Let’s assume we do, in fact, use only 10% of our brain. If you could unlock the remaining 90%, what would you do with it? And what does it mean to be the same thing, in different forms?
The following days will be hard. 17 years ago I lost my best friend. She was hit by a car and died immediately. I was only 15 and it turned my world upside down. Grief doesn’t stop, it’s always there with you. And I’m glad. It means I have loved and cared about somebody deeply.
For years I was afraid of becoming too attached to people. I feared they would leave me behind. But I couldn’t resist. I’ve loved a lot of people, even if they have left me behind and broken my heart.
I expect the following days will be hard, but I will get through it. I will be with people I love and appreciate that they’re in my life. Life is all about relationships, and when my best friend died, I really understood that fully.
“Get a free sample of our new mascara!”
Commercials all around us. Giveaway blogs. For many of our waking hours, we are bombadeded with tips and free samples that will make our lives better. And it works. The blogs and sites that sell things, or even allow their readers to get something for free, are popular. Search engines find your blog if you include commercial in some way or another. And people want it, they search for it for hours to get small boxes delivered to their doorstep.
Statistics show that we buy more and more commodities on the internet. Local shops have to close as people desert them. It is much easier and more practical to just push a button on a computer. I don`t want to look like a bitter saint, because I am one of eager net-shoppers and I also type in my email if I can win something. I even share pages on facebook to increase my chances of winning. Sometimes I loathe myself for it, how can I support something I know will be negative for people who have spent hours trying to build up small authentic boutiques?
In Førde, many have tried to start something new, but most of them go bankrupt before they had the time to florish. There was this lovely store with beautiful dresses and a little cafeteria surrounded by exquisite design in Førde. Flowers on the wall, that you could admire as you sipped fresh coffee and eat home-made cookies. You could talk with friends, letting your eyes rest on cups with delicate ornaments. The boutique lasted perhaps a year before they had to throw in the towel together with their dreams. The same comes for restaurants. The big pizza places, always survive, but everyone who tries to do something different that will draw only the very curious and adventurous, realize that they have to quit when the cashflow stops. Førde was one of the first places in Norway, where the german store “Lidl” had to give up before they even began. In Førde, people like safety. Skepticism is as normal as the closed signs that pop up. I don`t want to offend anyone, as I know this is a simplification. Most people want to try new things, but there is a difference between wanting and doing. Many even get disappointed and irritated when something new disappears, like when they discover that someone else took their last piece of chocolate.
What happens when people try to give away love? Love is the most valuable commodity we have, so we should run to the store to get it. It should have a 24-7 open sign. We should talk about it: “Have you seen the latest love? People want to change the world by giving something to others!”. We should nod in happy agreement. It would be like a fairy gave us the present of a lifetime. The giveaway we don`t throw into our garbage when we grow tired of it.
Again I feel hypocrisy washing over me like detergent. Do I practice what I preach? Sometimes, yes. But like everyone else, I struggle. Luckily, I don`t have a television spitting out commercials. I spend time with books and friends, and love every minute of it. But I still get drawn in when I see the “for sale” signs. My heart pumps extra blood to prepare me for the hunt. My pupils probably dilates to get a better overview over the racks of clothes. Then I come home and realize that the jumper didn`t fit like I hoped.
Can love not fit when you try it on? Off course.
Sometimes we don`t know how to handle it. How we get up the zipper without help. It might be to tight, leaving us out of breath.
Sometimes we want to throw it off in frustration, as if we just discovered that we look to fat in those jeans. It is an art to master love, because it really is a confusing present. When we unwrap the delicate paper, and peek inside, we can`t quite comprehend what we see. Is it something we can eat? Something to try on like shoes? Or something that we shall put on a shelf to decorate our home? Is it a genie in a bottle that grant us our wishes? And where is the user manual? We are uncertain if it will break when we try to build it, so we would simply crave a recipe for love like we crave another hamburger.
But sometimes we are satisfied. We get the same good feeling that we get after a workout followed by a healthy meal, only to discover that someone has put a giveaway-present before our front door.
How do you find giveaways like those? Normally you don`t find them in front of your doorsteps. And you can not find the answer in a manual either. We must find the building materials for love ourselves, and we cannot order the building blocks on the internet either. But we can find them by looking around us. We can sit in a park and watch a mother laughing as her daughter jumps up and down when a fluffy dog comes over. We can see an old couple that look into each other`s eyes with so much love that we glimpse eternity. We can stretch out our fingers, instead of letting them type in ebay.com.
Best of all, we can give some of our love to others. There is still hope for us.
Still want to push the button? Try these:
I have been in a fog. Swimming through it, trying to see clear. It has felt like being in my nightmares, where I drive without seeing anything. Trying to not crash.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition which affects an estimated 1% of the population. Narcissism is characterized by an extreme self-interest and promotion with an accompanying lack of concern for the needs of others.
Narcissism is named after the mythological Greek character Narcissus, an extremely handsome young man who rejected the love of Echo and, as punishment, was condemned to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to obtain he object of his desire, he died there in sorrow.
Narcissists often use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt (FOG) in Relationships
FOG is a type of emotional blackmail, which ruins relationships.
FOG works in the dark. It resides in the land of emotion, not logic. At the heart of it is this flawed reasoning: “It is permissible for me to push your buttons to get my needs met, but ifyou try the same thing, I’ll make sure you will regret your selfishness.”
That’s right: the emotional blackmailer’s reasoning is illogical; he lives by a double standard. That’s why emotional blackmail is never discussed outright: the minute you try to shine a light on it, by discussing it or asking pointed questions, it will scurry away like a cockroach. If you try to pin a blackmailer down—“Are you saying you will pout if I refuse to go to the party with you?”—he will project the FOG back onto you, deny its existence; or try to distract you by changing the subject, being dramatic, or getting angry. The supposed anger may have nothing to do with the particular topic—a combination of anger with a request to change the subject is designed to throw you off-balance.
Here are some other examples.
- Grant is fully aware that his wife is having an affair with a man named Trent. He knows because she talks about him and compares them sexually. But he’s afraid if he demands that she stop seeing Trent, she’ll just leave him. That’s fear.
- As an adult, Susan tries to avoid her mother’s rages, complaints about others, and contagious sour moods. But Susan feels compelled to call her mother Judith back when she leaves a message on the answering machine. If she doesn’t, eventually Judith will reach her and demand to know, “Where were you?” Judith has been living alone since Susan’s dad finally left, and Susan likes to think of herself as a “good person.” For her, this means that she has a tendency to put the needs of others above her own— something Judith is counting on. This is obligation.
- Jack and Ramona have a teenage daughter they think is borderline. She’s totally out of control; normal discipline doesn’t work. They don’t know where she goes at night, and they’re afraid she’ll get pregnant—or worse, contract AIDS. But they just can’t put their own daughter in a residential treatment center. She would hate it. Down deep, Jack and Ramona are worried that something they did caused their daughter’s disorder. They feel guilty.
We have all been in the space between light and dark. Trying to see what`s there, trying to get out of the fog. Sometimes the only thing we can do, is to look at our feet and remember that we are still here, no matter if we can`t see anything around us.
Out of the FOG Support Forum – Support for family members and loved-ones here at Out of the FOG.
Emotional blackmail by Susan Forward: How to get out of the FOG
We have many great therapists in Norway, and through courses and education I sometimes meet some of them. It`s often very inspiring, since they knit their theories together with their work in exciting tapestries. Last year we were on a lecture by a therapist called Per Isdal. He worked with violent men, and talked about compassion fatigue and the perils our work entails.
Yesterday we had a meeting were one of the lead psychiatrist at our clinic, talked about the same theme, and we had to fill out a questionnaire that asked about felt tiredness, stress and satisfaction with our work. Luckily I was in the “no risk” group, which I think comes from the meaning I derive from my work. I truly feel that I can help, and nothing is better than seeing my clients blossoming. To see them walking towards happiness inspire of the pain, is an honor, and I try to remember that every time I`m afraid, have too much to do, or just think about everything that is wrong with the world. I also think that going to lectures and reading relevant books, has helped support my sanity and ability to help.
Help for the helper
I`ve read many good books this year, and one of them is “Help for the helper”. It is packed with quality advice and knowledge, and is also easy to read. P. Isdal recommended it himself, so I immediately ordered it and prioritized reading it. The ideas from the book were reawakened today, after reading “treating complex PTSD`by Courtis and Ford. I came to a part about sensorimotor psychotherapy, and it reminded me on features from “help for the helper”. I then remembered one of the sessions where I applied the theory, and wanted to share it with you. Some have said it would be good if I shared more from my clinical practice, and I want to do that, at the same time as I keep the privacy of my client and duty of confidentiality.
We all have needs
We have thousand needs that we need to navigate around like a surfer keeping his balance in the waves. Trauma-patients who dissociate find this harder than most: They can be immersed in something so intensely, that they forget to eat, be social or even sleep. When this happens a lot, the body and mind`s needs create a state of constant tension.
Most people know that balance is important; If we only eat sugar, we need salt. If we never saw white, we wouldn`t understand black. This principle of balance also has a name: Homeostasis. Homeostasis regulates a lot of the body`s needs, and also kicks in when people develop addictions and is generally alarmed when we start to veer too far away from the golden “middle way”.
When we struggle for balance
But what if this fine-tuned system malfunctioned, since you had to keep needs separated to survive? For children who`re abused or neglected, it is indeed often necessary to ignore certain needs because having them is associated with danger. If neglect and abuse has been severe, they might split feelings, needs and actions apart from each other, and the machinery that once went smoothly, starts to misbehave. Many of them don`t register what happens with their bodies at all, especially after sexual abuse. It`s better to float above the body and it`s feelings, than to experience and face the abuse. The only problem is: Some part of the body remembers anyway, and those parts also have needs.
Working with abuse is a lot about listening to signals from the body again, and that means that we have to explore memories and feelings that might awaken fright or terror.
How I used the book to help both myself and my clients
To help my patients explore their own needs, I have to use myself: What happens inside me? What can I notice from their words and body-language? For example: When they talk, without emotions about how they could not escape from a violent father, and at the same time raise their hand a little, I might say: “I see you`re raising your hand. What do you want to do with that hand? Can you complete the movement”? If they do, they might discover that they wanted to raise their hand, to protect themselves. By directing attention to this movement, and asking them if they could just do what they want, they might actually do just that and then feel better afterwards. Instead of frozen terror, some control returns.
An example of an emotional reaction I often see with clients, is shame. It can for example come when they finally manage to say something that scared them to say. Their initial reaction will often be looking down. They “shrink” together as if to protect themselves, and don`t meet my eyes. This is understandable, since their innocent gaze was met with hatred or ridicule before. Shame is many clients middle name, and I wish I could have been there when the mis-labeling happened.
Unfortunately, I can`t go back in time, but I can do everything I can to help them live the life they never had.
So there they sit, weighted down by shame and fear. I look at them, seeing the little child that never got what it needed. And so, softly I ask: Do you dare to look at me now? Painfully slow they turn their heads toward me.
Changing yesterday by being in the now
In addition to using their body-signals as a compass that shows me where they are and need to go, I also use my personal reactions to enlighten me about their feelings. I might sit there, and suddenly realize that I`m gritting my teeth. My reaction to this can be telling them about it. “Do you know what just happened? I suddenly find I`m sitting here with my teeth clenched”. A client can then look at me in surprise and say: “I do too!”
By being observant on what happens inside me, I actually help them realize what happens with them. It can be subtle things: That I suddenly breathe slower, or that I need to push my chair back, or maybe that I feel uncomfortable. When I get unusual reactions like, I ask myself like Rotschild recommends: What is going on right now? Maybe I have picked up on something they are feeling?
Working and thinking about this has been as surprising for me as it for them. It shows how easily we are influenced by others.
Review: Hem Helpers Do Their Job at a Great Price (stilettojungleblog.com)
How Do You Know Your Shrink Is Helping You? (psychologytoday.com)
Some part of the body remembers
I love Vampire Diaries. For an emotional junkie like me, there are so many elements worth paying attention to, and one of them is the vampires abilities to “turn off” their emotions. They have a humanity switch that can be turned on and off when they need it. In this way, they can live with guilt, regret and the horrible things they have done. In real life, we have something similar called dissociation. To simplify, dissociation is when you split of parts of your experiences, that normally would overwhelm you. It helps trauma victims and others cope with emotions, memories and experiences that threaten their mental well-being. Dissociation is extremely helpful in some cases, like when we need to focus exclusively on something and can`t be distracted by unwelcome feelings that would drown us otherwise. But, when people “turn off” or “split away” their emotions to the extreme, it becomes a problem.
Before I knew what DID was or that I even had it, I had my own name for what would happen to me: I called it my “Kill Switch.” It was like all the humanity I had in my being would disappear or cease to function and what was left was the raw, reptilian brain, and the instinctual creature with just basic core components.
I just watched an episode of Vampire Diaries, where “Elena” had her humanity switch turned off after her brother died. Her friends did everything they could to evoke her emotions again, but she was terrified of opening up. Vampires have stronger emotions than humans, and she was afraid that she could not take it if she dared to grieve over her loss.
Are humans that different from the Vampires? When we haven`t had the chance to learn how to control our emotions, we come to fear them. Opening up is frightening, especially if it has lead to abuse before. How is it possible to trust others again if all you got when you grew up was criticism or hate? Daring to trust someone again, a therapist or a friend, takes time. Elena had friends that never gave up on her, even when she tried to kill and hurt others. Some dissociative have also done things that scared people who love them. In a dissociative state, some patients have lashed out on loved ones, to a degree that actually traumatized them. Sometimes emotions ARE scary, but it can be more destructive to keep split them off. When you build up a wall, not letting anything come through, decompensation happens. Emotions are not the problem, not facing them is. But traumatized people need to do so in a safe environment where they won`t be hurt again. This takes time, and that is okay.
Elena made it, she dared to face her demons and live with her pain.
If your day to day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be? For me it would be to be that person who helps trauma victims deal with their dissocation. To prove that its possible to integrate all the confusing emotions, and live healthy life.
This post will be a response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”
I have travelled a lot. I have gone to Asia, Africa, USA and Europe even though I am just 29 years old. Every journey has given me new memories and lessons that has made me to the person I am today. But a journal is not only going to places physically, it`s also the mental travelling that expand and enrich our worlds. I have chosen to share one of my travel memories with you. It reflects how I try to experience new things while being with people I love.
I was in Turkey in 2012 together with four of my best friends. The two last days were at the same time as my birthday, and it was a wonderful day for the most part. This is just an excerpt from the whole experience, but sometimes it is necessary to focus on the most important memories in detail.
I am in Turkey. Beaches of ordinary sand feels like silk and dirty lakes as the source of life. Since I arrived at Kemer, I have walked in the odor of the hotel`s sewage system, had a shower in the ambivalent sea (alternating between cold and hot) and endured tiresome flirtations from Turkish men. One of those men, were of an especially annoying type, and I will call him the "snake-man" from now on. He was the waiter at a local restaurant where we ate Friday evening. Friday had so far been pretty good. I had dyed my hair dark, communicated with a lovely caramel-skinned kid and soaked myself in sweet sunshine. But still, I was in the worst mood so far that week. I had slept badly and hadn`t eatern since twelve. It was now seven and we arrived at the Restaurant. My mood elevated since I finally could eat Turkish food. But my fragile calm just lasted for a little while, since a waiter of questionable caliber came walking toward us. The first I noticed was how his tongue came in and out like a snake. Each time he said something that he believedwas funny, for example that he could "rub our delicate bodies with lovely food" he stuck out histongue and licked his mouth like it was he who wanted to eat something. My discomfort increased when he also smiled in a very unattractive manner. I decided to ignore him, since my inner traffic light was dangerously close to red. I managed to ignore him for a while, but the illusion soon burst when he came back to take our orders.
The nightmare started when I told him I wanted to order a vegetarian dish they had on their menu. In a confident voice, he declared that it wasn`t good. I was fine with that, but then me and Torunn wanted to order some wine. We told him we wanted one of the cheap wines, and he was immensely offended. He told us we had to try another one, but we declined. He kept assuring us that heknew best and that we had to follow his brilliant advice. He told us that we were "SO INCREDIBLESTUPID" to order that wine, at the same time as his tongue flickered in and out as if he was the devil himself. Me and my friend don`t care too much about the quality of the wine since we barely know the difference between red and white, and just wanted some wine that we could relax with. I tried to convey this in a calm manner. I have nothing against people recommending different types of wine if it`s done in a courteous manner, but when he for the SIXTH time started to claim that he knew best, and that we could not take the "bad, terrible wine" I felt my frustration rising. My patience was gone, so rudely I replied that if we didn`t get what we wanted, we would leave. Despite clearly underlining this point, he still did not get it. I had to shut my mouth tightly and look down,since tears were threathing to roll down my cheeks. He did not realize how tired, angry and sad I was, but after a couple more terrifying tongue gestures he finally disappeared. I actually managed to block him from my mind and had a good time after that. We went to a karaoke-bar, the best I've ever been on, and I got to sing until 24:00 when I had my birthday.
My birthday became a tear dripping affair. I got three happy birthday songs, where one of them was performed by about 30 guests at a restaurant. I got free cake, many hugs and greeting from a lot of people I love. I simply had a fantastic evening with my dear friends. Without people, we feel so small, no matter how old we get. I was touched by all the people who did their best to show me they cared. I hope that one day I can give as much back as I have gotten from the people around me. I am lucky to have met so many nice people in my life (except the snake-man).
Our brains are magnificent. In it sits our personality, our potential and our own worst enemies. It stores all of our memories. It is our identity, our saviors and our sinners.
I have been interested in the brain since I started to study psychology. That this grey mass was us , was almost impossible to grasp. In our study we even had to touch a brain, and it felt both surreal and wonderful at the same time. This year I did a brain scan, and it felt even more surreal to watch ME on the screen in front of me.
So, what would I do if I could unlock 90 % of my potential? I would save the world.
Naive, I know. But impossible tasks have always intrigued me, as I know that thousands of people have made the impossible possible time and time again. The people who challenge prejudices and borders, changed the world. Without them, we would have no internet, no wheels, no knowledge.
I know exactly what I would do to change the world. I would ask everyone I knew to do one random act of kindness every week. I believe in the butterfly effect, that states that all we do, has an effect on something else. Like ripples in a pond, kind acts would reinforce themselves. They would grow exponentially, and many catastrophes would be avoided. Just think about it: How do you feel when someone helps you? Most people would want to return the favor, and even if some people would`t, kindness still would spread like a fire in the forest. We would be unable to stop it, because love and compassion respects no boundaries. Kindness has greater force than anything else. Our logical brains would`t have a chance, because love is stronger and more potent.. We would beat even the most intelligent brains, and nothing could stop us. My ideal way to use 100 % of my brain, would be to connect all the brains in the world. If we all knew everything, by drinking from the well of wisdom that we all possess, there would be nothing we could`t do.