Category Archives: The Psychological Framework of Stress

Cause and Effect

I have explained on this blog that psychological stress is built upon an incorrect framework of understanding life. This incorrect framework includes the  “If you are good, you will get” method of developing or controlling people, which sets up the “achievement model” for measuring personal development. But to really understand stress, we have to go deeper. We will have to cover the subject of cause and effect,  and see where this takes us.

One of the most obvious things about the universe is that it is that it operates via a system of cause and effect. There is a process of action and reaction which we can witness everyday in the unfolding of our lives, and it is only by this process which events come to take place. Meaning if you believe you need some food, you must try and set in motion a chain of reactions (events) which would lead to you getting some food. Better go to the shop and buy some! So now, say you are at the shopping centre, and you start pondering this question: “How did I get here?” (we’ll pretend you’re not in any rush). Well the most obvious answer might be “I drove here”. But you start thinking that maybe that’s not all there is to it. How many other things played a role in how you got there?

I drove here because I believed I needed more food”. But how did you come to have a car in the first place? “I have a car because I bought one, which was because I believed having a car was necessary for my work and hobbies”. But how did you get the money to buy the car? And why did you drive to this particular grocery store? “It was the closest big supermarket with cheap prices”. Closest to where? “My home”. But how did you come to live there? “I moved here because the lease ran out it the flat I was living in, and I wanted to live in a house. I found this place through an online advert”. But how did the place come to be available at that time? “Who knows”. And how did you come to live in this city anyway? And why did you believe you needed food? “The kitchen was empty when I was looking for something to eat”. Why was that? “I’ve been too busy to go shopping the last few weeks. I’ve been eating takeaway”. Why don’t you keep eating takeaway? “It’s too expensive”. Why is that only a priority now? “I have some spare time now”. Etc Etc.

I could go on forever, but I think you get the point. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and whatever event takes place, you can be sure that there have been trillions of factors have all come together to have caused it. You could trace the causal factors involved in any event or decision making process you find yourself in. If you really wanted you could trace it all back to “how did you come to be conceived anyway?” And you could trace that back to hundreds and thousands of  years of cause and effect in action. How did you get to be at the shopping centre? You got to be there due to everything that played a role in how you came to be there. And so, let’s say you are so perplexed by this discovery that you start to ponder a different question. “Why am I not currently somewhere else? Hmmm.

Well, after some thought, you might realise that this question has the SAME ANSWER! The reason you are not currently somewhere else is because of everything which played a role in how you came to be where you currently are!  Nothing can happen, without something playing a role in how it comes into existence. And, for everything that does happen, there first existed conditions that could have caused no other event.

But let’s say while you are pondering this, you receive a phone call from a family member saying they had an accident and are in hospital, and also receive a text from your boss asking you to come to work. And, as your mind considers these two things, you think “I believe it is more important to go to hospital and check up on the family member than it is to go to work. And so you drove to the hospital. The point I am making here is that even though there were different options to consider, the eventual action you took was governed by certain beliefs you held. There was a reason you went to the hospital, and it was the same reason you didn’t go to work. This is what it means to live in a world of cause and effect. You could even start thinking about WHY you believed going to the hospital was more important. There is really no end to it, and you won’t ever be in a position to have all the answers on how and why things unfold the way they do, but you can be sure that there is always a process of cause and effect governing it.

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The difference between the achievement and wisdom models

The major difference between the achievement model and wisdom model is that the achievement model measures development by how much you can manipulate reality to match what’s in your mind, whereas the wisdom model measures development by how much what’s in your mind matches what’s actually happening in reality. And so once you are educated by life to learn the accuracy of the wisdom model, you can start to see that everything which happens in your life plays a role in your development by upgrading your beliefs about that which exists and can occur in reality, and thus increases your wisdom. Every experience is offering value to your life, even the experience of suffering massive amounts of psychological pain. This is the understanding which will start to bring relief from such pain.

At first glance, it can appear that the “achievement model” is the more goal-oriented model, and that the “wisdom model” is more to do with letting go of trying to control life so much. But in fact, it is really the opposite. It is the “wisdom model” which will allow you to continue to see benefits in working on goals no matter how life unfolds. The “achievement model” philosophies are really saying this: “You must be able to BEAT THE UNIVERSE before you’re allowed to feel good about yourself”. Meaning any events that the universe offers which get in the way of life unfolding how you want it to – YOU MUST BEAT THEM! Good luck with that!! I remember I used to say to myself very often that “Life is impossible! It’s just impossible!” And that’s because having total control over everything in universe is literally impossible! The achievement model simply fools people into believing that something’s wrong with them when they realise they don’t have that control.  It is this philosophy that makes people scared of having a go at certain goals for fear of failure, or makes people spit the dummy towards certain ambitions when they are constantly beating themselves up for not living up to a particular standard. Only under the wisdom model can you see that it’s always worth having a go at working on your desired future, because such efforts will always be producing the activity which is playing a role in everyone’s development. There is no chance of failure and no standard which you must live up to! It is “goals are interesting to work on and have benefits” rather than “I must hate myself until I achieve that goal”.

For example, lets consider two sisters taking an exam. The first sister comes running home to her mother after the exam, exclaiming with great relief  that “I did it, I passed! Phheeewww! I don’t know what I would have done if I failed. I would’t have been able to live with myself – my whole future would have been ruined. God I’m dreading going back to school, what if I fail next time?”.

The second sister then comes home and quite happily explains to her Mum that “Oh yea I didn’t pass the exam, I really tried my best though so I’m proud of that. At least now the teacher knows where I’m up to so when I go back to school we can continue from there! I’m so excited to go back to school Mum! There’s so much to learn!”

Which sister do you think has greater personal development? Which sister is in need of help? Well, quite often society would have their attention on the second sister because she failed the exam. But in reality, the second sister was fine. She believed every event was simply a chance to grow and learn more. It was the first sister who was in trouble and needed help in this example. She was incorrectly measuring her development by whether she passed the exam or not. She also had her self esteem completely on the line, governed by that outcome. Her account of reality was not correct.

Which is an example of greater personal development? Passing an exam? Or not jumping off a bridge if you failed the exam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   The answer to that question defines the difference between the achievement model or wisdom model for measuring personal development!

In the above examples you can try substituting “passing the exam” with any other criteria people can be found to be measuring themselves by. Did you or didn’t you live up to whatever the expectations were? If you did, was that a huge relief? If you didn’t, was that the end of the world? If so, you are still living at least partly by the achievement model. Most of us are, including myself. But all the psychological pain caused by the achievement model will be playing an important role in letting us know how much we have to learn.

The Wisdom Model for measuring personal development Pt. 2

The wisdom model measures development by the accuracy of our beliefs. It measures development by our level of wisdom. We grow from our life experiences by gaining wisdom. But how does this take place?

Firstly, what is a life experience? Some people might think life experiences are things like going to school, getting a job, getting married, having a baby etc. They might neglect to include things like hearing a car drive past, smelling the air, seeing a stranger walk past, feeling the coldness of an ice cube, feeling a headache or a sore throat, noticing someone smile. And yet these are all examples of life experiences from which growth can take place.

They say we grow from our life experiences. Let’s pick an example. Say, you are walking down the road, and you see a tree. This is the life experience. But how do you see the tree? Do your eyeballs go over and hit the tree? Of course not. You can see the tree because the light rays hit the tree, refract, and make their way to the retina in your eyes. From here, an electrical signal is fired along the optic nerve towards the visual cortex in the back of the brain. It is here the data is assessed as to what it represents, and because you have been taught that this information represents a tree, your mind holds the belief that “oh there’s a tree”. This explanation is important because it shows us that any life experience is really a process of receiving data from our environment. We get hit by light rays, sound waves, and pick up information from our senses on our skin. We receive a constant stream of data from our environment, and as this data is continuously assessed by our brain, we slowly grow in understanding life. We do not control our personal development – LIFE DEVELOPS US!

Many people are so wrapped up in believing they are the centre of the universe and must control everything about their life that they might easily neglect to acknowledge that the process of having life experiences is not a process of “I control” but is actually a process of data from our environment being forced upon us, whether we like it or not. Let’s go back to the example of seeing a tree. To say that you see the tree because your eyes pick up on the tree and your brain interprets this information might sound like a good explanation about the process. But actually that statement only includes half of the process by which you see the tree. The other half of the process is outside of your own existence. The process doesn’t start at your eyes, it starts at the light hitting the tree. The fact that the light refracts upon hitting the tree defines that outside your own existence, things exist – there is a reality. This understanding is important in order to move from “I am in control of life” to “I am being developed by life”. Is clapping your hands together an example of you being in control of life? Or an example of a progression of activity in the universe which was always going to take place due to everything which influenced you to make the decision to clap? Are you in control of the universe? Or are you a product of the universe? 

It is important to note that the philosophy “We grow from our life experiences by receiving data from our environment” is quite the opposite to the very common philosophy “you already have the answers within you – you must go within yourself and reconnect”. If you already know everything, what value could there possibly be in going through unwanted (or traumatic) life events? The only way to find value in such events is to understand they are teaching you lessons about life. But of course, there is much to learn from examining the activity going on within our own body and mind as well as our environment.

The Wisdom Model for Measuring Personal Development Pt 1.

There is a far more accurate way of measuring personal development than the achievement model. This method can be called the “wisdom model”.

In this model, it is explained what is really going on in life. Everyone is going about trying to do everything they possibly can to accomplish their goals and make life conform to their desires. With every action performed, people are putting effort into trying to control life, and this is absolutely necessary and wonderful.  But what is the purpose of such efforts? What is the purpose of goals? If you are trying to live by the achievement model, the purpose of goals will seen to be, of course, to achieve them (and hence prove your value). But the wisdom model provides the understanding that goals serve a completely different role. They serve the role of providing you with a journey of real life experiences. And, as the they say, we grow from our life experiences. From our life experiences we grow in wisdom, and this growth represents our true personal development. 

Summary of Relating to Life program. -6

Every person who is alive is out there having a real journey of life events, even those people trying to live by the achievement model.  And it is these events which are enabling our development to take place, regardless of the degree to which the events match our preferences and original intentions. But if development is measured by the gaining of wisdom, the question needs to be asked, what is wisdom?

Wisdom has nothing to do with knowing how to control life, knowing which events to pick or what course of action to take in life. Wisdom is actually a specific set of understandings which will neutralise psychological stress when life is not going the way you want. It is a small subset within the vast network of belief systems known as “knowledge”. This subset is concerned with trying to answer the question “what is taking place in life?”. Wisdom can be defined as an accurate account of reality. An accurate assessment of that which is taking place. And your growth in wisdom is your growth in understanding what is really going on in life, your growth in understanding reality. It is this growth in wisdom which is responsible for fixing people’s psychological stress, not any claim to have taken back control of life and mind.

When you look at life, when you see things happening and people going about their business, your mind is going to be forming opinions about what it all means. It is going to be forming opinions about the activity you see, and about what you think is really going on in the big picture. Everything you see is part of a system after all, and everyone is up to difference levels of understanding how that system works.

The reason so many people are stressed, anxious, depressed, suicidal, angry or hateful is that their level of wisdom is not high enough to allow them to understand what they see in reality. When they give their opinions as to what is going on, what they think is going on is not at all what is actually going on. For example people are out their believing that “I am not valuable”. Or that “I could have chosen to have acted different back then”. Or “That person is ruining the system”. Their account of reality is not correct.

Reality is simply a development process. A process of cause and effect. And there are lessons in wisdom which define this process. For something to be a lesson in wisdom, it must describe an aspect of the development process. One way of gaining more understanding of these lessons is through studying physiology.  You can compare healthy human physiology with diseased physiology. What is the difference?

 

 

The “Achievement Model” for measuring personal development Pt.2

The “achievement model” is one method that many people use for measuring where people are up to in life, how much they have gained from life and what level of success their life has. According to this model, you can only say your life is “on track” and that you are “making progress” if life is conforming to how you desire it to go. Meaning, your level of development will be measured by the degree to which you can control life and get it to match your preferences. It is interesting that sometime’s you hear people talk about other people they believe are too selfish, and they claim these people are “only in it for personal gain”. Well, what is meant by “personal gain” is also what is meant when I use the word “development”. But when people talk about personal gain, they are almost always referring to the “achievement model” view of what needs to occur before a person can be said to have received things of value.

The word development really means that two things are happening:

  1. Things are changing. 
  2. Things are changing in the right direction.

For a person’s life to be said to developing really means that their life is undergoing the correct type change. They are taking steps forward, advancing, or improving in some way.

So now let’s have a look at some examples of the achievement model for measuring this growth in action.

A footballer may measure his development by his improvement in how well he can kick a goal. He may say he receives his development from his coach, team and time spent playing football.

A student may measure development by how much knowledge he/she can remember in an exam. He/she may say that development comes from the classroom and studying.

A teenager may measure development by how many friends he/she can make or how popular he/she is. They may say that development comes from having skills, looks, humour, confidence or anything that people approve of.

A business person may measure development by how many clients he/she can convert.

Many people measure development by the level of financial success experienced.

Many people also measure development by the type of work they can perform in their occupation.

A person may think their life is only developing if their are in a happy relationship.

So, when you think about it, people have very different ideas of what personal growth is measured by. But, the common theme is that everyone living under the achievement model is measuring the success and value of their life but what favourable outcomes they can force into existence.

Now, given the reality that hundreds of things everyday day will always fall short of conforming to exactly how we wish life to go, the achievement model is really a recipe for misery. It’s like saying “I can only like myself and enjoy life if I am at the centre of the universe and control everything that has, does or will exist”. Sounds ridiculous right? But this is what the vast majority of people believe (at least partially)!!!!!

In order to fully understand the incorrectness of this belief, we need to look at the correct method for measuring personal development. What do people really need for personal development to take place? We need to look at the “wisdom model” for measuring personal development. It is completely different from the achievement model.

The “Achievement Model” for measuring personal development Pt 1.

Since it is a person’s fear of missing out which is causing their stress, we need to look at what they are scared of missing out on. We need to look at what people really require for personal development to take place. Is it actually possible to miss out on your requirements for development?

Well, your answer to that question will depend on what you are measuring your personal development by. What are you gauging the success of your life by? In society, you will find two different models for measuring personal development. Meaning there are two different opinions on what is required to further someone’s progress in life, and to make their life a success. The first model is called the “Achievement Model” for gauging personal development. In this model, it is claimed you must “measure yourself by your achievements”. It is claimed every time you achieve something, every time you get life to do what you want it to do, you have just undergone personal development. In this model, people believe they MUST control life and bring about a certain state of affairs before they can say their life is going well. They believe they must get life to conform to their desires or their life will not grow. It becomes all about “me, me, me, I must get what I want, and only those particular events that are helping me to get that can be of any value to me”. Every other event is labelled as an “obstacle” and viewed as a challenge that must be overcome.

Summary of Relating to Life program. -5

People trying to live by the achievement model also incorrectly have their self esteem attached to the achievement of their goals, and so whenever it looks like events are going to interfere with how they wanted life to be, their self esteem starts to drop.  They have their self worth completely tied up in their ability to control the activities and events associated with their life. The combination of believing there are threats to both personal development and value is what really gives a person pain when things aren’t unfolding the way they desire. 

It might sound like I am trying to say that people should stop trying to control life so much. Well that’s not at all what I’m saying. Having goals and being ambitious about achieving them is not the problem. Everyone is going about trying to do everything they possibly can to accomplish their goals and make life conform to their desires. With every action performed, people are trying to control life, and this is wonderful. There is not one minute of your life that you won’t be trying to control life – even the simple acts of going to bed, or opening your eyes, are examples of your efforts to bring about that which you believe is required to take place. The problem is not any effort to try and make life conform to your preferences, but rather that in the “achievement model” people believe it is correct to measure themselves by whether or not they got it to go the way they it wanted to. The believe the whole purpose of goals is try achieve them and hence prove their worthiness to continue to grow and survive. They are not yet aware of the true role goals play in life. 

Society’s Foundation Philosophy: If You Are Good, You Will Get! Pt 2.

So now that I have discussed society’s foundational philosophy of “if you are good, you will get” there are a few questions I want to have a look at.

  1. Does everyone live by this philosophy?

Well, while it is very difficult to live in society without having at least a hint “if you are good, you will get” belief, it is not at all true that everyone lives by this philosophy. It is not black and white – there are shades of grey as to how much of this philosophy permeates people’s minds.  There are some who live by it fiercely. There are some who may believe it is somewhat correct, but who also have other beliefs which contradict it and stop it from having too much affect on their life. And then there are those who once lived by it but have since grown out of it, or are in the process of growing out of it. So different people can be up to different stages of relating to society’s  “if you are good, you will get” teachings.

2. What effects does this philosophy have on society?

This philosophy  is causing society’s problems in a number of ways. It causes people to obsess over the concepts of reward and punishment, and who is deserving of each. People who are not behaving how society would like them to behave are being viewed as “bad” or “flawed”, instead of being viewed as simply in need of more education. Due to their lack of wisdom, these people often feel they must take from others, or hurt others to avoid missing out, and the cycle continues. Life is seen by many to be a test and a competition, with people willing to fight (either physically or psychologically) to gain the rewards, whatever factors they believe this consists of. This has led to many wars, and much suffering. It is the reason people have believed throughout history that they must conquer other people, take from other people, control and dominate other people, and above all appear better than other people. It has led to people seeing life events and other people as “challenges” (threats!) that they must overcome in order for their life to develop, and attaching their self esteem to their ability to control life. Instead of people being understood to be at different levels of personal development, they are lumped into categories such as those who are good and those who are evil, those who pass and those who fail, those who are in control and those who are not in control, those who are strong and those who are weak, those who are lazy and those who are active, those who are smart and those who are stupid, those who are beneficial and those who are a threat. People who it is believed are missing out are often called either losers or victims, and the people who it is believed are receiving all the rewards are called either winners or culprits. It is a make-believe mindset where innocence and guilt are thrown around in an endless and childish blame game. But the most obvious affect of all is the MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS and MENTAL ILLNESS which this philosophy produces via the FEAR OF MISSNG OUT!!!! 

3. Is it an accurate philosophy?

Let’s have a look. If you are good, you will get!  ONLY if you are good, will you be provided with your needs for development. Meaning you can fail prove you are good, and hence MISS OUT on your developmental requirements!! This is what society claims. Well to test such a philosophy, and see how accurate it is, we must really look at what development is. You have to ask the question “what do people require in order to make progress in their personal development?” Only once it is known what development is measured by, can we assess whether it is possible to miss out on that factor. And only then will you know for sure whether this “if you are good, you will get” statement is a correct one. But, you might have  already guessed my view on that. NO, IT IS NOT AT ALL ACCURATE. It is one of the core components involved in all of humanity’s suffering. And there is not a shed of truth to it. But how much more information would need to be learnt before this is fully understood? Maybe a lot.