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Posted January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Instinx (General)

OCD and Other Misleading Labels

I was asked a question on Quora today which is far too convoluted and long to quote but which amounts to: What can I do about my obsession re aging?

Here’s my reply: Thanks for entrusting your question to me. I’ll do my best to give you at least what I see as useful here.

Firstly, whenever we are dealing with conditions that are labelled by psychologists and psychiatrists – in this case OCD, Autism and other similar labels – we must remember that these labels don’t describe a discrete and unique condition like Mumps or Bronchitis. The difference here is that once the doctor knows that it is Mumps, then that diagnosis leads to a cure. Diagnosis should lead to an undoing of the condition. If it doesn’t, it’s not a true diagnosis but merely an APPROXIMATION OF SYMPTOMS.

The vast majority of so-called psychological diagnoses DO NOT cure anything – they simply point to what drugs to take to suppress the worst symptoms observed. In other words, the goal is not to cure, but to control.

So labels like OCD aren’t names that precisely reflect reality, they are simply category names for certain types of symptoms that can be affected by drugs in a similar manner.

In my opinion, these labels often do more harm than good. They give people the mistaken idea that their condition is understood by the experts. The only person who really understands a mental condition is the one who knows how to cure it so it is no longer present. Which means the vast majority of the psychological world are trained drug dispensers, not genuine mental therapists. (They may have started off in their careers wanting to cure, but they have taken their eye off the ball and settled for imperfect control instead.)

So when you say you don’t have OCD, but do have an obsession, the distinction is meaningless. Let’s forget about what the psychologists pretend to know from this point on and just look at what you know about what your mind is doing.

The broad thing you are telling me is that you have an obsession regarding the relationship between aging and certain numbers that makes you think along certain lines. I don’t mean to be rude in brushing away most of what you’ve explained to me, but the important thing to know here is the fact of obsession, not what the obsession is about. It’s like describing the pattern of bubbles that underlying rust is causing on your car’s paint job: it’s not the pattern that is important, but the fact of the rust.

Any obsession is a self-weakening mental condition which sucks your available attention away from other parts of life you could be attending to. To the degree that you don’t have power of choice over where you place your attention at any given moment of your waking hours, that is an undesirable and debilitating condition.

So the way to improve your mental wellbeing and improve your ability to live life as you’d like to is to increase your ability to PLACE your attention wherever you want to and reduce how much your attention is TAKEN by this aging/number obsession.

Deliberately and regularly performing a Mindfulness or Meditation technique is like “pumping iron” mentally: it gradually and inevitably increases your ability to focus when and where you want to. So I thoroughly recommend that you find such a technique you can stick with if possible. The Mindfulness technique I use regularly is here.

When a person has an obsession like the one you describe, it feels like the best way to deal with is to get to the bottom of it, to answer the questions it raises. This intuitive feeling is false: it is an illusion or even a delusion. The obsessed person is basically ADDICTED to chasing the resolution.

The way to conquer an addiction is to say NO to it: to refuse to respond to its demands. It may seem as though this is impossible, that the addiction’s ability to command your thoughts is far greater than your ability to resist: but this also is an illusion. You CAN be stronger than your desire to resolve the issues you have with these numbers.

Like an AA member repeatedly affirming their commitment to resisting their alcoholism, you must develop an ironclad resolve not to surrender to the temptation of this obsession ever again.

There are far more interesting and productive and joyful things to be doing with your life that don’t involve thinking about aging or the number 2000 in any way – and the better you get at directing your attention where YOU really want it to go – and the better you get at saying NO to yourself whenever you feel tempted to go down that rabbit hole again, the better your life will get.

In closing, I will also add that IT DOESN’T MATTER how you got this obsession in the first place or how it might be an example of a logical response to life’s circumstances being displaced into inappropriate circumstances (which is the subject of my Quora answer). None of that needs to be understood at all in order to give you greater control over your life. Just keep on working on placing your attention where you really want to place it – and NOT where you don’t want to place it – and things will get better and better.

I hope you find this useful. I’m not saying it will be easy, but that is in fact the answer you have been looking for, even though it may not at first look like it to you.

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Posted December 4, 2019 at 3:16 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Sigh …

Question asked on Quora today:  What tools used in your profession get over represented by Hollywood depictions of your profession?

Reply from Gus Griffin: I cringe whenever I see a coaching session or a counselling session in a movie or TV show, because it’s always either a stereotypical rah-rah rant (like in Billions) or an overly cerebral fencing match … Well, what do you think that means? … (like just about every psych session in every movie since Prince of Tides.)

I have often thought of writing to the producers of some of these shows to offer some verisimilitude—but the truth is I’m just too damned lazy. Maybe some high-profile Hollywood therapist can help me with that.

Gimme some of that tuff luvin, Dr Phil! 

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Posted September 12, 2019 at 11:59 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Clay feet, who me?

Question asked on Quora:  What do you do if a dad and his son walk by your son’s sandcastle on the beach and the kid kicks the sandcastle and the dad laughs and he’s enormous?  

Reply from Gus Griffin: If I’d been clever enough to think of it at the time (usually I’m not) I would have called out: Do you really hate your kid that much?

When I had the guy’s attention, following up with: Keep on encouraging behaviour like that and you’ll ruin his life—if you haven’t done so already.

If he’s man enough to consider it, suddenly you’re into a conversation. If he’s not, chances are you still would have got under his skin, perhaps planted a little seed of doubt about his role modelling.

You’d be surprised what even hardened crims will take on board, when the welfare of their own children is called into question. Promoting survival of the next generation is probably the most powerful instinct we’ve got. 

For the same reason, speaking up on behalf of his son is also unlikely to attract a physically violent rejoinder. (Expect verbal protest and defensiveness, though.)

(See also my posting from a few days ago: Naked ape see, naked ape do )

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Posted September 12, 2019 at 11:20 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Change focus, change the situation

All mental problems are caused by looking in the wrong direction. All mental problems are caused by focusing on an inappropriate factor. All mental problems are caused by paying attention to an aspect of the situation which cannot result in a desired outcome.

Gus Griffin
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Posted September 9, 2019 at 10:49 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Upset = impeded communication

Question asked on Quora today:  Are lonely people more likely to start an argument just to gain attention?

Reply from Gus Griffin: 

Well, I couldn’t rightly say one way or the other: I haven’t noticed that as a common behaviour pattern for lonely people, nor have I come across anyone expressing that viewpoint before. However, I like the way you are thinking.

Instead of just reacting to things according to their face value, looking for another way to view what’s happening is often extremely helpful.

For instance, the real underlying reason that any person feels upset is always because they are not feeling heard. Sometimes this has nothing to do with how well others are listening—it may be that the person is too reticent to actually express what they are feeling.

So they are preventing themselves from telling you what they want you to know. Nevertheless, they will be upset that you don’t know it. And it may appear that they are particularly upset with you, when mostly it is the situation and perhaps themselves that they are upset with.

Help an upset person to calm down and tell you what they want you to know about them—do it patiently, soothingly, letting them get it out in their own time—and you will be doing them a huge favour. Not to mention the significant improvement in relations that you are creating between the two of you.

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Posted September 9, 2019 at 10:33 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Naked ape see, naked ape do

Question asked on Quora today:  In spite of one’s best efforts to be different, do humans often wind up to be morally just like their parents?

Reply from Gus Griffin: There’s a particular mistake that I see parents making all of the time. They want their kids to have everything that they didn’t have, so they put even their children’s superficial wants ahead of their own existential needs. In other words, they defer their own path to self-actualization in preference to facilitating whatever they can for their children.

And what do they achieve by all this sacrifice? What they are really doing is role modelling for their children how not to get what you want out of life and never find your bliss because there are more important things in life than actually being happy. Yes, it’s that stupid.

And the gorgeous little darlings—attentive instinctive emulators all—then act out the same self-frustrating saga in their own adult lives. For we do as you do—Mummy and Daddy—not as you say.

Yes, there is some pendulum swing from one generation to the next, where as parents we go out of our way to not to do to our children the things our parents did to us, or to make a point of doing those things that our parents failed to do with us. But this only plays out at a conscious level—we try to redress the parenting that we consciously didn’t like or didn’t agree with.

Meanwhile, at the preconscious instinctive level, a much deeper molding is going on governed by the mechanism of role modelling. Most of these parental effects upon you are hidden to your conscious mind; you take these tendencies of yours completely for granted or it doesn’t occur to you that you picked them up from your parents. Thus habits are carried from one generation to the next at a subliminal level.

If you can’t see it in yourself, you can never escape that particular aspect of this cycle which carries on down through the ages. If Dad or Mum thought, felt or acted in a particular way, there’s at least half a chance that you might end up behaving that way too—without knowing it.

There’s a lot more detail to know about what causes this modeling mechanism to take effect when it does—and when it doesn’t—but the basic principles as stated above are accurate.

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Posted September 9, 2019 at 10:15 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Tis nobler to focus than suffer

Question asked on Quora today:  Who is anxiousexual? How to overcome this?  

Reply from Gus Griffin: The human brain automatically, instinctively fears unfamiliar activities before it accepts them. Sometimes this phase is passed quickly and easily, but sometimes it takes real work to get beyond it.

Lots of younger kids experience fear of the ball when they are just getting started in Little League baseball – and for some this fear can persist, continuing to interfere with the player’s performance, for years. Some people experience anxiety and even fear when trying to learn how to drive a car – and continue to be timid, anxious drivers for a long time to come.

Anxiety associated with the various activities involved with physical mating—flirting, dating, kissing, caressing, petting, foreplay, lovemaking, etc—is no different. It’s all the same stuff.

The functional difference with sexual anxiety, however, is that it’s not as easy to work through your anxieties by continually repeating the activity that makes you anxious. It’s a lot easier to get someone to play catch with you than it is to get them to go to bed with you. Or is it?

Joking aside, you can work through quite a bit of anxiety with just role playing it out with a friend. (It may seem ridiculous at first, but if you persist past the giggles it will definitely help to reduce nervousness.) All deliberate imaginary practice helps to develop the pertinent brain circuitry past the early phobic phase of neural development.

What you mustn’t do is continue to avoid the activity – you must push yourself into doing whatever you can make yourself do until gradually it starts to get easier. Like Bill Murray in What About Bob?: baby steps.

Google “how to overcome nerves” and you should find various things you can to do to de-stress about it even before you find a willing sexual partner.

And you can always pay for a sex therapist to help you work through all of this.

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Posted September 8, 2019 at 11:54 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

True strength is also wholesome

Question asked on Quora today:  With the apparent absence of absolute good in reality, what should be valued? What has enough inherent value to the human person to make him or her better for loving it? Are personal inclinations and passions enough?

Reply from Gus Griffin: Short answer: yes, personal inclinations and passions are enough.

When you are in your bliss—dancing with your particular muse—flexing your forte—whatever you want to call being in your element (as Ken Robinson calls it), you are exercising your highest aptitudes. This also brings out your best attitudes. It also accelerates your ability to learn how to do even better. (It is when you are trying to improve your weaker aptitudes that you have difficulty learning how to do so, not when you are exercising your strengths.)

Finding and concentering your life upon applying your greatest powers is your escalator to true self-actualisation. This transcends even the desire to achieve good things for others.

When you are dancing with your muse for the sheer joy of it—right now, not for what it will bring in the future—that is when you are actually doing the rest of the world the most good, whether you are trying to or not.

If it brings healthy bliss, the means is its own justification, and automatically results in the most constructive ends.

It is the people who have got this ass-backwards—thinking the supposedly constructive ends they pursue justify whatever questionable means they employ to get there—these are the ones who are destroying our planet and undermining most of what is good in their benighted self-entitled monomania. Machiavelli has a lot to answer for.

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Posted September 7, 2019 at 5:25 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

You are better than you know

Question asked on Quora today:  Have you ever had an experience that made you realize that the human potential is far greater than we think?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  My life is filled with such experiences almost every day. With every Instinx coaching session, our clients actualise their potential more and more, never to fade back again.

I know, that sounds like a plug for my coaching, but all I can do is answer your question honestly rather than dishonestly play down what actually happens.

When I say “actualise their potential” I am not referring to internal improvements like confidence or self-esteem. Yes, those qualities inexorably improve with every session, but the real test of whether someone’s potential is being realized or not (made real in the real world) is in the tangible, measurable outcomes they achieve.

At the beginning of every coaching session we check what has changed or improved in the real world since the previous session—and generally we expect our clients to report results which exceed their expectations.

Within the bounds of neurophysiology and physics, the main thing which functionally limits what a person is achieving is their own ambition, not their ability. I always get excited when I come across someone whose great ambition is seriously testing their capabilities (and they are rare!), because then I know the gains I help them to develop will be full utilized out in the broad arena of life where they are most sorely needed.

What’s really wrong with the world is how little most people are actively trying to achieve, not how limited their ability actually is. The response to big problems that we all excuse ourselves with—Yes, but what can I do about it?—should be taken much more seriously. “What can I do about it?” is a question that can only be answered accurately in the attempt, not in the mere contemplation of action.

No-one knows what he or she is already capable of until they start attempting what appears impossible to them. And more often than not, they surprise themselves.

“If you want to change the world, who do you begin with? Yourself or others? I believe if we begin with ourselves and do the things we need to do and become the best person we can be, we have a much better chance of changing the world for the better.” — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Sociologically speaking, probably the biggest favour you can ever do for yourself is to hang out more with people who are more ambitious than you. As some of that rubs off on you, you will begin to get more interested in finding out what you—yes, little old you—are also truly capable of. 

Get ready to be amazed.

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Posted September 1, 2019 at 2:57 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

The real solution to any bad habit

Question asked on Quora today:  What is the psychological phenomenon that prevents people from ridding themselves of bad habits?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  Excellent question. The basic thing which makes habits tenacious is compulsive avoidance.

It appears that we are “stuck in” repeating some behavior—that our fixation is on the behaviour being repeated—and certainly that is the obvious consequence of a bad habit. But the actual cause of the bad behaviour being repeated is that we are compulsively avoiding some other behaviour.

For instance, a person plagued by some phobia—let’s say a fear of flying—is really compulsively refusing to relax and accept the experience. Most people, when subjected to some activity that makes them nervous, but which they have to go through anyway, deliberately decide to let it happen. They choose to accept it and see how it goes. (And if nothing goes wrong, they get used to accepting it and eventually the nerves go away.)

But the phobic person continues to freak out because their mind continues to avoid accepting the situation—it jacks up and refuses to just “go with the flow”. That’s the real mechanism that is holding the habit in place.

So trying to “get rid” of a bad habit doesn’t work. You can work to sort of control it or cage it, but the pressure of the habit usually finds some way of being manifested, even if it is just in elevating your stress levels. Thus addicts following the 12 Steps have to keep on affirming that they are addicts to make sure they never let their “habit” (addiction) escape its bounds again.

In fact, there is nothing to “fix”, simply a better, more functional behaviour that needs to be embraced. Every bad habit is really the dark side of a dichotomy: find the related light side and embrace it (cease avoiding it) and the bad habit disappears—never to return. We do this every day for people with Instinx Performance Coaching.

Btw, 99% of the psychologists and psychiatrists I have come across have no inkling of this. They continue to try to drown mental disorders with drugs or a search for the “true source” (in the person’s past) of the negative symptoms. Sometimes they get lucky when their questioning causes the patient to look at something he or she has been avoiding looking at—thus reducing the intensity of the avoidance which is fueling the disorder—but mostly they only succeed in making people more introverted and dopey.

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Posted August 29, 2019 at 10:51 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc