Negative Programming and Secondary Gain

If you are not conversant with psychology you may not be conversant with some of the terms used in that profession.

“Secondary gain”, which has come up before on previous blogs, happens when someone seems to have the same negative things happen over and over again or just never stop. When someone is living with chronic conditions or situations that are not beneficial and those conditions could be changed but aren’t, it could suspected that there is a reason why. Something is a positive payoff to all the negativity. Example: You get sick a lot. When you are sick you get lots of attention, you don’t have to go to work, your family gives you special treatment and others are kinder to you than usual. If you find that you are getting sicker and sicker more and more often and that it is getting harder to stay well, it may be that you have a feeling that being sick isn’t so bad after all. That’s secondary gain. Until you know you have it and you acknowledge that to yourself, nothing happens. There are all kinds of possible ways that a chronic and apparently negative situation can have a hidden secondary gain.

I am not speaking here of a situation which is really outside personal control, such as being wrongfully in jail, or having a permanent injury that you got by accident and that will not ever heal, or being caught in a situation as a child or teenager that you cannot leave due to your age. I am speaking here of situations that adults find themselves in that they would like to change but somehow fail to do so.

For instance, if I am sick with a “diagnosed condition” and I allow that condition to become the dominant factor of my life, when other people who have the same condition do not routinely do that, there is a secondary gain that makes it worthwhile for me to stay sick and unable to function optimally. I have known people whose lives were always in great distress. One crisis ceases and another one quickly follows. There are always problems, troubles, issues, crises, and stress. Life is absolutely never quiet or calm or joyful or enriching. I have known others who go from illness to illness, (different ones) only getting better long enough to regroup before a new one comes along. (My mother was one of those people). Or people who go from job to job. Or relationship to relationship. The people who have lives like this never see the patterns and never imagine that they have anything at all to do with the patterns. It all seems to come from the outside. They are victims of their circumstances.

I have also known people who have had genuinely terrible things happen to them who just deal with whatever it is and go on. I have known people who have been injured in ways that could easily have stopped them in their tracks but fought hard to come back and succeeded, and these same people barely talked about what it took to do that. They do not feel victimized, they do not feel defeated, they do not feel “why me”? They understand that it’s always best to think, “Why not me?” and go forward.

My own husband had emergency open heart surgery four and a half years ago. From the moment he learned he was going to have his chest sawed open and receive a cow valve that would save his life, he was certain he would be fine and grateful that he was getting a second chance at life. He never had one second of feeling sorry for himself or sad at what happened. (I was a wreck, of course, but I dealt with it, too, as best I could, also grateful for his surgeon and his hospital care and for him and his attitude). Now, at 72, he is in great shape.

So few of us are taught to discipline our thinking. We do not understand how to take responsibility for what we tell ourselves in our own mental talk all day long. If you do not really, diligently, notice the chatter in your head, you are at its mercy. If you constantly think of all the things that could happen, that might happen, that have happened in the past that are bad, you will make yourself sick, just through that. If you do not “hear” your fear, or anger, or sadness, underneath that mental monologue, you will not understand why it is that the very things you are wanting to avoid will keep showing up in various forms.

In the Bible it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was made flesh.” There is a similar passage in the Hindu scriptures using the word sound instead of word. Most Christians interpret this to mean that Jesus was the person who came to spread the Word of God. That’s not my take, however.

The “word” applies equally to all of us. The words we tell ourselves both out loud and in our heads literally create the life we live day by day. It’s like the Little Engine That Could……I THINK I can, I THINK I can. If you think you can’t, you can’t, even if you try. If you think you can, you might still fail, but you would be much more likely to go try again. Glass half full, not empty.

The people who argue with this are the ones who say, “That’s ridiculous. I can’t control everything. It has nothing to do with me or how I think or behave, except that I always have to deal with the X that comes at me.” Yep. If you are afraid of being poor and don’t want to be generous with money because you haven’t got it to share, you are creating poverty because by not giving you tell yourself, I’m broke. Self-replicating cycle. If you are afraid to commit to a relationship because it might be a mistake, or the wrong person, but you want to feel deeply connected to someone so you won’t be afraid to commit, you will continue to be with people who are also afraid that you are not the right person and are afraid, or you will create someone who is passionately committed to you, and that will scare you to death and you will drive the person away. The fear drives the whole pattern as long as you don’t call it by its right name.

So, be very careful with what you say and how you say it, both to yourself and to others. If you sing, your voice carries “extra power” in it, as it is supposed to be deeply connected to your emotions. That, coupled with a clear intention, has the same seed of power as the one that is mentioned in the Bible. In the beginning, there was what I said I would do. Who I said I was, who I say I am, what I say I will do, how I say I will do it. And how I will sing.

Tell the truth, to the best of your ability, and be scrupulous about how you form your phrases and choose your words in your head and out loud. Do not ignore the things you dare not utter, you desire never to speak, or things you wanted to say but never had the chance. Don’t forget to look at the things that were said to you that you did not acknowledge, the things you wish someone had said to you but you never heard, the things you long to say but are afraid to or have not had the opportunity to. All of this can contribute to negative programming and a consequent secondary gain. It also could contribute to vocal problems, speech issues, throat illnesses of various kinds, and a general inability to trust your own word in your life.

No, it isn’t always this way. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But it is more this way than most people realize. To “wake up” means that you understand that you are the driving force of your own life. The sooner you take that as a literal statement, the sooner you will move toward self-satisfaction and fulfillment. If you are a singer, be careful with what you sing, where you sing and how you sing. Be careful about who you sing with, and what they say. It matters.

The power to create is in each of us. Use it wisely.

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