People are looking for a less threatening environment, or at least for a way to better endure the environment they live in.
The concept of the dangerous environment will be understandable to the individual no matter how crudely it is put to him. Just the concept that he considers the environment dangerous and overwhelming and he doesn’t quite know where that danger or overwhelm is coming from is an enormous piece of wisdom.
Shrinking back from a very threatening environment that may overwhelm him at any moment, unable to progress forward into greater endurance or power to handle that threatening environment – this is his life.
An individual’s health level, sanity level, activity level and ambition level are all monitored by his concept of the dangerousness of the environment.
There are real areas of danger in the environment, but there are also areas being made to seem more dangerous than they really are.
Thus, if a person is marched forward into these sectors of his environment and gotten to inspect them, he can perceive for himself that the environment is not as dangerous as it is being made to seem. And with increased confidence in his ability to handle at least those sectors of his environment, his health, well-being, sanity and activity levels will rise as well.
A number of simple procedures can help a person increase his command over his environment. The master question of all these techniques is “What part of the environment isn’t threatening?” If one can get him to differentiate and find out there are some parts of the environment that aren’t threatening, he will make considerable gain.
What is the individual’s expectancy at this level? It may be this low – that he just won’t be so frightened when the doorbell rings. This sounds like a tiny improvement; nevertheless, it would be quite real to him.
He might just want to handle it so that when he wakes up in the morning he doesn’t have an agonizing feeling that something horrible is going to happen if he gets out of bed – and maybe he doesn’t even expect that feeling to completely disappear, but hopes it will diminish.
These would be real gains to him, and he would be very happy with them. The funny thing is, the gains he will actually experience will, in most cases, greatly exceed expectations.
Here are the procedures you can use to accomplish this:
1. Find Something That Isn’t Being a Threat
When a person gets too upset or confused, one can have him look around his environment and find something that isn’t being a threat to him. Carry on doing this until the person is very happy or relieved and has had a realization about himself, the environment or life in general.
A person can also use this technique directly on himself. For example, an individual can be in his office and very worried about something. He may be sitting at his desk with papers piling up. Everything seems to be in a high uproar, and he feels completely overwhelmed. The person himself ought to be able to look at the papers on his desk (the source of the threat) and find something about them that is not a threat. By making such a discovery, the threat will balance out.
2. Don’t Read the Newspaper
This is very simple. Tell the person, “Don’t read the newspapers for two weeks and see if you don’t feel better.”
If he doesn’t read the newspapers for two weeks, of course he will feel better.
Then tell him, “Now read the newspaper for a week, and at the end of that week you will find you feel worse. Then make up your mind whether or not you ought to pay any attention to the newspapers.”
This could be proposed to the person as a simple experiment. It isn’t even an expensive experiment – as a matter of fact, it is cheaper not to buy newspapers than to buy them.
This is a simple action, but a very effective one which can markedly change a person’s outlook on life.
3. Take a Walk
Another way of having a person look at the environment and discover that it isn’t so threatening is a technique called “Take a Walk.” If a person feels bad, have him take a walk and look at things as he walks.
The effort here is just to get the individual to inspect the environment and find out that there is some slightly greater security in it. One just wants the person to look and find out if the environment is as threatening as it appears to be.
“Take a walk and look at things” is the mildest advice that you could possibly give anybody, and is almost certain to produce a result if the person will do it. It is quite effective.
4. Find Something That Isn’t Hostile to You
There are people who feel as if everybody in the environment is hostile to them.
For a person like this, there is another technique that will lessen his fears.
One could ask any of several different questions, depending upon the situation. Examples of these are:
“Find something people say or do around here that isn’t hostile to you.”
“Is there one person in the company who isn’t actively hostile to you?”
“Is there anything said today that wasn’t directly and immediately hostile to you?”
Ask the person one of the above questions (or a similar question with a wording more appropriate to the person’s situation). For example, ask him, “Is there one person in the company who isn’t actively hostile to you?”
Continue this until the person feels better, is happier and has had a realization about himself, the environment or life in general.
5. Handling a Loss
A fellow who has just lost his girl, or a woman who has lost her man, feels the horrible sadness and loss it imparts to everything. Actually, everything in the environment will “talk” to him or her about the lost love. For some period of time, it will be impossible for him to look around and not be reminded of this person.
When one’s concentration has been heavily on an individual, it is sometimes almost heroically difficult to not associate everything with that person. The trick is to find something that isn’t reminding the person of the one he or she lost. One might have to search a long way to find something.
This is the way to recover from a love affair. The situation is in actual fact a simple one: the individual has identified everything in the environment with his unrest. By directing the person’s attention to things in the environment which are not so connected and making him find things which are not actively reminding him, one gets a differentiation where an identification existed before. And where differentiation exists, intelligence and judgment can return.
Do the following:
Tell the person you are going to help them. Tell him or her, “Find something that isn’t reminding you of __________(name of person he or she lost).”
Repeat the command, getting the person to find something else that is not reminding him or her of the person until he or she has a realization and feels better about the situation.
This simple procedure can help the person recover from his or her lost love and begin to live again.
6. Arranging One’s Life
By having an individual plan a life by which he could live calmly and unthreatened, the life he is living becomes less threatening.
Let us take, for example, the poor fellow who is on a complete treadmill: he has to keep his job, even though it doesn’t pay enough and there’s no opportunity of advancement, because if he loses it, he feels he won’t be able to get another one or he won’t be able to survive. This man is in a box of his own making, and he finds that environment very hostile.
Get him to plan a life which would not be so threatening, no matter how imaginative or seemingly unattainable his plan, and he will be able to go on working at his job much more happily and feeling much calmer.
7. Knocking Off Things That Upset One
There is another action which consists of simply having the person stop doing things or associating with people that upset him.
One could say, “Knock off some of those things in your life that make you upset.”
“Who upsets you? Well, don’t talk to them for a while.”
“What activities leave you feeling worse? Well, just don’t do them for a while.”
“What things in the environment aren’t really a threat to you? All right, have you got some of those? Fine. Associate with those. Pay more attention to them.”
This will benefit the person more than one might imagine.
A broken love affair can result in the person being in a state of mind where everything in the environment is a reminder of the loss.
But a person can be helped to recover. If one can find something in the surroundings which does not bring to mind the lost love...
...The person’s attention can become unstuck, which allows her to feel better.
The Dangerous Environment
The Merchants of Chaos
Ways to Lessen the Threat
Suggestions for Further Study