Dialectic toolset - black vs white


FOTCM Member
lainey said:
I would like to add a technique which I have been practicing recently. When I catch myself during an uncomfortable emotion and I sit with it I find it really helpful to place my hand on the area where I can feel the physical sensation of the emotion. I then check in with myself and see if I need to move my hand or use the other hand to follow the sensations. I often find that when I do this I can concentrate on the exercise and not get distracted by the narratives and monkey mind that accompany the emotion. I can really be in the moment and experience the feeling in its wholeness. A strange thing is that the sensations very often move once I've settled on them and I can literally feel them moving round then disappearing. For example today I followed a sensation from between my eyes, into my cheeks, my chin then out my mouth. The emotion passed almost as quickly as it arrived. I can literally chase the negative emotion out my body. I'm not saying that we want or need to chase all our negative emotions away, but the ones that aren't of service to us don't need to consume our time and energy. Over the last week I have practiced every time I have the opportunity and I have to say the results are quite amazing.
I also practiced the technique of looking towards the horizon if I found myself in a negative thought loop and the results were instant!

Today I was feeling angry and upset and like I wasn't being listened to, when I came outside for a cigarette I started dissociating, going over and over what had been said in a disagreement with me and Keyhole. I tried to pull myself back and pay attention to my body, I tried placing my hand where the sensation was. It started in my throat which felt tight. Then I felt abit of pain in my ear (which I've been having abit of trouble with recently) then moved to my left eye which was aching, then the left side of my throat felt tight. When I was putting my hand on my throat my fingers started to shake a little, when I looked at my fingers my little finger was twitching and I just burst out laughing, it was just really funny to watch it.

After this I felt more relaxed, but as soon as I started fixating on the negative thought loops again, my little finger started twitching! When this happened I just tried to re-focus on my body.

It was really interesting to pay attention to what was going on in my body, and the outburst of laughter made me feel immediately calmer.

Thank you for suggesting this Lainey, I'm going to keep trying it out :D :knitting:


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thorn said:
Today I was feeling angry and upset and like I wasn't being listened to, when I came outside for a cigarette I started dissociating, going over and over what had been said in a disagreement with me and Keyhole. I tried to pull myself back and pay attention to my body, I tried placing my hand where the sensation was. It started in my throat which felt tight. Then I felt abit of pain in my ear (which I've been having abit of trouble with recently) then moved to my left eye which was aching, then the left side of my throat felt tight. When I was putting my hand on my throat my fingers started to shake a little, when I looked at my fingers my little finger was twitching and I just burst out laughing, it was just really funny to watch it.

After this I felt more relaxed, but as soon as I started fixating on the negative thought loops again, my little finger started twitching! When this happened I just tried to re-focus on my body.

It was really interesting to pay attention to what was going on in my body, and the outburst of laughter made me feel immediately calmer.

Thank you for suggesting this Lainey, I'm going to keep trying it out :D :knitting:

That's really great to hear that it worked so well for you! I was attempting to do it the other day but I think I was still too "caught up" in the thought process and kept losing focus on the physical feeling of it. That, or it just felt like it was all over my body! This technique seems to require some self control and awareness!

It seems it really is necessary to dis-identify yourself with the emotion itself to be able to really feel it in the body and actually be able to laugh at it in the end! What helps is imagining it as just energy, travelling through the body trying to express itself somehow. My therapist said I must welcome this feeling/sensation and feel it as much as I can, then allow it to "pass" or let it go. All these techniques definitely require practice, rather than it working immediately.

Thanks for your experience Thorn! :)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
There was a website I looked at a few months ago that had useful techniques to "letting the money, money around inside you" here it is: http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/defusion.htm

Defusion involves distancing, disconnecting or seeing thoughts and feelings for what they are (streams of words, passing sensations), not what they say they are (dangers or facts).

STOP, STEP BACK, OBSERVE (the thoughts and feelings, what’s happening to/for the other person).

Notice what’s happening – your thoughts, physical sensations, emotions, images, memories. Notice the way you’re interpreting what they mean, and how that’s affecting you.
Notice the unhelpful thoughts. It can help to say them differently, in a non-threatening way: slowly, in a squeaky or comic voice or write them down.

Identify the emotion you’re feeling, and label the unhelpful thoughts
an evaluation
a prediction
a feeling or sensation
a memory
an unhelpful thinking habit: mind-reading (assuming we know what others are thinking), negative filter (only noticing the bad stuff), emotional reasoning (I feel bad so it must be bad), catastrophising (imagining the worst), the internal critic etc. Note: I thought this was a bit "too much" to begin with!

Learn more and practice mindfulness so that you can be aware of when you are in the present moment rather than being ‘in your head’ - perhaps thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Notice what you don’t normally notice – sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, textures etc.

Use metaphors try to see things differently. Metaphors can help us understand thoughts in a different way. For example:

Passengers on the Bus
You can be in the driving seat, whilst all passengers (thoughts) are noisily chattering, being critical or shouting out directions. You can allow them to shout, but you can keep your attention focused on the road ahead.

Playground Bully
The playground is fenced in and the children have to learn to live with the bully. This bully uses threats, mocking and abusive words to upset his victims. We can't stop our thoughts, but perhaps we can react to them in a different way, as these victims show us.
Victim 1 – believes the bully (the thoughts), becomes distressed, and reacts automatically. The bully sees this as great entertainment and will carry on targeting this victim. This is how we normally respond to our thoughts.
Victim 2 – challenges the bully, and bully eventually gives up on this victim.
Victim 3 – acknowledges then ignores the bully, changing focus of attention, and the bully soon gives up.

The River
Items floating down the river – perhaps leaves or bits of mucky debris (thoughts, feelings, images) – instead of struggling to stay afloat, we can stand on the bank watching our thoughts, images and sensations go by

The Beach Ball
We can try to stop our thoughts, like trying to hold a beach ball under water, but it keeps popping up in front of our face (intrusive distressing thoughts). We can allow the ball (our thoughts) to float around us, not intruding, just letting it be.

Thought train
We can think about sitting on the train, watching the scenery (thoughts, feelings, sensations) go by as we look out of the windows, or we can be standing on the station platform watching the thought train pass by – we don’t have to jump on it.

The Tunnel
When we get anxious driving through a tunnel, the best option is to keep going to the other end, rather than stop or look for an exit in the tunnel. This feeling will pass - there is an end to this tunnel.

The Mountain
Whatever the weather, or whatever happens on the surface of the mountain, and even within it – the mountain stands firm, mostly unaffected. Strong, grounded, permanent. We can be like that mountain, observing thoughts, feelings and sensations, and yet know inner stillness.

Those metaphors really helped, like using the metaphor of the "monkey" that lives inside you and inviting it to tea!


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've been trying to quantify self-discipline in terms of self-compassion, so thought I'd share what I've found.
It can be an easy trap to use self-compassion as an excuse for being lazy and not pushing yourself, and at the same time pushing ourselves when it's not appropriate is the opposite of self-compassion and leads to situations where 'the body says no'.

To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem
Heidi Grant Halvorson
SEPTEMBER 20, 2012

If you look under the Self-Help heading on Amazon, you’ll find roughly 5,000 books listed under the subhead Self-Esteem. The vast majority of these books aim to not only tell you why your self-esteem might be low, but to show you how to get your hands on some more of it. It’s a thriving business because self-esteem is, at least in Western cultures, considered the bedrock of individual success. You can’t possibly get ahead in life, the logic goes, unless you believe you are perfectly awesome.

And of course you must be perfectly awesome in order to keep believing that you are — so you live in quiet terror of making mistakes, and feel devastated when you do. Your only defense is to refocus your attention on all the things you do well, mentally stroking your own ego until it has forgotten this horrible episode of unawesomeness and moved on to something more satisfying.

When you think about it, this doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success, does it? Indeed, recent reviews of the research on high self-esteem have come to the troubling conclusion that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. High self-esteem does not predict better performance or greater success. And though people with high self-esteem do think they’re more successful, objectively, they are not. High self-esteem does not make you a more effective leader, a more appealing lover, more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, or more attractive and compelling in an interview. But if Stuart Smalley is wrong, and high self-esteem (along with daily affirmations of your own terrificness) is not the answer to all your problems, then what is?

A growing body of research, including new studies by Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, suggest that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, may be the key to unlocking your true potential for greatness.

Now, I know that some of you are already skeptical about a term like “self-compassion.” But this is a scientific, data-driven argument — not feel-good pop psychology. So hang in there and keep an open mind.

Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding — it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego. It’s not surprising that self-compassion leads, as many studies show, to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness, and to less anxiety and depression.

But what about performance? Self-compassion may feel good, but aren’t the people who are harder on themselves, who are driven to always be the best, the ones who are ultimately more likely to succeed?

To answer that, it’s important to understand what self-compassion is not. While the spirit of self-compassion is to some degree captured in expressions like give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack, it is decidedly not the same thing as taking yourself off the hook or lowering the bar. You can be self-compassionate while still accepting responsibility for your performance. And you can be self-compassionate while striving for the most challenging goals — the difference lies not in where you want to end up, but in how you think about the ups and downs of your journey. As a matter of fact, if you are self-compassionate, new research suggests you are more likely to actually arrive at your destination.

In their studies, Brienes and Chen asked participants to take either a self-compassionate or self-esteem enhancing view of a setback or failure. For example, when asked to reflect on a personal weakness, some were asked to “imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?”

Others were asked to instead focus on boosting their self-esteem: “Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a perspective of validating your positive qualities. What would you say?”

People who experienced self-compassion were more likely to see their weaknesses as changeable. Self-compassion — far from taking them off the hook — actually increased their motivation to improve and avoid the same mistake again in the future.

This increased motivation lead to demonstrably superior performance. For instance, in one study, participants who failed an initial test were given a second chance to improve their scores. Those who took a self-compassionate view of their earlier failure studied 25 percent longer, and scored higher on a second test, than participants who focused on bolstering their self-esteem.

Why is self-compassion so powerful? In large part, because it is non-evaluative — in other words, your ego is effectively out of the picture — you can confront your flaws and foibles head on. You can get a realistic sense of your abilities and your actions, and figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly. You can’t acknowledge the need for improvement, because it means acknowledging weaknesses and shortcomings — threats to self-esteem that create feelings of anxiety and depression. How can you learn how to do things right when it’s killing you to admit — even to yourself — that you’ve done them wrong?

Here’s an unavoidable truth: You are going to screw up. Everyone — including very successful people — makes boatloads of mistakes. The key to success is, as everyone knows, to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. But not everyone knows how. Self-compassion is the how you’ve been looking for. So please, give yourself a break.

Dear Productivity Maven: How do I balance self discipline with self compassion?
October 27, 2010 by Tara Rodden Robinson Leave a Comment
Donna M. writes: "I think I am not the only one to struggle with the balance between self discipline & self compassion. How do you know (or decide) when to push yourself to greater effort and when to acknowledge that you need to rest even though the project isn't done?"

Wow, Donna, great question!

What I hear in this is: how do you discern between real fatigue and something else that may be drawing you away?

Your question reminded me of advice I always hear about eating. Experts say that to maintain a healthy weight, you should eat only when you’re actually hungry. The problem is, many folks don’t know how to distinguish actual hunger from cravings or emotions. The same can be true about distinguishing fatigue (which is being truly tired) from confusion, distraction, or boredom–to name just a few. This is a case for mindfulness! (You probably knew that was coming, huh?)

When you find that you have the urge to stop working, take a moment to check in with yourself. What were you doing in the moment right before the urge to get up and walk away hit? Practice noticing when the urge to quit working shows up. Many times, the urge to stop isn’t related to actual physical fatigue; it’s something else like confusion about what to do next or overhwhelm or something else entirely.

Next, take a quick inventory of your body, too. Are you feeling tension somewhere? Are you hungry? When was the last time you got up and stretched? Are you drinking enough water? There are all sorts of physical symptoms of things other than fatigue that may be asking you to get up and walk around.

Finally, pay attention to what real fatigue feels like. At the end of a long day, be fully present to the sensation of tired. Describe it to yourself. Be fully mindful of it in that moment.

By knowing what true fatigue feels like, you’ll be able to start to distinguish between the real need to rest and everything else, and be able to respond appropriately. If you’re not really tired and other sorts of self care aren’t needed, that’s the time to get present, return to your breath, and return to the work at hand.

Neff (2003) pioneered research into self-compassion, based on Buddhist psychology that considers compassion for self as equally important to compassion for others. As a construct, self-compassion was operationalised through the development and validation of a scale to measure its components of self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity (Neff, 2003). According to Germer (2009, p. 33) self-compassion is ‘‘simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.’’ Comprehensive studies have linked self-compassion with increased compassion for others (Jazaieri et al., 2013; Neff and Germer, 2013; Neff and Pommier, 2013), in addition to resilience and emotional intelligence (Heffernan et al., 2010; Neff and McGehee, 2010), and other pro-social behaviours (Neff et al., 2007). Self-compassion has been found to be distinct from, and not associated with, narcissism (Leary et al., 2007). Moreover, randomised controlled trials have established that training interventions can increase compassion and self-compassion in certain populations
Self-care is not selfish. For the wellbeing and congruence of nurses—as educators and health promotion advocates—it is essential. Similarly, self-compassion is not narcissistic. Rather, it is a foundation for compassionate care. But further research is needed: firstly to examine the influence of the relationship between self-compassion and self-care in nurses; then to test its relationship to compassionate care for patients. This emerging line of inquiry in nursing practice can serve to progress the imperative of compassionate care towards a compassion that is more genuine.

When you have enough care and awareness for yourself, you'll find that you have more to give to others. You will be more genuinely interested in others well being.

The 'self discipline' most of us have been taught is about being hard on ourselves - in the wrong way.

The following is in terms of 'dieting', but applies equally to all areas of life.

Self-Compassion: Kiss Your Inner Drill Sergeant Goodbye

Bullying yourself slim may make for good TV drama (think fitness trainer Jackie Warner tormenting her overweight trainees), but if you're serious about slimming down, the bully shape-up strategy is nothing but bad news. If I hadn't yo-yo dieted through my teens, dedicated my career to helping clients with eating issues and researched winning weight-loss approaches, I might never have gained this uncommon wisdom: Loving kindness, not punishing self-discipline, is the key to losing weight and keeping it off. It's the only way to create a harmonious relationship with food. Self-discipline, it turns out, is a much better strategy for gaining than losing weight.

If you're thinking that "self-compassion" is another word for "self-indulgence" -- giving in to your every craving for sweets and other treats -- think again. Self-compassion means treating yourself like a newborn -- with love and kindness. If your baby girl's hungry, you'd never call her "fat," "hopeless" and other mean, nasty names; you'd feed her. If she's tired, you wouldn't force her to crawl into a sweat suit; you'd put her down for a nap. When you treat yourself like a beloved child, you're more apt to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full, rest when you're tired, and move when you feel energized. And when you do that, you lose weight naturally.

Curb Emotional Eating

The American way is self-discipline, not self-compassion. If you're an American dieter, you focus on what you don't like about yourself, hoping your deep dislikes will motivate you to stick to the plan. If you're starving, keep eating tiny portions. If you're bone-tired, drag yourself to the gym. Impossible to maintain, this singled-minded focus is not very compassionate. It's not very effective, and it's no fun! Self-discipline predictably backfires, trapping dieters in a vicious cycle of under-eating and overindulging. Think about it: When you eat tiny portions of tasteless diet food, isn't it just a matter of time before you're throwing yourself an all-you-can-eat buffet at the kitchen counter?

The scientific evidence helped confirm my suspicions from two decades of clinical practice: Dieters don't lack self-discipline -- they lack self-compassion. {you can apply this to anything in your life that you are 'failing at'} But the study that convinced me the road to healthy slimness is paved with compassionate intentions comes from Wake Forest University. After luring veteran dieters off the "diet" wagon with donuts, researchers encouraged one group of dieters to think self-kind thoughts. Another group was left alone with their self-criticism. Long study short: A modest dose of self-compassion prevents the negativity and emotional distress that inevitably sends even the most disciplined dieter to the fridge. You read right: Self-compassion curbs emotional eating.

What's more, self-compassion has been shown in study after study to work like antidepressants without the negative side effects. Treat yourself kindly and almost immediately you'll feel calmer, happier and more capable of changing for good.

It's one thing to hear about the illuminating research; it's quite another to see what a difference self-compassion makes. Why not try this two-part experiment and draw your own conclusion?

Listen to Your Inner Drill Seargeant

Call to mind your inner drill sergeant -- that aspect of yourself who insults you when you've put on a few pounds. Visualize as many details as you can: the trim figure, the ripped abs, the critical stance. More important, bring on the insulting comments you've come to expect when trying on a new bathing suit or squeezing into uncomfortably tight jeans: "You're fat!"; "You're disgusting!"; "You're out of control!"

After you remind yourself, for the umpteenth time, to stop making excuses and start shaping up now, pay close attention to the subtle shifts in your mind and body. Are your thoughts more or less self-critical? Do your muscles feel tighter or more relaxed? Are the corners of your mouth curling up or frown-ward? Notice how you feel, but suspend judgment and continue the experiment.

Consult Your Compassionate Advisor

Shift your focus to more encouraging words: "love," "kindness," "self-compassion." Better yet, make yourself comfortable, and follow these five easy steps:

1) Imagine a compassionate being -- the embodiment of loving-kindness. It could be a dear friend or relative, a favorite movie character (Yoda, Glinda the Good Witch), a religious or political inspiration (the Dalai Lama, Gandhi). Or, it could be a force of nature (the ocean, a sunbeam).
2) Use your senses to bring your advisor to life, noticing how he or she looks, sounds and acts. If your advisor is a force of nature, notice colors, shapes and textures. However compassion manifests, open your mind and heart to it.
3) Think about what troubles you most about your eating habits, then ask your advisor for help, guidance, support -- whatever you need. Ask, and you shall not only receive -- you'll soak up what's so hard to come by in every life: unconditional love.
4) If the consultation leaves you wanting more, try again later. The advisor is always within.
5) Finally, scan mind and body for any and all changes. Pay careful attention to the difference in your mood, outlook and sense of well being. How do you feel now? Better?

If that's any kind of a "yes," there's no time like the present to kiss your inner drill sergeant goodbye and your compassionate advisor hello.

So ask yourself, where is your drive to achieve things coming from?
Is it fear/anger/hate/rejection based? Always putting you down and calling you a failure?
Or a kind and understanding advisor and mentor who gets you to take good care of yourself, and who also kicks your ass in a kind way when you are being lazy (by evaluating if there isn't some other need like tiredness or hunger causing this first).

From personal experience all these things take practice. That compassionate part understands that it Does take practice, so stops the Drill Sargent (negative introject) destroying us emotionally when we fail at our imagined goal of suddenly being able to do everything!
Those unrealistic goals come from being disengaged with reality, because we are forever rushing around in terror and not able to evaluate ourselves or reality (when the Drill Sargent is screaming at us about how much we've failed).

Discovering things can be fun and enjoyable starts to emerge after a while, that we actually have passion for things when we stop beating ourselves black and blue internally. It takes time and practice for it to emerge though.
Even 'tedious' tasks take on a new light, and a feeling of non-judgmental 'get it done' starts to emerge too.

Adding to this, I'm cross posting from the recent C's thread.

RedFox said:
lilies said:
I don't think the 'Autoimmune-critters' are so resilient. They are only resistant because the current, dumbed-down medicine was made to have no clue about effective countermeasures.

It's worth pointing out that we evolved along side these critters, and they evolved along side us.
We have been doing battle for hundreds of thousands of years!

So to say they are not so resilient is like saying wolves are not so resilient compared to the animals they eat. Assuming this only benefits the wolves.
In our world we are exposed to so many things that stress and damage our immune system, which means the game is now stacked against us to loose.

Q: (L) So in our particular reality and time and place, the so-called "Great Work", the alchemical self-transformation, must necessarily include work on diet and health issues and a vast increase in knowledge in those areas in order to cancel out the effects of transmarginal inhibition?

A: Yes


A: We have given you the data and clues. Knowledge must be acquired via efforts so as to make proper connections and pathways in the brain.

Q: (L) Why is it so important to make connections and pathways in the brain?

A: That is, quite simply, building your receiver!!!

Q: (L) So, it is important to acquire knowledge, information, and to do it in a way that builds your brain power because that's your receiver. Your receiver receives...

(Galatea) Cosmic information.

A: Higher energies!
(L) There's another problem. There are two things I've noticed from various people on the forum. There are the ones that are so horrified by the terror of the situation, like, "I don't belong to this world! I'm not part of this! I can't eat meat! I can't eat vegetables. I have to live on air and sunshine because it's so awful and horrible that I just can't stand it!" So, there's that reaction. And then there's the other one where when we have a session, ideas are promoted, people start to do things or try things before they themselves have done a little of the research, ya know? I think there are the people who don't want to learn anything, and then there are people who want to do and achieve, but they want an easy way.

(Pierre) For proper acquisition of knowledge, you need a sufficient amount of time and effort and... suffering, basically.

A: There is no free lunch except maybe for parasites!

Q: (L) And we're their lunch as long as we think there's a free lunch!

A: Yes!

I know for myself that I use to fall into the category of rushing in with blind abandon - leaping before looking.
And when I've got glimpses of the terror of the situation falling into shutting down and wanting to just hide.

Back and forth it would go, blindly rushing in, or trying to blind myself and hide. Both actions are about not wanting to see reality - to overcome or hide from it.

'Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the world will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the 'past.' People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the 'Future.' -- Cassiopaeans, 09-28-02

Rushing to 'fix' things is denying reality 'as it is' - which should be the foundation of action. You need to know where you are and what you are dealing with in order to make a conscious decision about the action required to navigate it.
Then when you catch a glimpse of reality 'as is' the horror fills you with emotions and emotional energy.
It is unpleasant and overwhelming and triggers us to 'escape from the feelings', and we may learn that rushing to 'fix' things is the best way to avoid ever having to feel those things.
If only we could 'find the cure' we'd never have to feel or face these things again.

Rushing in, is fight/flight from the danger of our feelings that would come up should we stop long enough to see reality as it is.
Overwhelm at the horror of the situation is the freeze response in the face of our feelings on seeing reality as it is.
We are stuck in the fight/flight/freeze response daily.

I found myself resisting these ideas about infection when they where first found, that there must be a better option than nuking things with antibiotics etc
It's the fleeing from the feelings of seeing the situation as it is (and it is horrific if you see it), that the idea of being infected brings up that I was really resisting.

Like going gluten free and then paleo before, we all had resistance to the idea - resistance to the feelings that the reality of the situation brings up.
The addiction to 'just being safe where we are' (not to mention gluten and the parasites mood and thought manipulation) - which comes from all the fight/flight/freeze from our feelings.
Giving up our comfortable illusions, giving up our automatic suffering a bit at a time.


Laura: Well now I don't read books a day because I spend so much time working with our people, with our forums, and doing research, that I spend a lot of time scanning and reading things from the internet, or reading scholarly papers and so forth, and I do most of my - I don't know, I guess it would probably amount to a book a day, the amount of reading I do, because I really do a lot of reading, but it's not in books, it's mostly online. And then when I go to bed at night I spend a half hour to an hour reading whatever my current research topic is. Usually they're very dry books that nobody else in the world reads, or very few, only scholars read them. But I read them, and I actually enjoy them!

Joe: That's the masochist in you!

Laura: Yes, it's the 'do it no matter how bad it hurts'.

Joe: It's that protestant work ethic.

Juliana: Speaking of masochism, it seems that a lot of people write to us about why is nothing easy? Why do you have to pay so much? Why isn't there any free lunch? And it seems to me that, from what you're saying, since you were little, you kept that curiosity, almost like a child has, to learn, and learn, and learn, and assimilate. And that comes, also, with a price, but you're not afraid of that, or you learned somehow that suffering leads to something that is much more valuable. And we still keep getting this reaction that "oh it's depressing" or "I just want the easy way". How did you come to realise that that wasn't your path?

Laura: Oh, that's kind of a tough one. Well I'll give you, I mean, there were many incidents that I observed in my life where people took the easy way and it always ended badly, I could see it. And the thing was, like I just mentioned, I think probably one of the most amazing gifts that I was given genetically, and for which I am enormously grateful, is my memory. And I wouldn't forget when I saw these situations. Somebody would do something, something would happen, they would take the easy way out, or "Oh it'll be fine", or "Least said, soonest mended", and then disaster would follow. And it was like, couldn't they see that coming? They took the easy way, they wanted to feel good, and disaster followed.

And you know, it really struck me very powerfully. When you go through life observing, and of course you read a lot of stories, and you read biographies, and I read lots and lots of history, and over and over again, whenever I would read a story about somebody who took the easy way, or wanted to feel good, it was always disaster! I remembered it, it just piled up in my head like a giant mountain building in my mind, that whenever people do that, it's bad! It's obviously bad. And I could see it also happening in people's lives around me. And some of those instances, some of them would be kind of personal, but I can give one little example.

I had a girl friend when I was just out of high school. And she was already married and had two or three children - she was a little bit older than I was. And I was at her house one day, and her little girl was diabetic, had become diabetic very early in her life, so it was like type I diabetes, and she was already on insulin, and she had lots of problems. She had two or three other children and her husband. And the thing was, this girl wasn't allowed to have many things because of her illness, but the family didn't see any reason that they should deny themselves what she couldn't have, just to give her moral support, or in solidarity with her.

So there was always a lot of the things she couldn't eat, cookies and candies, things like that, that she kept on top of the refrigerator. And I was there, and the little girl was crying "Mommy, I want some candy! I gotta have some candy!"

"No, no. If you have candy you'll have to increase your medication, you may have to go to the doctor, it could make you sick...."

"Oh mommy, I gotta have it..."

And then after five minutes of this or so - of course I wondered why it was all there, why doesn't the family give all that up? Give her support? Why do they put it on the refrigerator where she can see it? And finally after five minutes of crying for it, her mother says "Oh alright, but you know what's gonna happen, you're gonna have to have an extra shot, da da da..."

And she gave this child with diabetes candy, which she shouldn't have had, knowing what it was going to do to her, and setting up a pattern in her life where doing the easy thing, taking the way that was easy, feeling good, was deadly. And I remember that incident, and it kind of froze in my mind forever, because it symbolised everything and everybody that I had ever seen or known about who took the easy way. And I asked her, I said "Why did you do that?" And she says "But I love her so much, I can't say no."

It just staggered my mind that she could say "I love her so much", and what that kind of love meant. Because, as it turned out, this child died rather young.

Niall: And what's happening there? Is she not able to foresee - the mother - the consequences? She must have been told explicitly...

Laura: Well certainly she was told explicitly what would happen if she didn't do some monitoring and not let things get out of hand. It was just horrifying. It was horrifying to me. And how many people are like that? "I can't tell her no, I can't say no, I want to feel good", because more than anything else the mother wanted to feel good. She didn't want her child to say "Mommy, I don't like you, I hate you", and, you know...

Joe: Well it kind of involves a certain fairly uncommon and pretty deep understanding of human psychology as well, or it would require that for a parent in that situation to act in the right way, to know that, in a general sense, human beings will very often demand things that aren't good for them, or want things that aren't good for them. And if someone is in a position of responsibility over them, or a friend, or even someone who can give advice, kind of should give advice to a person to save them from themselves sometimes, because people don't always make the right decisions, right? So it's kind of like, just because someone says "I really, really want this, will you help me to do it?", you don't just go along and do it because they're your friend if you can see that it's bad for them. I mean it seems fairly prosaic in a way, but so many people just give in; can't say no.

Laura: They want to feel good. And it's particularly difficult in the parent-child relationship, because it's mostly about narcissism. "I want my child to make me feel good, and when the child is not making me feel good I want to do whatever it is", even to the point of harming the child's health. And I don't know if it takes really deep psychology to understand that, but it obviously was a little deeper than what she could understand.

Joe: Well at least a bit of reflection.

Laura: Yeah, but people don't reflect and they don't think, and more than anything, this is the thing. More than anything I saw that people wanted to feel good. That theme repeated over and over again in things that I was observing in other people's lives, and, you know...

"I have already said before that sacrifice is necessary," said G. "Without sacrifice nothing can be attained. But if there is anything in the world that people do not understand it is the idea of sacrifice. They think they have to sacrifice something that they have. For example, I once said that they must sacrifice 'faith,' 'tranquillity,' 'health.' The understand this literally. But then the point is that they have not got either faith, or tranquillity, or health. All these words must be taken in quotation marks. In actual fact they have to sacrifice only what they imagine they have and which in reality they do not have. They must sacrifice their fantasies. But this is difficult for them, very difficult. It is much easier to sacrifice real things.

"Another thing that people must sacrifice is their suffering. It is very difficult also to sacrifice one's suffering. A man will renounce any pleasures you like but he will not give up his suffering. Man is made in such a way that he is never so much attached to anything as he is to his suffering. And it is necessary to be free from suffering. No one who is not free from suffering, who has not sacrificed his suffering, can work. Later on a great deal must be said about suffering. Nothing can be attained without suffering but at the same time one must begin by sacrificing suffering. Now, decipher what this means."

We've spent a life time building an identity that revolves around avoiding or overcoming our feelings, of avoiding and overcoming reality with illusions in order not to feel.
Humans are creatures of habit, and breaking a habit of a lifetime brings us face to face with fear, guilt, shame, anger, regret - and above all feelings of helplessness and death.
To let go of our identification with suffering (and give up running from or hiding from reality and the emotions it evokes) feels like death.

So fwiw the most useful set of tools I've found for even beginning to approach this is posted here: Dialectic toolset - black vs white.
We need to make friends with the feelings we are running from, to see things 'as is'.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Adding some more to the mix, I just read this on SoTT (see the vid and links below the article too)
Psychological well-being and empathy

Reining in overempathy requires emotional intelligence; its underlying skill is self-awareness. {Everything that's been discussed in the thread so far} You need always to be prepared to explore and meet your own needs. Since you're not used to thinking about them, you might not even be fully aware of what those needs are. Whenever your empathy is aroused, regard it as a signal to turn a spotlight on your own feelings. Pause (taking a deep breath helps) to check in with yourself: What am I feeling right now? What do I need now?

Once you know what you need, you can make a conscious decision about how much to give to another and how much to request for yourself. Of course, it helps to nurture relationships with people who are mindful of the needs of others.

Taking action on your needs calls on the skill of self-management. Once you start noticing the ways in which you become absorbed by other people's intense feelings, especially their negative ones, you can create some distance—even insulate yourself if necessary.

To help manage the mixed feelings that a surge of empathy may create, you can change the way you communicate. Suppose your partner comes home irritated with his boss. You feel too depleted to listen to a rant or make him feel better. Clearly state that you cannot meet his expectations at the moment: "You know, I'd really like to talk to you about this, but not tonight. I am completely wiped out myself. Can we find time tomorrow?"

Highly empathic people are good at spotting the emotions of others—but not necessarily interpreting them correctly. They might spin an inaccurate narrative about why someone else is having a particular feeling, or they may get stuck in feelings arising from within. It can be helpful then to pause, put your interpretation on hold, and explicitly check in by observing, "Wow, that sounds really important. Tell me more of the story."


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've started reading Dąbrowski's Positive Disintegration and so far would like to suggest that anyone who's found this thread useful to check it out.
Researching all of the above and putting it together has been very useful for gaining better (more objective and less judgmental) self observations.

What I have kept in mind is things like self calming and using self compassion as a band aid for just running on automatic so as to never actually face myself or change.
And I've slipped into this a bit - fortunately it fails in the long term when it comes to self calming. :rolleyes:

Dąbrowski's work seems to be the next step - now you are more aware and less identified with all these little i's running around, have a large collection of self observation 'snapshots' and tools for relating to the many i's, what can be done with the inner conflict seeing them generates?

The main thing I've noticed so far is what Dąbrowski terms 'over excitability' could be applied to everyone who identifies with being 'a highly sensitive person' and who most likely found the tools in this thread useful.

Development potential[edit]
Advanced development is often seen in people who exhibit strong developmental potential ("DP"). Developmental potential represents a constellation of genetic features, expressed and mediated through environmental interaction. Many factors are incorporated in developmental potential but three major aspects are highlighted: overexcitability (OE), specific abilities and talents, and a strong drive toward autonomous growth, a feature Dąbrowski called the "third factor."


The most evident aspect of developmental potential is overexcitability (OE), a heightened physiological experience of stimuli resulting from increased neuronal sensitivities. The greater the OE, the more intense are the day-to-day experiences of life. Dąbrowski outlined five forms of OE: psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual and emotional. These overexcitabilities, especially the latter three, often cause a person to experience daily life more intensely and to feel the extremes of the joys and sorrows of life profoundly. Dąbrowski studied human exemplars and found that heightened overexcitability was a key part of their developmental and life experience. These people are steered and driven by their value "rudder", their sense of emotional OE. Combined with imaginational and intellectual OE, these people have a powerful perception of the world.[1]

Although based in the nervous system, overexcitabilities come to be expressed psychologically through the development of structures that reflect the emerging autonomous self. The most important of these conceptualizations are dynamisms: biological or mental forces that control behavior and its development. Instincts, drives and intellectual processes combined with emotions are dynamisms.[2] With advanced development, dynamisms increasingly reflect movement toward autonomy.

Abilities and talents

The second arm of developmental potential, specific abilities and talents, tends to serve the person's developmental level. As outlined, people at lower levels use talents to support egocentric goals or to climb the social and corporate ladders. At higher levels, specific talents and abilities become an important force as they are channeled by the person's value hierarchy into expressing and achieving the person's vision of his or her ideal personality and his or her view of how the world ought to be.

The third factor

The third aspect of developmental potential, which is simply referred to as 'the third factor', is a drive toward individual growth and autonomy. The third factor is critical as it applies one's talents and creativity toward autonomous expression, and second, it provides motivation to strive for more and to try to imagine and achieve goals currently beyond one's grasp. Dąbrowski was clear to differentiate third factor from free will. He felt that free will did not go far enough in capturing the motivating aspects that he attributed to third factor. For example, an individual can exercise free will and show little motivation to grow or change as an individual. Third factor specifically describes a motivation—a motivation to become one's self. This motivation is often so strong that in some situations we can observe that one needs to develop oneself and that in so doing, it places one at great peril. This feeling of "I've gotta be me" especially when it is "at any cost" and especially when it is expressed as a strong motivator for self-growth is beyond the usual conceptualization ascribed to free will.

A person whose DP is high enough will generally undergo disintegration, despite any external social or family efforts to prevent it. A person whose DP is low will generally not undergo disintegration (or positive personality growth) even in a conducive environment.

The notion that some people have an innate potential for development that is determined by a higher sensitivity or overexcitability (analogous to the first aspect of DP) and by a related tendency to develop individual differences and autonomy from the group (analogous to the third aspect of DP) was independently developed by Elaine Aron (see Highly sensitive person).[3] (although it should be noted that Aron's approach is substantially different from Dąbrowski's.)

Developmental Obstacles[edit]
Dąbrowski called OE "a tragic gift" to reflect that the road of the person with strong OE is not a smooth or easy one. Potentials to experience great highs are also potentials to experience great lows. Similarly, potentials to express great creativity hold the likelihood of experiencing a great deal of personal conflict and stress. This stress both drives development and is a result of developmental conflicts, both intrapsychic and social. Suicide is a significant risk in the acute phases of this stress. The isolation often experienced by these people heightens the risk of self-harm. {Along with other forms of 'mental disease' all the way up to psychosis}

Dąbrowski advocated autopsychotherapy, educating the person about OEs and the disintegrative process to give him or her a context within which to understand intense feelings and needs.
Dąbrowski suggested giving people support in their efforts to develop and find their own self-expression. Children and adults with high DP have to find and walk their own path, often at the expense of fitting in with their social peers and even with their families. At the core of autopsychotherapy is the awareness that no one can show anyone else the "right" path. Everyone has to find their own path for themselves. As Joseph Campbell described the knights on the Grail Quest: If a path exists in the forest, don't follow it, for though it took someone else to the Grail, it will not take you there, because it is not your path.

I'm not sure the above 'everyone has to find their own path' fits exactly.
It's most likely similar to the keto diet in terms of the Work - their are guidelines and hard boundaries, but each person needs to learn to tailor it to themselves through their own understanding of the material.

If all of these things can help you network and face shocks in a Work context (without shutting down or falling to pieces), observe reality more clearly (both internal and external), develop conscience, network/share, and ultimately just 'DO what is in front of you to do' then it's useful osit. If those are your aims whilst reading Dąbrowski's work then I think that provides the guidelines and boundaries.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Merci RED FOX pour vos partages si intéressants à méditer...

RED FOX thank you for your shares so interesting to ponder ...


I'm sorry I've posted a reply here by mistake, it was intended as a reply on another thread, so I've deleted it and left this rather boring statement in its place. Apologies for the pointless post guys.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
On this webpage there's a useful video ---



FOTCM Member
Just chiming in to thank you RedFox, for this thread. There was a great deal of thought, references and quotes put into this, and as a toolbox, it is an important one to hold, carry and apply to the best of ones ability. Thanks, too, Carl and others for the videos and thoughts. I've lined the videos up for future review.
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