Human beings are rather complex! Part of this is because they are driven by complexes – something called, “Complex Equivalences.” Our nervous system’s connections is mirrored by our thoughts. Thoughts link to thoughts in a web of associations.
It is these associations that drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviours… and they are not always accurate associations! Neither are they based on empirical reality.
It all comes down to one question: what does this ‘mean’ for me? Every sensory stimulus or internal thought triggers this question as the brain seeks to make sense of our patterns of electrical activity.
Often, this is very good news. Take ‘Love’ for example. If you associate love with a close friend making you a hand-made greetings card, you are going to feel loved when such a card arrives through the post. The thoughtfulness behind such a beautiful and time-costly gift means ‘love’ to such a fortunate person. This is a “Complex Equivalence” – where ‘A’ means ‘B’.
Sometimes, it goes wrong, however. If a tone of voice or a certain look or even a type of location triggers an unwanted reaction, you can be sure that a Complex Equivalence is at work. Somewhere on the timeline of your personal history, your brain has jumped to the conclusion: ‘x’ means ‘y’.
This, again, is actually good news. Why? Well because ‘x’ rarely means ‘y’ all the time… not in the other real world of thoughts and emotions.
I love to present. Let’s call this ‘x’. For me the ‘x’ of presenting means the ‘y’ of pleasure. For other people, exactly the same ‘x’ – presenting – means the ‘z’ of terror! When working with these x=z types, I can often help them swap their own definition of ‘z’ for my definition of ‘y’. They re-wire their associations (and actually their neural pathways) and a new world of opportunity opens up.
There are three easy ways to challenge an unhelpful “Complex Equivalence.”
• If you know the unhelpful trigger – you can go back in time in your imagination and challenge the conclusions the younger you made. For example, “When they talk to me in that tone of voice it means that they are cross with me.” On reflection, a more accurate assessment might be, “When they talk to me in that tone of voice it means that they are concerned for my well-being but don’t know how to show this nicely.”
• Scratch the record! Those of us who remember Vinyl Records will also remember what happened when they got scratched… they never played the same way again. Sometimes you can scratch the Complex Equivalence. So, a couple having an argument can get angrier and angrier until one of them ‘scratches’ the groove they are stuck in by bursting out laughing or tickling the other one. The other partner will be furious for a few moments (after all, they were in their groove and you’ve messed it up) but both parties will have found the song doesn’t play the same way. Or, to mix metaphors, the spell is broken.
• Decide on your own Complex Equivalences! This is ultimate power. You can decide that someone being rude to you means they are frightened of how intelligent, gorgeous and powerful you are!!!
Truth does matter… but we are often a long way from knowing enough about a situation to really discern the truth. For now, then, it is better to stay resourceful by assuming the best and making up our own Complex Equivalences.
[Footnote: unhelpful superstitions and even wars have been caused by unchallenged Complex Equivalences… And the greatest acts of Faith, Hope and Love are driven by Complex Equivalences. Thus, one of the greatest things you can do with the gift of consciousness is to challenge your Complex Equivalences to see if they serve your Highest Purpose or not. Those that do not stand the scrutiny must be rewritten! Go write some new history for yourself and for those you love!]