Dead Weight


Lugging around heavy meanings
to otherwise neutral terms.

In the Double Bind Study, we got a chance to see how destructive it can be to intertwine two ideas together without thinking through the consequences of such a marriage of meanings. In this section, we’ll be delving deeper into how our minds go about understanding the world and how we can catch ourselves from developing beliefs that wreak all sorts of havoc. Lucky for us, Greg was carrying around a whole lot of Dead Weight, giving us ample material to explore.

     Chana: Are there any other beliefs in the survey that stand out for you?

     Greg: Yeah. “If I ask for help, people will think I’m weak.”

     Chana: How highly did you identify with that one?

     Greg: I scored a 9 out of 10.

     Chana: I notice you clenching your eyes.

     Greg: I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

     Chana: So if you need advice on how to build your business…?

     Greg: I’d try to figure it out on my own.

     Chana: And how has that been working for you?

     Greg: I fumble a lot. I’ve learned so much the hard way.

     Chana: You’ve had to; you’re carrying around Dead Weight.

     Greg: What do you mean?

     Chana: You’ve equated seeking help with weakness.

     Greg: It’s another Double Bind. I can either get help and be weak or
struggle on my own and be strong.

      Chana: Exactly. You’ve got it.

      Greg: So what’s the Dead Weight?

      Chana: It’s a ball-and-chain you’ve attached to a word or concept. You
know you’re carrying around Dead Weight when something you desire is dragging around something you loathe. They’re entangled with each other, which makes you feel twisted up inside.

     Greg: Yes, that’s exactly how I feel. Tight and nauseous.

     Chana: So, when you believe that if you ask for help, people will think
you’re weak, what’s the thing you desire?

     Greg: If I were honest with myself, asking for help would probably lead
me towards success much faster than doing it alone.

     Chana: Exactly, help is your target. The Dead Weight is the thing you’re avoiding.

     Greg: Weakness.

     Chana: The fear of weakness is so heavy, it keeps you from moving forward.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we talk about three ways the mind develops its map (story and beliefs about the self, life, and the universe)and processes the outside world.

We use Generalizations to quickly make sense of world.

It’s helpful to assume that the round thing in front of the driver seat in my car will function just like the round thing in a rental car so that I don’t have to rediscover the steering wheel every time I get into a vehicle. However, it can be destructive to use one negative experience with a man as the basis for the belief that “All men are jerks.”

We use Distortion to alter reality to suit our beliefs.

I can walk into a run-down apartment and helpfully use distortion to imagine how it would look with some touch-ups and a new coat of paint. Conversely, I can also use this faculty to harmfully alter how I hear another person’s offer for assistance as an attempt to manipulate me instead.

We use Deletion to filter out stimuli that don’t serve our beliefs

As I focus on writing these words, it’s important for me to ignore the rustling of leaves outside my window or the subtle temperature change brought on by my air conditioner. To my detriment, though, deletion might cause me to ignore a phone call from a new acquaintance if I believe that “No one wants to be my friend.”

As we notice these processes at work, we can viscerally understand how our consciousness is creating its version of reality minute by minute. We cannot keep our minds from generalizing, distorting, and deleting information, lest we go mad. What we can do is examine the beliefs that make up our maps. As is true with all Dead Weight beliefs, Greg has used generalization to make a sweeping assumption about what it means to seek help. He probably developed this belief at a young age, before he ever had a chance to examine its wisdom. Since then, he’s been distorting and deleting his experience of reality to only notice the people who have been weakened by the assistance of others, rather than strengthened by it.

     Greg: It’s hard for me to imagine how asking for help isn’t weak though. Doesn’t it mean there’s something wrong with me?

     Chana: I hear how strongly you believe that. It’s why Inquiry is going to help you. I’m going to mirror your question back to you. Does asking for help mean there’s something wrong with you?

     Greg: Yes. It feels like it.

     Chana: Now I’d like you to engage your intellect. Can you absolutely know that it’s true that asking for help means you’re weak?

     Greg: I still want to say yes.

     Chana: Thank you for your honesty. That’s all we’re seeking here. Now, how do you react when you believe that asking for help means there’s something wrong with you?

     Greg: Tight. I want to hide my face in my hands. I want to get small and hide.

     Chana: What are you unable to do when you believe the thought?

     Greg: I for sure can’t ask for help. I think I get dumber, too. It’s like I can’t even ask myself for help. I don’t feel so competent or resourceful.(Eyes pop up.)

     Chana: Why did your eyes just pop up?

     Greg: I just realized how weak I sound. It’s like I’m already weak even
without asking for help. I get so small from the fear of looking weak that it’s hard to get anything done.

     Chana: I think you’re ready to offer alternatives to this belief. What’s the opposite of asking for help means there’s something wrong with you?

     Greg: Asking for help means there’s nothing wrong with me?

     Chana: Yes. Give me three reasons that’s true.

     Greg: I made my best friend in college by asking this kid on the quad who was playing bongos to teach me how to play. He was so excited to share what he knew, and we bonded over it.

     Chana: Two more.

     Greg: Hmm…. I can’t think of anything.

     Chana: Do you ever hire an expert to do any of your work for you?

     Greg: I hire an accountant to do my taxes. I guess that’s seeking help. I never thought of it that way though.

     Chana: Why not?

     Greg: I guess what would mean admitting that I was getting help. Then I would never get an accountant, and I’d have really messed up tax filing.

     Chana: So you made up a story that hiring an accountant is not “seeking help” so that you could still feel good about the decision.

     Greg: Yeah. Oh. I just thought of something. My clients ask me for help all the time. It’s why they hire me.

     Chana: And do you think there’s something wrong with them?

     Greg: Actually, I think they’re smart for hiring a consultant to do in a few hours what it would take them months to learn how to do. It just seems efficient.

     Chana: So you help people for a living. You work with people who are seeking help all the time and –

     Greg: And I never see them as weak for asking for help. I actually get annoyed with the ones who pretend to know more than they do and don’t ask for clarification or assistance. Ha!

     Chana: Why’d you laugh?

     Greg: I just realized that asking for help doesn’t make my clients weak; it makes them strong! I love working with the ones who ask clarifying questions and get the best results by applying what I teach them.

     Chana: How do you feel?

     Greg: Like twenty million bricks have just rolled off my shoulders. I’ve been hiding from experts like myself who are so eager to teach what they know, and I’ve held myself back so much!

     Chana: What do you want to do?

     Greg: I want to be real with people. I want to ask for help when I need it. But I also want to apply what I learn and make my teachers glad they invested in me.

     Chana: Do you feel done with this topic?

     Greg: Yes, thank you.

     Chana: My pleasure.

Greg had woven together two concepts: seeking assistance and weakness. Asking for help is a neutral term; it doesn’t mean anything other than what we choose to attach to it. Weakness became Dead Weight that didn’t allow Greg to live freely and ask for the help that could have propelled him forward. As he let that old ball-and-chain go, he became free to seek assistance simply because he wanted it and saw the wisdom in learning from those more experienced than himself. Once he freed himself from the shackles of weakness, Greg became a voracious reader, enrolled in business and marketing courses, and hired a business coach to help take his consultancy to the next level.

Summary of Dead Weight

When we’ve attached a negative meaning to something we need or want, we know we’re carrying around Dead Weight. By questioning our thinking, we can disentangle the assumption that what we desire is wrong or unattainable, unshackle our Dead Weight, and free ourselves to ask, receive, and enjoy the blessings in store for us.

Like what you’ve read? You can learn Dead Weight along with 21 other tools in my book, Hold That Thought. Download a free copy of the book here.

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