Teflon Mind

Good afternoon!  It is finally what I consider to be a ‘good’ summer temperature here….about 90 F. I was motivated to move my ‘office’ – CCTV and tablet – out onto the deck. Practical note here: iPads overheat when you are sitting in the sun and listening to a BARD book. Also, direct sunlight on what you are trying to see on the CCTV washes out the image. Don’t bother to try it. I ended up moving into the shade. Black with white lettering did work on the CCTV but I found it a bit odd. You might like it though. In that case, do try it!

Tomorrow I am getting up early to catch a ride to my third place of employment. Probably home late. Same setup the next day so I have to finalize my DBT lesson plan today.

My topic: the what and how skills of mindfulness. We will be going over this stuff for several weeks so I decided to go a bit more in-depth on ‘Teflon mind’.

Teflon has been around for so long I suspect you all know what it is. It is the nonstick stuff on pans. The stuff that created a market for plastic spatulas.

The idea of Teflon mind is to make your mind nonstick for all the negative nonsense you may encounter.

Ignoring the negative is hard. In fact, it is unnatural! It is through not ignoring the negative that we got to be so successful as a species. The protohuman who insulted you today may be the protohuman who hits you with a stone ax tomorrow! Our ancestors learned to look out for that sort of thing.

Being attentive to the negative now can be crucial but not always and not necessarily life or death. Someone from Papua, New Guinea, may say I wrote a really stupid page and he wants to smack me, but since I am very far away from Papua, I should not take it to heart.

But I often do. Many of us often do. We are upset and wounded and want to defend ourselves. We may even decide to launch our own offensive.  “Oh, yeah?  Well, my country is bigger than your country. So there!”  Not very helpful.

DBT suggests we be mindful of our feelings. It suggests we take a moment to pause (very important in DBT) and just observe what we are experiencing, both in the environment and in our minds. As we observe what is going on both outside and in our thoughts we allow there to be a disconnect between thoughts and automatic emotions and behaviors.

Grandma knew about this. She told you to count to 10 and take a deep breath before reacting.

Taking a moment to pause also gives you some understanding about the nature of intense emotion. Specifically, emotions are pretty much like waves. They come and they go. Intense emotion can be created and recreated making it look like it is sustainable, but it is not. Emotions wash over you and are gone. Why react to something you are no longer feeling?

The other thing about taking a moment to pause and not react? It shows you how strong you are! You can take it!

Facing up to something upsetting takes its power away. In psychology it is called extinction. What you are really doing is lessening the connection between neurons. The adage is “neurons that fire together wire together”. If you keep the second one from firing this time you reduce the chance it will fire the next time….leading to a Teflon mind.

So there it is.  Teflon mind. Moment to pause. two skills used together to reduce reactivity to some of the nonsense in the world.

Next: My Place in the world

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