How to stop suffering and find tranquility

How to stop suffering and find tranquility
Metacognitive Programming

In the first episode, I told you about Ignaz Semmelweis, the doctor who saved thousands of mothers. I want to return to this topic and explain what's behind child and maternal mortality rates. In this episode, I want to teach you to hear behind the words. You'll know the reason for the peace in my life and learn how to get it for yourself. I'll show you that the best therapy is to accept reality factually. Facts are the source of mental peace.

In the first episode, we talked about maternal mortality. Today we will start with infant mortality. A country's child mortality rate measures the number of children who die before reaching the age of five. The International Health Organization measures every country's infant mortality rate annually. For example, in Afghanistan, 60 for every thousand children died in 2019. In Burkina Faso, 87. In Japan, 2.

These numbers tell us a lot about what's happening in each country, and we can draw a conclusion about the health, economy, education, and development of their societies. If child mortality is low, it means that children are drinking clean water, getting vaccinated, being well-fed, and living in a safe environment. To do so, the country must have an educated society and good infrastructure in which an ambulance can arrive in minutes, not hours.

On average, it takes countries 10 to 30 years to halve child mortality. In Mexico, where 14 children per thousand die annually, it would take about 30 years to reach the same level of safety as in Finland, where fewer than three children per thousand die every year.

But here's what's interesting: Child mortality in Estonia is as low as in Cuba, Croatia, Canada, and Denmark. While we know that economically, Denmark or Canada are ahead of Cuba and Estonia, in terms of children's health, there's almost no difference. The numbers give us more facts and less speculation.

Metacognitive Programming and the Concept of CEDRA

I want you to start seeing reality factually, without stories. Rather than giving too much attention to the words, pay attention to the reasons for their occurrence. This is called "hearing behind the words."

In metacognitive programming, we use a tool that helps us hear beyond words. It's called CEDRA.

You may remember my story about perception from the first lesson. Everything we see or perceive with the other four senses is a circumstance. A circumstance is factual and neutral. It doesn't mean anything good or anything bad.

But in our heads, we assign value to the circumstance by telling a story to ourselves about it. If the meaning matches what we think the world should look like, we experience either neutral or positive emotions. If it doesn't match, we experience negative emotions.

When you experience negative emotions, it's an act of resistance to reality. You are hurt because reality doesn't match your instructions about the world. Reality thus places you in a stalemate because you can't argue with it. However, your brain, which uses the senses to evaluate reality, prefers its perception of reality over reality itself. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. The only way out is to stop distorting reality and start accepting it.

I recently led a business training session in Dubai and went to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi when I had some free time. This mosque was built after the death of the Sheikh. Our guide told me that Muslims try not to cry at funerals because crying is resistance to the will of God. I was very impressed by this. We suffer when we resist reality, but the universe loves us so much it allows us to stop suffering when we stop distorting it.

Learning from Emotions and Life Circumstances Using CEDRA

So what have we learned so far? That facts evoke meanings in us, and these meanings will evoke emotions - negative if reality contradicts our instructions to the world and positive if it matches or exceeds them.

Emotions will demand a reaction from you. Positive emotions want you to keep doing what you are doing; negative emotions make you want to avoid the situation, freeze so that you are not seen, or destroy it. If you're successful, this leads to a new circumstance, as you have managed to modify reality.

I read about a study in which a patient had the connection between his emotional and thought centers surgically severed, resulting in an inability to make decisions. When there's no access to emotions, we can't understand what to do - to approach the goal or move away.

Now let's talk about why CEDRA is such a useful tool.

CEDRA is an acronym that breaks down as follows:

C - circumstances
E - emotions
D - dissonance
R - reactions
A - aftermath

Any behavior of any person can be dissected using CEDRA.

For example, you have made food for your child, but he refuses to eat it.

The circumstance is the fact that the plate is full. The meaning will be the thought that the child is disobedient or naughty. If you believe that the child should obey you, and the reality looks different,  you will feel annoyed. Irritation, like any negative emotion, indicates your resistance to reality - dissonance. Annoyance might make you try to dominate by screaming, perhaps. This will be your reaction. The aftermath is the child crying. When you see your CEDRA, you will understand that every time you think the child is acting up, it will lead to tears if you don't change your reaction and perception.

CEDRA is a way to predict life based on patterns of behavior. The more you see your CEDRAs, the more often you'll choose constructive responses. In the case of the disobedient child, a constructive response would be to allow him to eat as much or as little as he wants and involve him in the cooking next time. The more constructive your reactions are, the closer you'll be to your goals. You'll rely more on your values and less on primitive instincts.

The Power of Perception and the Journey to Peace

We started this episode with facts. Understanding what is a fact and what is not is the most important criterion in hearing behind the words. Facts are circumstances about which everyone agrees and which everyone perceives without distortion. If only some agree on a fact, then it becomes an opinion or meaning.

For example, everyone agrees on the color of the sky or the sun. A fact can be proven in a courtroom. Facts are accurate and objective.

If you say that your partner is difficult, is that a fact or an opinion? It's easy here, right? Of course, it's an opinion. If you say, "I don't have enough money," is this fact or opinion? It's also an opinion because your "not enough" would be more than enough for another person. When in doubt, Google what life looks like in Sudan, where people live on less than a dollar a day.

Thus, the first step to peace is to perceive the world factually. Perception of reality without distortion is the best self-therapy in the world.

The second step is to see your instructions by understanding the meanings. When you can see another person's instructions, you understand their mental construct and inner world. This is a superpower.

What happens when you have instructions for the world in your head? Remember the above example about the child who should obey you and eat. Once you discover this CEDRA, you understand that if you believe the child should obey you, you'll become irritated and try to break him. This type of thinking greatly limits you. No one knows what a child needs and what is best for his development.

This episode introduced you to the second principle. The next principle is to go to the end. We'll discuss emotional regulation and how to use your emotions instead of being ruled by them.