A Question of Experience

Yesterday’s article has generated a couple of questions that I really like, and to which I responded. Now I want to get people to ask questions here on the Blog!

Anyway here’s the two questions, and my response.

Hi Wayne, You wrote:

~~~~~Clients come to learn communication. They learn how, and refuse to actually do it with their partner. I ask why. “She’s not cooperating.” “I know he,ll do it for a month, and then stop.” The resistance to doing is two-fold.

First, it is about the fear of trying the new thing. Second, it is the fear of failing.~~~~~

I am inclined to feel there is a more important reason for resistance: if I start communicating honestly I will be forced to confront many of the millions of compulsive beliefs which I use to simplify my thinking. Confronting these will demand significant change in much of my fundamental beliefs. That is really **HARD WORK** and nobody is eager to embark on that.

It is *very* much easier to cling to my existing prejudices and beliefs (most of which I learned as a two-year-old in precisely the way you illustrated). They have served me poorly for the last 40 (or whatever) years and the devil you know is always to be preferred.

This is a sound economic judgement. It is not mistaken. Because the stick-in-the-mud does not know how much it is costing him he cannot take the cost of his fear of change into account. He can see only the very real cost of change and fails to value the benefits because he does not recognise them. Regrettably, that is a rational response.

The problem is the same as that you illustrated for the infant. We cannot understand or value what we do not perceive.

This is a chicken-and-egg conundrum to which I see no simple solution.

My reply:

Ben & Jock think (and I agree) that somewhere around 5% of the population chooses to examine their beliefs, and let go of what does not work, adopting more elegant behaviours, etc.

I think your analysis is spot on. And yet, over the years, what I have seen are clients who decide that the way they are doing life is not worth doing any more, and so they adopt new methods. And I agree this is definitely not easy, nor for the faint of heart.

I suspect that everyone feels a sense of “something is wrong,” and what is wrong tends to be an irrational fear one represses. Depending on your “stripe” you might see it as Freud did: sexual repression, or as existentialists do: fear of death, or as Buddhists do: (my present favourite) as an essential knowing that I have no “Self” — that there’s just a void “in there.”

Most simply feel greater or lesser amounts of Thoreau’s “quiet desperation.” This, it seems to me is what motivates the 5% or so to create another path for themselves. This requires the assistance of someone who is also on a path of self-exploration and change.

Or so I keep suggesting… and so it seems to me.

2) Are experiences truly duplicated? Is it possible to step into the same stream twice or do we construct the event as if it really is happening rather than pursuing it with curiosity?

My Reply:

As to events, well, your comment is sort of the point. Each situation is entirely unique (and meaningless) — and the “flaw” such as it is, is to attempt to fit the unique experience into a pattern. Now, in a sense, this makes sense 🙂 as I don’t want to relearn to chew my food. As i relate to inter and intra personal situations, however, I want to allow for myself the possibility to respond, rather than to react. Especially if the way I typically “react” is getting me results I do not want.

In other words, ‘It is too difficult until it is not.’

I suspect the key to all of this is the willingness to consult my goal for the interchange. If it is to deepen relationship, then my ego need drops away. Which also makes sense, as “self” is an erroneous concept anyway! To paraphrase the Buddha, “SELF (as opposed to “life”) is dukka (unsatisfactoriness.)”

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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