Saturday, September 3, 2016

The ABC of Psychology

Caroline Knapp looked at the bodies of well-endowed women and realized that in her world the size of a woman's body symbolically stood for abundance. She admired the people who could enjoy this mindset, but she couldn't and wouldn't have anything to do with it. Instead, she starved her body into nothingness, likely to punish herself, and also to feel morally superior over the others who didn't command her will-power.

Obviously, Caroline Knapp's belief system was just one of a kind. Others may look at a Rubenesque woman and conclude that she is just perfect; yet others might feel she is in fact too lazy to exercise. We all have different belief systems that are hard to dig up. I admired Caroline Knapp's honesty and deep insight into her subconscious processes. In fact, both her books (Drinking: A Love Story and Appetites: Why Women Want) are psychological master pieces. Her themes spoke to me because I too wanted to understand why I felt the way I did. Besides noticing addictive tendencies in myself as well, I also wanted to understand why I tended to be sexually attracted to "size 2 type women". It shouldn't have been so hard to figure that out; I simply felt "bigger" in their presence. Embarrassing as it is, behind all that physical attraction is nothing but a feeling of psychological "littleness" on my part.

The ABC methodology of Psychology observes an (A) action, and monitors the underlying (B) belief system by reflecting on the (C) consequence this action has on us. Subconscious belief systems are amazing. They are powerfully acting on everything we do and feel, yet when we finally bring them to the surface they feel hazy at best. I remember the story of someone who got married for the third time, and when a friend embarrassingly hinted that his blond and skinny fiancé looks exactly like his first two exes, the man looked at his family photographs and exclaimed full of shock, "By gosh, you are right!"

So while we can't monitor our belief system that well, we can analyze the impact that every observed occurrence leaves on us and thus implicitly analyze our underlying belief system. The question though still remains, what we do afterwards with our insights. I found it incredibly sad that Caroline Knapp still died at a young age after successfully beating alcoholism and anorexia. Apparently It was smoking that killed her, as she died of lung cancer. 

For me personally, I did two adjustments over the years. First, I hit the gym and got myself a much bigger physical frame which gives me the feeling of "bigness". Second, I have spent all of my focus on decluttering my inner conflicts, on facing my fears, and on making a name for myself professionally. It seems to have done the trick. Amazingly, after years of hard work I can today say that I now appreciate women of all shapes and sizes. So it looks like I managed to upgrade my psychological image of myself. Actually, perhaps I shouldn't even be surprised about this transformation. A spiritual path gets away with all nonsense of grandiosity and makes room for truthful grandeur.

Do you have any conflicted inner belief systems that you can test the ABC method on? A spiritual traveler can't help but getting whole along the WAY. The trick is only to know which areas of our lives need our attention. But just like the man who wanted to get married for the third time found out, life's messenger will be happy to tell us where to look!

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