5 Positive Cognition Training
“The more I study, the more insatiable do I feel my genius for it to be.”
The traditional method of child training is negative cognition training. Bad things will happen if one doesn’t do as instructed in negative cognition training. A common cognitive distortion is to react and not teach one’s child any boundaries whatsoever. This is also incorrect, as the child is being set up with the belief that their world has no boundaries. The opposite of negative cognition training is not boundary free training. The opposite is Positive Cognition Training (PCT).
Training with positive emotional experiences is not over-saturating a person with compliments prior to feedback. Training with positive cognition involves developing a positive relationship with the feelings of pain and frustration.
In athletic training the body is strained physically which creates the feeling of physical pain. The physical pain from athletic training is the muscles engorging with blood and splitting. After splitting the muscles, they are sore and tender for a few days. The muscles grow larger and are now more capable than before. Repetition over time will continue to grow the muscles.
Arnold Schwarzenegger described this process as “the pump” and said to him the feeling was as good as an orgasm. Continually exercising and developing his physique, Arnold described as orgasming day and night. Because his goal was to become the best body builder in the world, every time his muscles were sore Arnold felt grateful for the pain he felt. By being grateful for the self-induced pain the relationship brought on intensive personal joy from the experience.
Lou Ferrigno was fiercely training with the goal to defeat Schwarzenegger. As he trained, he was constantly externalizing his meaning to take down Arnold. Rather than being focused on himself as Arnold was, Lou was focused on Arnold. Comparing oneself to another is damaging to one’s self-esteem. Lou never beat Arnold in competition because he was too focused on someone else and not himself.
Growing skills and abilities always require pain and frustration. Just as growing new muscle fiber is painful, growing new neural fiber is painful as well. The pain in cognition training is more emotionally painful rather than physically painful. However, considering that physical pain is processed by the nervous system and emotional pain is processed by the nervous system is there really any difference? Pain is pain.
If one has had a history with negative cognition training, pain will often bring up negative emotional experiences associated with pain. Developing new cognitive abilities involves growing through pain. Voluntarily exposing oneself to confusion, uncertainty, grief, shame, humiliation, anger, and beyond to learn is necessary to develop master level skills. Voluntary exposure to pain and then using repetition to reinforce nerve pathways toward a deeply personal goal is the forge of God-like abilities.
When I was first on my own financially with Nyborg, I had a few months of runway. With a limited time to figure out what to do to refill my capital I was exposed to a great deal of fear. Because of my history with negative cognition training, the fear I experienced also brought up severe memories of shame and humiliation buried in my childhood. The emotionally overwhelming nature of these feelings caused panic attacks. Treating my panic attacks with cognitive behavioral therapy exercises helped to get me slowly back on my feet.
Unaware that I was experiencing shame and humiliation with the fear I went for numbing behaviors. Using cannabis would numb the severity of the emotional reactions, but did not cause them to dissipate completely. For almost 3 years straight I felt fear, shame, and humiliation nearly 24/7. Once I was able to identify the shame and humiliation feelings from my past, and isolate them from the fear my anxiety reduced significantly. It took learning that when I experience fear that I don’t need to feel shame or humiliation with it.
Four years into the process, I now process fear in a few minutes before taking a moment to figure out what (if anything) I will do about it. Years ago, being two months from the end of the capital runway brought debilitating fear. Now I might be completely out of money for two months and have a calm attitude of ‘I’ll figure it out’; and you know what? I do.
Positive Cognition Training (PCT) involves 3 basic steps:
Voluntary agreement to be trained
In order for a person to have a positive cognitive experience, they have to want to have the experience. Negative cognition training involves involuntary feedback, building resentment and violating trust. When I volunteered to serve in the Navy, I knew what I was getting into. In fact, I thought bootcamp was ‘soft’. I was engaged and absorbing, I trusted the drill instructors to be unreasonable and abusive, and they were. A person who doesn’t want to learn, won’t. With Positive cognition, voluntary involvement is crucial. Even if one doesn’t understand exactly what they are volunteering for (and they likely won’t), they will at least know that it was their decision to do it.
If a person isn’t given a choice to undergo training, then the instructor is attempting to defy the laws of cognitive physics. My partner has a childhood story about going through every motion to brush her teeth without actually brushing her teeth. If the training attitude is “JUST DO IT” then the equal and opposite reaction is “MAKE ME”.
Struggling with my 8-year-old daughter to get her to brush her teeth. Per the method of positive cognition, I engaged her in a conversation and brought up our nighttime routine battles as a problem and asked for her help to solve the problem. Her response was stated with perfect clarity and honesty:
Me: “How can we solve this problem? What do you think about it?”
8yo: “When I'm about to do a thing, and then I’m told to do the thing, I don’t want to do the thing anymore.”
Me: “I completely understand that. I suppose I don’t know you’re about to do the thing and I tell you so you’ll be sure to do it. What can we do instead?”
8yo: “How about just asking me what I’m up to? If I have a chance to say what I’m doing, then you’ll know.”
Me: “You got it! Do you want to role play the scenario?”
8yo: “Yes! First, you’ll be me, and I’ll be you and we’ll do it the old way and then the new way.”
Thus, we engaged in a delightful roleplay I pretended I was on my way to brush my teeth and my daughter barked at me, “Go brush your teeth!” I felt a stabbing pain in my mind, wow, that is a familiar negative feeling. We switched roles and played it out a few times having some fun along the way. We haven’t had nighttime battles since. Voluntary involvement in the action is mandatory. Violate someone’s cognitive temple and you’ll regret it.
Immediate positive neurological experience
When a person is TIG welding they are doing a few basic actions, holding a torch on metal, controlling a foot pedal for power, and maybe adding some filler metal. Go to college to learn welding and the first thing one will experience is a classroom lecture. Sitting and listening to a lecture has absolutely nothing to do with welding. Physically welding has something to do with welding. TIG welding has a massive number of possible variables. Torch construction, current settings, gas chemistry, metal chemistry, puddle movement techniques, safety… The list goes on. One could attend a 4-year university on the number of variables involved in TIG welding.
The nearly infinite technical details of welding are not welding! When a person has volunteered to learn welding, they must have a positive neurological experience as fast as humanly possible. It takes about 10 minutes to give a basic crash-course on the principles of TIG welding. It’s cheaper than trade school for one to purchase used welding equipment and teach themselves. As an instructor if you are lecturing, you are demonstrating one thing: your knowledge. You are not trying to convince your student that you know how to weld, they already know that. Shut-up and get your pupil in safety gear and on the welding bench.
Make the initial task as 101 for the subject as humanly possible. Provide your student with as few variables as possible and let them experience the excitement of performing the task for the first time. Of the dozen or so people I’ve taught to TIG weld 100% of them joined 2 metals together in less than 45 minutes. The feelings that a person experiences upon success are a shot of dopamine and a deep sense of joy. The post-weld conversation normally looks like this:
Student: “I did it!”
Me: “Congratulations! You welded your first thing! How do you feel?”
Student: “Awesome! Wow! That’s so cool! I’ve never done that before, thank you so much!”
Me: “You are quite welcome! I’m very grateful you enjoyed that!”
Student: “Are you kidding?! THAT WAS SO AWESOME!”
Me: “Wonderful! Would you like to take a break and weld some more tomorrow?”
Encourage the learner to take a break before continuing. It’s of great value to end the initial experience on a high note. If you are teaching yourself, take a break once you reach the feeling of positive excitement.
During the next learning experience, the difficulty of the task is increased. Explain to your student that this is going to be harder but we use a special technique to deal with that. Then ask the student, “are you willing to try the technique?” I’ve never heard a no, so maybe that will be in a later revised edition. Once again, give a 10 minute or less crash course on the new task. Set the student to work and give them ample space to concentrate and try. As will inevitably happen, ultimately the student will experience failure.
When a person who was developed using negative cognition experiences failure, they normally experience a wave of negative emotions and memories associated with those emotions. Sadness, fear, regret, shame, anger, frustration, and humiliation are all common negative cognition responses. Negative cognition training is emotionally traumatic. Emotionally traumatic events are effectively unprocessed information sitting in the mind. Unprocessed information does not simply leave the mind, it remains in place until the brain can fully process the information. Remember Bloom’s taxonomy from the first chapter?
When experiencing negative feelings, a person’s cognitive pyramid degrades to the base level of memory only. The memories are remembered, but not understood. Learning a brand-new skill is literally impossible in memory-only mode. One does not possess the memory of the task trying to be performed and thus no new progress can be made. In this instance it is incredibly common for a traditional instructor to attempt to discuss technique and provide more instruction. Avoid this trap at all costs, at this moment you are not talking to a person who is operating coherently.
Instead, a person’s temple must be placed back in order. The cognitive pyramid must be restored. For this procedure ask the person what they are feeling, specifically ask them to identify the feeling by name. Once they are able to name the emotion by name, acknowledge their feeling of the emotion and express with genuine sincerity that you know that feeling as well. Then ask the person if this feeling reminds them of a really hard time, they have experienced this feeling in their past. If they want to open up and recall the memory to you, listen with your full attention. If they don’t wish to discuss it, don’t push the issue. Either way just acknowledge their feelings and relate to how painful those feelings feel.
Lastly perform the CBT nose touch exercise (or similar) with them. Some will think the exercise looks silly and be embarrassed to try, you performing the exercise together is very reassuring. Perform the CBT exercise until they are calm and content, maybe even a little happy. Their pyramid is reassembled and they are ready to resume normal cognitive function. Finally, ask if they would like to try again. If they answer yes, leave them be to try again the task, instruct them to continue the CBT exercise again if they experience frustration again. If they answer no, then they more than likely have more deeply seated emotional trauma and need help from a trauma expert.
Case Study – Ferra
Ferra joined the Nyborg project in 2019, one of the recruited by one of the other members from the maker space group. Ferra was adopted as an infant and raised by a Catholic family. She had come for the initial conversation interview and disclosed her medically diagnosed ADHD. I very briefly explained that she was just fine and ADHD is a symptom of a solvable problem. None-the-less Ferra had been taking prescription head-pills for years as anti-anxiety medication. During our initial conversation I very specifically asked her at the end; “do you accept my mentorship as your coach”?
Ferra agreed to be mentored and started work at Nyborg the next day as the newest member of the experiment. I had instructed Ferra like everyone else that when she had a problem and needed my help, she was to open the problem statement to me with the leading emotion she was feeling. For example, instead of expressing “This is a problem”, one would say I’m feeling fear/anger/sadness/etcetera about this problem. Ferra was also trained to use the nose touch method of CBT to help process strong negative emotions.
Over several years of working with Ferra she slowly seemed to believe the lessons it seemed. As it turns out this is only partially true. Ferra simply used the behavioral tools because she didn’t want to be washed out of the program and she had an attention addiction disorder. For Ferra, Nyborg work was incredibly exciting, paid better and was far more fun than her previous job as a Barista at Starbucks, and she was learning new things at lightning pace. But most of all she received 1 on 1 attention that fed into her behavioral addiction to attention.
With Ferra we learned a crucial lesson about PCT and Genesis model development. Effectively that is a person needs to go through trauma rehabilitation before they can truly advance in their behavioral skills. Ferra’s childhood was marked with substantial traumatic events including the suicide of her adopted father. Unprocessed trauma leads to incredibly hard to spot deviant behavior.
I believed that Ferra was making progress through the program because that is what she wanted me to believe. It was an incredible disappointment to discover that much of my time and energy was wasted because I had not first sent Ferra to a trauma rehabilitation. V tried to tell me over and over again about the signs she saw in Ferra’s behavior, I could not hear her. Whenever V would try to tell me V’s trauma and my trauma were both triggered and we could not properly communicate.
The ancient Greek tale story of Cassandra follows a priestess who was cursed to know the future but to never be believed. Cassandra’s story is incredibly allegorical to the plain fact that most people have their defenses up and won’t believe the plainest of facts. Ferra very convincingly deceived me, and V tried over and over to communicate the deceit. Do not play therapist when building a Genesis company. Separate yourself from the rehabilitation process through a 3rd party.
A person just can’t be told deep integral concepts about human behavior, they won’t likely believe it. As the masculine leader of the company by default the psychology that is applied to me by the subordinates of the business is that of their father. Of the participants of the experiment 0% had a highly positive, spotless relationship with their father. As the feminine leader of the organization V was placed into the default psychological role of the subordinantes mother. Just like the fathers no one had a spotless relationship with their mother either.
To properly reprogram a person using positive cognition their family of origin trauma must be dealt with first. Given the psychogenesis of our family structure throughout civilized history nearly everyone has family of origin trauma. Without dealing with the origin trauma a trainer’s ability is severely impeded as they are a trigger to whatever machination of trauma a person has.
Case Study – Susan
Susan was a perfect example of continuous chronic disbelief. She joined Nyborg from the maker space as well. Susan was a skilled piano player and artist, so she began TIG welding training during the early developmental stages of Positive Cognition Training. As Susan had well developed hand-eye coordination my theory was that she would take to TIG welding fairly quickly. That in-fact was the case, Susan picked up TIG welding rapidly.
The TIG welding done at Nyborg is predominantly done on stainless steel pipes and vessels. When welding a pipe or a vessel a critical part of the procedure is the use of what is referred to as ‘back purge gas’. Back purge is done to protect the chemical makeup of the stainless steel from changing at high temperature due to oxidation from the atmosphere.
Susan learned how to use back purge gas and would perform proper welds when performing the proper steps. Interestingly enough, Susan would frequently skip steps of the welding procedure and most frequently skip using back purge gas. The results of the skipped step meant that the part being welded had to be scrapped. Scrapped parts mean lost time and money. Susan would also weld parts together in the opposite orientation from the technical diagram as well. More lost time and money.
Susan seemed to not understand that she was being paid to follow the procedure she was given without deviation. Follow each step and the job is done right; deviate and the result is loss and waste. Susan saw the results of her work with and without a purge gas several times. Each time she tried to not use purge gas she stated that she reported thinking “this time it will be different”. Susan reported that she had a hard time believing what I was saying about the welding. Even though she had clear feedback of welding data that was separate from my opinion her belief that “he just can’t be right” would supersede the practical feedback from the parts.
Whenever the parts would come out with serious defects due to the improper procedural execution Susan would be upset at the fact that I was right. To be clear, I was not mean to Susan or degrading at any point about her knowledge or abilities. Susan would not allow herself to believe that which was true, was true even when the evidence showed it. This is because as the ‘paternal’ boss the information came from me and as a reflex to Susan I was not to be trusted.
Facts do not Matter
When it comes to psychological trauma, facts do not matter. I could have explained to Susan for a cumulative number of hours why she was doing what I had her doing. But that would have been a waste of time and energy. It wasn’t that Susan believed she was right no matter what, she believed I was wrong no matter what. To get Susan to perform the work properly it was absolutely necessary to adopt a “do as I say, or get out” policy.
Susan alluded to childhood trauma involving her father as I suspected. As I was in Susan’s ‘father’ psychological position there was no way she would trust me as a default. Make no mistake, as the boss one cannot expect their employees to trust them as a default. I’ve never fully trusted any of my own bosses either, but I also know that it’s ‘do as I say, or get out’. In the case of the military the practice is ‘do as I say or be fined, lose rank, go to jail, or worse.’ I very much understand now why the military employs such rigid structures.
Can you imagine being an atomic power reactor operator if I didn’t believe the orders I was being given as a default? The result would be billions in damages, international incidents, death or injury to myself or others. During my tenure in the Navy, the USS San Francisco ran into an underwater mountain at full speed because the navigation procedure was not properly followed. This resulted in the entire front half of the Submarine requiring replacement, near loss of the entire ship, the death of a crewman, and a billion-dollar asset being grounded for years for repair.
Yet in our early working relationship together I simply could not believe anything V was telling me. The same mental block of “she just can’t be right” negatively influenced my decisions over and over again. Diving into my own family of origin trauma I have a mother who is completely addicted to being right all the time about everything. My mother believes she is simply better than everyone else and uses my father to do all of her dirty work. My own pent up anger at my mother had built a massive blind spot with my own partner. The result was substantial losses and huge setbacks inside of Nyborg.
As often as traumatic emotional information can be created through confrontation, it must be discharged through confrontation. PCT training often quickly reveals traumatic stress syndrome signals. The moment a person is confronted with confusion, uncertainty, doubt, and fear, traumatic stress is often triggered. Once triggered, cognitive function degrades to memory only. Since the person undergoing PCT has no previous knowledge of the skill, memory only cannot get the task done.
Discussing one’s immediate feelings combined with CBT works as an effective short circuit to get a person back on top of their pyramid. Discussing one’s immediate feelings and origin feelings combined with CBT is a much more powerful tool. Emotions require acknowledging, as humans we have a social need for the validation of our feelings. Validating someone’s emotional response to a situation by using acknowledgement is a powerful tool, and will help them accept the information and advance towards understanding of the information.
Case Study – Heidi:
Heidi joined the Nyborg experiment during the summer of 2019. Heidi was a single mother of one who worked part-time at a grocery store, and part-time at a Montessori school her daughter attended. Before performing contract work for Nyborg, Heidi had no previous fabrication experience. Having been briefed ahead of time about the PCT approach, Heidi understood the CBT and emotional expression protocol. Heidi had good motor skills and hand-eye coordination and took to fabrication work quickly.
On her first day of welding training, I gave her a 30-minute crash course for a very basic welding task to perform. Heidi would use a TIG welding machine to fuse two pieces of stainless steel together in a surface weld. Heidi was able to perform this task successfully and expressed happiness and satisfaction about her accomplishment.
The next day Heidi was assigned to perform an autogenous filet weld which involves welding 2 pieces in a corner joint. To perform the different welding tasks, basic instruction was once again given. After about 20 minutes I returned to check on Heidi’s progress. She was having trouble performing the more challenging task and could not get the two sides of the metal to fuse. Her expression was that of frustration and disappointment.
“It’s not going well” Heidi says sadly.
In a calm and relaxed manner, I asked; “What were you thinking about while you were struggling?”
“I’m reminded of my childhood. My brother would always get shown how to do things. He would get all the attention, and I wouldn’t be allowed to participate and was deemed not-capable.”
“How did that make you feel?” – me
“Very angry, and sad.” – Heidi
“I acknowledge how angry and sad you feel about that; you’re allowed to feel angry and sad about that.” – me
“Thank you” – Heidi
“What do you say, would you like to touch it out and try again?” – me ‘Touch-it-out’ refers to the CBT exercise of touching the tip of one’s nose with the right and left pointer fingers.
“Let’s do it.” – Heidi
Together Heidi performed the CBT exercise with me until she was smiling and felt calm.
“Ready to try again?” – me
“Yes!” – Heidi
After another 20 minutes I return to check on Heidi, and she is performing the new welding task successfully.
Unlike most instructional programs I did not re-review the technique, method, or procedure for performing the welding task with Heidi. She had already absorbed the information of what to do and how to do it. The new task took physical practice to translate instruction to actualization. The momentary failure Heidi experienced triggered the neurons of some of her more deeply seated frustrations.
Childhood frustrations are not required to perform the task of TIG welding. By neutralizing the pent-up feelings in Heidi’s nervous system, she was able to use more processing power to focus on the task at hand. The human nervous system has immense processing power and can integrate new information with incredible speed and accuracy. When integrating information that has associations with previous experiences, the human mind will replay those feelings. The stored feelings will continue to be replayed until they can climb up the pyramid.
Heidi’s experience at the Montessori school her daughter attended primed her to open up about her feelings quickly. Montessori is all about developing one’s cognitive pyramid; and learning about one’s self fundamentally. My daughter attended the same school and I attended many classes there myself. The school master was an incredibly experienced educator with 40+ years’ experience in Montessori education.
Case Study – Brooke:
Brooke had no children and was a single artist recruited for graphics and 3D design work. Brooke behaved in an incredibly soft-spoken timid manner which seemed a survival behavior she learned as a child. Alluding to a ‘very difficult childhood’ but not ready to open up and talk about it yet, it seemed to me that Brooke at the time was sitting on a great deal of rage. Whenever I interacted with Brooke it seemed she didn’t understand a thing I said. She would nod, and give all of the classic verbal and body language for understanding; but none-the-less she actualized very little of her ‘understanding’ into being.
One day when Brooke was doing 3d modeling work, I was showing Brooke how the 2 components of an assembly fit together. In front of Brooke, I would take one part in my hand and lower it onto the other part on the desktop. Brooke would take the same component I was holding and try to assemble the flange, but she would place the component exactly backwards. The 2 parts have very non-subtle differences that make them fit together. Brooke didn’t seem to notice either, this cognitive error I would later learn is classified as ‘traumatic amnesia’. Traumatic amnesia is a condition when afflicted with will cause the sufferer to be completely unaware of certain behaviors.
After spending enough time with Brooke, I began to notice she would go into a terrified state whenever I was talking to her. As a child a person’s very first social structure is the family structure. Human nervous systems build up in layers. The family social structure is the fundamental operating system for a person’s social programming. According to the fundamental operating system as her ‘boss’ and owner of the company I’m in the ‘paternal’ set of pre-existing expectations for an employee. Brooke expected me to be terrifying fundamentally and therefore she was in a triggered state of fight/flight/freeze in my presence.
One day I was talking with Brooke about attending a team event, and she didn’t want to go. My attempts to encourage her were unsuccessful and at the end of the conversation I attempted to say something reassuring and then gave Brooke the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ (LLAP) gesture. Brooke and I both shared a love of Star Trek and the LLAP gesture was a salutation for our mutual communication. Brooke started to raise her right hand but her motor control struggled and she could not make the gesture. She looked at her hand and said “I can’t do it” softly. At this moment, I decided to have Brooke perform the ‘drunk test’ nose-touching CBT exercise.
I performed the exercise with her until she smiled and giggled a little bit. Then I performed the LLAP gesture again, and Brooke formed it in response with normal motor control function and a smile.
It would require a great deal more work with Brooke to have her open up about her deeper feelings. Basic CBT can put one back in charge of their faculties in an emergency. Unfortunately, my partner and I had to wash Brooke out of the program after a couple months because we couldn’t get her profit to loss ratio even slightly profitable. It saddens me that we could not have helped her more; she helped the program gain deeper insights. There is a lot to be learned from positive and negative outliers.
Positive cognition training is about forming healthy associations with all emotions.
Personal commitment is key to initiating positive cognition rehabilitation.
Trainers cannot expect new trainees to believe or trust them.
Family of origin trauma rehabilitation is an essential step to making positive progress.
Positive cognition forms self-actualized personality traits, enabling positive associations with pain to achieve a goal.
Expressing unexpressed emotions previously associated with frustration, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy enables emotional release, and reengagement with higher cognitive functions.
Avoiding past emotional experiences will prevent one from growing new positive cognitive functions.