The Primacy of Thinking
The famous English playwright William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about life. In his play called “Hamlet” one of the most memorable lines is:
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
However, in spite of my respect for Shakespeare’s literary genius, I do not agree entirely – both from a spiritual/philosophical perspective and a practical one.
Even if all metaphysical and philosophical considerations concerning morality are left off the table, my personal view is that some things that are bad in themselves regardless as to what anyone might think about them.
The principal ones in my mind, are the practice of deliberately engaging in deceit, intimidation and manipulation of others for self-serving gain, and the practice of inflicting loss, pain, harm and death on others just for the sinister pleasure of engaging in mindless abuse, theft and murder.
Similarly, I believe that as long as you come from a position of wellness, strength, competence and willing generosity, the practice of offering to others that which is positively useful, valuable and life-enhancing – while at the same time not expecting anything in return – is good in itself.
Those personal distinctions having been made; the central wisdom concerned with the primacy of thinking is profound. It has such huge implications for all the important areas of your existence as a man or woman that an appreciation of the role of purposeful thinking in your life generally, is simply not negotiable.
In this article, I am going to encourage you to use the coronavirus crisis as a line in the sand by which to progress your journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Hi. Richard McHale here.
While I am a published author, speaker, life-coach and passionate researcher into the workings of the mind and emotions in general and the science of relationships in particular; of much greater significance than any of that is the fact that I am one of a relatively few guys out there who has recovered completely from a serious loss of mental health in early childhood, and from subsequent decades of social failure, bondage to destructive addictions and an inability to enter into authentic human relationships of any kind.
Imagine this if you will; I am 4 years old and am playing alone in the hallway of my house. I happen to find a ball point pen that has been dropped on the floor and so, being fascinated with the idea of writing, I scribble on my left forearm with it.
I do not see the adult approaching me from behind. Suddenly, a hand reaches over my shoulder, grabs me by the front of my shirt and spins me around violently.
Eyes that are burning crazy and a face that is red and distorted with rage, thrusts itself into mine. I am terrified and have not got any idea of what is going on.
The agonized and distorted face spits words at me like machine-gun bullets.
“DON’T YOU KNOW THAT INK IS A DEADLY POISON! IT’LL SOAK STRAIGHT THROUGH YOUR SKIN AND YOU’LL DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WAIT AROUND AND WATCH YOU DIE!!!”
With that, I am thrown into a bare room and hear the door being quickly locked behind me. I believe completely what I have just been told concerning my fatal poisoning and immanent, horrible death. Consequently, I go hysterical with shock, fear and panic.
I beat on the door and scream my lungs out for help, but none comes. It takes less than a minute before I find myself in the grip of my death belief and can feel myself letting go of life.
My chest muscles tighten and I strain to draw breath. My joints stiffen and I can barely move my body. As I collapse to the floor and accept that I am about to die, my panic subsides to a point.
In that gap, a deep, deep sense of loss and regret at all the things I will never do or experience wells up inside me. I am now more overcome with feelings of sadness and loss, than I am the fear of death.
As I gasp for breath, my vision starts closing in like the shutter of camera lens and then, nothingness takes over.
I Lose My Mental Health Suddenly
I do not actually die as you can tell. Somehow, I get out of that room and regain consciousness. However, I cannot tell you any of the details because I do not know what they are.
I have tried as hard as I can to recall what happened, but my memory is totally void concerning the aftermath of my lapse into unconsciousness that day. I might as well try and catch the wind as to dredge up any memory at all, as to what happened next.
There is a chunk of time that is missing from my experience. It is at least twenty-four hours in duration, but could be much longer.
My next conscious memory after blacking out, is that of standing at the back of my house looking out into the yard. I have no idea how I got there or of how much time has passed since being locked in that room, expecting to die.
These types of experiences in early childhood – as compounded by physical violence and social humiliation – adds up on the inside of me and leads me to experience a sudden mental and emotional breakdown towards the end of my first year at school.
I am only 5 years old.
As a result of that breakdown, my self-esteem goes negative in the extreme. I become chronically depressed, anxious, and paranoid. I try to hide from the human race by secreting myself whenever I can, into cupboards, under beds and beneath the floorboards of my house.
Because that does not turn out to be a feasible option and I am made to keep going to school anyway, I adopt a false persona to hide the worthless, pathetic and defective creature I believe myself to be.
Consequently, I become a false person and in doing so, I cut myself off from being able to enter into authentic human relationships of any kind.
I become so filled with dread at ever being seen as the broken, no-account, sub-standard person I think I am; I compulsively pretend to be someone I am not. My personality stops developing normally at this point and I become increasingly dysfunctional and irrational in many types of social situations.
Nevertheless, I still have my normal male instincts. I still wish to bond with a desirable member of the opposite sex as almost all guys do; but such a thing is completely beyond me.
The frustration and sense of failure at the being unable to engage in even the basics of opposite sex pair bonding, becomes my most painful and debilitating dysfunction.
My lack of authenticity is enough of a turnoff for girls all on its own, but that is only part of the problem.
Because my self-esteem has become so catastrophically poor and my social abilities have become so uninformed and under-developed, my anxieties and insecurities in the situation of interacting with members of the opposite sex I find attractive, end up being utterly debilitating and paralyzing in the extreme.
I Am Determined to Recover
Despite the seriously messed-up person I become, I never lose sight of the desire to get my right mind back which, after a monumental struggle, I eventually do.
My next goal is to overcome my most painful dysfunction which is the inability to relate successfully to girls I like, in the context of love and romance.
I am no Casanova. I do not sleep with hundreds of women. I do, however, successfully decode the dance of the male and the female and take on board the wherewithal to get into a quality intimate relationship with a female I really like – and keep it that way.
The journey involved in achieving these things impacts every important facet of my life and forces me to face myself. It is one the most sobering things I ever do and that pattern continues today.
I now write, speak and teach concerning the things I learned on my journey of recovery and continue to learn as part of an ongoing commitment to personal growth.
Step into The Post-Coronavirus World as a More Personally Powerful Person
So – what do I think about the opportunities offered by the coronavirus experience to do something about becoming more of the personally powerful man or woman you are meant to be?
The lock-down is easing here and there at the time of writing this article. Who knows what might actually happen as more time goes by, but hopefully things will get better rather than worse.
Regardless, the world will not be the same following this event and I suggest that neither should you.
So – what to do?
In my journey of recovery from debilitating mental health issues, destructive addictions, life failure in general and gross, habitual, relationship failure in particular, I initially looked to the mainstream mental health system for help.
Unfortunately, I failed to make progress in that context and was unable to put the brakes on my downward slide.
As I was passed up the chain from counselor, to psychologist, to psychiatrist, it became clear that I was not finding what I needed from standard approaches to recovery from mental and emotional damage, and was not likely to.
In fact, the psychiatrist I ended up seeing, declared me to be incurable!
If not for what I consider to be a small miracle which caused me to not accept the good doctor’s prognosis (I go into the details of this in my book, “The Nice Guy’s Concise Guide to Success in Love and Romance”), it is likely I would have enacted my “final solution” that day.
I kept a number of firearms prepped for use in the eventuality that I could no longer endure the constant torment of my life and needed a quick way to end the pain.
If I had accepted the bleak conclusions of my psychiatrist who said; “You have psycho-social problems that do not respond to treatment,” and had lost hope for recovery altogether, my first reaction would have been to use one of those firearms on myself.
Instead, and at just the right moment, I met someone who had been in my situation and who had recovered.
That gentleman offered me hope at a time of crisis when my continued existence hung on the slenderest of threads. If not for his intervention, I would most likely be in the ground and you would not be reading this article right now.
As a result of finding a capable mentor at this time who offered hope, I fired my psychiatrist who did not.
I went on to seek out more people who had walked the walk of recovery before me and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the workings of the mind and emotions in general, and about the male psyche in particular.
I made it a point to implement what I was learning, and eventually, I became capable of generating my own recovery strategies.
Finally, there came a time when I could authentically declare that I was a normal human being.
I will never forget that moment as I had constantly and passionately craved a genuine sense of normality ever since I lost my right mind as a 5 year old child.
Are you up to a short synopsis of human developmental psychology?
It is not rocket science, but it is incredibly important that you understand the basics. If you do not grasp the significance of what I am about to present to you now, you will not be able to understand why you are the way you are or what you need to do to grow into the person you are meant to be.
Your brain was not fully developed at birth. Up until about 2 years old, the main signals that were generated by your brain, fell into the frequency range of 0 – 4Hz. These are called delta waves and are characteristic of deep, restorative sleep.
They are not indicative of conscious mental processing.
From the ages of approximately 2 – 6 years old, your predominant brain wave frequencies fell into the range of 4 – 8Hz. These are called theta waves.
An understanding of theta waves is ESSENTIAL to appreciating how you got to be who you are today in terms of your view of the world and your view of yourself – both of which have profound significance for your general well-being and sense of fulfillment in life, as well as your specific ability to succeed in the arena of intimate relationships.
Theta waves are characteristic of a dream-like, hypnotic, and highly suggestible state. At this time of your life, your conscious mind with its sophisticated Alpha (8 – 12Hz), Beta (12 – 40Hz) and Gamma (40 – 100Hz) frequencies, is not yet fully operational.
The door between the subconscious and conscious parts of your mind is still wide open and you struggle to separate fantasy from reality.
As a young child under 6 years old, your ability to filter information and critically analyze it is not developed to any functional degree.
The subconscious part of your mind has astounding data processing capacity. Estimates vary, but it is in the order of an astonishing three hundred and twenty Gigabits per second!
Nevertheless, your subconscious mind lacks the higher functions of your conscious mind which has the capacity to compare, contrast, judge, analyze, evaluate, and decide.
Between the ages of 2 and 6, your subconscious mind operates like a mammoth vacuum cleaner. It sucks in truly astounding amounts of information such as required to learn an entire language in an incredibly short time-frame, and without conscious effort.
Unfortunately, your subconscious mind is unable to critically analyze that information to any effective extent. It all tends to go in unfiltered and “as is.”
This is where the dependency of childhood can be a blessing or a curse.
If you grew up in a positive, loving environment and, broadly speaking, were exposed to accurate, reality-based information and adaptive role-modelling, you had a great start and were well prepared to meet the wider world with your feet on the ground and your self-esteem in good shape.
If you grew up in a dysfunctional and/or abusive environment where you were exposed to very little information and role-modelling that was positive, adaptive and reality-based, the damage in your life could be severe and debilitating.
Your View of Yourself and the Wider World
This brings us to the main point of this entire article. If all you do is get this one idea, you will position yourself to take on the wherewithal to become an effective manager of your life – instead of a victim of potentially destructive forces over which you exercise no control.
Positioning yourself as someone with the ability to intervene in their own mentality, is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO if you desire satisfaction, fulfillment, and success in any important aspect of what it means to be a man or a woman.
The foundational architecture by which you constructed your view of yourself and your view of the world, was laid down during the “Theta Wave” period of your development!
This architecture was formed by ideas, concepts, beliefs, observations, and experiences that simply entered your mind as they came within your radar range.
As you were unable to analyze them effectively or vet them for accuracy and validity in any adaptive way, you absorbed the good and the useful along with the bad, the ugly, the distorted and the incomplete.
Because the world out there is contaminated by about seventy percent negative ideas compared to about only twenty-five percent positive ones, you invariably contaminated yourself with programming you would be better off without.
In the inner workings of your mind, thoughts and ideas are intertwined with corresponding feelings. If there is any chronic emotional pain or discomfort in your life, guess where it originates from?
If you have never been taught how to consciously explore and influence your deep level mental and emotional programming, your life is running on software that is glitchy at best, but more likely affected by serious shortcomings in terms of distortions of reality and omissions of vital information.
And here is the cruncher!
The vast majority of people out there, believe that the way they view the world, the way they view themselves and the ways in which they habitually feel and react as a result of triggering situations, is all set in stone as just the way things are.
It might seem that way, but it absolutely is not!
What you perceive as reality is just the aggregation of what you believe, what you do not believe, what you know and what you do not know at the subconscious level, about yourself and the world.
No-one sees reality perfectly because everyone absorbs at least some information, ideas, concepts, and beliefs during their “theta wave” period, which is contaminated by errors, omissions and various distortions of the way things really are.
Nevertheless, by learning how to actively intervene in your own mentality from the perspective of an aware and competent adult, you can profoundly empower yourself by taking on the ability to develop new and better emotional circuits, new and better habits, new and better ways of doing life in general, and eventually, feel the personal power of what it is like to be an effective manager of your journey through life, rather than a victim of it.
If you cannot get a handle on what I am suggesting to you now, nothing else I say – no matter how profound – will help you in the slightest.
Your view of yourself and of the world is not the way it is no matter how much you think you have a grip on reality.
Your self-concept and how you think about the world derives from the programming that was laid down in your subconscious mind in your early developmental years – a time when you had little or no capacity to critically evaluate incoming information and experiences.
Ever since then, you have been active in editing, re-interpreting and/or rejecting information and experiences that do not gel with your underlying mental and emotional architecture – regardless as to the validity of that information and those experiences.
This is a treadmill you cannot afford to stay on if you wish to develop full emotional strength and health, and also change your self-defeating patterns of behavior into ones that enhance your life instead of diminishing it.
No-one on the planet escapes childhood without having absorbed some falsehoods, some distortions of reality, some debilitating negative ideas and without there being some omissions of important information at the level of the self-concept and world view.
For most people, these issues are larger rather than smaller. There are a lucky few out there who do well in terms of their self-concept and world view because they won the genetic lottery and/or were fortunate enough to grow up in a loving, well-grounded family situation.
Most of us, however, have work to do.
That work involves learning new things, becoming able to intervene in one’s own mentality, and operating outside of one’s comfort zone on a regular basis.
This latter consideration is part of a universal rule which says, “Growth requires struggle of the strategic kind.”
Personal struggle of the strategic kind provides the impetus in your mind and your body which awakens dormant genes and, in some cases, even rewrites existing ones. This kind of struggle is an essential, transformational element which cements in better ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in the real world.
If you have the interest and the willingness to act on the type of information provided here, you will probably enjoy my next article wherein I go deeper into the process of changing things like feelings of insecurity and ineptness, into those of confidence and competence.