The thought of a ‘crap bucket’ was something that made sense to me when trying to find a simple way to explain how the mind works to academics … and children.
I had lunch yesterday with a very dear friend Mark. He is a highly qualified professional and brilliant at what he does…he commands an excellent salary. Mark has three children and his wife has recently gone back to work to help fund the school fees. They live in London, know loads of people, have many friends and at weekends throughout the summer the family spends the weekends in the Cotswolds. Something Mark has done since he was a young boy. So from whatever viewpoint Mark would appear to have got it all, and in many ways he concedes he has.
However recently he has started to have ‘anxiety’ attacks and as this was a new experience the whole thing begun to worry him. So like I always do, he turned to my old friend ‘google’ and started to self-analyse…BIG mistake…
The thing with any negative feeling that we experience during our lifetime, because of the way our minds work, the body’s reaction is virtually identical. Whether you self-diagnose yourself as a worrier, someone struggling with low self-esteem or anxiety, if the brain senses your discomfort, then BAM, it will trigger your survival at all costs ‘flight and fight’ response and your body will be immediately be awash with stress hormones…causing all kinds of unpleasant feelings and symptoms.
In Mark’s case this is exactly what is happening.
Like virtually every person living in this crazy western world, throughout his life, because of the pressure he has placed on himself through his own personal demands and the demands placed on him my others, by the time he hit 40 he had absorbed a lot of serious crap…in his figurative BUCKET.
And this is where nature got it wrong BIG time.
You see nature designed a mechanism that would protect our caveman ancestors from the Sabre Tooth Tiger and a few other beasties that might harm if not kill us. But nature never in a zillion years foresaw that the human animal would progress much further than his cave and certainly never expected man to be forced to address hundreds of potential ‘threats’ brought about by the commercial and consumer world we now live in.
This is a world where our stress rates continue to spiral out of control and without appropriate outlets to let off steam, like a boiling kettle without a spout, the pressure just continues until something has to give…which is normal – our health.
And yet for most of us the initial feelings that results is one of total confusion because we DON’T understand how the mind works, and therefore think that something is going wrong with us.
But the truth is, Mark had ignored the warnings and continue to fill his ‘bucket’ with more and more emotional crap, somehow believing miraculously it will cope…THE MIND HAS LIMITS and needs protecting.
For our ancestors when confronted by a TIGER the bucket would begin to fill with stress hormones but then empty during the chase or fight…and with little else to worry about the bucket would remain empty until the next encounter. But if you look at Mark’s life it typifies modern man.
Every day of his life his mind will AUTOMATICALLY be reviewing his financial situation; the needs of his family; the high expectations of his clients and pressures of work and adding all this to a ‘crap bucket’ that is already close to spilling over.
If you relate the human mind to your home PC…a £200 computer is fitted with all kinds of gizmos to prevent toxic materials from attacking it.
So with a degree of confidence we can open up to the world wide web safe in the knowledge that the in-build filters do what they are designed to do. And yet over time toxic material will get through and then your PC will have to be cleansed by a specialist.
And yet by comparison OUR brains, the most important computer ever created remains open 24/7 to every piece of toxic crap that the world wants to throw at us….And Jesus does it throw a LOT!!
And this is what is happening to Mark. His mind is over-loaded. But he isn’t broken; he hasn’t got some anxiety illness which ‘google’ might infer; he doesn’t need fixing. What he needs to do is reduce the amount of stress he is currently absorbing by firstly becoming more aware of his own limitations and then start identifying the things that create his discomfort and learn to shut them off or find ways to navigate around them …
And remember … “you don’t have to win every battle”; “work entirely on changing yourself…not others (which is fruitless)” “listen to your body all of the time cos it knows when its going out of kilter” and stop beating yourself up because “you are NOT to blame”…it was nature that fucked up big time leaving you to deal with the fallout…without a manual!