Allow me to bring in some parasites into our conversation. It may come as a surprise, but this phenomenon is very useful while looking ат some functions of our internal machinery. The word literally means the one who eats at the table of another. А parasite is in symbiotic relationship with its host meaning that two different organisms are living together in a consumer—resource relationship. There are many extreme examples when the host is completely taken over by a parasite losing all the capabilities to act independently. It can be compared to the feeling of being possessed. Mostly the host is not aware of the fact that he carries a parasite, falling into a complete surrender to the external driver of his actions. Usually parasites are seen as a harmful occurrence but we will discover that it is not always the case.
The feeling of being possessed rings a bell doesn’t it? Sometimes we are falling into a feedback loop of negative thoughts or obsessive behaviours. We lose the sense of control and enter the zone of anxiety, a fear of the unknown. Once we enter that state, our ability to be flexible weakens. The ability to change requires taking risks and we can’t afford it when we are anxious. Cognitive flexibility rests on the intersection of awareness, adaptability and confidence. Our framing of reality becomes rigid and narrow. Possibilities collapse and the number of options in the world starts to decline. And as that happens, problems become impossible to solve - we are blinded and see no options. While the possible moves are melting away, we are more likely to make mistakes, which will reinforce anxiety and here we go - a vicious circle, negative feedback loop. In cognitive science this mechanism is called “parasitic processing”. The whole system acts as a parasite, it takes up life within you, causing your consciousness to contract. But as many things that are done with good intentions (the parasite-host symbiotic relationship), parasitic processing eventually gets us into a deep dark and lonely fortress.
However, I am optimistic about the possibility to turn the negative loop around. We know that if we can spiral, we can do it in both directions. Being in this loop is exhausting - we need to find our way to a source of strength. Imagine. You are coming home after a long, hard day. It is rainy and cold. You are tired and uncomfortable in your body. Now take a warm bath, surrender to water, let it take care of your soreness and tiredness. Instead of continuing to work hard to heal, you allow water to do it for you. Simply let it be and observe how the pressure and anxiety subside. Build strength in your body by letting it rest. Once the immune system of your consciousness feels stronger, realise that being in the fortress of anxiety is one of the choices, one of many. As well as leaving it for good.
It is important to remember that parasites aren’t interested to kill its host, that would be an act of suicide. In its own wicked manner it takes care of the host providing him with two forms of protection: resistance and tolerance. The magic parasitic shield of care can only be enjoyed though if you enjoy yourself already. Once that happen there is peace in the kingdom with everyone living in perfect symbiosis alongside each other.