By December 13, 2011 72 Comments Read More →

Don’t Think About The Tigers!

I am always fascinated by the way we use our thoughts and our language — both are extremely powerful tools, both have equally as much power to help us as to hinder us, depending on the way we use them. In the vast majority of cases, people have little idea of just how much control they actually do have over their experiences — and even less understanding about how to do something to positively influence how they’re feeling. And you know the strangest thing? Most people are so acutely aware of what they don’t want that they’ve forgotten what it is they do want — which is why so many remain stuck.

Not so long ago I was working with a lady who’d had some pretty rough experiences. She’d already told me that she felt unloved, unsupported and useless. The interesting thing about the session is what happened when I asked her to imagine her ideal life, when she could be do and have the things she said she wanted. She started off well, listing things like a loving relationship and a happy home, but in order to describe it better she explained the things she didn’t want:

“I really don’t want to stay in this job — it makes me feel as if I don’t matter” ”¦hmmm”¦ “I don’t like my house either, it’s too small, too untidy and I feel uncomfortable there” ”¦.okay”¦. “My family is certainly not the way I’d like them to be! They judge me all the time, they make me feel useless — sometimes I wonder if they even notice me at all!”

And of course she went straight back in to describing in great detail how rotten she felt and how terrible her life was — even though she’d already told me earlier about the things that were wrong! Whenever this happens my inner smile grows wider, because I know beyond question that my coaching session is going to be a success. I know that I’m going to be able to help the person I’m with, and that in turn makes me happy.

So ok, you may be thinking, what’s that all about then? And what’s my point?

Internal Google

My point is this. The human brain works somewhat like a computer search engine. It is, if you like, our internal Google, and is extremely obedient to every instruction we give it. Our brain cannot differentiate between positive or negative. Good or bad. Do or do not. It just does. It has to find a reference in order to make sense of any situation or instruction it’s given, and our thoughts become our experiences. So explaining the things we don’t want or telling someone not to do something, has exactly the opposite effect.

For example, have you ever witnessed this kind of interaction between a mother and child? The child is carefully walking across the room balancing a cup of juice. The mother, aware of the dangers, says “Don’t drop that!”  The child looks up, loses concentration and”¦ drops it.

As another example, how about I give you this direct instruction: Don’t think about the tigers. Do NOT think about the tigers. OK? Absolutely under no circumstance are you to think about the tigers — particularly not the pink tigers wearing bowler hats and wellington boots!

Now — what have you got in your head? I’ll bet you’ve got tigers of some sort. Some of you may even have pictures of pink tigers in hats and boots. And yet… what was my original instruction? It was to NOT think about tigers — but you did! You thought about exactly the things I asked you not to think about – because your own internal Google had to find a reference in order to make sense of what I was saying.

It’s like the mother and child scenario — by telling the child not to drop the drink, guess what? The drink is dropped — because that’s what the child’s internal Google search engine found in response to the mother’s instructions.

You Can Choose

None of this is rocket science — some of the best things in life are usually incredibly simple. The thing is, though, I’ve discovered that very few people actually grasp the fact that although they may be striving towards something positive, because they’re so clear about what they don’t like about their life, they’re unconsciously keeping themselves stuck in the very place they say they don’t like!

When I first learned about this idea many years ago, I was surprised about how tricky it was for me to actually list the things I’d like to have in my life without slipping in to the trap of describing the things I didn’t like. This was the kind of dialogue that went on in my head:

“I’d like a home in the country, where my son is away from the London fumes because it makes him sick”

Can you see what I was doing? I was instructing my thoughts to bring up the images of my son being sick — and thereby messing with my dream to live in the countryside. Doh! So I’d change it:

“I’d like a home in the country where my son is healthy and happy” — and once I was clear on that, I’d make it even stronger by turning it into an affirmation:

“My son and I are living in a beautiful home in the country, and we are healthy and happy”

For a long time I would have internal tussles as I gradually learned to train my thoughts to concentrate on the things I chose to bring in to my life. And guess what happened? As my thoughts became clearer, and my internal Google kept searching out the good stuff — I automatically felt happier. Yes, even before I achieved the things that at that time were just a dream. And because I felt happier, I was more open to positive opportunities and more able to take action as a result. Incidentally, we moved to a beautiful home in the country less than six months after I started monitoring my thoughts.

You’ve heard the phrase “be careful what you wish for””¦? Well, so far as I’m concerned, every thought we have, every word we utter, is a wish — and a confirmation that this is indeed the wish we have chosen. So that’s why I so consciously do my best to choose exactly what I say and what I think.

Because I am certain that our thoughts really do influence our reality — and no matter what has happened, or who is trying to control us, nothing and nobody can ever control our thoughts. For me, it was the conscious freedom of my thoughts that helped me to heal my pain, and it’s that same conscious thinking that now continue to help me create the life of my dreams.

Hey, I don’t get it right all the time — far from it. And I also have my gloomy times as you already know. The thing is, though, by remembering about the tigers, I can pull myself back on track and get my thoughts and feelings back in gear. And you know what? It works.

As for that lady I talked about at the beginning of this article? Well, once I’d explained about the tigers and we’d done a couple of exercises together, she was totally able to imagine the life of her dreams in absolute detail. As she described it to me, her face lit up and her entire body lifted. She left the session looking younger and taller – and since then she’s reported back about some amazingly positive shifts she’s already experienced.

So my Lovefraud friends, until next week, just remember”¦ don’t think about the good stuff”¦ do NOT think about the good stuff! Certainly don’t even consider all the wonderful things that are coming to you right now”¦

You see? It does work doesn’t it?


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72 Comments on "Don’t Think About The Tigers!"

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Constantine, you are HILARIOUS! You had me cracking up!!! The Messiah! I see you know him well then! He also told me once that some guy stopped him on the streets of London and said that he was in a cult and that spath was the reincarnation of their cult’s God….they’d been looking for him and were so happy to have found him (too bad they didn’t confiscate him on the spot and then there’d be one less spath on the loose).

You have a good memory of all the happenings in my personal history book 😛 It’s a been a wild ride, alright! But not too unlike many others in here. Speaking of which…

Ox, I just read through your story about the Scottish accent. If he weren’t such a pain in the ars, it would have been hilarious. My grandpa is delusional, but not a spath, and he tells funny stories too. Not like a spath. Just like a very confused person 🙂 I am glad that guy didn’t take you all the way to court. What a nut!

Panther I actually wish it had gone to court as he would have been tarred and feathered on the way out of court by the JURY!!!! This is a red neck enclave for sure and enough people already hate him he would not have gone away without some problems. LOL Fortunately his attorney realized that there was nothing to be gained in court and that my attorney realized that as well.

I think when his cousin took the case he didn’t realize what a well known nut job the guy was in this community and how the guy had behaved at the scene of the crash with serious injuries etc. I had literally dozens of witnesses to his bizarre and inappropriate behavior both before the crash and during as well.

Talk about psychopaths “not getting it” though, after it came out in the newspaper in the court section that he had filed suit against me, he denied he had done it, he said “Oh, my attorney did it, I didn’t know anything about it.” He did not realize that NO ONE would think he was entitled to a monetary settlement because the plane crashed in his field. He didn’t get it that everyone thought he was EVIL for even filing the suit. THE DO NOT GET how normal people think.


That’s a great story! – and very funny. The Scottish accent is so riduculous, it makes you wonder what these people are thinking! However, I have to say that the lawyer is AT LEAST as bad as he is, and I’m amazed that he would have the nerve to do that. Not really amazed in the absolute sense, but simply out of self interest and “image maintenance,” you would think that he’d realize how bad he was going to look. And all for a measly 50k! (Of which he would get what – half?)

Yes, the nerve of some people: crashing your plane into another guy’s pile of dirt!


Yes, I suppose I’m fairly good at remembering peoples’ stories. But yours does stand out to me – even among the crazy stuff we see here. As I was saying, I think Charles Dickens would have really turned it into something! “The Life and Adventures of Panther Copperfield.” At any rate, your tale certainly has all of Dickens’ favorite themes: eccentric colorful villains, sweatshops (i.e., the psychic hotline thing), tyrannical fathers, etc. etc. And of course, the likeable underdog heroine who (after about 800 pages’ worth of trials and tribulations!) eventually finds her way to happiness….

Yea, Constantine, the thing is the firm is a WELL known one here in Arkansas and one of the founders was a former GOVERNOR. The guy, we refer to him as “crazy Bob” in the neighborhood, (guess who started that nick name!) is slightly related to them, so that may be why they took the case. Also, he showed up at the scene of the crash and behaved VERY inappropriately and In the chaos, I’m afraid I told him in “no uncertain terms” to go away. He went to the phone and instead of calling 911, he called the sheriff’s office and wanted to know what they were going to do about all the damages to his [email protected] The dispatcher told him “Bob, we are trying to save lives here, get the Fark off the phone!” Then he called his insurance agent and wanted to know what they were going to do….all the while, the 911 folks and neighbors were scrambling to help us.

He came back to the site of the crash after the call to his insurance agent and had to be told again to get out of the way of emergency vehicles and personnel and I think he was actually embarrassed to not be the center of attention and to be told to go away. I’m really not sure he doesn’t have some Aspergers going on there as well, because he is very socially incompetent, but also probably some ADHD as well, and the posturing, continual lying to try to puff up his standing in the community and get people to believe he is “someone important.” His lies and tall tales are so “off the wall” no one, even a five year old would believe them.

His family is pretty well to do, his sister owns a huge jewelry store that SHE started (i.e. she didn’t marry into bucks, she made them) but he is pretty socially mal adapted, and doesn’t bathe (you can smell him a mile away) he is also a hoarder of both “stuff” and of animals, which he does not know how to care for. He is malicious though, so I don’t think it is ONLY Aspergers or something on the autistic scale, because he IS malicious. I think under the right circumstances (it wouldn’t take much) that he would be very dangerous.

Dear Onebody. Your story is like Christmas gift for me. It validates my silenced feelings and experiences. And I feel connectedness, precious gift. I went through many therapies, yet, I dont see a way how issues of external validation and emotional connectedness can be resolved. Without it, there is no hope. Wish you peace during the holidays.

SarahPL, You say you don’t see how “issues of external validation and emotional connectedness can be resolved” but that’s the point, we can VALIDATE OURSELVES and CONNECT WITH OURSELVES. We don’t have to have others validate us or even connect with us, we must do these things for ourselves. The other “external validation and connection” is a plus but is not essential. Self validation and self connection is essential.

onebody and SarahPl,
Your comments about lack of hope for children without good parents made me think. I also googled the book about the boy raised as a dog.


A reviewer wrote a comment that I think sheds some light on what you are saying:

…Dr. Perry puts it very simple when he stated in this book:

“For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that “unless you love yourself, no one else will love you.” Women were told that they didn’t need men, and vice versa. People without any relationships were believed to be as healthy as those who had many. These ideas contradict the fundamental biology of human species: we are social mammals and could never have survived without deeply interconnected and interdependent human contact. The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.”

This book is a must read for anyone working with traumatized children, raising healthy children, or just raising each other!

Connie Sirnio, MSW, LCSW
Child and Family Therapist
PsyD Learner in Clinical Psychology
Coos Bay, Oregon

This is a valid point and I don’t have one answer. But I have some thoughts on the subject.

It might be that a belief in a supernatural being who loves us can be a partial substitute for parents. I think for me it is.
Parents are supposed to instill a feeling of safety and the ability to trust, in a child. N-parents do the opposite, so a child grows up afraid, unable to connect, perhaps paranoid, perhaps spath.

If your parents didn’t instill that in you, you must do it for yourself. You must logically convince yourself that the universe has infinite wisdom and it is unfolding as it should and it will continue to do so. In that belief, you will find trust and a universal love. No, it’s not powerful like the love of parents is, but it’s a seed. Plant that seed and nourish it. When you go out to meet people try to feel that universal love and trust. From there, you can grow more trust and love based on the people you meet who love you back.

I’m sorry that you both had inadequate parents. Mine sucked too.
here’s a song for you.

Thank you. I’ve been trying to think of what else to say, but can’t quite get the words together. Just thank you. I wish a peaceful holiday season for you as well.

The fact that we are made to be part of some type of social community might be what I’m getting at. If we don’t have any validation outside of ourselves, then we are sorely lacking a major fundamental human need. This can not be replaced by good thoughts, prayers, plans, faith or actions if we are alone.

Quite a few of us have been isolated from our previous community either through direct actions by the abuser and/or betrayal and abandonment by the rest of our previous friends/family, which shows the need to build a new one. By virtue of what some of us have been through, we’ve also been broken apart to a level that makes it very difficult/impossible to connect to others that have not been through this. And that is even after getting over the hurdle to try to reach out and sort-of trust again.

Just to contradict myself a bit, I am feeling a bit better tonight. I’ve spent some time tonight with (hopefully) a ‘new’ friend (it’s been over 3 months of regular meetings including her) talking about some of the stuff. Even though she doesn’t have kids, she’s shown quite a bit of empathy and has helped me out through listening to me. She’s also been through some similar things, she’s just better than me at hiding it. I have a bit of hope now.

Although it does not negate the pain of being without my kids during this time, maybe it buffers the pain for a little bit. I’m busy with traveling to see my grandmother tomorrow (pray that she doesn’t start accusing me of stuff or rejecting me again, she’s a bit delusional, elderly and sick) – maybe that will help keep my mind off my pain for a while as well – at least until I call my children.

Dare I hope again?

Dare to hope that pain will be gone. I exist now without feelings. Calm and quiet. Confident. I know – there is nothing wrong with me, my feelings or my actions. The feeling of shame, guilt and inadequacy is gone. The feeling of defected self, the shame of not trying hard enough, like Mr Frankl. I did all I can do. The rest does not depend on me. I believe in miracles – because I am the one.

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