- Men's Health & Wellness
THE CIA ALIVE AND WELL IN MY BRAIN!
Recently, I have posted Chapter One and Chapter Two from my book Feeling Your Way, A Man's Way, which is currently out of circulation and undergoing revision. I am enjoying the heck out of the revision process and anxious to get it back into circulation which I will do through Create Space.
Today, you get a sneak preview of Chapter Three, The CIA. Yes, you read it correctly, The CIA. So let me know what you think, especially YOU, guys! And, prior to reading Chapter Three, you might want to click on the links and read Chapter One and Chapter Two.
THANKS FOR READING AND COMMENTING.
Sure felt like it hurt, but Dad just looked at the owee and said,
“Nah, doesn’t hurt!”
--A Little Boy
The CIA? Yes, the Central Intelligence Agency. This is some serious sh*t we’re dealing with here! You bet! And it’s alive and well in our very own brain.
As we delve more into the “manly” way of living life, we want to become familiar with the CIA! I know it sounds crazy, BUT! When we were little, we instinctively knew how to leave our body and soul for sheer survival when something was too painful, too scary, or too sad, too over-the-top. It was during these early painful, scary, and sad experiences that the CIA infiltrated our brain and has subsequently become a powerful “force,” an internal voice, that will literally seduce us at will to live on the fringes of our body and soul and sometimes to just outright leave our skin, but not out of survival, but all in the name of being a real man.
For those of you who are beginning to think I am psychotic and paranoid, take a deep breath! Keep reading! The CIA is just a wonderful metaphor to describe the “voice” that drives the emotional disconnect that takes place in our brain. So, let’s begin.
CAN I SAY I'M SCARED?
During a pounding thunder storm, four year old Johnny pleads with his mother to sleep with him. When the mother tells him, “I can’t sweety; I have to sleep with Dad,” he becomes very quiet and then shouts to his father, “Dad, you big scaredy cat!”
So Johnny is still connected. His lights are still on, shining brightly. He knows when he is scared.
How about yourself? Are your lights still on? For example, does it scare you to know that you are currently destined to die ten years before the woman next to you on the freeway, next to you in the workplace, or next to you in the bed?
I can hear some of you saying, "Nah, give me another beer!" Others of you are saying, "Oh well!"
I cannot imagine too many of you saying, "Ya damn right it scares me...it scares me shitless!"
Not being able to say, "I'm scared shitless," when you are scared shitless, is another example of living in the dark or living outside your body.
Why Can’t I Say I’m Scared?
How does that happen that I cannot say I am scared when I am scared? Those of us who live according to the ancient model of being a real man think the answer has to do with having a strong character! But guess what it really has to do with? It has to do with the way our brain has been tampered with so that we automatically disconnect, automatically shut down, and automatically turn off the lights whenever I experience any strong or intense emotion!
Our Brain Makes It Happen
You see, our brain has the capacity to literally shape and define our reality. A performer of any kind is a prime example of our powerful brain. My performance, successful or unsuccessful, always pans out exactly as I envisioned it before hand.
The quarterback sees himself successfully throwing the ball before he actually throws it. The receiver sees himself leaping into the air and making the catch before his feet leave the ground. The dancer sees himself moving through the choreography successfully and successful he is. The public speaker sees himself delivering a rousing address and he does.
If the quarterback sees himself throwing an interception, an interception he throws. If the receiver sees the ball bouncing off his fingertips, an almost catch, an almost catch it is. If the dancer gets nervous and begins fearing falling, falling he does. If the public speaker foresees forgetting his speech and the audience being unimpressed, forget he does and unimpressed they are.
As adults, we are the driver of this ability. But as a little person, the big people, the giants, are able to pull the strings and tamper with our brain to create and define a reality to their advantage and to our loss. So let’s take a look at how this works.
How Our Brain Works
Here’s a silly question, but one that sometimes makes people pause. How does information get into our brains? So what is your answer? If your answer is “through our eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, and skin,” you are now eligible to move on to the next round!
Our sensory organs are connected directly to the LIMBIC BRAIN. The Limbic Brain is located “inside” or in the middle of our brain and is often referred to as the FEELING BRAIN or the EMOTIONAL BRAIN. Yes, we process each life experience EMOTIONALLY a tad prior to THINKING about the experience. In fact, the brain ORGANIZES experiences around their emotional significance or meaning.
Often, our first conscious clue that something is happening is the signal sent from the LIMBIC BRAIN to our muscles. We will call this signal a biological motivator because it will direct or motivate the muscles to instantly move toward, away, or against whatever is happening. This biological motivator is more commonly known as a FEELING.
Here’s a juicy example. Your sensory organs see a gorgeous woman approaching with her lips puckered. You may also begin to notice the movement of her body parts, smell her familiar scent, and hear her familiar voice. The limbic brain sends a signal, a biological motivator, to your muscles to open your arms wide and pucker your own lips, in other words, to MOVE TOWARD (and with great gusto and excitement)! And you do. You feel the feelings.
The Thinking Brain
At the same time the LIMBIC BRAIN sends this signal to our muscles, it also sends a message to the cerebral areas of our brain which are located on the “top” of the brain and are often referred to as the THINKING BRAIN. Now we are not only FEELING the experience, but we are now beginning to THINK about the experience and even make judgments and decisions about the experience. These judgments and decisions take place in the PREFRONTAL LOBE region of the thinking brain which is located right above our eyebrows. One of the many decisions our prefrontal lobe is responsible for is how we will respond to and act out our feelings and impulses.
An Untampered Conversation
The FEELING BRAIN and the THINKING BRAIN begin to carry on a wonder-filled conversation. In this situation, the conversation might look like this.
FEELING BRAIN: WHOA! Look at her. Get excited, man. Get ready, man, open your arms and pucker up!
THINKING BRAIN: Yep, that is one pretty woman coming toward us. I think she likes us, and I think she wants a kiss.
FEELING BRAIN: WHOA! Come on, baby, my arms are open!
THINKING BRAIN: She definitely is running toward us and wants to hug us and give us a kiss. Keep those arms open, you lucky guy! By the way, I think we know her. She’s our wife!
FEELING BRAIN: WHOA! The excitement is like electricity. I feel something in my dick too!
THINKING BRAIN: Yep, you’re excited alright! And she’s ready for you, so go for it!
Now that’s a pretty straight-forward conversation. Unfortunately, for many of us, the conversation looks more like this.
The Conversation Twisted
FEELING BRAIN: WHOA! I’m getting excited...
AN INTERNAL VOICE: HOLD IT! You’re getting too excited.
THINKING BRAIN: Of course we’re excited, you idiot!
AN INTERNAL VOICE: Don’t be talking to me like that. Get a grip. You want to make a fool of yourself? It’s just another woman who wants something from you.
FEELING BRAIN: Hey guys, shut up! WHOA! It’s electricity.
THINKING BRAIN: I think she likes us. Hey, let those arms fly open and let those lips pucker!
FEELING BRAIN: I’m opening my arms, baby, and puckering my lips!
AN INTERNAL VOICE: HOLD IT! Are you crazy? Be cool, man. Let her know she can’t sweep you off your feet. You’re thinking with your dick, man. She’s nothing but trouble.
THINKING BRAIN: It’s our wife, you idiot.
AN INTERNAL VOICE: That’s what I said, she’s nothing but trouble! Do you want to be a man or a pushover? Step back if you know what’s good for you.
Ouch! So how does a wonderful experience become so twisted?
At The Mercy Of The Giants
Well, when we are first born, that internal conversation is pretty pristine, straight forward, and in sync. The FEELING BRAIN and the THINKING BRAIN instinctively are on the same page and are pretty good at accurately sizing up life events.
But after we grow our legs and manage to get into more and more mischief, we find ourselves more and more at odds with and more and more at the mercy of the Giants! The Giants are not only in Genesis Six, but when we are little, they are all over the place! And in our relationships with the Giants, something happens that makes it impossible for us to continue feeling what we feel, and knowing what we know.
A Conversation In Sync
Let’s look at this example of when I’m three years old.
I’m outside playing, and I trip and fall down. I skin my knee. It hurts. It begins to bleed. I’m not overly familiar with blood and pain, so I get scared. I cry. I run inside.
Under the BEST of circumstances, the conversation between the FEELING BRAIN and the THINKING BRAIN will look like this.
LIMBIC BRAIN: “Ouch! That hurts.” (Muscles get the hurt signal from the limbic brain and retract.)
THINKING BRAIN: Yea, it hurts. Got some blood there too.
LIMBIC BRAIN: I’m scared! (Muscles now get the scared signal and retract again.)
THINKING BRAIN: Yep, you’re scared. Better run inside and find Mommy or Daddy
At this point, the conversation is straight forward. One part of the brain is validating the other. They’re in sync, on the same page. Mom or Dad might say, “Oh, sweety, what happened to you? I bet that hurts. Come here, let me take care of that for you.” If “medicine” is applied, it might also hurt and Mom or Dad might say, “I’m going to put some medicine on your ‘owee,’ and it’s going to sting some, and it might even make you cry a little bit.”
So the conversation between myself and my caregivers continues to validate the conversation in my brain. What I and my brain experience as “hurting” is confirmed by my caregivers. I feel what I feel. I think what I think. I know what I know. There is no twisting of the experience.
But what if the caregivers do not validate my experience?
Introducing The CIA
MOM OR DAD: “Come on, that can’t hurt. Stop your fussing. What are you, a baby? Now I’m going to put a little medicine on it...Oh, for crying out loud, it won’t hurt! (Even though you know from past experience that it’s going to hurt!) Now, get that knee up here so I can put the medicine on it.....Don’t be crying, silly. There’s no way it can be hurting that much.”
Now the conversation between the thinking brain and feeling brain gets tampered with–twisted. The brain has to make some sense out of this “new” information which seems to contradict the brain’s own experience. My limbic brain says it hurts, my muscles react accordingly, my thinking brain confirms the fact that I have HURT myself. I do, in fact, have an “owee.” And everyone knows–even dogs and cats–that medicine HURTS! BUT the brain has to take in the information from the big people, the Giants, and after all, they must know. NOPE NO HURT HERE. And so begins the development of what we referred to above as AN INTERNAL VOICE. Initially, the internal voice is the voice of one of the Giants. Overtime, the internal voice takes on a life of its own and lives in our brain.
Our Brain Betrayed
At the beginning of this chapter, we talked about the brains ability to shape and define our reality. Here we see this ability used against us by the Giants.
We are no longer using the raw data or information that our brain perceives. In this case, I have an owee that hurts and the medicine hurts as well. Instead the Giants are shaping our reality to conform with the ancient model of being a real man. That’s why we are referring to this particular internal voice as our very own CIA, a covert operation that infiltrates our brain and encrypts and twists what we feel, what we think, and what we know. It’s the beginning of the disconnect, the shut down. After the CIA has had its way with the raw data, the conversation looks like this:
FEELING BRAIN: Well, it felt like it hurt. Even my muscles flinched as if it hurt.
THINKING BRAIN: Yea, I thought it hurt too, but I guess it doesn’t ‘cause the big people say it doesn’t
INTERNAL VOICE (CIA): Come on, you two, don’t wuss out. Buck up, stop feeling sorry for yourself. IT DOES NOT HURT.
FEELING BRAIN: Nope, it doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel a thing.
THINKING BRAIN: Yea, you better not feel anything. You know what I think? I think you’re becoming a man! I bet the big people are going to be proud of you!
FEELING BRAIN/ THINKING BRAIN IN UNISON: Wow, look at the expression on Dad’s face. I think he is proud of me.
The CIA Becomes All Powerful
Over time, we build up a “library” of conclusions about our life experiences. This library of conclusions are mental models or generalizations of repetitive life experiences and prepare us to deal with the present with a degree of familiarity, predictability and perhaps even expertise.
These generalizations or conclusions are based upon either our untampered experience and or they’re based upon the encryptions by our CIA, which can become powerful enough to actually have us deny that we saw what we saw or felt what we felt, and we end up not knowing what we know.
As we said at the beginning of this chapter, the CIA literally seduces us to abandon our own good senses and our own intelligence in an effort to please the Giants, to be the big boy, to be the man. But in the process, we end up living on the fringes of our skin or just plain outside our body altogether. And we also lose our connection to our soul.
We Buy Into The CIA For Good Reason
As you look at the activities of your own personal CIA in the Now It’s Your Turn section below, and you identify the purpose of the distortions, appreciate and hold precious what you find. In other words, know that we buy into the seduction of the CIA for “good” reason, namely to win the big people’s approval. We have almost no choice when we are little. Approval from the Giants is intertwined with our very survival. When the Giants disapprove of us, it feels like we are going to die. So appreciate our instinctual hold on survival, our willingness to give up feeling and our willingness to abandon our bodies for the sake of the approval of the Giants. Of course, it is ultimately self destructive, but we do not want to beat ourselves up over it, but rather appreciate what lengths we all go to win other people’s approval.
But We Are Growed-Up Now
And yes, now that we are all “growed-up,” and we literally do not need the approval of the Giants or of anyone else, for that matter, the wonder-filled dialogue between our thinking and feeling brain can stand alone without any input from the CIA.
When I feel sad and want to cry because someone I love moved away or died, I can go ahead and cry. I don’t have to twist my sadness into anger. I don’t have to remind myself that real men don’t cry, but can begin to believe that real men DO cry. I could even adopt the belief that it takes balls to cry.
When my feelings are hurt because my honey doesn’t want to make love to me, I don’t have to pretend I’m not hurt and roll over and defy gravity by sleeping on the mattress ridge.
When I’m on a dangerous job and feel scared, I don’t have to pretend I’m okay with what’s happening and foolishly risk my life by proceeding unnecessarily into a dangerous situation.
When I encounter over-the-top events in my life, I don’t have to get drunk or drugged-out as a way of either feeling or avoiding feeling the intense emotions. I can sit down with friends and or coworkers and provide an opportunity and an example for all of us to debrief the over-the-top experience.
In general, we can begin to face every day challenges without worrying about approval or disapproval from anyone.
This is not to suggest we close ourselves off to input and feedback from others, nor to overlook the value of working interdependently. It is to say that we are, in fact, our own person, our own man, and are “growed-up” enough to make decisions based upon our intelligence and not the perception of how manly or unmanly we are or whether or not we will win approval or disapproval.
We Can Trust OUR Intelligence
The bottom line is this. We can trust the dialogue between our thoughts and our feelings. We can trust OUR intelligence and quiet the “Central Intelligence Agency” once and for all. And in so doing, we can choose to once again live in our own skin and in our own body and stay connected to our soul. We can learn to use our brain power to take us far beyond our learned capacities for performance and achievement.
A Flip Side
Interestingly enough, there is a flip side here. We alluded to it above when we referred to the CIA as “this particular internal voice.” Yes, there are other internal voices. The same neurological process that allows us to invite the CIA into our brain or to be seduced or overrun by the CIA also allows us to introject other kinds of voices into our head. And we’re not talking psychotic processes here.
Just as we internalize Dad’s voice telling us that something does not hurt, we can also internalize voices that support us. The coach encouraging us to swing when we are at bat, the teacher telling us as she hands us the test, “I know you are going to do well.” A girlfriend telling us that we look handsome or like a movie star.
Statements, both supportive and undermining, stay with us in the form of internal voices, sometimes forever.
In a later chapter, we will look at all the voices and the part they play and can play in both our abandoning our body and soul and in reclaiming or coming back home to our body and soul.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Use this section at the end of each chapter for self exploration and sharing with other men.
1. Identify situations in your past and present life where you had to or still insist upon not seeing what you see, not hearing what you hear, not smelling what you smell, not tasting what you taste, not feeling what you feel, and not knowing what you know. What is the purpose of this distortion?
2. Write out a sample internal dialogue between your FEELING BRAIN and your THINKING BRAIN. If you’re not into writing, then at least let yourself talk it out so you can become more conscious of this internal dialogue.
3. If you have a safe male friend (one who will not shame you), discuss these internal conversations with him and ask him to share what he knows about his own CIA.