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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Why My Mind is like a Prehistoric Cave Dwelling Family

So as I told you I have been working my way through Stephen Hayes book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Usually I am a voracious reader but this book has slowed me down immensely. It is not that the book is to clinical or wordy...quite the opposite really. This book keeps touching nerves with me.

My Therapist was kind enough to extend my homework deadline by two weeks and even still I am not done. Shhhh....don't tell. It's like 201 pages with large type. This is truly a new experience for me. I am under the impression that this is a good thing.  The book feels like it was written directly for me. The examples seem to mirror my own life in a startling way.

Once I was about half way through the book it was a lightbulb went off and the entire pattern of my behavior these past 39 years became so clear to me it was like putting on those 3D glasses we used to get in the Shreddies box back when I was a kid. I could see the code right there in front of me and it was quite unnerving.

As you may recall from my Tangled posts I tend to find deeper messages in strange places. This time it happened to be the Croods.

My brain, theoretically of course, is the cave that the Croods are living in. Over time the Croods Father, in an attempt to protect his family from the calamity of the world, began creating many many rules to avoid danger. This is the RFT (Relational Frames Theory) where our brain automatically tags experiences with particular events. In the Croods the father gets to the point where everything involving leaving the cave and venturing out into the world ends in death. He repeats these instructions over and over to his family in an attempt to keep them safe. My Daddy Crood decided first that if we are very good and make everyone happy I would be safe. When that rule was challenged good old Daddy got stricter and enforced the rule that I needed to stay in my house to be safe or die. Well, it would seem that would do it. Except for that part of my brain that is like the Crood's daughter Eve. She wanted to leave the cave so bad and experience life that she could not be content staying in the safety of the cave. This my friend's is the part of my brain that suffers from Experiential Avoidance. Eve feels trapped and resentful that her life is being limited by all of her overprotective father's rules. Then she meets Guy. In my scenario "Guy" happens to be my therapist. He sees the Eve in me trying to claim her freedom and gently nudges the father out of the cave and in his own time....into finding the balance between living and existing. It is a hard concept for me to accept that the things that my brain is trying to protect me from may be real...but that I have to endure that in order to live a life that is true to my values.

Mr Crood's love for his family was the value that pushed him out the cave door and into the world looking for Tomorrow. That same value is very strong in me. I may just be peeking out from behind the rock door right now, but I am starting to see the rays of sunlight and I know thats where I want to be. Thank you Guy for your quiet wisdom.....sometimes when I was a bit prickly. I am starting to get it. I am learning to endure the symptoms of my anxiety, recognizing that they may never go away, but that I choose to go on despite their existence.

I will bring your book back Friday, I promise!

What lies outside the cave you have created? Can you see the rays of sunshine yet? Roll back that stone door just a bit and take a peek. You may find its worth the effort! My thoughts and prayers are with you always.