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The Trash-Programs

Chapter 13

The concise slang used by young adults often includes the vivid description of the common low level of life quality as being "in the trash". This low level of the quality of life is the rule for most people in the modern and rich countries of the "first world" most of the time-regardless of social status or economic resources. For each one who is briefly "out of the trash" there are many more who are almost never clear of it.

Many of my trainees and I have recently become part of the minority which form the "exception that proves the rule". The "trash" simile adequately describes what each of us experienced before encountering the "General Sensate Focus" technique.

In commemoration of those bad days and in order to indicate the culprit, the programs one works on to improve the quality of life are nicknamed trash- programs. Actually, this nickname is not only used throughout the text of this book, but also as a regular concept in the work with trainees. We even use it regularly in our individual daily life when conversing with others familiar with its meaning.

There are about six main "families" of those "trash-programs". Sometimes, a subprogram or even a whole program can be allocated to more than one of the following groups or families as they are not mutually exclusive:

    1. The most prominent family consists of programs which are responsible for prolonged pressure, distress, depression, tension, stomach pains, heart discomfort, low back pains, etc.
    2. The second family consists of programs responsible for the relatively short and acute emotional feelings and sensations such as: anxiety attacks, rage attacks (accompanied by the will to hurt the offender), sporadic guilt feelings, shame, weeping, etc.
    3. The third family consists of those programs that prevent the experience and/or communication of the felt emotions, sensations, moods, passions, etc. or at least attenuate their intensity. A few members of this family are indiscriminate and affect all levels and qualities of the emotions. The others are a bit more discriminate and have a more selective effect on the various aspects and expression of emotion.

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  1. The fourth family is the most destructive. Its members prevent us from executing essential behavioral patterns, or restrain us from executing actions we have already decided on, even when we know that they are vital to our well-being. The affects of these programs are usually felt as "internal resistance", inhibitions, lack of will power, personality factors and characteristics, etc. These programs delay, postpone, hinder, or even prevent the beginning of the execution of programs and plans. Sometimes, in addition or instead of the above, they "just" sabotage their progress.
  2. The fifth family consists of programs doing the opposite with nearly the same damaging effects or even more. They execute prematurely behaviors we have already decided to delay, postpone, or even wish to prevent. They prevent us from the timely aborting of behavior and other actions found faulty during their execution. Programs of this family can "take us for a ride" that could be prolonged for life, or shorten our lives to suit their length.
  3. The sixth family is the biggest of all. It consists mostly of emotional supra-programs that cause erroneous evaluations of circumstances and resources.

The programs of this group are of three main kinds:

  1. programs that introduce errors that are relevant for one of the basic emotions.
  2. programs that cause errors in certain circumstances that are relevant to mixtures of basic emotions.
  3. programs that are responsible for widespread distortions in the emotional testing of reality.

Why are programs trashy?

a) First and foremost is the huge number of programs, chunks of information and other impressions stored in our memory which we have to deal with:

  • We have a substantial number of innate programs that are hard to mold into more advanced and divergent forms.
  • We have a nearly infinite number of memory traces of the activities of ad hoc programs registered which we have to refer to when relevant problems are encountered.
  • We have a rich environment which changes constantly. This brings us face to face with new opportunities and dangers and force us to build and maintain a multitude of additional programs, most of them not executed in real life even once.

b) Second, in order but not in importance, is the limited capacity of our brain and mind processes responsible for the updating, mending, accommodating and adapting of the supra-programs of the mind.

c) The third reason is the built-in strategy of the brain and mind system when confronted with the "impossible mission" of managing real life. Because of these limits, most of the adaptation processes are initiated by it only when ad hoc programs are built, whether for internal use or for actual behavior.

(If the system tried to update, mend, accommodate and adapt all programs stored in memory, we would be stuck with those of the first months of life!!!)


d) As we have built by ourselves, copied from others and been given abundant examples of programs which were trashy to begin with (as they were built of far-from-perfect components), even the complete adaptation of one program seems to be impossible.

e) People around us are usually interested in what we are doing and feeling. It started even before birth and will usually continue, even after our death. Part of them built in us programs on purpose - for their good, or for ours, because of cultural demands and because of their own various trash-programs. In many cases their effect on our programs was just accidental or even randomly.

f) One of the most important factors which contribute to the trashiness of our programs - the more emotional and the less emotional ones are the cover-programs. For many reasons, these programs prevent or limit the involvement of the awareness in many programs, contents and felt sensations of the body. When access to the awareness and its attentional resources is limited, the application of the amendment processes to the trash-program is also limited and the level of their trashiness remains high.

g) We nearly always neglect the only opportunity we have to make things a bit more bearable due to laziness, prejudice and ignorance, i.e. we do not "listen" to the "begging" of the control routines of the active ad hoc programs, which request the addition of attentional resources, even when submitted as clearly felt sensations.

Common roots of trash-programs

The following are a few of the most prevalent "replicas" or contents of messages of socialization agents. They were surely recited to you many times. Even if you cannot recall the fact and even if you missed a few, they are very good material for self-provocation intended to summon felt sensations for focusing purposes (recycling emotion G in chapter 5).


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  1. Do not feel emotion X!!! (Here and in the other items, synonyms and "relatives" of the word "emotion" are applied too.)
  2. Why do you not feel emotion Y?
  3. In situation X you should feel emotion Y and not emotion Z.
  4. In situation X substitute emotion Y for that of Z.
  5. Change emotion X with the substance Y (food, drug, beverage, etc.).
  6. After emotion X comes/ must come the emotion Y.
  7. Emotion X is not proper for one who is male/female, and whose age is Y and his social status is Z.
  8. Refrain from too high/ low intensity of the emotion X in situation Y in the presence of Z.
  9. It is better not to execute behavior X or express Y in situation Z.
  10. If you do X you should/ would feel Y instead of Z.
  11. Refrain from behavior which cause a discernible measure of emotion X.
  12. In situation Y change the emotion X into its opposite.
  13. Instead of doing X, feel Y.
  14. Instead of feeling X, do Y.
  15. See what emotion X you are causing me.
  16. Do not be/ behave like a baby.
  17. Do/ stop doing X which results or intends to cause emotion Y to Z otherwise...

Activation programs, ad hoc programs, supra-programs, emotional programs, cover-programs and trash-programs.

It seems that the relation between the primary emotional programs of the mind and brain system, and the supra-programs are like those of democratic parents and their young offspring. Most of the time, such parents let the children decide for themselves autonomously, though only within their protected environments (demarcated by the cover-programs).

Meanwhile, they wait in the background to help or assist in emergency situations, and all the time they murmur to themselves and those around them remarks, and comments, compliments and criticism (the low intensity sensations of the body that are always felt by us).

The survival of the innate programs, and the dynamic interactions and combinations between them and the supra-programs of adults, express the little importance nature gives to our learning abilities and reasoning faculties.

In the usual course of life, the less emotional supra-programs are active in the foreground, while just behind them - at the margins of awareness act the more emotional ones and in the far background "lurk" the always active primary innate emotional programs - as if according to "the rules" and "orders" of "natural selection".

The contemporary state of affairs is like a verdict which says that "similar to other animals of a high developmental status, the members of the human species are primarily emotional beings". It seems that man functions better as Homo-Emotionalis than as Homo-Sapiens. Nature still prefers to rely heavily on the Limbic System (the older part of the brain) rather than on the Cortex (the outer layer of the brain which is a relatively newcomer) - and more so in an emergency.


Even in adult human beings, whose cortex and logical thinking is developed to the utmost, "nature" has reservations. It does not give man's rational processes of reasoning absolute control, even for a moment. Even with adults, the "new" parts of the brain, the conscious thinking and the emotional supra-programs function only as supplements to the innate primary emotional programs and not as substitutes.

However, when no emergency provokes the primary emotional programs, the emotional supra-programs seem to have nearly sole responsibility. Only when we take this into consideration, can we understand how the most sane and intelligent persons may be aware of an activity of theirs, that contradicts both logic and self perseverance, and still continue with it.

Only when taking this into consideration can we understand how people can consciously observe without intervention, or even initiate, behavior that defies logic and may endanger their health. It is most conspicuous when human behavior entirely contradicts the survival prospects of both the individual and his nexus.

Reckless driving, volunteering for dangerous sporting missions, introducing harmful materials into the body like drugs and junk food, refusing to take urgently needed medicine when ill or even to see a doctor - are only the most common and most obvious of the trashy activities of defective supra- programs.

Usually, behavior that defies logic and endangers survival will be enacted when there is a contradiction between short-term and long-term-considerations. The logical considerations and life experience which use the supra-programs to influence the primary programs of basic emotions are often not strong enough, when the innate ones pull in the opposite direction because very short-term- considerations. The many failures of logic to influence the behavior of individuals, groups and even nations emphasizes the fact that "human nature" is still Homo-Emotionalis and not Homo-Sapiens.


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Constantly, programs of various levels of "trashiness", manage our life. Constantly, the control routines of the ongoing ad hoc programs try to recruit more mental resources in order to adjust to the demands of the present. Constantly we do not give enough attention to the felt sensations of the body, which are mostly notices from these programs, as if to keep the level of trashiness from descending too low. Luckily, we pay scant attention to these demands - and thus prevent life from sinking too deep into the garbage pile.

There are various ways one can treat or relate to the trash-programs that create or are responsible for unpleasant feelings. These measures and points of view are also applicable to the programs that push us to behave in contradiction to what our reason and the supra-programs which are not so faulty try to tell us.

The most common views are those of the defeatists. They regard the mission of improvement as almost impossible. Each encounter with a faulty activity of a program leaves them feeling helpless. Eventually, the recurrent feelings of helplessness are established as a trait.

The less common - though it is the most simple - is the stubborn approach. This way of looking at the problem is common to the innovators, the adventuress, the rebels and the author of this book. In essence it says: "do not yield". It conveys the stubborn decision that it is worth trying to change the whole world and especially the emotional supra-programs of the trash type, in order to make life a pleasant voyage on earth - while life and earth last.

next: How it Really Works

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, November 6). The Trash-Programs, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/sensate-focusing/the-trash-programs

Last Updated: July 22, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD