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Archive for July, 2007

Be Specific

Many AT teachers find it’s important to carefully say what you mean when you are giving yourself any sort of directives. This is because you will do what you tell yourself to do. It also means that you can mistakenly tell yourself to do what you do not want to be doing!

I have heard that this phenomena comes from an ancient part of the reptilian brain that does not receive linguistic qualifiers. So if you state that you do not want to do this thing, your brain gets the image message of doing it, despite you qualifying your intentions by saying “do not.”

In that way, it’s very good advice to be positive, without any Polly-Anna or self delusion involved. If you state what you are about to do in the positive sense rather than saying it in the negative, you have a much better chance of fulfilling your objectives for many logical and empirical reasons. As you outline for yourself what you are doing, you are being specific about the steps involved, planning strategies and providing for damage control only if necessary.

If you tell people your positive motives for your actions, you’re more likely to get cooperation. When people don’t understand why you’re doing something mysterious to them, their small-minded negative suspicions are probably being justified by self-preservation.

I believe it’s an assumption of advanced educational debate techniques, art critics, news and dramatic presentations that objectivity must always be negatively critical to be valuable and valid. You will find that it is much easier to tear something apart by focusing on a derogatory feature than it is to create options and move out of personal limitations. By some people, going for positive, easy progress is defined by our culture as “trite” or “lucky,” depending on the subculture. I think this is because it is no surprise that you get whatever you practice. If you take it upon yourself to restate negatively defined objectives in the positive as I’ve recommended above, you’ll notice that just doing this much takes a certain deliberate creative ability that is sometimes tricky to muster up in the light of how you feel at the time. Intense emotions make it a challenge to be creative. Some people find it tricky to switch from editor to artist or inventor and back again.

Perhaps it would be useful to take away the value judgment elements from the assessment processing if you suspect there is something wrong with you? Leaving out the value of whether you “like” something or not that seems to be happening is useful because then you are not sorting or matching for preference, defining your criteria for success or defining your priorities (or self delusion) while you are making observations. Let the evaluation period be a different stage from the observation time. If you are making observations before you have made any changes, then it is likely all you will be able to observe is your habits and what you do not want. If you decide whether you “like” what happened after you have made a change or run an experiment for yourself, then you have more of a chance to have something new happen.

So rather than “good” and “bad” use, think about your desired criteria: which is exactly what brings about “easier” effortlessness. As you see “difficult” use around you (which is so much more common than “easy” use,) noticing people’s coordination of any sort can be a reminder to remember to use A.T. in gratitude. Such as, “wow, I can see how that person is so down, I’m so glad that I know how to move out of that example!” Then as you know enough to
recognize “easy” natural use, (rare as it is!) the elegance in that person’s use stands out like a spotlight is on them amidst a crowd of confusion.

Is there too much “Polly-Anna” in that strategy for you? How about: “Although I see difficult strain in many people, I guess I can’t shut the door on knowing better now that I’ve opened it, so I may as well move easier now myself.”

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What do you do when you notice an assumption?

Part of the challenge is to notice what you usually do. An indicator of something that is “sticking out” that may eventually become some sort of problem is a signal. Usually when people notice this, it more often means they must “shore up” or “justify” the need for their conclusion or assumption, reinforcing the circle and reapplying their “remedies” that are really keeping the circular problem in place.

Because their focus is on the content as being more important, they cannot see the larger picture of how they are caught in a repeating pattern. They only experience that some part of the pattern is working in the ways they intend, when it is really an out-of-control pattern that MUST repeat whether the person wants it whenever the trigger is pressed for the habit to “go off.” I would say that there are “endorphin squirts” that occur in pressing the trigger originally, but often the experience of the squirting may not register any more because it, too has become habitual.

If you take away the need, I believe our systems “self correct”. You do not have to “do” anything but experience the lack of need, then just wait and watch yourself. What happens next will tell you quite a bit about everything you have been experiencing. If you just get the familiar justifications for your habits, just stop again and wait. Each time you stop, your senses will wake up a little more as you take the next layer of the habitual assumption off. It seems that people are naturally sensitive underneath layers of habits.


That’s why stopping yourself when you would have normally started talking is such an effective technique in Dialogue – or in any conversation. Listening will tell you more than talking, for obvious reasons. You merely interrrupt yourself right when you found a need to say something and watch what happens in yourself. You question your motive of wanting to talk, because there will be usually be feelings and needs underneath the assumptions.

So if you don’t know what these feelings are or they don’t surface because they are the submerged part of the iceberg, you can find out what they are by stopping yourself from going into the habit repeatedly. My experience has told me that there is often more than one need/motive/justification. Sometimes these are tricky to uncover, because the remedy of the assumption is trying to cover it up by answering the need. So this is where persistence comes in. You put yourself in a situation where this issue comes up again and again – and you watch what happens in yourself each time you notice the reaction. Watch without berating yourself, without getting upset, just watch and see how soon you can see the conditions that are really contributing to the habit staying in place.

More characteristics of how to notice assumptions – or more ‘techniques’ of what to do when you do notice these assumptions? Tammy here, who is an Alexander student of mine has a rare ability to update her assumptions.

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The assumptions of cause and effect have some crucial factors that would change “luck” and create “coincidence.” What most people regard as “bad luck” in a brand of fate can be a functional superstition – which is sort of a pre-conclusion with a mystery means or function that self-selects to reinforce it’s proof.

I’ve noticed that superstition is a sort of associative self-training process, where the person can’t imagine how they caused the effect. So they just remember that when they did THIS, something else happened that they wanted, etc. Just try to walk by a trash can and not look in when yesterday you found money in it serendipidously.

In a social arena, the mystery means can be a cluelessness about what a person could possibly be doing that encourages others to treat them in a certain way. It’s a disconnect between personal intent and how social events tend to continue once they are put into motion.

A social example of holding an unconsciously pained expression on your face will encourage manipluators to zero in on you. This may give you a belief that you have a fateful tendency to pick the wrong people to befriend who fatefully later turn out to be nasty.

Or, perhaps your desire to be attracted to people who “like to play the edge” or “enjoy fun” leads you astray without you realizing it, making it easier for you to impulsively go along with a bad idea because you have agreement. (One of the proven social factors is that a group can make a much worse drastic mistake than less people alone.) This disconnect can also occur compared to the way the world works – Nature doesn’t care about you personally, and can kill you just the same if you’re in the wrong place trying to play with it.

My other observation is about coincidence and recognizing opportunity. If someone has a schedule, they are less likely to notice unusual events that could be opportunties…because they can’t deviate from their plans to check out these coincidental opportunities anyway.

That’s why so many people are young, they have life-shaping adventures. Once a person opens up, it leaves room for unexpected things to happen. Possibilities for coincidental connections exist out in the world all the time, and most people walk blithely by them and never notice. Older people can’t recognize as many spontaneously changing patterns because they’ve trained themselves to adapt and usually don’t know how to undo things. So it usually takes time and significant personal insight to undo limitations and find the ways you’re contributing to them that you’re unaware of. For me, believability in the characters in a story or movie comes from watching this process.

I’ve found that by sharpening my attention and asking good virtual questions, I can open up a specific, desired opportunity for myself much quicker than most people. This makes me seem wildly resourceful, but it is what anyone can emulate by example. It’s amazing to ask yourself whenever you have a moment to talk to a stranger, “How can I find what we might have to offer each other in the time we have now?”

If you don’t recognize “a diamond in the rough” for what it could be, then it can never begin to be it’s potential. You have to notice a “turn of fate” is happening long enough to grab it out of the mud and clean it off and use it. If you don’t make yourself available, opportunities will pass you by.

The thing about evoking pattern recognition advantages is to do some strategic thinking beforehand. This thinking is often determined by motivation, so it’s good to know your criteria. Obviously, desire needs to be coupled with awareness so you can have an opportunity. If you are asking the related and pertinent questions for yourself and tell others about what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to be able to recognize “fateful signs” when they pop out in front of you. If you don’t, they won’t happen. So – by putting yourself into a “flux” situation, (such as hitchiking, traveling, & the other environments where the wild card opportunities are,) you make it more likely that the opportunity you want can happen.

My point is that what conclusion someone comes to about their fate or coincidence is determined partly by motives, (the why) and also by when they are motivated to make a conclusion.

Don’t forget the factor of the different ways that someone can culturally interpret meaning and come to a conclusion for themselves. For instance, when a person is in a bad way, they are more likely to feel cursed rather than after enough sleep, food, etc. It’s often better to decide that the process isn’t done yet and this is not the time to come to a conclusion – or to make a sort of working conclusion.

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