In my dream, I wake up in a city of unknown origin, I think New York. However, it could’ve been any big American city. It was busy, loud and there were tons of people on the street. At first I was disoriented, then I keep saying to myself, Life is Kind. A mantra of sorts, to keep me from being afraid of anyone or anything.
I start walking, it’s midmorning and the first person I encounter is a homeless man. He seems quite drunk, but his eyes are kind and clear and a bright very unique shade between between blue and green. He looks at me, smiles and says, “For a beer, I’ll tell you a story”.
Well, there are few things I enjoy more than a cold beer and a good story.
In my dream, I even thought, “Well, it’s midday, there are lots of people around, it will be OK…Life is Kind”. He stood up, took my hand and led me around the corner and down just a few stairs. The outside looked pretty dirty, scary actually and I hesitated, pulling back from his hold. He calmly said, “It will be OK”.
He opened the door and it was surprisingly a cool, sun-filled space that looked more like a diner than a dingy bar. People were talking and laughing, kids playing and there was a lively piano player. The bartender welcomed us warmly. We sat at the end of the bar where it was a little quieter. The old man ordered us two beers, looked me in the eye and smiled.
With no transition, or any recollection of the old man’s story I’m now back out on the street. I’m suddenly surrounded by young, tall, black men. They are talking and laughing, goofing off, they notice that I’m uncomfortable, but I stay right in the middle of their group. I walk a few blocks with them and then to get out of the pod, I have to excuse myself and duck around them, awkwardly bumping into and nearly tripping a few of the guys. They’re all jumping up to touch things, like light fixtures and the tops of signs.
They start giving me crap about being afraid of them because they’re black. I turned to them, said, “I’m not afraid of you because you’re black. I’m afraid of you because of your youth and there’s so many of you and you’re all so big. It’s intimidating to me today.”
“Oh, Ok, yeah, I sort of get that, my grandma said something like that too”, one of the boys offered. He thumped his chest to me and smiled. They all said goodbye in mumbles and waves and off they went jumping down the street into the afternoon light.
I turn the corner and bump, literally bump into this a woman and knock a bunch of papers and books onto the ground. She’s dressed in a well-tailored grey, plaid suit with a skirt and jacket, high end, high heels and a pink, silky blouse with a bow at the neck. Her slightly grey hair was fixed in a stiff, old lady hairstyle like my grandmother had done every Friday morning. Teased, smoothed and fastened with pins, a satin pillowcase required to keep it all tidy until her next appointment.
I apologize for knocking things out of her hands. She’s rushed and while we’re gathering everything back together, she says, “We can have lunch at two. I have a very busy day. I’ll see you at (I don’t remember the name). I can’t wait to catch up.”
Well, we all know how dreams go. So, even though I have no idea who this person is, I can’t wait to catch up either…waiting until two o’clock seemed like an eternity.
I kept walking around until the appointed time. I was very excited about my lunch and all of the catching up we’re going to do. I arrived at the place and everything is odd, the scale of everything really strange and disorienting. The stairs have a very difficult to maneuver tall rise between steps. The tables were all different heights. The lights were bright on some tables and really dark on others.
I suddenly hear someone a little out of breath in my ear. I get a quick hug from behind and a peck on the cheek. Then I see my lunch date. Who appeared was an older gentleman in a pink shirt, a bow tie, a grey striped suit and beautiful shoes. “Huh” was all I thought to myself. He launched into news and notes about his day and his life. He talked about his children, his work and relayed a story about recently missing a flight. He asked me about my projects and if I had seen someone we allegedly had in common recently.
All of this was so very ordinary. I didn’t question that who I thought I was meeting for lunch was an older woman. I just went with along with it and enjoyed his company. Apparently that missed flight story was a hoot.
He paid for lunch and said that he needed to head back to the office. He asked if I minded heights. I said that I sort of did, but that it depended on the situation. “Ok, follow me”, he said and we headed toward the back of the restaurant. He was walking quickly. I kept up. We got to an unusual door, walked out into an alley and went about seven steps to what seemed like nowhere. It was strange, but he was confident and I went along.
“Can you climb?” he asked me. I said that I could. “Jump?” I told him that I could, but that I didn’t really want to. He climbed up the wall, got to the top, swing his legs around, sat a minute and jumped down, now out of my sight. I climbed up. Swung my legs around and looked down. It was about ten feet. I then said, “I don’t want to jump this far, I’m training for the senior olympics. I don’t want to hurt my ankles or knees.”
“It will be fine, dear. I’ll catch you.” I jumped. I landed in the arms of my lunch date. An older woman in a plaid, grey suit, wearing a pink blouse and high heels. She caught me, shifted me upright, gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again soon”.
Then, I woke up.
I love this dream so much.
I’m going to put this dream in the category of:
WATCH YOUR JUDGEMENT & ASSUMPTIONS, LISA.
The way our brain equates repetition for truth.
YOU ONLY USE 10 percent of your brain.
Eating carrots improves your eyesight.
Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.
NONE OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE.
They FEEL TRUE because of repetition.
“Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”
—Hitler in Mein Kampf
“But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.”
After I read this, I wondered…
What can I do if I notice my brain is on autopilot?
Pinch myself? Snap a rubber band on my wrist?
Seek more sources to confirm or dispel my TRUTHS?
Let me know if you come up with a trick.
SOURCE: WANT TO MAKE A LIE SEEM TRUE? SAY IT AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN.
by Emily Dreyfuss
I realize that TV shows from comic books (even the genius of the MARVEL world) don’t work for everyone. So, I wanted to just share a few passages of dialogue from the FX show LEGION that really made me think about how we think. I recorded this passage on my phone while watching the show and I’ve listened to it a few times. Today, I finally transcribed it.
“So what have we learned? That a delusion is an idea. That an idea can be contagious. That human beings are pattern-seeking animals. By which, I mean we prefer ideas that fit a pattern.
In other words, we don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe. And when we are stressed or our beliefs are challenged… When we feel threatened… The ideas we have can become irrational, one delusion leading to another, and another, as the human mind struggles to maintain its identity. And when this occurs, what starts as an egg can become a monster.”
—LEGION Season 2 Episode 7 on FX
APOPHENIA is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.
After seeing episode 7 of LEGION, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time trying to make ideas & events fit a certain pattern of thought. I committed to noticing when I was pattern seeking. It’s really challenging at first. However, with practice, I now feel more in control of my mind. I haven’t eliminated the tendency, but I’ve increased my ability to notice more quickly when it’s happening.
“And now we come to the most alarming delusion of all. The idea that other people don’t matter. Their feelings. Their needs. Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. Instead, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world. But it’s real to them. If you were to show them the world as it actually is, they would reject it as incomprehensible.”
—LEGION Season 2 Episode 8 on FX
LEGION (David Charles Haller) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, part of the X-Men series. He is the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. Legion takes the role of an antihero who has a severe mental illness including a form of dissociative identity disorder, in which each of his alternate personas controls one of his many superpowers.
The television series Legion premiered on FX network in 2017. The lead character is portrayed by Dan Stevens (Matthew on Downton Abbey). The series is developed, written, directed, and produced by Noah Hawley.
anxious: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind about some contingency
contingency: an event that may but is not certain to occur
READ THIS OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF:
extreme uneasiness of mind about an event not certain to occur
Why are we spending so much time thinking about our hypothetical futures?
Anxiety is at epidemic proportions in the world. I’m personally having far too many sleepless nights lately. I want to get a handle on my it before it affects my health, my choices and how I respond to events in my life, both big and small.
Research always makes me feel settled down. I dug in this morning.
FAST COMPANY ARTICLE BY HALEY GOLDBERG: “When we stare into a fuzzy crystal ball, it’s easy to start to worry about what’s inside, like a present we can never unwrap. And it feels productive. Studies show that we often believe worrying can prevent negative outcomes or it can help us find a better way of doing things.” FAST COMPANY ARTICLE
These three words really stood out to me…it feels productive. “FEELS” is the cue I needed to settle my brain down a little bit. Feels implies it isn’t productive at all, our brain has been tricked into thinking that the act of worrying is somehow keeping bad things from happening.
If my brain can be TRICKED, then my brain can also call bullshit when it notices the trickery. Not every time, but with practice, at least increase the frequency of noticing.
Today, I feel anxious about a few big things happening in my life right now…my father is in the hospital, my three young adult children are all in transition and my life is going to change quite dramatically in the next few months. And yet…
“I know what to do, even when I don’t know what to do.”
I’m trying to remind myself that, even though THE FUTURE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNCERTAIN, I believe I can handle whatever the universe throws at me.
Handling it, might mean falling apart, calling upon my team to steady me and going through a period of deep grief and sorrow.
Correct me if I’m wrong, that’s still handling it, right?
I try to remind myself of this often.
I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept. Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.
Who wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap? I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.
I want my anger and resentment some days. I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion. In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.
Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them.
Damnit, I tried pretty hard. Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.
I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.
Good luck noticing, folks.
A NOTE OF COMPASSION: Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns. I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience. I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me. I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.
My husband, daughters and I just returned from a trip to Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts. Now that we’re awaiting a blizzard in Vermont, our whole vacation feels like a dream. The beautiful & generous people, the warmth & color, monkeys, mongoose, birds, flora, farm to table food and the views of other islands were all so magnificent. Belle Mont Farm is a hotel up in the mountains on 400 acres of fertile, organic farmland and tropical forest. It was remarkably special and now etched in my memory. I’m so grateful for the experience.
I had a realization while staying at Belle Mont Farm that I often live with a strange sense of guilt when I enjoy nice things. Why in the world do I feel this way? After a little soul searching, here’s where I landed. I believe some ancient part of me feels that there’s only so much abundance in the world and I’ve already been granted my share. I’m not really deserving of more.
This thinking is more than a little absurd, right? Life is not a zero-sum game. I’m genuinely happy when other people get to experience cool things. I don’t think, damn, now the universe has less for me.
a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it
Thank you Belle Mont Farm for the lesson learned I learned about abundance.
BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon. When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.
1. relating to the nucleus of an atom
2. BIOLOGY; relating to the nucleus of a cell
As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.
There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950. I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently. I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.
BROKEN ARROW: an accidental emotional launch
of being way too serious way too much of my day. I started out this morning reading the New York Times and all of the crazy political news. David Duke is back, really? Then I landed on this piece about “cognitive closure” and it really struck me. I was so interested in this concept that I read it to my highly disinterested 16-year-old daughter, Lucy. My husband, Jeff kind of listened to me, but he really just wanted to work on the 1970s song “My Maria” and play his guitar while our cat, Karen watched him adoringly. Clearly, I need to lighten up. Goofing off more lessens the anxiety of those around us too. Our cat was trying to show me what to pay attention to this morning. Oh the wisdom of Karen.
I think culturally, we just gotta lighten right now.
This political season is making us nuts.
AND YET…I still couldn’t quite help myself. “Dr. Kruglanski is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.” By
Changing habits is hard, fun is coming—I promise. Conceptually “cognitive closure” is something to consider, especially when you feel unable to see the options available to you and a choice needs to be made. The middle path always allows us to see a lot more options. But, it’s much harder to do. Our brain wants to shut down our options. It’s way easier than considering new information. I told you I’m guilty of being way too serious. Good Golly, Lisa enough about cognitive closure (no matter how interesting of a psychological concept this is)…it’s time for fun.
So, after I read this piece I searched for FUN and landed on a country music video about HANGING OUT. Here’s my gift to you today. Thank you LITTLE BIG TOWN. You guys clearly know how to lighten up.
Back this hitch up into the water
Untie all the cables and rope
Step onto the AstroTurf
Get yourself a coozie
Enjoy this video, I hope your day is filled with lots of laughs and goofiness.
Watching this video reminded me that we used to hit golf balls off the front of our boat when I was in college. Oh, we really knew how to play then.