In the Tao of Allowing, G.P. Walsh proposes a popular therapeutic technique to make the Law of Attraction work better. We will get to the technique in a minute. For those who think the Law of Attraction is hogwash, it might help to think of the concept here as yet another mind management system, intended to get us to take the actions we need to get to where we want to be.
Let’s take a look at what G.P. Walsh teaches and the inter-textual references implicit in his accessible work.
1. We are born without inhibitions. We learn to suppress unacceptable behaviors in order to survive. What is acceptable or unacceptable is virtually arbitrary, determined by the whims of “the tribe” — our caregivers, teachers, friends, and society at large.
2. When we suppress these unacceptable behaviors we generate disingenuous behaviors in their place. For example, if I learn that it is unacceptable for me to express my emotions because I am admonished every time I do, then I learn to keep my feelings to myself. Although Walsh doesn’t state this, the replacement of authentic feelings with inauthentic ones due to social conditioning, which then results in a pathological behavior or emotional pattern, is the bread and butter of Transactional Analysis (TA). TA was developed by American psychiatrist Eric Berne in the ’70s as an alternative to psychoanalysis and has since lost its popularity. Traces of it resurface in NLP for managers, EST and Landmark forums.
3. According to TA, when we suppress authentic emotions/behaviors with inauthentic ones this creates something called a racket. The racket is some kind of neurosis. These neuroses practically eat us alive on the inside — causing anxiety, rage, depression, and more. Walsh writes that in those moments we are experiencing the inauthentic self it feels as though something inside us is trying to get out, and it is. What’s trying to get out is our true selves, he writes.
4. Walsh then teaches that the racket (my word not his) is not really us. In other words, we have to understand that the neurosis (again, my word not his) is not our true self. It’s something our Central Nervous System (what is perhaps better labelled as our Limbic System) has created to protect us from rejection — because rejection = death.
5. Recognizing when this is happening is the first step in healing the nervous system and teaching it that it is safe for us to feel what we’re feeling. It is safe to be ourselves.
6. Instead of resisting or training to fix these emotions Walsh proposes a radical approach. How about, instead of thinking there’s something wrong with us, we think that we are perfect just the way we are? This makes sense, since the neurotic experience isn’t the real us, but was created to protect us from doing something (deemed) unacceptable. If that’s the case, then all we have to do is allow the neurosis to occur and observe it, just observe it. We have to let it pass through us like an electric current looking to ground itself. If we block it, it stays trapped, or worse, it dictates our behaviors and colors our perceptions.
7. Doing this repeatedly, time and time again, retrains the Central Nervous System (CNS) to feel safe again. Time after time of doing this we unravel one neurosis after another.
8. And then the Law of Attraction starts working for us, Walsh promises, because we’re not trying to eliminate negative emotions (which is impossible), but are learning to integrate them in our experience by healing their source.
What Walsh has devised as his own method and system, has surfaced in Buddhist Psychology as Radical Acceptance and R.A.I.N. minus the Law of Attraction part. As for the Law of Attraction, here is how this might actually work: imagine if all your decisions, behaviors and actions are mandated by fear. Now imagine if within a few months you were able to calm the CNS enough that you were showing up differently in the world. In the absence of perceiving the world as hostile and other people as a threat, you’re far more likely to make that phone call or take that risk. With risk comes threat but also opportunity. Cumulatively, over time, you have far greater chances of ending up where you want to be, because you are now able to take consistent and more frequent action in that direction.
As you know, in The Quantum Mind blog, I’m interested in linking mind management ideas to tangible neuroscience. It’s like doing the Math to determine if a hypothesis is true. So, Walsh’s hypothesis is that if you allow yourself to feel your neurosis when it is activated, this teaches the CNS that it is safe to do so, and since the neurosis was created to protect you from an unsafe world, it will eventually dissipate because it is no longer needed (because you have communicated to your CNS through allowing that the world is now safe).
According to Morgan et al in a 1993 study, extinction of fear emotions is made possible by the activation of the medial prefrontal cortex. Morgan’s co-author, Joseph Le Doux, went on to develop an extensive research program on the interaction of the medial prefrontal cortex with the amygdala as a pathway to emotional extinction in phobia therapy. Trauma therapy pioneer Bessel van der Kolk extends Le Doux’s work to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and writes that:
…the only way we can consciously access the emotional brain is through self-awareness, i.e. by activating the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that notices what is going on inside us thus allows us to feel what we’re feeling.
Walsh’s Tao of Allowing is essentially re-framing the activation of our neurosis as an opportunity to treat it. We treat it not by resisting it or seeing it as something wrong that needs fixing, but by radically accepting it, by radically allowing it, by radically observing it inwardly, in our bodies and our minds. Each time we do this, we now believe, we’re un-threading it so that we can move closer toward experiencing our authentic self. This technique is validated by contemporary neuroscience and is otherwise known as limbic retraining. It is the technique van der Kolk and many other trauma therapists use successfully with patients with complex PTSD. Countless limbic retraining systems exist and G.P. Walsh’s is one of them. What’s unique about it, is its claims about the Law of Attraction and the relationship of our state of consciousness to the world we manifest.