So how come after a few drinks you feel more confident even though you more and more start to lack competence?
It’s because you’re relaxing how you rigidly hold the rules you follow and they’re less firmly in place.
But after all they are your rules so how come you have to follow them when you’re sober?
It’s this rigidity in rulemaking, how we literally wire our brains that keeps us stuck when we don’t need to be.
But it’s invisible, it’s unconscious, it’s so transparent that we see through the fact that we’re making these rules.
And there are also rules that we follow that tell us we can’t:
- We can’t feel confident when certain people are around.
- We can’t feel confident when everyone is looking at us and we need to talk.
- We can’t feel confident when that attractive person we’ve been noticing for a while finally notices us.
The problem with psychotherapeutic technologies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and Mindfulness training is while they do an extraordinarily good job of getting you more cognitively competent, so you improve your ability to think.
Or even better if you combine them where you learn new skills in thinking from CBT and become more understanding of yourself with ACT and start to get a handle on the actual process of what your mind is doing through mindfulness, and I’m not saying these are not all fabulous tools to have in your toolset. I use all of them, so I’m not knocking them they are great tools.
The problem is they are “top down” technologies in that they work with your conscious cognitive mind and how you think. They don’t address the issues “bottom up” from a body based feeling and emotionally driven way that often overrides and controls the cognitive process.
Though many CBT practitioners would argue that they do control emotional issues and that thinking controls emotions or that our emotions come from our thinking. This is the philosophical argument that’s been argued about for hundreds if not thousands of years that the mind controls the body.
As I’ve said CBT may be really helpful to you, particularly when combined with ACT and mindfulness. But as someone who has practised meditation and mindfulness for forty years my perspective is that many of the problems people have with making progress with mindfulness and meditation, myself included, are that we make it about the mind.
Some people naturally jump here to going: “Yes. I get it it’s all about being embodied!!” Yes, it is but there are many people who are embodied who are just as stuck in the rules they’ve made up.
One of my martial arts teachers told me the story of one of his teachers who was teaching him Wing Chun, Bruce Lee’s original martial art before he developed his own style he called Jeet Kune Do. I happened to be learning a different martial art from my teacher. But this Wing Chun teacher “accidentally” hit his wife in the face. His wife approached him from behind so he didn’t know she was there and startled him and he just reacted and that reaction was to hit her in the face. Obviously, this guy loved his wife and wouldn’t consciously hit someone he loved but he reacted in an embodied way where his conscious mind wasn’t there making decisions.
This is the problem I have with the idea of being “embodied” that it can be just as unconscious as when you are unconscious of your body.
If instead you are noticing for the aliveness of your body, feeling the flow of energy, it’s difficult to react unconsciously. And when you think of your mind you are training in meditation and mindfulness as this same energy so there is one you, a flow of energy. Not two, not a conscious mind and a body-mind. This singularity of what you are changes everything else.
So I’m not saying you don’t need to learn skills. This is where CBT, ACT and mindfulness help. But it’s the power that underlies all of that, getting in touch with who and what you are at the most primal and fundamental level. Understanding that you are change, the flows of energy are your consciousness and this changes the rigidity of your rulemaking into a natural sense that you are flow. And because you are flow your reaction to change is one of harmony, not disharmony.
So when you have a sense of who you are this way it’s difficult to be anxious because you recognise the disharmony of anxiety is in part of you and you’ve gotten lost in that part of you. Perhaps you’ve gotten captured by your thinking about something, or perhaps you’ve gotten captured by your feeling about something. But because this is not who you are, you recognise the impermanence of the experience and can come back into harmony.