The 5 Principles of EAP
Principle 2 – You Can't Change What You Can't See
The word confess originally meant to acknowledge. This process of acknowledgement is fundamental to sustainable change, and so therefore this principle is about the need for confession. This isn’t a confession enmeshed in shame or guilt, but more of an observation of fact. When a confession is linked with shame and guilt, it comes off the back of beliefs about what it right or wrong and good or bad. When confession is an observation of fact, it is about what is more or less serving. It’s the difference between being naughty and being a duffer. Think back to your childhood and how you felt when you were told that you were naughty. How different was that to when you made a poor choice and your mum said, “Well aren’t you a duffer?” This principle is the ‘duffer’ type of confession, not the ‘naughty’ type.
Pain, in its spectrum of expressions, is evidence that something isn’t serving. It’s a part of the human experience. Suffering is different. When we suffer, it’s because we persist in allowing the thing that caused our pain to continue. If you are a masochist, then it’s by choice, but typically it’s a result of ignorance, when you don’t know what is causing your pain, or you do know, but the effort to change is more painful than what you are currently experiencing.
As a health professional I dealt with people and their pain and suffering every day. In the majority of cases, acute symptoms of pain could be easily traced to a cause, be it anatomical or physiological. But when pain became chronic and brought suffering, then it was a different matter. I was living overseas at the time I was asked to see a woman who had sever sciatic pain. So severe was her pain that she was unable to maintain her job as a secretary because she couldn’t sit for more that half an hour at a time. Her pain was so bad, she was only working a few hours a week. This had been going on for months. Her doctor couldn’t find a cause, even with x-rays and scans, and finally made the decision to do exploratory surgery. Her employer knew of my work and implored her to see me before going through with the surgery, to which she agreed.
Because the doctor couldn’t ‘see’ the cause, he couldn’t change her situation. As a complementary health professional I had utmost respect for my medical colleagues and their knowledge, and decided it was a waste of time looking where they had been looking. So I went to the other end of the sciatic nerve, which terminates as nerves in the lower leg and foot. Palpation of the Fibula bone on the outside of the lower leg showed a slight variation in its placement compared to the other leg. I had seen this with sheep farmers whose legs were bumped by sheep, causing this type of anomaly. I asked the client if she had sprained her ankle or hurt her lower leg to which she exclaimed, “I have been trying to tell the doctor that this started with me twisting my ankle, and he wouldn’t listen to me.” To cut a long story short, her pain was resolved in two treatments because I could see the cause. In this case, the doctor couldn’t see the cause and was unable to bring the changes that would relieve her pain.
In the same way that Buddha taught ignorance (not being able to see differently) could result in disease, Jesus explained that if you could see, hear and understand with more awareness, then healing was possible. This was one of things taught in his Sermon on the Mount. Like Buddha he also taught the Three Poisons but his version was called the Parable of the Sower. Buddha taught Four Noble Truths. The first Noble Truth stated that as humans, we suffer. His second Noble Truth stated that we suffer because of that to which we are attached. This attachment wasn’t referring to the behaviour, so much as it was alluding to a belief. Let me use dieting as an example.
People who are overweight can typically lose weight through a combination of exercise and dietary changes. It should be sufficient that people only need to do this once, but the weight of evidence would suggest otherwise. Talk to any dieter, and you’ll find out that they have tried a plethora of diets, where they could lose weight, but then put it all back on again. It was nearly like they were attached to their fat! Given the intent of this second principle, this would suggest that those dieting couldn’t change what was happening because they couldn’t see what was causing it. There has to be more to the cure than managing calories in and calories out.
So if people aren’t attached to their fat, what then is this attachment that Buddha talks about and that Jesus identified in his parable? This is what people can’t see, and why things don’t change, sustainably. It’s not the food that they are attached to, its how the food makes them feel when they eat it that they are attached to. It’s the way food can fill any empty emotional space as much as it can fill the stomach. Resolve the emotional emptiness and the relationship with food changes. The weight takes care of itself. I know, I used to be 143kg, and now I am 88kg and am not dieting. I am mindful about how I eat, in other words, I make self-loving choices about my food, and as much as I have enhanced my awareness about food and food choices, I don’t do ‘a diet’. What I resolved was my emotional attachment around food. Once I could see that, then I could change it. Until then, nothing could change. I am not suggesting for one moment that this is the cause of every obesity problem.
If life continues to be about suffering, it’s because you can’t see what needs to change. Often times we need help to do this and EAP has a lovely ‘self-confessing’ framework that makes this capacity to see more clearly, simply possible. It’s designed to help you see how you have been a duffer as opposed to being naughty. This willingness to self-confess is the first step in bringing the freedom from your suffering. The Buddha’s third Noble Truth says that you can be free of suffering, and his fourth Noble Truth says that it can happen NOW!
This Weeks Video
Read More From This Series on the 5 Principles of EAP
Part 1 – Your Body is a Symbol of Consciousness
Part 3 – Healing Is Listening
Part 4 – When Something Is Authentically Observed, It Changes
Part 5 - Transformation Happens Like A Ripple Across A Pond