How can being good at surviving be bad for living a vital life? This situation is what I call Survival Corrosion. In the last post I introduced the concept of Survival Corrosion as the result of the mind’s fine-tuned ability to insure we survive both as individuals and as a species. Symptoms of Survival Corrosion:
- Life feels like it is shrinking
- Fear backs your life into the corner
- Your sense of vitality is disappears
- You feel empty and unfulfilled
- Trapped in depressed
- Anxiety paralysis when faced with change or new situations
- Life is passing you by
- Everybody else seems to be doing okay
- You notice you feel like you are broken
- Choices appear limited
Other indicators of Survival Corrosion is a powerful struggle within as you try to “figure it all out.” You may notice the struggle occurs within by the internal conversation based on reason giving. Reason is a wolf that circles around the question why. It may go like the conversation below with the voices in your head.
You: I want to ask for a promotion.
Mind: You better not…because you aren’t good enough.
You: Yes I am too good enough because (why)…. I graduated at the top of my class
Mind: They like Suzie better because (why) she is the boss’ favorite.
You: I have been here longer than Suzie so I have earned the promotion (another why you deserve it)
Mind: You’re not smart enough, cute enough, well liked enough, You are NOT enough except as a looser, etc.
You: Why do I feel this way? (This is digging up dirt made of old stories or scripts and the shovel you use is named why)
Mind: I feel this way because…. I was picked on as a kid. My older brother was the favorite child.
You: Get over it and shut up (the war zone of your voices in your mind).
Mind: I am a failure. Again (how old is this dirty little story?)
Mind: If only I felt more confident I could ask for a promotion (if you wait until you feel better you may be waiting a lifetime).
You: Feeling blue. Feeling tired. Feeling apathy. Feeling drained (your body is responding to the internal struggle between the voices)
Mind: See I was right…you lazy bum….you don’t have enough energy to make a resume. Give it up. Just Quit (Elaine’s advice). It’s too hard.
I could make a full length movie based on the above script of the dialogue of the internal war zone. Does your script sound familiar to the one above? What can you do? HINT: Check out Disney because they made a movie about this phenomenon, Inside Out.
Scan back through your memory as if you are a time traveler and a curious scientist.
As you scan back how far can you go with the familiar script(s) you are hearing in your head?
When was the first remembrances of the experience – not good enough?
I am NOT asking you for an explanation of why you feel the way you do. I am asking you to take a look at the HISTORY as in the chronological aging of the story. Were you about knee high? Shoulder high? How tall were you when the script(s) first appeared in your life?
Here is a peek at my script. My two word script is some version of, “I can’t.” The underlying belief (story) is I am ineptness. If I try to solve the “I can’t” problem with logical thinking and reasoning – the mind produces an argument between two soldiers named I should and I shouldn’t – do this or do that with the outcome of the struggle being decision paralysis. Solving the problem of feelings connected with (ineptness) is even a stickier business. For each of us, you and me, and the person next to you, the question of workability needs to be assessed. It’s pretty easy. How well does the argument or script serve you in moving you toward your desired life? If your answer it is doesn’t work then what?
Since buying into the story of “not good enough” leads you to a zombie land battlefield you will need to try a different tactic. I call it Name the Story and it is defusion. Defusion is the ability to un-hook yourself from the story by distancing you from your thoughts. Defusion is one of the six core processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT). Defusion is an awareness and focusing skill which is considered mindfulness.
How defusion works with Name the story:
- Pick a painful thought, memory, experience you struggle with. One that is a roadblock to living the life you want.
- Pick one of the Seinfeld’s characters below to be the representative of the painful experience.
- Recall the painful experience again.
- Now name the experience by its new name. For example: my story “I can’t” along with it’s history is captured with “cannot stand.”
The way the story and defusion can be used in the future is that next time I CAN”T shows up, I say to myself, “there it is again the Castanza story.” Try it!!
Leave your comments below. I encourage you for the next week to name the story or name the battle “zombie land.” You may have guessed zombie land is another name I use for stories.
I am keen on hearing about the different results of what you notice? Big, small or indifferent. What happens?
Want to learn how to use ACT in your life? Check out my workshops page.
(C) 2015 Brenda Bomgardner