The White Bear Problem

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SamBee
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The White Bear Problem

Post by SamBee » 04 Jan 2018, 11:10

In an experiment in the 1980s, a group of students were told not to think about a white bear for the next few minutes. All of them failed. I tried this on myself, and thought of one instantly.

Now, I do not want anyone to guess what I am talking about here. And I especially don't want you to relate this paradox to church moral instruction.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Jan 2018, 11:56

You almost lost me on that one Sam, but I get it. You make a good point. But there are things we need to know about bears - white or not - that can only be understood if we think about them.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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LookingHard
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by LookingHard » 04 Jan 2018, 11:59

Yep. I found the same thing. I have found that a different method works MUCH MUCH MUCH better. I don't shame myself for ANY of my thoughts that pop into my head. I just try to objectively look at my thoughts and if they are something I don't want to do, I just kind of chuckle and say to myself, "isn't that odd that my brain thinks of that" and the thought generally go away. It sure works better than feeling bad that my wacky brain has weird (and even perverse) things I will never actually do.

The same general method has helped me with porn. I no longer shame myself for having desires for that. If people like me didn't have sexual drives the species would have died out a long time ago. I just figure I could look at porn if I wanted to, but won't look at porn today. That has turned it around for me.

I have come to a conclusion that fighting some parts of the "natural man" head-on is a losing battle. It almost always throws me into a downward shame cycle. I decided that isn't working for me.

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DarkJedi
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Jan 2018, 12:33

I'm with you there LH. I call it letting go of the guilt, but it's the same principle. There's no sense in people beating themselves up over things that are natural. Likewise for some of the conservative Christian/Puritan ideals that have crept into our "doctrine" (and aren't really doctrine at all) - buying a lottery ticket, for example. I do recognize that some people do have problems with addictions, including porn or gambling as well as alcohol and tobacco - but that doesn't make them sins. I do believe that letting of of the guilt associated with these things can help with the healing process.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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SamBee
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by SamBee » 04 Jan 2018, 13:06

DarkJedi wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 11:56
You almost lost me on that one Sam, but I get it. You make a good point. But there are things we need to know about bears - white or not - that can only be understood if we think about them.
True... it is good to be aware of them, but to fixate on something is not the best way to deal with it.

Did you ever try to be absolutely still and quiet as a child for any amount of time? I swear it was really hard. You have to move. You have to scratch that itch. You'd be quieter and stiller waiting for a bus - at least you'd be thinking about something else.

LH points out what our White Bear in the church is - the big P. And there are others.

The best way is not to say "I will not think about a white bear. I will not think about a white bear," or even going round saying "I'm doing really well not thinking about white bears"... it is to actually start doing other things to draw your mind away from it.

Of course as LH says, thinking about something is not quite the same as doing it. But Jesus (and Buddha!) also remind us that thoughts can lead to deeds. There is a two step problem here and I think we don't address the first problem well, especially when it is instinctual.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by Curt Sunshine » 04 Jan 2018, 16:14

It is ironic that "hum your favorite hymn" actually is decent advice - simply because it substitutes something else in place of whatever the original thought was.

I agree that letting go of guilt about being human is liberating and empowering. Urges are normal. So are some actions we mistakenly call sin - except when those actions draw someone away from God. I believe that is an individual line and an individual judgment in more cases than we collectively tend to allow, even as I believe in the principle of (some) communal standards.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Jan 2018, 17:20

Curt Sunshine wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 16:14
It is ironic that "hum your favorite hymn" actually is decent advice - simply because it substitutes something else in place of whatever the original thought was.

I agree that letting go of guilt about being human is liberating and empowering. Urges are normal. So are some actions we mistakenly call sin - except when those actions draw someone away from God. I believe that is an individual line and an individual judgment in more cases than we collectively tend to allow, even as I believe in the principle of (some) communal standards.
To illustrate this point, a few weeks ago I was involved in a conversation about the Sabbath. Someone mentioned how busy she was on Sundays - church, which includes traveling in her stake calling, she's a Sunday ARP facilitator, and was at the time doing the self reliance classes which were on Sunday (the SP has since put a kibosh on both of those being on Sunday), and sometimes other meetings. I commented that having a day like that doesn't seem very worshipful to me and that I didn't think it was really keeping the Sabbath. She took some offense and said something to the offense that she found her Sabbaths to be very worshipful, thank you very much. (1. apparently the SP at least in part agreed with me; 2. if she really thought that way was she telling everyone how busy she was?) The point is that I find that kind of day to nothing at all a delight - but she apparently found some delight in it. Keeping the Sabbath is really up to us.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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LookingHard
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by LookingHard » 04 Jan 2018, 20:53

Curt Sunshine wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 16:14
It is ironic that "hum your favorite hymn" actually is decent advice - simply because it substitutes something else in place of whatever the original thought was.
I have heard of some that after doing this for quite a while they eventually got to where when their favorite hymn was sung at church, it did a bit of an Alma 32:27 on them "aroused their faculties"! :? :oops: :? :oops:

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SamBee
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by SamBee » 05 Jan 2018, 03:59

LookingHard wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 20:53
Curt Sunshine wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 16:14
It is ironic that "hum your favorite hymn" actually is decent advice - simply because it substitutes something else in place of whatever the original thought was.
I have heard of some that after doing this for quite a while they eventually got to where when their favorite hymn was sung at church, it did a bit of an Alma 32:27 on them "aroused their faculties"! :? :oops: :? :oops:
The mind is a strange thing. When I was a teenager I got into the habit of listening to classical music when I went to bed. The only problem with this is that it meant that some of the music would send me to sleep when listening to it at other times. It took me years to break that conditioning.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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LookingHard
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Re: The White Bear Problem

Post by LookingHard » 05 Jan 2018, 11:13

SamBee wrote:
05 Jan 2018, 03:59
When I was a teenager I got into the habit of listening to classical music when I went to bed. The only problem with this is that it meant that some of the music would send me to sleep when listening to it at other times. It took me years to break that conditioning.
That is me and most hymns, but I have never shaken it.

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