Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
I’ve done quite a few things in my time. I was an exchange student to Germany for a year, I built my own house, I’ve made several short films; I built up my own business and I’ve been married for over 25 years and we’re still happy together. This is a small sampling of the wisdom I’ve acquired over the years from doing all these things. Some of this you have undoubtedly have seen before, but I like to think that I have some new things to offer as well.
I’ve been involved with New Age stuff for many years. Once upon a time I embraced the attitude spelled out in the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. The idea is that what you visualize, you will create in your life. Just visualize the work/spouse/health/object that you want and it will come to you. It’s very simple.
The trouble with this approach is not that it is wrong, -it isn’t-, but rather that it is a gross oversimplification of what is actually going on. This process will go very quickly and easily for some things, and be completely unsuccessful for others. For that reason, I will give you the benefit of my good judgment:
I embraced the visualize => receive attitude in my early twenties and have slowly modified it through the years in order to adapt it to what was actually happening. There are a few pretty important caveats to this method. To wit:
1. We’re not as clear about what we want as we think we are. All of the problems we have are there for a reason. And that reason is always that, at some level, we choose to have them. Our problems arise from deeply held beliefs, -always formed in childhood before our thought processes matured- that tell us who we are and what we can have in life. Part of our identity is wrapped up in our problems, particularly our intractable ones. This can be tough to admit, but it’s very helpful to do so.
2. You cannot overcome a problem that you cannot identify. I grew up, for example, with a hyper-competitive father and I learned that if I was better than him at something, this made him angry. In a child’s mind this translates to a connection between success and rejection. What happens to me is that I am not as clear about success as I imagine myself to be. I have issues, in other words, that affect my ability to visualize monetary success and I have to identify them to move forward.
3. Normal visualization techniques generally do not work for the things we want the most. The things we want the most almost are almost always the things around which we have unresolved emotional issues. As you attempt to visualize receiving something which triggers these issues, it becomes increasingly difficult over time to do those visualizations. The mind has long ago blanked out the emotional pain surrounding this issue and the visualization is unconsciously closing in on this suppressed trauma. Usually, this is resolved by forgetting to visualize or being distracted by something else. Many people blame themselves for failure at this point, but in reality, the task is much, much harder than it appeared to be.
4. Our old beliefs do not change easily or quickly. Old beliefs are almost always tied to suppressed emotional pain and trauma. It takes real therapy to overcome them. This may come in the form of personal meditation or employing a psychologist for professional help. Either way, the pain has to be dealt with to move on.
Most New Age literature that I’ve run across either does not address unresolved emotional issues and conflicting desires or addresses them in an all too simplistic manner implying that if people just try hard enough they can overcome these problems. This oversight and oversimplification does more harm than good in my opinion. In order to succeed we need to have great respect for the emotional forces, -good, bad and ugly- that drive us.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to identify when we have an emotional issue holding us back. We’re held back by something. We typically do well in areas where we don’t have emotional issues. For example, I don’t have any deep,traumatic relationship or health issues. When problems have come up in these areas of my life, I’ve just dealt with them and moved on. I’ve never been in a position where things went unresolved in those two areas of my life. Notice that I didn’t say that problems never come up. They do. It’s just that I tend to think clearly and quickly make the right decisions in those areas when something goes wrong.
However in the area of wealth and career, I have not made good decisions, or rather, my decisions were at best mediocre. There is deep seated emotional trauma in this area of my life and it affects my decision making. (Some of you may feel a desire to offer me advice or comment on this. Please don’t. I have help. Focus on yourself.) These mediocre decisions have added up over time to produce . . . mediocre results.
The key to success is understanding that we are both responsible for creating success in our lives, but we are also somewhat at the mercy of our personal history; we can’t control everything. We have to understand that there are land mines in our psyche and that we don’t necessarily know what they are. They are also not easy to heal when we do discover them.
In the area of your life where you’re not having success, there are also practical things you can do to increase your chances that help a lot. Part of creating success in a challenging area of our life is doing the things that are the building blocks to success. These vary from area to area somewhat, but there are some useful guidelines:
1. Be informed. No matter what your problem is or what you want to learn, someone else wrote about it. Find their information and read it. Get acquainted with what other people have done who have gone before you. The world is full of people who want you to learn from their mistakes and not make the same ones. Nearly every path worth taking has someone out there speaking from experience who has already done it and has something to give. There is a reason that people get training before they involved in something new; it works. Train yourself as best you can.
For example, while the content of my blog is somewhat unique and I have my own particular vision, writing a blog is not unique at all. Neither is writing an article. There is a wealth of information on how to write a successful blog and I’ve read enough to know the important stuff.
2. Know who and what you are and who and what you are not. Along the path of life, we have our bumps and bruises. We make mistakes and some of these are quite big and others are trivial. All of them can be helpful when viewed in this context. Our mistakes often provide important clues about what works for us and what doesn’t. Mistakes and failure are often seen as something negative, but they provide us with valuable clues that we need to move forward. More on this later. Whether it concerns our health, career or relationship, we need to know both our strengths and limitations. Both are important in their own ways. We are not limitless beings capable of achieving anything. We are ordinary people capable of doing a few things really well, being ordinary at many more and there are some areas where we’re really going to suck.
In my own case, I am a person who is well adapted to give a little bit to a lot of people. I am not well adapted to give a lot to a few people. In my business I do small constructions jobs with many clients and with my blog I provide a small amount of information for a large number of people. It is important to your success that you understand your limits because this tells you where your limited energy is better spent. The better focused your energy is, the better chance you have of being successful.
3. Fail early and often. While this seems like strange advice, there is an undeniable logic to it. Most mistakes are made when we are doing something new. We fail when we are pushing ourselves into unknown territory and doing poorly on tasks that we are unfamiliar with. Yet far more learning occurs in these situations than in any other type. If we allow ourselves to feel defeated by failure and mistakes, we are missing the big picture. Mistakes and failure are part and parcel of personal growth.
I can say from personal experience that while many things can (an should) be learned from other people and their mistakes and failures, many things cannot be learned this way. Over the years in my handyman construction business I have made countless mistakes and failed many times. It comes with the job. But by learning from these incidents, I did not make the same mistake(s) again. As this learning accumulated, I got better at my job and my life got easier. One day I woke up to find that I was one of the best at what I do. Practically everything that I learned that was worthwhile came from failing at some point.
4. Logic and Linear reasoning will help you understand what you have done. (past) Intuition, insight and creativity will help you understand what you will do. (future) It is important to understand what style of thinking to use in what situation. Logic is usually not particularly good for situations where an outcome is open ended and there are a lot of variables that cannot be accounted for. A lot of the future is like that. You can use logic to buy a car, but it won’t tell you whether that particular car is suitable for you. You cannot know everything important there is to know about that one vehicle. You can make all the right choices and still have a bad outcome. Often, when dealing with future events, you need to make a leap to a place where logic cannot go. It is here that we need to acknowledge the importance of intuition, insight and creativity for making decisions. You can use logic and linear reasoning to inform your future decisions, but not to make them.
This is really a very short list, but I think it can be helpful. Learning these things has been very helpful to me over the years and I have accomplished quite a few things as a result of that. I have a few things that I say to myself when launching into something that I am unfamiliar with: “There, but for the grace of God go I.” That tells me that it’s time to just blank out all my doubts and plunge into whatever task is before me. “Once more, unto the breach!” is what I tell myself when the going gets tough and finally, I have a saying that I’ve kept as my motto since High School: