Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It is deeper than you think, so deal with it

I have been reading a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf that a friend recommended. This book has answered a lot of questions for me regarding the physiological impact of stress on the body over a prolonged period of time. Basically, there isn’t one system that is not impacted by this stress including cardiovascular, neurological, limbic, immune and the muscular-skeletal systems. While I could have a long discourse on this, I have decided to let you do your own legwork on this subject using this book as a primer. There are many other works referenced in this book. The title is Who Switched Off My Brain? And as a layman I recommend it to you to understand the impact that emotional energy has on your whole person. To do a ‘fly-over’ of this subject perhaps what you could take away from this entry is that stress is caused by fear-related emotions. Now, you might think that this area is limited but it has to do with the many forms of fear: anxiety, regret, anger, un-forgiveness, mourning and dread. Now, the interesting thing here is that these are the kind of emotions that definitely are a part and parcel of the one who has exited a dysfunctional religious group (see my previous post ‘Can You Pass the Test?”).

Teachings like this stress the imperative about controlling one’s thoughts and that would lead to emotions that would follow proper thinking. Sounds pretty good right? However the method this is carried out can go two ways. The toxic way is it is implemented where the person’s self-assessment and worth was in discovering what needed to be fixed and using the teachings to ‘crucify the flesh’. This can be described in many ways but perhaps the best way to explain it is that whatever was given to the person as input, they would not react out of their sense of injustice, unfairness or the like but would see it as an opportunity to exercise their spiritual maturity. This approach produces fear of not producing what is considered the acceptable response and so keeps the person from reacting with what they truly felt ath the time. In other words, there is a suppression of the emotions potentially experienced. From what I have gleaned from my reading of Dr. Leaf’s book, while the evaluating of the emotions emitted upon first reaction is always a good idea, there might not be opportunity to do so. The emotions felt are usually suppressed because they are perceived to be sourced in the 'old man of sin' and so may never be legitimized in the mind of the one practicing. In reading this work, what Doctor Leaf says is that emotions that are suppressed do not go away unless they are resolved. Unfortunately in the building of memory, emotion is a key element in setting the event in the brain. From the studies done by Dr. Leaf and others emotions is how one assimilates what is truth. So, one must ask themself 'what emotion was really setting my memory and therefore my perception of truth?' At the time of the event, one might feel ‘good’ about it but still harbor a degree of conflict. A typical response might be that this was the flesh or 'old man' that wanted to spurn what had been received and it needed to be denied any foothold. In this way, conflict is always associated with ‘truth’ and so set up the model of self-loathing. So the question one must ask is: ‘Was there any ‘good emotion?’ assisting in the setting of the memory? If the answer is affirmative, then there should be production of positive benefits (peace, well-being, etc). Yet if there is any kind of inner conflict,a conclusion could be that other emotions were never properly evaluated. This leades to further confusion which is its own brand of toxicity. Long term exposure to this level of stress (remember stress is sourced in fear!) can wreak havoc in one's mental life and can also manifest itself physically as well. So what is the long term manifest of stress (fear – negative emotions), it is a deterioration of the health of the one to whom it is manifested long-term. So, an objective conclusion that could be reached is that what was being given, perhaps the way it was given was detrimental. As Jesus said ‘by their fruits you will know them’.

So what is the moral of the story here?

First, you must recognize that truth is ‘sealed’ to us by the emotion felt at time of the event. This makes it very difficult to discern the nature of the experience as we recall it from memory. In essence, our recollection of truth is not the teaching itself but also the emotion associated with it. In other words, when we recall the setting of what we now know as truth, it is a replay by the brain of not only the teachings received but what was felt eomtionally. The brain actually replays not just knowledge but ‘feeling’ through release of electrochemical emissions that are made. Therefore our own mind may play tricks on us in the recollection. This explains the conflict and tension that one might experience as they recall certain teachings. What we recall is reinforced by what we felt. This is why it is difficult to ‘unlearn’ teachings that are in error because they ‘feel’ right. This is a main tool of dysfunctional groups in their programming and agenda. Positive reinforcement on incorrect doctrine yields a positive experience for the subject and therefore the teaching is deeply seated in the mind because of the intense emotions felt. It is ironic that such groups that espouse such approaches are inconsistent with their own teaching – because they use emotive power in their ‘impartations’ that seal toxic doctrine. This might explain why one can be so conflicted and even schizophrenic when it comes to the group that they may either be exiting or have exited. Tragically, when a memory is set in such a way, it is there and there is no removal of it. This also explains why many when they leave such a group self-destruct. What is the solution? Well, in my case, I have had to do very intensive study of the major tenets of the doctrines I once embraced to properly frame them. The result is what ironically, the group originally intended to proffer: that is, let the thought control the emotion. By allowing the Holy Spirit to re-train you regarding the toxic teachings, the footing of the teachings, while still there, are overlain with the objective truth of God’s word. There is no easy way to this but a lot of hard work. If you find yourself unable to do this by yourself, allow yourself to undergo some counseling with a specialty in Systematic Theology. While my works are specific to my own experience, I would gladly send them to you if you would like. Once the truth about what one has been taught is evaluated and concluded that it does not hold water, you brain will attach the additional information to the seated memory with the new information. There is little doubt that you will still ‘replay’ what you felt originally but along with that, you will have additional information. Eventually, your brain will retrain itself regarding the teaching. This is really the process of renewing of the mind.

If you harbor anger, un-forgiveness, grief and anxiety, let it go. See them as what they are and what they did and if you have not resolved them yet, what they are still doing to you. It is the hold that these still possess over you. I am working on forgiveness and I have to say it is a gradual process. What will help is to view the group in the light of their own dysfunction. They are victims as much you were. When we see that they are prisoners as well, we do not see the prison guard but a fellow prisoner. The tragedy is that they do not see it and if left to their own way, they will continue to experience health decline and pre-mature death. It is an interesting twist on the scriptures of communion in I Corinthians: they do not partake of the body wisely and so some sleep pre-maturely. I have had dear friends die of based auto-immune diseases like cancer and the like which I have learned are directly linked to a fear-based lifestyle so prevalent in a dysfunctional group.

No comments:

Post a Comment