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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Parasites- Mind

Parasites of the mind are the things that will cloud your thinking or make you pause before you act. If your mind is clear and you know what needs to be done, check for these to find out why you're not doing it. These are the major parasites of the mind as I see them.


Addictions

Being addicted to something means that you are under its control, you can't function without it. Being stuck without your drug of choice or whatever it is that you may be addicted to makes you cranky, moody, makes it hard to sleep, and generally makes you someone that nobody else wants to be around. You'll waste time and energy looking for that "thing" when you should be thinking and working toward making life easier to sustain.

I disagree with some of the programs established to "fight" addictions like alcoholism and drug use in their definition of who is an addict. Because they survive off of the addicts, they tend to declare as many people as possible "addicted" in order to stay in business. I've known quite a few functional drunks and at least one functioning heroin user in my lifetime, and they may have fit the classical definition of an addict, but they were able to function with or without the drug of their choice.

I am personally working on my nicotine addiction. I've smoked for about 35 years and have quit before (up to a year at a time), but always fall back on the cigarettes as a stress-reliever. Unless you know how to grow, harvest, cure, and store tobacco this is a habit to get rid of. I want to be able to put my money and efforts into other things, so I'm working my way off of them. They are a drain on me that I don't need, and will only make my life harder in a crisis situation. Be aware that most of the prescription drugs to help you quit smoking are related to the SSRI anti-depressants and carry the same side effects.

Habits

"But that's the way we've always done it!" Sound familiar? If you've ever worked for a medium- to large-sized company, you'll have heard that whine before. Get married or just move in with someone and you'll be exposed to a whole new set of habits that may be unfamiliar to you. Compromise where you can, but not at the expense of life or limb (or principle and sanity in some cases).

In normal circumstances habits are can be annoying, but in times of crisis they may be a major concern. If your water supply is tight, are you going to be able to deal with someone who has always flushed the toilet twice after using it? What about someone who doesn't wash their hands before handling food? How are you going to deal with a child who won't go to bed without his/her stuffed animal?

Habits will make you do things without thinking about them and may therefore put you or others at risk in times of crisis. Habits can be hard to detect in ourselves and easy to see in others, so think of ways to point them out for each other without causing too much conflict.

Doubts

Doubts arise from the lack of information or experience. You may look at a tree and think, "Can I climb up that tree?" when you should be thinking either, "I can make it up that tree if I have to" or "That tree is too thin to hold my weight". The only way you're going to know is to try it. Find your limits and accept the ones you can't change, that will help dispel a lot of the doubts that may pop up and keep you from acting when you should.

The more you learn, the fewer doubts you'll have about that subject so get informed about whatever you think is important. Can I really trust this water filter to remove the giardia cysts from that river water? Find out before it becomes a serious threat to your health. Remove the doubts and it'll free up your mental energy for the more important things you'll need to deal with.

Fears

Fear is a double-edged sword, it can save you from doing something that you'll regret or it can prevent you from moving when you really should get out of the way of a moving car.

Most fears are rational, born from painful experience, e.g. being bitten by a dog as a child may cause you to fear dogs for a long time. Fear of the dark, large carnivores, and death are hard-wired into us at birth as left-overs from when our ancestors lived in caves and had to deal with things that we've likely never seen.

Other fears are irrational (sometimes they reach the state of becoming a phobia) in that there is no firm reason for you to fear something. Think about it, when was the last time a clown attacked you or someone you know?

Some fears can be overcome, others have to be dealt with in whatever manner you can to get through the situation at hand (improvise, adapt, overcome is one way of looking at it). Watch for irrational fears in your group and realize that you probably have a few of your own. Don't belittle others for their fears, try to help them overcome them and you'll all be better off in the end.

Guilt/Shame

Shame is a feeling you do to yourself, guilt is what you let others do to you. Either one can make you stop and think before you do something that really needs to be done. These two can run deep and be very hard to overcome, since most of us were raised by people who used guilt to instill a sense of shame in us in order to make us "fit" for society. Can't have the children acting like animals now, can we? Except, there may come a time when you'll need to act like an animal to survive. The classic lifeboat exercise (you're in a lifeboat that can hold ten people, it's full. What do you do about the others trying to get in it?) is a good example of having to discard social rules without feeling shame or guilt.

There may be a time to feel shame for things you had to do to survive after a disaster, but you need to be alive to get to that point. Don't let others guilt you into actions that will put you or yours at risk, that is just giving them control over your life that they haven't earned (and probably don't deserve if they have to resort to guilt in the first place).

"Survivor's guilt" used to be a mental condition where people feel they did something wrong by surviving when others didn't. The latest Psych manual now classifies this as a symptom of PTSD, which doesn't make it any better or worse but does make it "treatable" by the mental health industry, usually with drugs.

Worry

I don't mean the normal "What if?" type of worry, I mean the "OMG! What if this or this or this or......." type of worry that will consume all of your time, leaving you none in which to actually get things done. If you're reading this blog, you're probably a person who has a desire to plan ahead and have some legitimate concerns or worries. Don't fall into the trap of over-thinking every situation and never actually taking any action to alleviate your concerns. Plan in detail, but don't let the details set the plan. Too much worry can lead some people to just giving up and expecting to die in the event of any crisis. I don't think that's wise, but I realize that it is going to happen to some percentage of the population. Worry can be minimized the same way as doubt, through education and experience.


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