I hear a story about a behavioral experiment that was conducted in a lab:
There is a dog in a cage. Scientists rig one side of the cage so that every time the dog goes to that side of the cage she will get an electrical shock.
Soon enough, the dog learns to stay on the other side of the cage.
Within a few weeks, the scientists re-wire the cage so that she’ll get shocked on the side she was conditioned to stay on pain-free. As predicted, the dog learns to lay down on the opposite, formerly electrified side of the cage.
After a time the scientists rig the entire cage so that no matter where the dog lays down, she will receive an electrical shock. At first, the dog paces around madly. Tries again and again to find a place with no pain. Eventually, the dog learns to put up with the shocks and lays down anyhow. Gives up trying to be comfortable and becomes zombie like. The dog no longer behaves like a dog, but more like a wounded ghost.
The scientists open the cage and get the biggest surprise of all. The dog does not rush toward the door. The dog stays inside the cage. She has been conditioned to the pain of her “home.” She has been shocked into submission.
When I hear this story (in a movie I watch last night), I shudder. I cannot stop thinking about it. It is painfully familiar...
Conditioning. What we learn and try to re-learn. Make adjustments and then re-learn again. If it hurts when we do this, then we do that. It is when it still hurts no matter what we do that we must pay attention.
When I was with the disordered one the rules were constantly changing. I never knew which side of the cage would give me a shock. I was always changing my behavior based on avoiding a shock, but eventually, the entire cage was electrified. There was pain everywhere and I somehow learned to live with it, expect it almost. It was killing me and destroying who I was, so I became a zombie in order to endure. A ghost...
He opened the door time and again through a variety of very clever and subtle D & Ds. Shocked though I was, I did not exit the cage. I had grown accustomed to the environment, believed I “needed to stay” to fix things, to make it comfortable no matter how much it hurt. I could no longer recognize myself, nor anything remotely good. I came to expect more pain, and that’s exactly what I got.
It wasn’t until I absolutely had no choice but to abandon the cage that I somehow found the strength and courage to do so. It was truly a matter of survival.
Exiting the cage has brought me back to life. Exiting the cage restored my true nature, my instincts, my spirit, my joy.
What is the moral here?
Leave the cage when the first shocks begin. There is no safety zone when you’re involved with a mad scientist who comes into your life disguised as your “soul mate.” Love does not equal pain! Walking around and around the cage on tiptoes won’t help. You’ll get shocked over and over and over again.
LOVE DOES NOT EQUAL PAIN!
Conditioning isn’t rocket science and mad scientists count on their abilities to condition us through THEIR BEHAVIOR to put up with the pain. Catching you off guard, keeping you off kilter, hyper-vigilant and always anxious is the goal, for it guarantees the optimal results in their twisted world of confusion.
Conditioning is based on behavior/response. I now know that if I behave in a way that HONORS MYSELF first, I receive the reward of peace of mind, self-esteem, and joy and awe at the wonders of living. Life without pain! Freedom from confusion! Conditioned response, re-learned in the light.
The truth is pretty simple. Love does not equal pain.