Chuck Lorre produced a TV show called Dharma and Greg. I video taped (remember VCR’s?) the first episode. At the end of the show, I saw a blip on the screen and wondered what kind of subliminal message was just zapped into my brain. Freeze framing the blip, I saw Chuck’s first “Vanity Card.” The opening line hooked me forever: “Thank you for videotaping “Dharma & Greg” and freeze-framing on my vanity card.” You can read all his cards at www.chucklorre.com. Here is one of those cards.
CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #77 Once again, I’m sitting in an impossibly bad mood. This one’s gone beyond the normal mental stew of fear, depression and resentment, and has morphed into a nasty physical sensation encompassing my entire body. The reason for the mood is almost besides the point. To the best of my knowledge, I have no power to change the conditions which brought it about. Which leaves me where? Well, as far as I can tell, it leaves me with nothing but these ugly feelings, a desire to be free of them, and the knowledge that I have never been able to lift myself out of my emotional state through the force of my will (the force of bourbon, sure — but the force of my will, never). The only thing I have even the vaguest control over is my attitude which preceded the precipitating, bad mood-causing event. That attitude could best be described as a fiercely held conviction that people are supposed to behave in a Chuck-approved manner. When they don’t, Chuck immediately becomes the organic repository for the aforementioned bad mood. Now one might deduce that my only escape from these foul states of mind is to discard my fiercely held conviction. But to do that, I’d have to lovingly accept a world that infrequently lives up to my expectations. In other words, I’d have to be somewhat God-like (assuming an all-forgiving God). Which means that in vanity card #78 I’ll have to start working on a plan ‘B’.
I hope I haven’t violated any copyright laws, but if that’s what it takes to one day meet Chuck, so be it. I’m only one degree of separation from him. We’ve both attended Fred Shoemaker’s Extraordinary Golf School. I want to thank Chuck for writing what I think is the emotional unified field theory explaining rage and anxiety. Chuck, you’re right. If I’m even slightly irritated or completely outraged, it’s because the world is not operating in an Eddie approved manner. It’s that simple. This idea helps me enormously. Much of the time, I can just step back from my fuming and see that others are entitled to their way of seeing the world. I figure the guy who cuts me off in traffic really has to pee.
Chuck’s theory also explains anxiety. It works like this. I believe a lot of different parts inhabit each of us. Some of them make up the ongoing committee meeting in our head. Those parts are the conscious ones who decide to show up so they can nag, argue and just plain annoy. Just like some companies and governments, there are a number of unconscious parts who really run things and the conscious parts are just trying to explain our strange behavior. Maybe more on that later. Read Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, by David Eagleman.
One of the most conscious parts sits in constant judgment. Mostly it’s berating what you do or don’t do. As I write this, one of those parts is asking me, “Why haven’t you worked out already? You’ve got to get going so you can eat on time and don’t forget to go to the recycling center. Hurry up! You can write this later,” all in a condescending tone. I call him the production manager.
The PM commands other parts to act. They in turn react as if there are only two choices, comply or rebel. When they do their best to comply, it’s never enough. The PM is never satisfied. So after listening to the constant nagging, they act like they don’t care, but can’t completely ignore the production manager. So they feel anxious and worried about the next barrage of insults and a lengthening to do list. To some degree, those parts live under a constant threat. So most of the anxiety we experience is self-induced. The “terrorists” in our heads do more damage than any outside threat. It’s nerve racking for that nagging part to see so much undone. It’s equally irritating to be forced to listen to that urgent, harassing voice. Not only is escaping from this pattern difficult, most of us see it as normal and know no other way.