Weird Science: Why Happiness is NOT the default setting
I was having a conversation with a friend today about the concept of people feeling like there is something wrong with them if they don’t feel happy. “why can’t I just be happy like everyone else?” or words to that extent is such a common narrative.
My clients are based all round the world and are from all walks of life, with a variety of different mental health issues, but the one thing they tend to all have in common is that they are all highly sensitive people (HSP's). This means that they FEEL a lot, they are emotional, thoughtful and often introverted people that live most of their time in their head. They think… ALL THE TIME. They over analyze, they internalize, they judge themselves, they’re prone to anxiety, addictions and all kinds of things that they think other people might see as negative, which leads to guess what? More self criticism! Mark Mansion summarized this pattern as the “negative feedback loop from hell”. There are also lots of amazing traits that go with being a highly sensitive person such as creativity, strong empathy for others and a deep desire for purpose (which often comes from helping make a difference in others lives).
HSP's tend to be drawn to Guided Mind Clearance therapy, and consequently all of my clients, no matter what issues they initially come to tackle, all tend to be feeling a little bit lost, anxious, empty, unloved and feel like they have an emptiness or lacking from something external missing in their lives (quite often a whole bunch of things). “I would be happy if…” or “I would be happy when….” “I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy”, “I’ll never be as happy as I when…” or even when there is really nothing particularly wrong and everything to be grateful for: "Why can't I just be happy?!" This fixation with being “happy” is all too common, and I know, because I am also a HSP! This comes as quite a surprise when people tell me their stories and explain the way they feel and I say that I can relate to their situations. I have in the past and STILL do feel that way often, and actually so do most people I know! And I’m genuinely not making it up to make people feel more at ease - I am speaking the absolute truth. I explain that the default setting is actually not some happy go lucky person, jogging on the beach at 7am, with a fulfilling family, career and friendships (who are these alien beings anyway?!). Actually I think the default setting is a much lower vibration, embodying a general sense of uneasiness, emptiness and lacking in direction.
I explained this concept to my friend and she was a little perplexed by my somewhat blunt resignation of this depressing default setting. Surely the point of the therapy is to help people NOT settle for feeling low but to set the bar much higher and strive towards that? Aha, but this is where it gets interesting! I explained that by realigning the idea that the human mind (especially HSP's) default setting is much lower, it allows people to feel a sense of acceptance that there is actually NOTHING wrong with them. This is actually what any NORMAL highly sensitive person experiences much of the time. I can sense the clients' relief at this point when they start to grasp this concept. And as fast as that happens they immediately begin to change their perspective and their sense of what is normal. And by some kind of reverse psychology, understanding this fact alone actually works to lift them. I can’t explain exactly how it works but if you imagine this concept with the Weird Science Music in the background then I’m hoping this will be enough to convince you! A Spiritual person might also relate this to the Buddha’s first noble truth “life is suffering”, however my little theory does not come with any kind of life long, spiritual path in order to eventually achieve enlightenment.
But surely that’s not the end of it?! “Everyone feels like this, you’ll never be happy so no point trying, end of session, good bye”….. No, there is a lot more to the sessions of course ;) After the initial talk therapy, we move into a full Guided Mind Clearance session, we clear any thoughts or feelings that we decide to work on together by sending a series of visualizations up into the light. Then the very end is the most enjoyable part for my clients, where I use this opportunity to bring the light to them, and replace all of the things we've removed with pure, beautiful energy. I explained to my friend, somewhat inarticulately that this is the part of the process that makes people feel “warm and fuzzy”. After an attack of the giggles I explained that during this phase I use all of the things we talked about in the session to put positive things back in and help them realize all of the good things about themselves, their lives and their future. It’s completely organic, non scripted and from the heart. HSP's are unique, amazing people, and every time I feel a strong connection to the client and completely understand the way they feel and also see all of the good things in them and their value to the world. I sometimes use mindfulness concepts, and tell little stories about their future using visualizations.
My technique is very human and non clinical but it’s not super spiritual either. I don’t give my clients any worksheets, homework after or between sessions or rules to follow. The process is very easy for clients because all they have to do is go with the flow of the session and see what happens. After the session they will always feel somewhere in-between the default setting and the ultimate “peace joy and happiness”. OK yes a little too ambitious after one session but never say never! All I know is that seeing someone’s REAL authentic smile at the end is gives me my own joy and sense of fulfillment and that makes me grateful to be a HSP!