Verbal Thoughts and the FuzzBlock
An example would be on entering a bar. For me, this used to quickly trigger verbal thoughts such as “they are all looking at me”, with negative outcomes which would then feed back into emotions and create more fearful thoughts (= a positive feedback loop). In reality, people do look at you when you enter a bar, but a beneficial processing system would be to ignore that input or perceive it beneficially (focus on only friendly faces, or hot women checking you out etc.). How you process the inputs in any situation determines how you will experience that situation as it unfolds. Your internal processing will be injected back into the external situation via your behaviours, creating its own feedback loop.
At the time, I was happy to have discovered a way to block the verbal thoughts and thus cut that part of the processing out of the system, so they could not contribute to positive feedback. How the Thought Shield worked was as follows:
- Detect incoming verbal thoughts, and determine their direction of travel within the head as electrical impulses
- “Push back” by sending counter–electrical impulses in the opposite direction of travel.
Now, was I actually sending opposite electrical signals, or was I just distracting my thinking mind via the exercise so it could not process verbal thoughts? It does not actually matter, as the end result is the same. It is something you must understand that many, if not most, personal development “methods” might actually work via distraction rather than via how they are described in their own literature. A good example is running NLP exercises in your head during a situation — is the NLP “working” or is it just distracting you from processing the input in the old way, therefore allowing a new outcome to emerge? I lean towards the latter explanation.
Enacting the Thought Shield requires enough prior practice of mindfulness to be able to detect the movements within the mindbody (with verbal thoughts, generally in the head) and oppose them.
People already do something similar with emotional repression. Here, they “push the emotion down”, or clench their jaws, in opposition to uncomfortable emotions. This is far easier to do than the Thought Shield, as emotions are far more easily detectable as large movements within the body. The downside is that emotional repression mainly works via muscle contraction, which impedes general emotional flow and “lightness of being” within the body. It is a deliberate and usually debilitating block on emotional experience, which generates muscle tension patterns of resistance to experience.
The benefit of the Thought Shield was that opposition was done entirely in the head, leaving the body free to emote but without the process of verbal thought adding feedback into the loop. However, the incoming electrical pulses in the head are much more subtle than the “big waves” of emotion in the body, therefore a fair bit of prior mindfulness practice is required to detect those subtle signals as they arise and block them.
The Thought Shield was a revolution for me. It meant I could now experience a far wider range of situations without shutting down in terror.
The (unforeseen) downside however was equally as powerful. I spent the next three years nonchalantly blocking any verbal thought that displeased me — in all situations, all of the time. I essentially remained in personal development stasis for that time.
The Nature of Verbal Thoughts
Verbal thoughts are not the enemy. They are supposed to be an ally — a tool to decompress or “unzip” the emotional content of situations into logical rules of conduct to help you navigate your experience of life going forward. What they unzip from your experience is mostly determined by your prior experiences so far. In the early stages of personal development, the “unzip” style of your verbal thoughts almost entirely comes from your parents. If your verbal thoughts unzip all the terror and catastrophe from an experience and feed that back to you, that reflects the negative processing style installed in you by your parents. If they unzip all the opportunities and positive potential for growth from an experience, that means you probably had parents with a positive worldview, and they have installed that processing style in you.
Even the tone of the voice of your verbal thoughts reflects the tone of voice you were spoken to by your parents. Your verbal thoughts are your parents’ voices describing a situation back to you. This is one of the reasons that perhaps the strongest indicator of whether an individual will be successful life is the character and outlook of his or her parents. A great attitude as a starting point works via positive feedback to keep someone growing in the right direction.
Luckily, a bad starting point can be overcome via personal development. Personal development can be viewed as the process of becoming conscious of the processing methods you apply to each situation (largely installed in you by your parents, but also by society as a whole in the form of social conditioning), identifying the detrimental ones, and replacing them with beneficial ones. You can improve the quality of your verbal thought processing for example by simply changing the tone of your inner voice to a positive, encouraging one. Make the pitch of the voice go upward at the end of sentences, instead of downward.
By bulk-blocking verbal thought via the Thought Shield, I gained relief from its discouraging input, but also missed the vital lessons and plans of action it is supposed to provide (particularly in retrospect of a situation, which is its greatest point of power when used correctly).
The principal method of approaching verbal thought in personal development therefore seems to be to:
- Replace unhelpful processing patterns with helpful ones by copying them from people who are already successful.
So, over time, replace your unhelpful “inner voice” patterns (which are mostly just copied from your parents anyway) with the inner voice of people who already successful. Find out how they talk to themselves by asking them, hanging around them, and reading books and blogs by them, and get some good copycatting going. I recommend the book Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy as a good starting point.
Let’s skip forward a while and assume you can now apply rational, positive, growth-orientated verbal thought to a situation both during and in retrospect. Even if the situation was felt as negative at the time, you are now, as your main focus, consistently unzipping from it life lessons and opportunities for growth, under a positive lens. Simultaneously you are able to acknowledge the potential for bad, in an equanimous, calculative way which does not derail you from your goals. You are able to end a verbal thought chain with a point of action, even if that action is “do nothing (because there is nothing to be done)” or “wait and see”. Your points of action are consistent with your overall action plan, which is based in long-term growth and happiness.
Great. Simply being able to think in this way will calm most emotions and end most thought loops about that situation as it is moved into the larger context of your life’s grand unfolding, and out of the smaller context of compulsion and immediate gratification.
However, certain situations are extremely emotionally-charged, and elements of your thinking can remain in that smaller context even after applying the reliable thinking pattern. These intense emotions can continue to prod at you, sending you verbal thoughts centred around immediate gratification/resolution of those emotions, despite that not being helpful in the long-term (or sometimes even physically possible). Anger for example is very “hot”, and sadness following a loss can be very “deep”. “Hot” spikes tend to lead to impulsive verbal thought and visualizations. “Deep” troughs tend to lead to a loss of energy and motivation, and an internal aching or empty feeling.
If you’ve been through your reliable, rational thought process and you therefore know these “prod” emotion-thoughts can be safely ignored, then you can use the FuzzBlock to disperse them and gain relief.
- The FuzzBlock is an upgraded version of the Thought Shield.
- Instead of pushing back on individual electric signals (which can be tiresome), you instead identify the area within your brain which is the source of the negative thoughts, and visualize a “noise field” within that area.
- You find this area using mindfulness. While the thoughts are going on, you set up a separate observer process to find their source within your head.
- For me, this process is a combination of kinaesthetic (feeling the movement of the electric pulses which become thoughts) and visual (I “see” them in an area within my head). Visual and kinaesthetic systems suggest this is a right-brain modality.
- The “noise” you generate to fill the found area is done both visually and kinaesthetically. That means you half see, half feel a volume of “noise” or electrical static filling that area.
- With practice you can maintain that field indefinitely.
- Meanwhile, breathe regularly and let the emotions (the body) settle down. You are removing the thought part of the process from the feedback loop. Without a loop feeding them, emotions always return to a stable baseline eventually (this is one of the ways in which general meditation works).
- I experience light REM (rapid eye movement) while doing this.
How does this work? There are myriad possible explanations:
- It’s just a distraction and doesn’t “do” anything electrically in the way the literature above suggests.
- The REM disrupts the eye access cues associated with verbal and visual thought (from the NLP metamodel, which is an outstanding model regardless of my opinion of many NLP self-help techniques).
- It works how I said it works — you are actually creating electrical “noise” in the brain area which is the source of the thoughts, removing that area from the feedback loop.
- Right brain inhibits left-brain linear thought therefore breaking up the “thought chains” which are causing feedback.
- Frontal lobes (“executive control”) inhibit “lower” or “rear” brain regions.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I’ve found that this works.
I only use this method in the following circumstances. In both cases, the reliable thinking pattern has already been applied and it is just the remnant negative thoughts I am dispersing:
- When trying to sleep. Lying awake in bed dwelling upon something that cannot be dealt with in the present is no fun at all. Using the FuzzBlock I can remove the thoughts from the feedback loop while breathing regularly and feeling the emotional component which lets my body calm down. I typically fall asleep within a couple of minutes when doing this.
- Persistent negative thoughts are impeding me from doing important tasks in the daytime. In this case however I will tend to use vagus nerve self-stimulation (which I will be writing up shortly) or some other self-calming technique.
- At the start of meditation when I just “need a break” from thoughts in order to settle into a relaxed state for equanimous observation of thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I will spend an entire meditation using FuzzBlock if I need a longer break.
- When metaprogramming.
Metaprogramming with the FuzzBlock
This is rather advanced and requires a good level of mindfulness (which I define as being able to observe emotional and thought events in the mindbody, by locating their areas of movement in the mindbody in the form of electrical signals, endocrine release (e.g. adrenal secretion) and muscle contractions/relaxations). Bear in mind I’ve been “mindful” for about 7 years now.
Metaprogramming is basically self-change. It involves installing a new “reality map” in place of an old one which is not serving you. Typically it concerns your responses to stimuli (both internal and external). A map-change is usually called for upon receipt of new information (the unzipped stuff from an experience) which tells you there is a more beneficial way to look at and respond to certain situations or themes.
Realizing and acknowledging an idea are two different things. Realizing that a positive worldview tends to bring positive experiences, for example, means you accept the idea on an informational level. Acknowledging the idea however means internalizing the idea on a more core emotional level so your responses change too. “Knowing” that positive people get positive results is the first step; “being a positive person” is the second step required to demonstrate that the new reality map is in effect.
The difference between the two is that after realizing something your responses may not have changed towards it. Acknowledging is when your responses change as well. It can be seen as moving an idea from conscious awareness into the subconscious, whereby your autopilot emotions and actions also change so that they align with the new approach.
Metaprogramming involves both steps. Here is how to use the FuzzBlock to metaprogram the responses (acknowledge the idea) following the realization.
Let’s say you find something out about the world which is different to what you believed before. Maybe you had been told the wrong thing by other people (e.g. social conditioning) or you had drawn some wrong conclusions because you didn’t have enough information. Your internal map of reality did not well match the reality you found “out there”. The realization that your map was wrong explains why you consistently did not get the results you expected. So the map needs to change. You realize that. It is in conscious awareness.
However, your responses are still matched to the old map. Thinking about the new “way things actually are” might anger, scare, upset, or disgust you. Despite the realization, your responses to the new information have you continue to do the same old things. Acknowledgment is the point whereby the responses also change. They become neutral or positive and no longer keep you in the rut of doing the same actions from the old map. At the point of acknowledgment (a kind of deep emotional acceptance), your map can be said to have changed.
Metaprogramming can be defined as the methods you use to make that map change on the response level.
Metaprogramming with the FuzzBlock looks like this:
- Use your reliable thinking pattern on a situation or theme. If the conclusion of your analysis is consistent after having been through the same situation (or variations thereof) several times, accept that conclusion even if you don’t like the way it makes you feel. However, view it under the lens of how this realization can help you — the opportunities it can provide. This takes the form of, “Oh, well, if the world is actually like this, I should learn to respond to it in Y way instead of X way so I can get Z outcome.” It should always be about your own personal adaptation to a situation rather than why the external situation is “wrong”.
- Invoke the situation, either mentally by imagining it, or by entering it if suitable. This is to intentionally fire up the old emotional responses so you can work on them directly.
- Now, instead of using the FuzzBlock in the head to disperse thoughts, use it in the body on the emotional responses. This means the thoughts are now free from the grounding of the body (the anger, fear, sadness or disgust responses) and can reorganize themselves according to the principles you have set out in the first step. So look for the positive things you want to find in the situation while FuzzBlocking the body’s objections (its emotional adherence to the old map).
- Let your thoughts be free to roam and reconnect during this time — to notice new things.
So we have used the FuzzBlock in reverse to alleviate bodily responses in order to let thoughts reorganize. Amazingly, you can FuzzBlock a negative response in one part of the body while experiencing a non-blocked positive response elsewhere. Since the thoughts are free of the negative input, they can organize themselves around the positive input and the map is free to morph. I have found that this effectively allows the new map to spread down from my head into my body where it becomes ingrained on a response level.
Metaprogramming is all about:
- Realizing that your views and thoughts about situations are very much grounded in your body’s responses to those situations, and that the reverse is also true — your body’s responses can be conditioned by your thoughts.
- Having methods of change which allow you to come at it from both angles.
Drugs such as LSD can be seen as FuzzBlocking some parts of the established processing chain so a new result can emerge.
Ketamine can be seen as FuzzBlocking the entire body so the thoughts are free to reorganize without being grounded in the negative responses of the body (usually mediated by muscle contraction). I believe this may be why ketamine has been shown to alleviate depression for weeks after a single administration.
Don’t worry — I have many non-drug ways to negate the input from the body so thoughts (reality models) can reorganize. Long sitting meditation is one of them. But I have found many novel ones, and I’ll be writing about them soon. I believe what we are talking about here is the very essence of Circuit V, in the Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness.