John Cleese on responsibility for own emotions

The remarkable John Cleese is spot on again:

Transcript:

I’m offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I’m not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want — you can just come in and say, “Right, stop that.” to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC one said, “There are some people who I would wish to offend.” And I think there’s truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to. And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner said something very interesting to me. He said, “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” And when you’re around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next. And that’s why I’ve been warned recently don’t to go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let’s not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well — that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans. Now that’s about the human condition; it’s not excluding anyone. It’s saying we all have all these plans, which probably won’t come and isn’t it funny how we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke. It’s still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, “We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.

A question about responsibility

What could be the consequences of shifting responsibility for something oneself has done over to something or someone else?

Please share your answers and views 🙂

2015-06-29 21.48.10

Update 2016-02-04: With the good comments received on this, I have one conclusion that is relevant to the Scientology Bubble:

There may be many factors why we see so many OTs in the Church of Scientology that remains so blind, get into trouble in life and generally does not have any marked positive impact on society. But I propose that one significant reason is that from OT 3 and up, OTs are indoctrinated into the belief that what is wrong with them is not of their own doing. It is the doing of “entities” (spirits) attached to their bodies and messing up their lives. I firmly believe that one is responsible for one’s own thoughts and emotions and that life will gradually slide into the ditch when one habitually shifts responsibility for one’s own thoughts and emotions over to someone else. Especially when those someone elses are figments of a “guru’s” imagination. I believe Hubbard was a pussy that didn’t take responsibility for his own life and tried to get his congregation to agree that his troubles were not his own. Much like Miscavige.

What to take responsibility for

When I coach people, the main positive step occurs when the person stops feeling responsible for what other people think or feel and starts taking responsibility for what he or she thinks and feels.

Taking full responsibility for one’s own thinking, feelings and actions is liberating. Further freedom comes from stopping the worrying about what others might think.

One creates one’s own thoughts and feelings. What one thinks and feels is a choice. Always – even when it doesn’t seem like it. To conquer one’s own thoughts and emotions is hard. But it is a worthwhile quest.

When I read this post to Anette, she asked if I should include some practical examples where this viewpoint would be benificial. Then she added, “…or maybe you should ask your readers for good examples?” And so I do.

thinking

Your life

What if you at your core is “potential will”? And as you start to exercise that potential, you create. You create and add to the game of life. Each creation is an expenditure of your potential – of your will. You trade potential will for actual experience. The more you cumulatively affect, the more affects you. And what if you actually create every experience you have at every instance? Not that you necessarily create everything that is – but every effect it has on you.

It’s like a game of soccer. You stand outside the field watching other players. You decide to pitch in. At the instance you join the game, you are subject to a set of rules. The only way to not be affected by the rules is to leave the game. But as long as you decide to play, your will is limited by the rules. And the more agreements you enter into – such as formations and your position in the team, the less free will you have left.

Like in business. You start off with two bare hands and a brilliant idea. You have a whole vista of opportunities. As you create the company, you add substance, but at the same time you relinquish your range of possible choices. You trade free will for focus, for creations. And the more you create, the more you own. But what you own also owns you. It takes a hold of your freedom.

You expand your company, adding people, products, processes and partners. Company rules, regulations and bureaucracy. And limitations to your free will. When Facebook was a startup… when HP or Apple was garage companies, the founders had lots of ideas and much free will. But as the companies expanded, their freedom within that game diminished. To regain freedom, they could pack up and do something else.

What if this is how it is on all levels in life?

What if you create every thought and every emotion you experience? Every high, every nightmare. What if all you had to do to not have the nightmare was to “wake up” – to stop creating those thoughts, those fears?

Maybe the idea of others being responsible for your thoughts, emotions or actions is limiting your own free will? Maybe your assigning your responsibilities to others is you “digging your own grave”. Perhaps this is why “letting go” works so well. Simply saying “fuck it” to the blame, shame and regret – and just not creating those haunting thoughts, those painful emotions anymore.

Adding structure limits freedom, adding policies limits choices and adding complexities limits potential.

These musing could funnel four valid therapies to regain one’s freedom in any area:

  1. Just “letting go” and say “fuck it” to the limitations you yourself create
  2. Spotting the fact that you create those thoughts, those emotions in order to be able to “let go”
  3. Exercising “liking” a situation or at least your own created feelings regarding a negative situation
  4. “Exposure training” where you force yourself to do the opposite of creating the limitations

The last point would encompass the exposure to spiders for the person suffering from arachnophobia or skydiving if you are afraid of heights. Research show that 2-4 exposures to your fears per week will “wear it out”. You would expose your fear on a gradient – to challenge the unpleasant feeling of fear increasingly until it subsides. It is important to not overdo it or make the challenge insurmountable. It’s like lifting weights to build your bodily strength.

My experience in coaching hundreds of people in life is that these therapies tend to work better than regression or “looking inward into your mind”.

It boils down to “doing what helps” and “not doing that which doesn’t help” in any given situation. Creating feelings of “stress” or “panic” or “rage” may not be very helpful in a certain situation. If you looked at the situation calmly you may come to the conclusion that there are other, more helpful feelings that you could have created instead.

Living in the present, not delving into the past or living in the future, that is a key to happiness. But if you realize that you are able to create any thought and any emotion, you really don’t need any means or any excuses to be happy. Just create happiness. It takes training to do so when life is inviting you to create other emotions. It may be hard to create a happy you when you are stuck in the dentist’s chair. But instead of giving away your key to your thoughts, emotions – your life… training and exercise will eventually get you there – taking control of your own thoughts, emotions – your life.