to be about myself, the more clearly I can see others and the more clearly I can speak to them. You too.
Honest people speak simply, using language more to describe than to evaluate. Liars evaluate almost exclusively, only using enough description to make the story believable.
Learning to describe, to speak what is simply true, requires an unlearning of hard-earned preconceptions and a relearning of how to perceive with as little preconception as possible.
Normal people are concerned with figuring out the right thing to say that puts them in the best light.
What passes for sanity is an agreed-on form of insanity, which is an attempt to make life work out by legislating ideals and imposing values in our own minds and selling them to other minds.
Learning to Love Insecurity
That paradoxical state—comfortable uncertainty—is a prerequisite for a creative, fulfilling life. Growing and sharing, rather than stag- nation, occur in a context of uncertainty.
Usually by the time the real truth gets pointed to with words or a finger, it is gone or changed.
Telling the truth is always interpreted by the mind as a threat to its security.
According to Sigmund Freud, the primary psychological problems of Western persons in his day were the result of sexual repression; that is, people being taught to deny that they had feelings in their genitals.
Just as we fear the consequences of expressing anger or sexual feelings, we fear the consequences of giving and receiving love.
When we try to avoid fully experiencing the dreaded sensation or emotion, we get trapped in the frenetic babbling of our minds. Have you ever noticed that after you have had an uncomfortable encounter with someone in which you didn’t fully express how you felt at the time, your mind talks to you incessantly?
A human being can only be aware of three things: 1. things happening in the immediate environment, 2. feelings and sensations inside the body, and 3. thoughts and fantasies. Most of us spend most of our time paying attention to the third category, the mind-stream, and have lost touch with what is actually happening inside our skin and right in front of us.
To make things worse, the “damned ingrate” usually sees himself or herself as another unappreciated hero, sacrificing self-expression for the health of the relationship. As we accumulate resentment for not being appreciated for sacrificing our lives to protect others, our acts of love and courage become poisoned memories. The person who loved you and whom you used to love becomes the biggest pain-in-the-ass of your life.
We must be willing to be angry rather than decent and fair, because angry, rather than decent and fair, is what we presently are.
Express your anger without having to justify it.
Lots of behaviors indicate anger. If you gossip about someone to someone else, you are angry.
Try treating other people as shitty as you treat yourself.
The problem is that ideas about forgiveness are not forgiveness. They don’t even help.
You may notice that you’d rather stare at the television than look into his eyes. It takes a lot of courage to change this. You must be willing for things to get worse before they get better.
Most resentments are irrational, unreasonable, stupid, and based on incomplete information. Making a successful case for how your resentment is “right” and how the other person is “wrong” isn’t the solution; it’s the problem.
It’s unreasonable to resent parents for growing old, babies for crying, men for being men, or women for being women. But we do.
To be free of anger, we have to give up this belief and allow our resentments and other people’s resentments to be expressed even if they are completely irrational.
The people who actually get to the top are both more nasty and more loving. They are not good little passive-aggressive ass-kissers. They are more likely to be ass-kickers.
Repressing anger to control other people’s behavior (in this case, to keep them from leaving) is ultimately what leads to our inability to make contact with them.
“How can I express my resentment in such a way that I strengthen, rather than destroy, my relationships with others?”
Paying attention to the experience of feeling in the body while angry is the key to learning how to use anger rather than have anger use you. That awareness of feeling in the body is what causes anger to change from a destructive force to a usable power.
Fear of intimacy.
Your anger is unreasonable and unfair. Let it stay that way. Trying to make it seem reasonable—trying to make the resented person wrong—is the source of all the judgments.
The process of forgiveness involves the following six minimal requirements, none of which may be skipped. 1. You have to tell the truth about what specific behavior you resent, to the person, face-to-face; 2. You have to be verbally and vocally unrestrained with regard to volume and propriety; 3. You have to pay attention to the feelings and sensations in your body and to the other person as you speak; 4. You have to express any appreciations for the person that come up in the process, with the same attention to your feelings and to the other person as when you are expressing resentments; 5. You have to stay with any feelings that emerge in the process, like tears or laughter, regardless of any evaluations you may have about how it makes you look; 6. You have to stay with the discussion until you no longer feel resentful of the other person.
Love is when you let someone be the way she is.
Start your sentences as often as possible with the words “I resent you for …” or “I appreciate you for …”
Make yourself uncomfortable on purpose.
You might begin by expressing a judgment, but you must eventually get specific.
Stay in touch with your experience as you talk, If you just present someone with a rehearsed, care fully-worded statement about your resentment, you probably won’t have much of an experience of your anger dissipating.
Go see Grandma and tell her the truth.
People are scared of feeling anger, but they are terrified of experiencing love.
Here is a quick review of the rules of thumb about anger: • Whenever possible, talk face-to-face to the person with whom you are angry. • Start your sentences as often as possible with the words, “I resent you for . . .” or “I appreciate you for. . . .” • Speak in the present tense. • Eventually, get specific. • Don’t stop with general descriptions of behavior or general judgments. • Focus as much as you can on what did happen instead of what didn’t happen. • Stay in touch with your experience as you talk. • Stay there with the person beyond the time it takes to exchange resentments. • After you both have fully expressed your specific resentments, state your appreciations the same way. • Keep it up.
We are not willing to kiss anybody’s ass by lying to them, including each others’.
The problem with all of this is, when we are mad at someone, the first thing we want to do to punish him is to cut him off by turning him into a category, which then gives us a chance to have an orgasm of righteous indignation.
I relate to you as a thing or a being
\1. Tell each other your entire life story, taking about 3 hours each. 2. Tell each other your complete sexual history, including how many people you have had sex with, what gender they were and the details of what you did with them. 3. Masturbate to orgasm in front of each other with no assistance from each other. 4. Tell each other of any affairs, near-affairs, necking, arousal, daydream or flirtation you have engaged in since you have known each other. 5. Take turns with a half-hour monologue in which one of you agrees to be silent for 30 minutes while the other speaks. Tell your partner everything you resent them for and everything you appreciate them for. After you have both taken a turn, talk about the two monologues for at least a half an hour. Whichever of the above you haven’t done that you least want to do, do first.
Telling the Truth About Sex
There are three areas of conversation about sex, sexual history, sex with each other, and current sexual activities or interests other than the partner.
There is no such thing as “none of your business” in an intimate relationship.
It is your responsibility to train your partner to please you.
As in other areas of life, when people don’t feel like they have to perform, they are free to perform.
When you don’t say and do what you want, don’t blame your partner.
Nostalgia, a mixture of love and hate for a memory, is easier for cowards than reality.
The nostalgia for what used to be, combined with resentment and hope for renewal, produces what we call romantic love. Romantic love is highly overrated. Romantic love is not as strong as a new friendship based on telling the truth.
Creating is a lot more fun than bitching and whining. Stay involved with other people committed to telling the truth and to something bigger than their own comfort.
Make requests from your mate for what you want but stay willing to take care of yourself. “If you want to please me, if you want to know what would make me happy, here is what I would really like for you to do: ____. If you don’t do that; it’s O.K., I’m a big girl (boy), and I will take care of it myself. You are not obligated to make or keep me happy or to do what I want, I am responsible for my own happiness. If I get mad at you, I will handle it, and I’ll get over it. If I get disappointed, I’ll be responsible for my own disappointment.”
There was time for life to pass through cycles in which tension alternated with periods of rest and regeneration.
Diseases of Overstimulation without Reprieve: Insomnia, fatigue, jitteriness, inability to relax, inability to concentrate, boredom, “creative blocks,” depression, and being overweight are some of the symptoms.
Beer and food—the poor person’s tranquilizers.
We have all experienced well-being and have memories of times we felt whole and full and fine. Well-being has to be continually relearned and re-experienced through a redirection of attention away from the preconceptions of the mind and toward the experiences of excitement in the body.
If you’re tired and sick take a break. Take it easy. Don’t worry, be happy.
The source of personal power is the ability to interrupt your own mind.
Nothing interrupts the mind like telling the truth.
What happens when therapy works and keeps on work- ing is that people want to learn about how to stay well. They become interested in living in the world by constantly renewing their leases on life rather than by being lost in their minds.
Our minds’ attempts to finally solve life’s meaning are in no way related to the good life.
Learning to take care of ourselves creatively rather than resentfully is a big step in growing up. When we take such good care of ourselves that we have all we need, the overflow to generosity with others is possible.
The primary, fundamental, essential, baseline, critical, lowest-level minimum requirement for happiness, without which there is no other hope, is a willingness to take care of oneself.
Rather than attending to what we know we should do, we can pay attention to our bodies—our ongoing bio-feedback system—and operate according to that, rather than our memories of what we learned before.
Resistance causes pain to persist and surrender causes pain to decrease.
Growing up is not just a continual accumulation of new learning: you have to ditch some of what you learned before.
So at this third phase of therapy, some of the work is ferreting out current manipulations or attempts at manipulation, and various forms of emotional blackmail learned ear- lier in life, and confessing them to the historical and the current victims.
The figure in the foreground, the mind-bound, harried, “shouldistic” warrior, moves to the background—still alive and well and whole, but no longer leading—and the heretofore back- ground figure, the quiet animal who walks and laughs, taking what’s so in nature, comes to the foreground—even in the city, and even at work.
Psychological well-being comes out of the re-discovery that you are the Creator. Most of our education is to prevent such a thing from happening.
What fools us into being neurotic is the desire to hold on to some experiences and to avoid others. Experience changes constantly, so we move to fantasies and worries which also change—but at a slower rate. This gives us a sense of control. Most of us will trade anything we have for a good false sense of control.
Power resides in persons, not in techniques.
Effort is the opposite of power.
Our energy is totally invested in maintaining our lives the way they are, and the phony struggle for change only conceals the ways in which the status quo serves us. Our apparent battle for change is a tempest in a teapot. As long as I identify my “self only as that desire to change and not also as a presently more powerful desire to remain the same, I will remain stuck. In a sense, I can change, finally, only by giving up trying to change. In order for things to get better, they must first get worse. In order to get out of debt, we have to acknowledge how it serves us to be in debt. In order to lose weight, we have to be in touch with, and confront, how we also want to stay fat.
Struggling to change is what you do to hide from something worse. Struggling to change is a way to avoid facing the abyss, and if the abyss could be avoided, it would be a good idea. The abysmal truth is that everything comes to nothing. No change matters. Whatever you don’t have is only important to you because you don’t have it. Something you want is very important to you until you get it, and then it’s nothing after a while.
Whatever your main struggle is, it is insignificant in the face of your death; it is petty and unimportant and has no meaning at all.
Each of us has had experiences of effortless change or accomplishment—results that we produced so effortlessly, and often against such odds, that it seemed almost as though they were done through us instead of by us. It’s not that they weren’t’ difficult or challenging. It’s that we were somehow free to confront the tasks, to throw the full force of our minds and bodies into them, rather than somehow, inexplicably, held back from within.
Responsibility means that whatever you are doing, you are willing to experience yourself as the cause. You are the source of your troubles as well as of your successes.
As long as you are blaming, explaining, apologizing, trying, resolving to be good, hoping or feeling guilty, you are not being responsible.
Your “pretend” self, that doesn’t include your imperfection, has to die. Then, you again become a whole being.
To perceive and conceive anew, rather than reconceive, is the whole challenge. One has to re-open oneself beyond preconception over and over again. It feels like dying. Coming alive always feels like dying, because you are giving up your previous conceptual orientation—your previous personality —for a new and uncertain beginning.
The modifications of the mind are memories, principles, conclusions, morals, and beliefs. Telling the truth is the particular “yog’tr” practice necessary in our time to inhibit them.
Having an image of who we are and how we should behave is a great constraint on us.
When you are talking about yourself, you can’t be telling the truth about anything but an imagining you have. Descriptive words evoke feelings that come and then go away. Thus, even when you speak honestly in any given moment, by describing what you are experiencing, it often be- comes no longer true.
Tom Robbins said, in Still Life with Woodpecker, that the question of the age was “How do you make love stay?” You don’t. You let it come and go. Then there is a new opening for new love.
I can depend on my alertness more than my certainty that I’m right.
Commercials in our own minds constantly whisper to us of something else we should be doing: watching TV, playing the guitar, going out to eat, playing video games, sitting on the front deck, sitting on the back deck, eating food, drinking alcohol, smoking dope, having a meeting, playing golf, running, working, etc. This whisper goes on day and night: a background conscientiousness that bugs the shit out of us. It says, “While you are doing this, you are missing all the rest.” How do you calm down enough to re-contact being in the midst of all this?
There is already more to be learned than can be learned.
We have to let go of possibilities for the future as well as memories from the past. We burn out from holding on to possibilities for the future, in just the same way we deaden ourselves by trying to hold on to and live up to images and values from the past.
Every time you make up your mind to say yes to one thing you have to decide at the same time to say no to forty others.
When we are trying to protect and preserve our image of who we are, much of our time is spent in worrying. When we try to improve our image, much of our time is spent in fantasy.
Being willing is more important than being right. Paul Tilhch called this willingness “the courage to be,” and was careful to differentiate it from bravery due to a strong will.
When you are lying, when you are keeping a secret, when you are withholding information or feelings in any moment, you are always doing that to protect something meaningless. You are usually protecting a memory to preserve a constant state of being.
Positive thinking is for negative people. With positive thinking and affirmations, we start from an image of ourselves as flawed, and try to use thinking as a strategy to make ourselves whole. Thinking is not the source of power. Being is the source of power. And in being, we are already whole.
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.
I can only tell the truth that is my truth at the moment. We don’t have to agree with each other about how things are. We just have to listen to each other and get how things are for each other, now.