The girl with silver hands - Ralph Samwell
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
Thoughts from last night’s Touch & Move Module (Last updated Sept 22) by Ralph Samwell
Remember I asked; ‘why do we feel resistance to telling our story? Yet stories are the main source of social knowledge. Psychologist Brene Brown calls it, “the power of vulnerability”; (she was criticised heavily by her industry for sharing her personal story, as psychology is guarded about keeping a clear gap between practitioner and patient). Despite my advancing age and training, I still felt emotional, more than just a memory of emotion but a personal attachment to the events that I shared with you whilst telling my story. This surprised me. I’d assumed I’d dealt with all that. Logic and research would claim; ‘I still haven’t fully resolved that particular issue.’ Paradoxically, maybe not a paradox, I felt that in telling, it releases another attachment to it.
Logically, we know the past and gone. We know it is not us now, we aren’t the 3, 13, 23, 33, 43year old, that we once were. Yet overwhelmingly research from many different fields have come to the conclusion, “certain past life situations will retard and embody our psyche to not evolve nor grow from the point of provocation.” Maybe there’s a part of me that is still, 3, 13, 23, 33, etc.?
Despite the fact that, as we know better and do better, and we’ve collected knowledge and wisdom along the way, we still often haven’t moved completely from a past point. It’s often called luggage, baggage, anchors that hold us back. The scientist Pavlov reduces them to ‘mere habits we refuse to let go of and cling on to’. If not now, when? Is often asked with letting go.
Epigenics, which is where genes are only activated in specific environments, complicate things too. Genes might predispose someone to depression or schizophrenia for example. Yet people may only develop the condition if triggered by things that have happened to them. As with the saying, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’
Research has uncovered new reasons to feel hopeful about future human societies. Scientists used to believe the violent parts of human nature gave us a leg up the evolution ladder. Termed, ‘red of tooth and claw’. But evidence has emerged of the caring side of human nature and its contribution to our success. Ancient skeletons show remarkable signs of survival from illness and injuries, which would have been difficult if not impossible without help. Only a few months ago archaeologists found an amputation of a leg in Borneo that happened 31,000 years ago. The trail of human compassion extends back one and a half million years ago. Scientist have traced evidence of medical knowledge to at least the time of the Neanderthals.
Altruism has many important survival benefits. It enabled older community members to pass on important knowledge. Medical care kept skilled hunters alive. Evolution made us more emotionally exposed than we like to imagine. Like domestic dogs, with whom we share many genetic adaptations, such as greater tolerance for outsiders, and sensitivity to social cues; human hyper-sociability has come with a price: emotional vulnerabilities.
We are more sensitive to how people around us feel, and more vulnerable to social influences, we’re more prone to emotional disorders, to loneliness and to depression than our predecessors. Our complex feelings may not always be pleasant to live with, but they are part of key transformations which created large, connected communities. Our emotions are essential to human collaborations.
I introduced the concept of ‘biological resistance to change’, where even being unhealthy is resistant to change, therefore health could be defined as adaptability. Where the term Chronic is a whole separate problem from the original problem, it’s a disease within itself. Yet some diseases are a protection against worse diseases. Chronic could be a resistance to change over time. Yet, stable or ‘steady-state theory’ and ‘fine tuning’ in physics is the reason why there is stuff in the universe and even why there is a planet earth. In other words, if change is too fast, no platform can form to build upon. If change is too slow, then no dynamism, fluidity and flexibility. It seems to make a functioning universe for human life, there needs to be consistency and fluidity. So do we want the glue that binds our humanity together or…
…We seem to except being stuck is bad yet cling onto a personal attachment platform that holds us back. If your choice is to deep or shallow dive, you’re going to have to jump off that platform. It may not be fun. Apart from the fear of unknown or potential harm, the most important reaction is actually dislocation. Our platforms provide a fixed location, what is normal, and we often define ourselves by spatial awareness. Makes sense, we need to know where we are in order to orient a direction to move to. Location of who and where we are is the starting point of awareness.
But the only constant is change, Adapt or die, flexible or fixed, growth or stagnant? This leaves a sense of personal attack as the ‘ownership’ of platforms positionality becomes an identity to defend. But surely, we are the driver not the car? Are we mind or mind/body? In this way, our personalities of hyper-emotionality or hyper-logic or hyper-reflexes takes precedence over and above Reality. The conceited core of the ego holds its platform rigorously. Truth is, we don’t see reality as it is, we see reality as we need to see it in order to survive and the ego uses that survival perception to defend the platform. The platform was only meant to be a springboard to dive off but is often used as a reason not to change and even used as the very definition of life. The scaffold and building blocks.
Same with our own contradictions. In other words, what’s the point of having a mind if you can’t change it? If you’ve never changed your mind, you’ve never grown. Most of our own contradictions and hypocrisies are just a comparison between what we used to think and unconscious habits with what we now think and mindful actions. Doing one thing and saying another at the same time is much more hypocritical. Cognitive dissonance is just holding two beliefs that can’t be both true at the same time. We are not meant to be consistent because there is no constant. Yet we sit in judgement of people that are unpredictable.
We apply function to the platform or the water we dive into, but the major function is the dive itself. It’s the interface theory I introduced. Andromeda’s ‘Touch and Move’ is what is in-between the platform and the water. It’s the transportation or traction/attraction between the membrane; it’s osmosis and diffusion. If you want any function, you have to go through that membrane. It’s hard to imagine that our universe is probably flat, and we experience it as 3D because it is like a holograph, a perception of depth. So much so that many cosmologists call our universe a Brane, an info-brane.
As Toni, that joined our course shared with me what she had recently learnt:
“Information is really, IN-form-ation. Formations of the internal.” The information of past events from protective adaptive scar tissue platforms, often forming on membranes or sticking membranes together. Called a lesion adhesion. A lesion is a lesson of information. It’s why I introduced a lot of physics, because of the ‘law of conservation of information.’ Information cannot be created nor destroyed, only converted. Therefore, our trauma is converted information. Much of my work in clinic is giving people in pain, ‘permission to move’ off their protective platform. “If you’re standing still, you’re moving backward.”
The truth is ALL the past research shows the only way to let go of past anchors is to go through it. There is now, fortunately, good evidence we don’t have to fix trauma with more trauma. Enforcing ourselves to relive and enact the events to resolve the past is not always necessary. But unless we go through it somehow, it never resolves. Psychotherapy has failed to solve this paradox and in many infamous cases have even added to it, such as incarceration, electro-shock-therapy or heavy-medication. Perhaps the spoon and past doesn’t resolve, and it is us who has to bend?
In physiotherapy it’s called ‘poking the bear’, you ignore it, it will hibernate in your system. You attack the bear; it will bite you back. The alternative? Poke and run; or as Andi says, Touch and Move. For some it’s about annoying the bear until it gets fed up and moves on. For others it’s about making friends with the bear until it morphs into a teddy-bear.
This maybe, is never about letting go of the past, nor getting over it or through it. Nor blame and victimhood nor forgiveness of your transgressors. Although certain strategies can help in present context, sometimes it can create a future problem, because of what is called the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Controversial position I know but let me unpack it. If it’s not about blame, then there is nothing to forgive. If it’s not about forgiveness, then clearly it’s your perpetrator that has the issues that are not yours. All that happened was, they successfully attempted to make their issues yours. That still doesn’t change the fact that it is still their issue, therefore your issue is making sure you recognise it was never originally your issue. Now it’s either about kicking the can down the road, or it stops with you? If it does stop, that feed-back loop kills off the forward loop: Eventually! It’s why, survivor is a much better term than victim. Maybe, nobody can make you a victim without your permission?
It’s why in these situations, we are called patients, because time heals, the great healer with feed-back loops. Want it to go faster, create more feed-back loops and less feed-forward loops that negatively affect your future by dragging the past forward. If it’s as simple as letting something go, then why is that so difficult, we drop objects all the time? Maybe stop holding on to our platforms is more doable?
I disagree with The Buddha; It’s not that “life is suffering”, it’s just that life comes with suffering, as well as all the good stuff. Pain is part of it, “a gift nobody wants.” If you’ve never felt pain, you never risked, you stayed in that comfort bubble. Why did Buddha believe ‘Life IS suffering and Trauma? Might be his mother died giving birth to him.
We’ve all heard of those life changing stories. They often come from a death experience, but why is this? The obvious would be, it changes our perspective, an epiphany. For the most part, when this is beneficial, it is because the person is faced with choice and they choose to accept life, as it beats the two alternatives; either die or live in fear. Once life is accepted through accepting death, the famous phrase, “Life is a game of cards, what you were dealt is determinism and how you play your hand is your choice”, becomes relevant.
The past often equals blame but history is only understood looking backward. Then it’s a case of choice of what worked and what didn’t. It’s often said, ‘be kind because everyone is fighting their personal battle’. Truth is; not everyone. For some it is purely output, they have simplified; where it is ‘never about them and always someone else’s problem.’ For them, there is no self-reflection. The opposite has the same outcome, paralysis by analysis of over self-reflection. It’s all input. Balance is also a problem, by definition you go nowhere, you’re just making sure you don’t fall off the platform.
The natural, innocent condition of the human and our often inability to discern Truth from falsity allows us to be manipulated and ‘brainwashed’ by nefarious and low consciousness people and corresponding ideologies. “An idea is something a human has but an ideology has the human.” Truth is, I’ve no idea if any of this is true. I’ve spent more time on this edit than on writing the original. All I can say is, it seems true to me (or as I prefer to term it, ‘a level of accuracy’) and I’d want you to be cautious of believing its information without examination and critical thinking. I don’t have a wish to be believed but if you find something in there that is useful, then that’s its purpose. Sophistry is a tactic to wrap words around hostile and deceitful ideologies.
The models psychologists use are tools, unfortunately, as with physio’s, we don’t really know it’s going to work for your problem; we don’t know what we’ve chosen is the right tool for your particular circumstance. Truth is, even if it works, we still don’t know if what we did is the reason why it worked. As statistician George Box once said; “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” We advance by trial and error whilst gravitating to what seemed to work in the past. Biologist E.O. Wilson said, “We have Palaeolithic emotions, with medieval culture, with “god-like technology.” Now try and be human.
We are products of our past, what doesn’t kill us can make us stronger, but not always. Choice! Or accept there’s no such thing as free-will and you’re only doing what you’re unconsciously told. Thinking you have no free-will is probably the most self-destructive or self-sabotaging thing one can do. “Of course I believe in free-will, I have no choice.” Chris Hitchin. Assuming everything is our choice, then with choice comes self-responsibility and self-value. Then that comes with, be sure of and careful of what you value.
I suspect you understand; denial or avoidance or protection of your past directly effects your present and future. More deeply, denial of our past, is a denial of ourselves. Denial is not a river in Egypt. The opposite comes with a lot of ‘soul searching’ and brutal honesty. One unfortunately may have to kill off that past, because it’s not us anymore. It’s gone, it’s old history. It is what is holding us back, it forms habits that are destructive, and sacrifices our future and our present happiness. This should not be about erasing history; but it’s about not being a prisoner of it as well. Those that don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. It’s been said, “history is written by the victors” and it seems we are the authors of our life story. The past is the platform to dive off.
It’s called ‘The inconvenient truth’ for a reason. It’s called ‘tough love’ for a reason, but this should not be a charter for leaders to be mean. It’s true, one mustn’t add to the trauma, but if you’ll forgive the saying, ‘one can’t polish a turd’. There is no way of repackaging nicely what you went through, and those that do, are delegitimising the level of pain you went thorough. Such as the awful old saying; “worst things happen at sea” or the many similar fatuous pieces of advice to “just get over it.” Only two reasons people make change: compelling goal or compelling pain.
But we often want the truth served up to us, tasting nice, palatable, and looking appetising. It should then become a simple choice. That’s not for me and I’d prefer to go hungry or if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat anything. Everyone can only cope with a certain amount of truth. This is the restaurant at the end of the universe. These are the cards you’ve been dealt, and it’s walk away from the game or play your hand to the best of your ability. Complaining to the dealer, is not the point of the game because life gives us no guarantees.
The restaurant, chef and food maybe different but you will be served the same dish as it’s your past. Same story, different actors. It’s why diets don’t work. The hidden reason that all psychologists know is that a lot of clinical obesity is actually non-resolution of trauma. They are feeding the emotional hole left by the past.
Accept or don’t accept? ‘It is what it is and nothing fundamental changes anyway!’ As those that often say in resignation, “What can you do?” Or! ‘There must be better, there must be more?’ As those that often say in hope, “Is this all there is?” Or! The parable of the girl with silver hands. A sliding scale of nihilism to perfectionism. No meaning, ultimate meaning or self-meaning. Now it’s just about where along that scale you are?
‘The devil tricks some parents to let go of their daughter, but their daughter cannot be possessed. In revenge the devil cuts off her hands. A king fell in love with her and made her a pair of silver hands. Years later her son falls into a pond but as she rescues her son, the silver hands turn to real hands. “My hands are real again,” she said. “It wasn’t my son I saved. It was me.”
How you choose to define things is a reflection of who you are. Your definitions form your judgements, and your judgements form your decisions and your decisions form your directions. Are you sure that is who you wish to be in the future in terms of how you define things now? That is your choice. Although not perfect a statement, have a think about ‘if your philosophy isn’t making you happy, change your philosophy’. Want to see things differently, change where you’re viewing it from. As in the old joke, ‘The lightbulb has got to want to change.’
What does all the above mean?
Once on the journey, it’s stay on or get off. Take a dump or get off the potty. Choice. Nothing to do with the vehicle nor driver. The vehicle will go at the speed it’s designed for, the driver will go in their direction, that you signed up for. It’s always hard, you either better or worse at dealing with ‘it’.
In summation, everything is about self-preservation, fight, flite or freeze, it beats the alternative. Self-preservation: at the next level up is self-value. Self-value only comes from ability to do or be something valuable. We value how we enacted, or we devalue it. The ego is actually a protection system for the self. If we want better, we have to do, and think better. The only constant is change. “If you always do, what you’ve always done, you always get, what you always got.” As is often stated on business courses, the most dangerous statement in corporate management is: “because we’ve always done it that way.”
Responsible = response able. Now how able are you to respond?