Thinking about the word “don’t” When someone says to you “don’t “, like don’t relax, you “try” to relax and that creates tension in the body. It could work for you as you see the opposite of that and “relax”, however, that is seeing or responding in the abstract, and not all of us can do it. There could be an enormous number of “instead of’s” that cancel out the “don’ts”.
However, according to Denise McCluggage (The Centered Skier), and former race car driver, she says “when an exploring two year old is told “don’t touch the flowers”; he immediately puts his hand out to touch the flowers, it is not because he is rebellious or stubborn. A sensory basis for such a polarity response to instruction exists.
The reason: we experience our world through direct contact of our senses, see, hear, taste, smell, touch. We feel fur on our face, we smell bacon cooking, we hear a flute playing, we see trees swaying in the wind. These are all concrete experiences. One the other hand the absence of something is an “abstraction”. To perceive the absences of something (negative presence), we first have to think of the “position”…its presence.
“What happens in your head when you hear, “the dog didn’t chase the car”. Think about it. Interesting how people respond. Ask your friends. Some will see the dog sitting on the curb (an alternative action). Or I see a dog chasing a car with a diagonal line across the whole scene, like a highway sign – don’t turn with a diagonal red line across it. The highway signs refer to an action and then they negate it with the diagonal red line.”
So, in all cases the forbidden act has to be acknowledged before it can be negated. For some folks the abstract of negation isn’t available, therefore “don’t touch the flowers” and touch the flowers are the same thing. Or “don’t think of a green monkey” and “think of a green monkey” has the same outcome.
As you go through your week, see what “don’ts” you hear in your head or are told. Have you ever been walking down a steep hill, and thought “don’t fall down”, and you “fall down”
“Coming back to “don’t relax” with some more insights, “don’t relax” on two levels, accessing what “relax” means and then relieving you of the tension of “trying to relax”
Don’t relax is in a sense “relaxing”….”