The Cribbage Conundrum: Lie-based Presenting ProblemsJuly 4, 2006
For those reading this who are not familiar with cribbage, the analogy might fall down so let me give the 30 second cribbage player’s manual (or you could go here). In cribbage, there are two ways to score…through combinations of cards (pairs, three of a kind) and cards that add to 15 (ten and five, king and five, etc.). These are counted at the end. The second way to score is playing against your opponent. You play all the cards in your hand, and the one who gets nearest to 31 scores points. That’s basically the rules.
My dad would regularly beat me at cribbage, even if I had better cards. He knew how to “point” much better than I. (Pointing is the counting to 31 part). In cribbage, you can take any combination of cards and end up at the same place. Or you can take the same hand and get much different results (as my dad and I proved). This is very similar to “presenting problems” in the understanding of lie-based thinking.
The theory of lie-based thinking teaches that lies we believe as children (which we do not discard entering adulthood) will cause problems in the present day. These are called “presenting problems”. For instance: If we believe that everyone is going to abandon us, we may find ourselves entering relationship after relationship and having everyone abandon us. (See this entry on “Projecting our lies“). The lie manifests somehow in the present moment.
But here is the conundrum. Some lies may have different manifestations, and much different lies can have the same manifestation. Just as in cribbage, you can score differently with the same cards, you can have different results from the same lie. This is why it is unwise to try and guess what someone’s “lie” must be based upon their presenting problem. In the same way also that in cribbage you can get the same results using much different cards, you can have vastly different lies that all show up with the same problems in a person’s life. This makes it difficult after doing a Theophostic session to determine if the person is completely set free. They may continue to have some of the same presenting problems that are manifesting out of different lies. Let me use some case studies to illustrate.
Let’s begin with a universal lie: The fear that we will be rejected. Most people struggle with that lie some of the time. It is a difficult one to try and “diagnose” because it can take many forms in the present. The person may develop workaholic tendencies (to fend off rejection disasters). They may become a “clown”, making people laugh (to divert rejection tendencies in others). They may carry low-level depression, become a people-pleaser, take illegal drugs, cut themselves off from others, develop a fantasy world, struggle with marrying abusers – all from the same lie. This is why I warn those I am training in Theophostic not to try and predict what a person’s core lie might be before going through the process with them.
But let’s look at the other side of that conundrum. Can you have different lies manifest with similar symptoms in the present in the same person? It happens very regularly. Primarily it happens with people who tend to maintain a lot of control over their lives. They allow themselves certain “problems” and not others. Therefore, every lie will manifest with those problems. This can happen with certain eating disorders as an example. Assume a person has these three core lies: They believe something is wrong with them; they believe people are going to hurt them; they are afraid of others taking control of their life. Each of these lies can result in anorexia as a presenting problem. How?
Lie 1: Something is wrong with me. This is the easiest one. Every time this person looks in the mirror, this lie operates. They see a fat person and therefore they stop eating to compensate. The lie leads to anorexia.
Lie 2: People are going to hurt me. This releases fear of relationships. The fear of relationships fights against the need for intimacy. So they go back and forth pushing people away and wanting people to come near. When people do draw near, they must do something to push them away. The fear of being hurt triggers an emotional response to want to take control of their life. Since they do that most regularly through anorexia, they go back to it.
Lie 3: I need to take control. Every time life seems out of control, instead of controlling those factors, they ignore the factors and control what is easiest to control: intake of calories.
In each of these scenarios, a different lie with a different set of memories is involved. If you go through a Theophostic session to deal with lie-based thinking, you might think that by getting rid of the first lie that anorexia will disappear. Then it shows up next month and you might conclude that the Theophostic process does not work. But wait: If you check yourself to see if it feels true that there is something wrong with you, you find that this lie does not feel true any more. That is when you must come to the understanding that several different lies can have the same presenting problem. This will help to then focus on the lies and not the presenting problems when measuring progress.