Oppression – the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.
We’re used to hearing about oppressive governments, but what about the oppressive feeling that circumstances in general dictate your life?
Most of us might not consciously believe we’re being forced into submission by life, but that’s not how we behave. Many of our thoughts and feelings indirectly suggest that we cannot choose how to feel, what to do or even what to think.
In this post we’ll do the following:
1. Give a keen personal example of oppressive thinking.
2. Break it down to reveal just how the self-oppression works.
3. Show you specifically how to break free, with examples.
Check out the thought stream running through my head:
Over the holiday weekend a ‘friend’ of mine did something that really bugged me. REALLY bugged me. Since then, I have had this image of him pinging around in my brain and destroying my peace of mind. And I can’t let it go for some reason. It wasn’t traumatic per se, but the shock and, quite frankly, the disgust of him making a pass at my wife just eats at me. If it weren’t against the law, I’d have laid that guy out on the pavement. How can someone be such an unthinking, disrespectful jerk? I was standing right there! It’s beyond me. Seriously, I can’t handle stuff like that.
Okay! The above is a mass of self-oppression that ever-so-subtly forms a view of the world in which I am powerless. Those thoughts do MUCH MORE than state the facts. They trap me in an oppressive world view.
I am not actually powerless. Yet, I often think and behave like a powerless person.
Thoughts that are structured like the above are like little dictators that send you to emotional prison and toss the away the key.
Here’s how the mental oppression scheme unfolds:
• a ‘friend’ of mine did something that really bugged me
Thinking that it bugged me puts me in the victim position. It gives his actions power over me. His actions are dictating my feelings.
• I have had this image of him pinging around in my brain
This suggests that the image now has power to ping around all by itself. In other words, I presumably have no control over my own thoughts here. My thoughts are oppressing me.
• destroying my peace of mind
Not only do my thoughts ping however they want, I’ve also made them the dictator of my emotional state. I have given thoughts power to destroy my peace.
• can’t let it go for some reason
Putting myself in a helpless position here, suggesting that “it” is more powerful than I am. It has grabbed me and I remain without any ability to escape.
• disgust of him making a pass at my wife just eats at me
The way I have set this up, I have no choice but to be eaten away at, as if I were in a steel trap with fire ants all over me.
• If it weren’t against the law
Not that punching someone is a good idea, but it’s interesting how I am using the law of the land as an additional oppressor – something that limits my actions. The point is, here’s another thing I can’t do – another nod to powerlessness.
• How can someone be such an unthinking, disrespectful jerk?
Now I am just playing dumb. People are often disrespectful and beyond. Men making passes at women is typical behavior. With this question, I am pretending to be stupid and reveling in the helplessness of not comprehending something that is, in fact, no mystery.
• It’s beyond me
No, it’s not. It’s pretty simple, actually. I am just oppressing myself further by making the issue bigger and badder than it is, giving it more power over me.
• I can’t handle stuff like that
Summing it all up with a global statement of my ineptitude!
If you really want to break free of this kind of thinking, then do the following….
Don’t run from it. Do not retreat and wish it would all just stop somehow. Instead, take it a step further and really wake yourself up.
If you have the mental and emotional fortitude, follow this simple, powerful formula (examples to follow).
1. Make a statement about what is going on with the words, “I want” in front.
2. After the statement, add the word “because.”
3. After “because” tell yourself the rest of the story – and don’t hold back. Give two or three examples of why you REALLY DO want it, based on your imagination or best guesses.
Before I give you a few personal examples of how this works, first understand that I am not after universal truth here. I don’t know if the following statements are true. I do know there is a certain “wake up call” that accompanies them (for many of us, anyway).
Second, we’re assuming that at some level you want to think the way you are thinking. I do not know if that is true. Yet, if you assume it, wonderful things happen. You’ll wake up!
You’ll just have to try it for yourself.
Here are some examples:
a ‘friend’ of mine did something that really bugged me
I want to be bugged by my friend because…
• It makes me feel better than him.
• I enjoy the moral superiority of being bugged by pathetic people.
• It gives me a reason to feel bad, which gets me off the hook in so many ways.
I have had this image of him pinging around in my brain
I want this image pinging around in my brain because:
• It reminds me of how much I love my wife and want to protect her.
• It stands as another testimony to how often I have been wronged by other people and builds my self-victimization case (ouch).
destroying my peace of mind
I want something to destroy my peace of mind because
• Something has to. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Peace can’t last.
• Then I get to lose another battle, but still feel like a righteous warrior.
can’t let it go for some reason
I want to believe I can’t let it go because…
• This powerlessness gig is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
• When you can’t do things, you don’t have to do what you don’t want to do!
Okay, enough. You get the idea, right?
CONFRONT YOURSELF in this way and you might WAKE UP to what you are doing to yourself, day in and day out.
Confront yourself often enough and before long, you’ll decide to stop torturing yourself.
All of this inspired by the AHA Solution online personal development program. To really get why this work is so powerful, you should watch our free and enlightening video on self-sabotage. It really sets the stage for powerful personal growth.
By using this and other methods inspired by the AHA Solution, My wife Hope and I have done no less than transform our lives.
The key is: You really need to think things through. This self-confrontive approach adds something invaluable to your thought process, though. It makes things really POP. You end up thinking, “I don’t need to keep putting myself through this.”
And you’ll let it all go. Those thoughts really WILL drift away and not return. I used the writing of this post as a personal workbook – and wouldn’t you know it – those thoughts are thoroughly ‘processed’ and my peace of mind and body has returned.
Now, if mental and emotional self-torture turns out to be your ‘thing’, you can always keep it up. However, you might enjoy it even more when you know why you’re doing it!
(That last comment was sarcastic, even though it is sometimes true).
Oppressive thoughts can be addicting. You’ve got to do something DIFFERENT to break the cycle.
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