Recently I assisted at a workshop designed to help singles gain social skills and connect with each other.
At the end of the evening, an attractive young woman said she is usually shy because she cares too much about what other people think. During some of the workshop exercises, she was able to not care what others thought of her, and found it liberating. She wanted the ability to not care what others think in the rest of her life.
I gently pointed out that while not caring what others think can be liberating, it can also be problematic. Would you really want ignore how your actions affect other people to the point that you hurt or offend them? Or maybe suffer serious consequences, such as getting fired? Probably not.
When Gary recalls a negative memory, he re-experiences the emotion he felt, and gets upset. Since he is prone to obsessive thinking, once a negative emotion triggers, he can obsess about it — and stay upset — for hours.
Tabitha gets trauma flashbacks. She re-experiences events so vividly that they re-traumatize her. Afterward fear, anxiety, depression, and crying jags can debilitate her for days, and affect her mood for weeks.
Emotionally loaded recall is especially common in people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a learned trauma response. It’s also common among people with Asperger syndrome. Like Gary, Aspies are prone to obsess over negative emotions and make them worse.
Of course, re-experiencing remembered emotions can be an asset when you recall pleasant memories. But with negative experiences — especially traumas — it’s usually preferable to get the useful life lessons from less-than-positive memories, without getting upset or re-traumatized.
After getting my final chemotherapy treatment at the beginning of May, I experienced ongoing problems with tiredness. Curiously, mental fatigue severe enough to keep me from writing blog posts had little effect on my ability to date and socialize. Which makes sense, I suppose; our ancestors spent millions of years socializing, not blogging.
My busy dating life gives me plenty of opportunities to learn more about relationships. Which brings me to today’s topic, personal (relationship) chemistry.
When someone gets plenty of convincing evidence they are loved — evidence that fits their convincer criteria — they feel loved and appreciated. In Chapman’s words, their “emotional gas tank” gets filled.
When people don’t get convincing evidence of love — or worse, when they get convincing evidence that they are not loved — their emotional gas tank gets depleted and they feel unloved, unappreciated… and often hurt, hostile, resentful, etc. This can happen even when they are receiving lots of love — because it’s in a form they don’t recognize as love.
When I began my NLP training in 2002, I quickly embraced the myth of the NLP “quick fix.”
To their credit, my trainers were fairly low-key about what NLP could do. But they did promote the idea of NLP working “much faster” than alternatives, such as conventional therapy. And during training, my fellow students and I were often able to quickly fix some of our own and other people’s problems. Sometimes these were issues that had endured for decades, yet with NLP we could resolve them in under half an hour.
Many of us NLP students, including me, quickly developed overblown ideas of what NLP (and we) could accomplish.
A trauma is a strong, persistent, negative emotional response to a past event, or reminders of it.
A trauma is not an experience. It is an emotional response to an experience. If the emotional response is positive, the experience is not traumatic, no matter how harrowing its sensory details. (Think of all the people who pay money to have scary, dangerous experiences such as white-water rafting!)