When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
The Unseen World is a world that is hidden from many of us. It’s in plain sight
but we cannot see it. It’s like something that is in front of us but we never
noticed it before. Like, we look in a mirror and we notice something that has
always been there – but we sometimes need to take a second look.
You know the expression that people see the world through rose tinted
glasses or dark glasses? What you need to remember is that we have a
choice, even though we think we haven’t – as you will see – we do.
The Darwin Matrix process provides powerful insights into how we might be
happy as human beings. This is not a religious process, but a spiritual one. It is
designed to help people of all ages overcome anxiety, depression, suicidal
thoughts and feelings of despair. It is entirely free and is recorded and promoted
as a leadership and well being process, that builds in resilience. It has been
adapted from best practice at the worlds top Universities and learning
organisations. see awarenessproject.co.uk
Bad things happen, and we may suffer, but suffering or the degree of
suffering is choice not a destination.
This implies that our past experiences may have created who we are today,
but we don’t need to hang on to the past. This is perhaps easier said that
done, but it can be done. We can change the way we think.
A dear friend of mine confessed that she had been sexually molested by a
priest when she was very young. I wasn’t probing into her private life – she
just felt she could trust me. Though the experience was a bad one and it had
affected her deeply the real issue was that she felt was that it affected her
ability to have relationships – but she didn’t know how. The obvious immediate
reaction you could understand – was that she didn’t trust men for a long time.
She also believed that her first choice in marriage was a bad one, in that she
had sought a relationship which compounded her feelings of insecurity rather
than released her. He was abusive and what made the situation a lot worse
was that he abused her daughter. They are no longer married.
The reason I mention this episode was that it illustrates a keen point – that we
are indeed a product of our past experience – but we do not need to be
possessed or controlled by those bad experiences. If we allow these bad
experiences to dictate how we behave and make choices then we are at the
mercy of those events. This is a choice. You may say that in the whirlwind of
the traumas she experienced that she wasn’t in a position to make choices
and there is some truth in that. However, if she understand what is going on
around her – she might realise that she always had a choice but felt she
didn’t. The priest would have used his influence of trust to abuse her. As a
young girl she would be encouraged to be in a world where saying “Yes” to
please someone is the norm.
This is an important starting point on our journey of self realisation. Learning
how to say “No” –
No is the most powerful word in the English language. It is also where respect
begins. My own children were always encouraged to say No – not as a defiant
stance, rather as a means of giving them the right to have a choice. All of my
children have this right, even today and they all are grown up.
You may disagree with this approach – but actually, it does not incur
disrespect – but exactly the opposite. As a means of building self-esteem the
ability to choose has always been an empowering aspect of personal
development. It’s when we don’t think we have a choice that things can come
off the rails.
Can we change the way we think? Why would be want to?
In the case of my dear friend if she had more choices and could have said
No, certainly with her marriage choice, you could argue that she may have
been better prepared to make choices that created less problems in her life.
The relationship with her daughter was deeply affected as you might imagine.
Wouldn’t it have been better if she knew that she had choices in the first place
– rather than going with the ‘yes’ flow?
Neuroscience research has proved that the brain has plasticity – in that it can
change the way it thinks. New programmes can be created including new
ways of thinking – this is an exciting revelation that we will come back to later.
First of all let’s examine something fundamental with our brains.
The brain is a purely predictive device. Anxiety kicks in when things happen
that we have no control over (or we may think we have no control).
We cross the road, it is empty, we feel safe to cross. We cross, we are not
anxious. All good. When we are children we develop according to the whim of
our parents who are the guardians of our safety. We trust them implicitly to
keep us safe. In the real world they might make mistakes, but we still trust
them. We don’t question their authority. I remember a time when I nearly
choked on a fatty piece of bacon – although it was traumatic and I nearly died
my father insisted that I eat the fatty bacon a second time. To this day I
cannot eat fatty bacon without throwing up. My brain predicts that this can
cause my death so – it acts to protect me. We are all subject to these primeval
urges of self protection and prediction, that is what helps us to avoid
situations where we might feel threatened. On the other hand – when things
get complex and are traumatic, the brain can play tricks on us – we can be
drawn into those situations.
One can seek anxiety in the world even though one may fear it. This may go
against the accepted wisdom of the psychiatrists and doctors, but how then
can we explain people accepting back or even wanting or gravitating to
The brain is indeed a complicated beast and my contention is that by
understanding why we behave the way we do – is the way we can release
ourselves from the constraints of our own thinking. We are in effect in a
prison of our own making, and it is only by understanding that fact – that we
can free ourselves from our own internal baggage. The baggage that wears
us down and plants doubts in our minds and makes us impotent – we cannot
move forward and we cannot move backwards. It’s only by knowing where we
are and peering into a future that we can predict that we can have some
measure of happiness.
Anxiety then is caused by not being able to predict the outcome, worse still is
anticipating a danger – that our brain wants us to avoid.
However, as real as the anxiety or fear may be – if we can find the key to
unlocking that fear – why wouldn’t we use it?
We all know about causality – that one thing can cause another right?
However think for a moment – maybe there is a different truth we should
explore? What if the trauma (which exists in the past) controls our future?
Surely we may be affected by it – but we can control its influence if we so
wish, otherwise we are always at the mercy of what life throws at us! Again,
this is a choice, not a destination.
Nothing is determined by abuse or trauma, only our interpretation of what it
may mean to us. I am reminded of Kelda Wood, a great woman athlete who
had an accident that crippled her chances of horse-riding in the olympics – did
her world collapse? She chose not to have the path of being a victim of
circumstances, she chose instead to be an athlete in rowing. When she just
failed to qualify, she set up a charity to help other young people who had
suffered similar disappointments – and rowed the Atlantic to raise money for
her charity. Sometimes the negative experiences when interpreted in a
positive way can give our lives meaning.
Automatic response, is the first level of conscious awareness that we need to
understand and in some cases overcome.
Anger – what is it.
An emotional outburst based on an automatic response, Someone cuts us up
at a roundabout. A bad driver nearly hits us. Maybe someone just stood on
your foot? Whatever it may be, our first reaction may be one of anger, to
somehow hit back. If we are at the mercy of an automatic emotional response
then we cannot hope to control the forces that exert themselves upon us. If
we were a small sailing ship in an ocean of waves, we would just be bobbing
around. We would quite literally be at the mercy of waves, the weather and
and the winds.
What if we could resist the urge to hit back? what if we could control our
automatic feedback? Are not these responses the stuff of leaders?
If someone at a roundabout upsets us and we still angry 3 hours later and we
started quarrelling with our loved ones, you may well ask who is in control??
You – or the person who cut you up at the roundabout?
This is what I mean by an automatic response. Instinctively, your heart might
pound at the time, your face may grow the colour of crimson. However, with
some physiological input you might control these automatic responses.
Fold your arms for a moment, then unfold them. Now fold them again but with
the other arm on top. Something strange has just happened. You have just
undone your automatic response. You have overridden your programming,
just for a moment. Habits and programming are built up over many years –
and we can choose (if we so wish) to undo them. So it is the same with
plasticity in the mind – we can choose to override the programme, indeed we
can override the negative thoughts if we so wish it. How you may ask??
Well, there is an exciting process called EMDR which is an abbreviation for
Eye Movement Desensitising and Reprocessing. It’s a method that has been
hailed a breakthrough in trauma the world over. It began in the United States
by a therapist named Shapiro. She noticed after a recent upset, that when
she walked in the park, she had a habit of looking right to left, then left to
right. The eye movement she noticed after a few minutes reduced her trauma
and her feelings of unease.
Something in the brain was able to process in a good way the feelings of
trauma, she just had to focus on the upset. Subsequently she found that any
stimulation right to left, whether it was a vibration or a sound would trigger
similar processing that would alleviate the trauma. The key is to focus on the
trauma. Floods of tears are followed by an enormous sense of relief. Rape
victims have particularly found this helpful. This is well documented.
Similar to EMDR is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). The idea is to
focus on the block or upset and to tap on the temples and other key areas of
the face such as just below the eyes on the cheek bones. The point here is
that the Health community resisted EMDR for many years. Then enterprising
bosses in the Health profession decided they could make money out of it, so
they legislated to make it difficult for anyone to access these techniques. The
technology consisted of a light bar about 3 foot long containing LEDs that
moved from left to right. Fortunately it is used more and more by cognitive
therapists and the like, though with anything new it is still resisted despite its
A word about tone of voice.
One can always tell when someone is angry, but what if we could control that
anger and speak in a calm voice? If we have the control – we would like to
have – we could raise our voice like an actor does. Perhaps to create an
effect. Likewise when we speak to a loved one, we will use soft tones. If we
thought about how we speak and adjusted the way we speak – we would be
exercising powerful physiological control which calms ourselves and even our
Why do emotions play such an important part in our evolution? We know
through brain scans that the amygdala region lights up when we are
emotionally aroused, but it is also true that many other parts of our brain are
ignited. Neuroscience helps us to understand that with 300 billion neurons
representing many more billions of options at our disposal – the brain is a
complex predictive organism. Neuroscientists believe that these emotional
states spring up when we feel threatened or aroused, they lay down paths
which are not literal or visual but work in a more intrinsic way to co-ordinate
our thinking so that our standing, stature or wellbeing is maintained. Status is
an important element in our emotional and social states, so that whatever is
decided at a subconscious level is supporting our social and survival status.
Neuro-plasticity is one aspect that we should all take comfort from, it means
we can reform our pathways in our subconscious. Neuro-genetics, an equally
younger science, however, means we can create new neurons – which is a
much more exciting possibility. Simply it means, we are capable of almost
anything and we don’t have to accept our past experiences as being the total
measure of our accomplishments or limitations.
Take for example, depression or symptoms of anxiety – we do not have to
accept them as inevitable consequences of previous trauma. They are not
hard wired, but soft wired and we can override these pathways. This does not
mean to say it is an easy task, but with co-ordinated efforts which can be as
abstract as listening to music, drawing or dancing, it is possible. As part of a
reprogramming exercise connected to the apparent blocks, we can alleviate
these symptoms. Bearing in mind they can re-appear as neural pathways if
the triggers are sufficiently strong enough to manifest themselves, again.
This is where the transferring of neuron information to both sides of the brain
can assist greatly in the brain self healing (EMDR and EFT).
How do we find these new neural pathways??
If we imagined that once we smoked cigarettes (I did) – we find that there are
certain triggers that induce ‘lighting up’ – such as coffee? In my case I would
wind down my car window in readiness for lighting up. Unfortunately the
trigger still worked for a while, I am conscious that it used to trigger this
response. So – if you managed to override this response, by replacing signals
(triggers) with others, then you will have the basic understanding of what
plasticity of the mind can achieve. Rather amusingly, I used to have in my car
sticks of celery and every time i wound the window down – i would put some
celery in my mouth. This was most amusing to police officers who pulled up
alongside me at traffic lights and stared – to witness me chewing a large
protrusion from my mouth.
Emotions are stronger than any rational behaviour and they are deep seated –
so the best you can do – is to encourage a new emotional or motivational
response. In the case of smoking I felt a duty to not hurt my unborn child. This
is a powerful motivation – and this is where you can plough new pathways –
because the emotional desire is there. These motivations – provided they are
powerful and not whimsical like, i gave up smoking because it made me smell
– are enough to help you to want to trigger new pathways. In the case of
depression, a strong urge to view the consequences, for example that you
may not be able to help others overcome their fears is a good motive.
One of the most powerful inducements to overcome anxiety is the feeling that
you may transfer some of your anxiety on to your children. or a loved one. In
psychology it is called transference. Many people who have suffered traumas
in their lives have a strong psychological motivation to help others in a similar
predicament – simply because it works as therapy for the individuals who take
that step. Like a samaritan may help another and become a samaritan
because they were in turn helped by a good person. In a general sense this
allows for the collective conscious to play a role in shaping our society.
So, we know the basis on which we might use plasticity of the mind to forge
new pathways. However, in order to do this – one has to take the red pill (as in
the film – the Matrix) – you cannot make a new path if you don’t know where
you are now and where you are headed. Whilst it is useful to cling on to the
past (for comfort) – this is a falsehood that can seriously damage your ability
to find your true self. – This is not a movement towards ‘change’ itself – rather
it is evolution and the growth of your own mind.
For that to happen you have to take a second look in a mirror, not at the face
staring back, but you need to look into your own mind, and reflect on who you
really are, what are your values, what makes you unique in this world. If
arrogance stairs back, or hostility or complacency, then you may be in
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Finding you true path in life may invoke change, but it is wisdom itself that
you will acquire. Wisdom about your self. First we must take baby steps – be
willing to grow outside your comfort zone. Moving away from fear to a new
type of discomfort (not too threatening) – so you don’t have to jump out of an
aeroplane to experience a new sense of accomplishment. It could be as
simple as taking a course of learning to play a new instrument. Meditation is a
powerful way to re-align your thoughts and adopt new ones. You are in effect
asking you inner mind for help, and – provided you are not on drugs – your
mind will help you. Maybe one of your ambitions is to reduce your
dependency on drugs, this is fine too. You just need to give your brain
permission to solve these issues.
All conscious decisions emanate from the subconscious, that is your real
asset and source of power. It’s there to help you, not hinder you. You need to
work with your benevolent brain – not fight it. I don’t mean – go with the flow. I
mean listen to the silence of your thoughts and allow them to work with you.
You are not meant to be unhappy, it’s a choice, and you always have a
choice, you need to find that wisdom to open up your mind, and take charge
of your life.
We are here to learn and grow and find ourselves – that is our meaning, and
to help others to find their own path, without fear. There are many other paths
that you will have to find on your journey, paths that are healing and
benevolent. You just have to take the first step.
The Matrix described at the beginning is a mind map, it has six pathways to
self – actualisation. You first task is to discover things about yourself and what
you are thinking and then later we will ask some questions…
Anxiety is a normal state of mind when we cannot predict (or feel we cannot
predict) outcomes. Anxiety is based on our survival instincts. Cortisol is
released and this is meant to prepare us for action. The trainer (above)
represents the conscious mind, usually the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala
(the emotional part of your brain is represented by the elephant). However
much our conscious brain tries to control our emotions, the emotions play a
greater role in how we might respond. For example, if there is some
perception of danger like a lion in the vicinity then the amygdala will take
control. It is only by understanding our own motivations that we can learn to
control our automatic responses, no matter how good intentioned they may
be. We still have the emotional responses of a 2 million year old brain with no
upgrade to hand, so have to relearn how to manage our physiology, the way
we think and the parts of the brain that control us, if we are going have any
measure of calm, success or happiness.
Within all of us – there is a great and aspiring leader within. You will believe
this absolutely when you reach your own self actualisation.