Mentallurgy LifeChange holds out the ideal of becoming a creator of the life you really want. Learning how to take control inside the mental theater of your brain is absolutely necessary to accomplishing this. As long as you continue to believe that your external circumstances determine how you feel, you will not be able to move your life forward in the way you want.
But even for the most accomplished among us, there are times when our “button gets pushed.” Something inside us is “triggered.” Someone else gets us “hooked” – and it’s as if an alien force takes us over. We react and behave in a way that is not only counterproductive; it is utterly neurotic.
Congratulations. You have just been taken for a ride along a deep groove of some real nasty. Later you’ll be straightening the chairs and cleaning up the mess you made.
Mentallurgy names that alien take-over you just had, a “neurotic style.” Yours is just one of six grooves of nasty that are playing themselves out all around the planet as we speak. Even for the most focused and intentional creator, a neurotic style can spring up (like a trigger) and cause trouble.
Instead of moving into this idea of neurotic styles in the spirit of conventional therapy, where a treatment plan would be designed around the identified “problem” and “progress” would be measured by how far you can get from what you don’t want, we’re going to have some fun with it.
This diagram is just part of a more detailed “map” of neurotic styles that I have created, for the purpose of understanding where they originate and why they keep pushing us around. I call this map The Mandala of Neurotic Styles. As we go around the mandala and briefly describe each neurotic style, see if you can identify your particular groove of nasty.
The Worrywart: the phobic-avoidant neurotic style. Worrywarts can’t unhook their mind from worrisome things. They keep telling themselves stories of danger, threat and risk – how it’s all going to fall through the floor at any moment. Of course, their body is fully involved as well. As you know, worry stories stir up panic states.
The Fixator: the obsessive-compulsive neurotic style. Fixators get busy with repetitive and relatively meaningless tasks. In fact, the more meaningless (I know it sounds strange), the better. In this way, they occupy their mind and body with busyness they can control.
The Recluse: the passive-depressive neurotic style. Recluses can suddenly get the urge to run away and hide from the stress of life. Inside their “cave,” they will typically replay stories of past hurts and disappointments. Their body feels tired and heavy, drained of energy.
The Hothead: the explosive-aggressive neurotic style. Hotheads work hard to push their frustrations deep inside and carry on as if it (the problem) doesn’t matter to them. But then after some time has passed, a seemingly small event will flip off the lid and all hell breaks loose. Their mind tells the familiar story of blame – “You make me so ANGRY!” – and their body gets jacked up on adrenaline and becomes enraged.
The Fanatic: the manic-obsessive neurotic style. Although it stands opposite to the Fixator on the Mandala, the Fanatic is also a style that gets hooked on one thing. The difference is that while the Fixator is keeping busy with a meaningless distraction, the Fanatic gets obsessed with the “one thing” that matters above all else. A point can be reached where they are willing to sacrifice (or destroy) anything else that gets in the way.
The Saboteur: the passive-aggressive neurotic style. You’re probably familiar with “passive aggression.” It may even be your favorite groove of nasty. Saboteurs don’t act out their aggression (anger, frustration) in overt ways, like yelling or swinging their fists. Instead they are experts at finding that subtle thread that will cause things to unravel. Or they might use humor as sarcasm to mask their aggression.
Now, let me say again: we all have our neurotic styles. You do, I do, and so does the Dalai Lama. As a behavior program that once upon a time got us what we wanted or needed, a neurotic style doesn’t go away just because we grow up. We’re talking about your “inner child” here – not only that core of dependent innocence inside you, but the part of you that gets tripped up (triggered, hooked, pushed) when things don’t go your way.
The Mandala of Neurotic Styles is not intended for use in diagnosing your “problem.” Mentallurgy doesn’t even regard the six neurotic styles as problems in the conventional sense. Think of them as counterproductive – even sliding toward maladaptive and dysfunctional in some cases – behavior programs that suspend your adult abilities in rational thinking, problem-solving, and self-control. The stressed inner child takes over and you lose it.
Another thing to realize about neurotic styles: when you’re in one, you are not in your right mind. Mentallurgy refers to this as a “trance.” The period of time in which you are entranced is called a “spell.” And the ride that your neurotic style takes you on is a “riff” – borrowed from music as the name for a melodic pattern or rhythmic cycle that keeps repeating throughout a song.
A riff is a tight coil of neurotic energy that has no “productive” outlet, so it just keeps spinning until its energy is spent. That’s when you feel the spell come to an end, the trance lifts, and your adult rationality (what Mentallurgy names your “higher self”) returns to the scene. Upon reflection, and after surveying the extent of the damage caused by your little groove of nasty, you say to yourself, “Never again!”
And what do you know, you barely walk out the door and – BAM! – something else pushes your button and gets you hooked. Go ahead and play this one out. We’ll see you on the other side.