Some people have ‘open’ neurologies which enable them to deftly move through increasing levels of flexibility. Others are arrested at a particular consciousness level, although this may simply mean that they need to gather experience to move onwards.
Some people, however, have a closed neurology. The potential to change hasn’t left them. They have decided to stop where they are and not explore further.
Those who remain firmly stuck in exactly the same position are holding onto a particular benefit they get in that position. There’s a certain value, something that’s important to them, to keep them lodged in their current thinking. This is called secondary gain.
Better the devil you know?
Common examples are the person who says they would like to be free of a past trauma, yet keep such a firm grip on it at all costs! Maintaining the traumatic emotions and memories is somehow important for them. Maybe it gives them a sense of purpose, maybe they get attention from others because of it, or maybe they think it’s better the devil you know.
Getting rid of a problem changes your thinking and changes you. There could be a reason they hold back from becoming the new version of them. Fear of the loss of identity being the most common one.
Another example is the rider who wouldn’t really want to lose their nerves, because then they’d have to do all the riding they tell people they’re good at! Or a smoker who believes that to stop smoking would mean piling on the pounds.
Nobody can help a person to change if secondary gain is operating. The pull of staying arrested in that thinking is far too strong.
To help someone move forwards, the person has to acknowledge the secondary gain. For many people, this is something they immediately dismiss!
Logically, for a person to loosen or lose that secondary gain, they have to realise that it’s detrimental to them and to their well-being.
The secondary gain is mostly a reflection of something that is most valued to them. It could be an unfulfilled value – acceptance of themselves, acceptance by others, attention from others, feeling loved, self-love etc. They are clinging onto a problem, because their neurology is able to deal with the situation to some extent and cope.
If the person is willing to see a more constructive way of moving through their secondary gain, then they can distil down what they gained from the problem (or what they think they gained) and open up their neurology to new ideas and change. It’s about bringing the problem into their consciousness and reframing it.
There may be something emerging on the horizon for them that puts them outside of their comfort zone, but which brings so much more to their life. It’s a scary move to make, but can be an expansion that’s been long-awaited or longed-for and is long-overdue!
I’m curious, can you identify any secondary gain in yourself?
I know that in the past, I’ve held onto problem situations for too long, before I knew anything of mindset work. I know it was like being on a 1 metre square life raft in the middle of the sea, yet a boat was within swimming distance. Do I chance swimming for the boat and losing my raft or stay on the raft, with little hope of food, water or self-rescue?, but where I’m safe for now? Let me know, I would love to hear your stories. If you’d like to write your story into a blog, that would be super-inspirational to share!
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