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by Frederick Mann, October 1993 (revised March 2004)
© Copyright 1993, 2004 Build Freedom Holdings ALL RIGHTS RESEVED



(Note: The non-existence formula was revised and expanded considerably during March 2004. There is now both a "mini-formula" and a "maxi-formula" for non-existence.)

Creativity could be regarded as a tool. This is the first Build Freedom Report on creativity. There will be many more... And within the creativity category there will be a series of Reports on "levels of creation." This is also the first Report of that series.

To the broad questions, "What must I do to be more creative?" and "How can I boost my creativity?", the answer might be, "It depends on your situation, on what you are creating now and how, and why you create it that way." The basic approach of the levels of creation series is to divide the "creative spectrum" into distinctive levels, each describing a characteristic "type of creativity" - and to provide a formula that can be applied to advance to a higher level of creation. ("Helplessness, confusion, self-deception, and non-existence" in the title of this Report refer to some of the levels of creation.)

The levels of creation provide you with a powerful set of tools that make it easier for you to identify what you need to do (the most creative actions) in almost any situation in life or in business in order to raise the quality of an aspect of life, any activity or project, or even a large business in its entirety. Many projects, businesses, and lives fail for a lack of applying the correct creation formulas.

Through self-observation you can diagnose your current level of creation. If your diagnosis is accurate and you apply the appropriate formula properly, you will advance to a higher level of creation. Then, by applying the formula for that level, you will advance to a still higher level of creation... and so on. Each formula could be regarded as a tool or a set of tools.

The levels of creation series also follows another broad approach: replacing "dysfunctional formulas" or "human failure programs" (behavior patterns that don't work) with superior formulas or "human success programs." Most people grow up in homes that can be described as "dysfunctional environments" - environments where important aspects "don't work." These dysfunctional aspects are usually a consequence of dysfunctional formulas (human failure programs) of parents, teachers, etc. Because young people are usually powerless to handle important dysfunctional aspects of their environments, they also tend to "learn" (or acquire) dysfunctional formulas in their often abortive attempts to handle their dysfunctional environments - also called "growing up crooked." Later in life they may continue to create their lives, using unworkable formulas or human failure programs.

It is important to realize that tools are essentially things you keep in a toolbox. When you need them you take them out of the toolbox and you use them. Then you put them back in the toolbox. The creativity formulas are tools in the same sense: you take them out of your "creativity toolbox" when you need them; when you've finsished using them you "put them away" and forget about them. All knowledge can be treated in like fashion: the emphasis shifts from the truthfulness of knowledge to its usefulness; you don't ask if your tool is true, you ask if it is useful.

The "creativity scale" below is an attempt to classify distinctive levels of creation, each with its unique formula. [Acknowledgement: This scale and its formulas have been adapted and expanded from the "conditions formulas" formulated by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology - and creator of some of the most powerful management technology extant. See also #TL15A: The Good and the Bad.]


If you find it difficult to get to grips with the material in this Report, let me suggest a shortcut. Go direct to the Non-existence Formula and read that. Consider how you've applied it in areas where you've been successful. Now consider how you could apply it in other areas.

Scale of Levels of Creation

-5. DOUBT |

Usually when you start an activity or project, you start at the non-existence level. What you are trying to create does not yet exist. So you need to find out what to do. That is the essence of the non-existence formula. If you make false assumptions about what you need to do and do the wrong things, you have then dropped to the level of creation of self-deception. There are symptoms from which you can determine that you've dropped into self-deception. If you then apply the self-deception formula, you will move back up to the non-existence level. However, if you don't apply the self-deception formula you will drop into confusion.

If originally you do apply the non-existence formula, your project or activity will take on an existence, but you will be faced with certain dangers. To handle these dangers you will need to apply the danger formula. If you don't apply the danger formula, you drop back to the level of non-existence. If you apply the danger formula you move up to the level of emergency. And so on...

These levels of creation apply to your personal life, your job, and to a team, group, or organization (and to parts or aspects of these). Each level of creation can be recognized by signs or conditions. For each level there is a formula that can be applied to advance to a higher level. These formulas are extremely powerful. Their application will take you (eventually) to affluence, power, and expansion.

The levels of creation are not mutually exclusive. Some aspects of your life, job, or organization might be in power or expansion, while others are in liability or even treason. And elements of different levels may be relevant to a particular aspect.

This Report deals with the levels of helplessness, confusion, self-deception, and non-existence. Unreality is a special level that spans helplessness, confusion, and self-deception. (The other levels will be covered in future Build Freedom Reports.) The reason for starting with these levels is that you usually start a new activity or job at a level of helplessness, confusion, self-deception, unreality, or non-existence.


Helplessness is the single most important level of creation. Reason: many people are stuck at this level. It also means that they are more or less helpless to apply the formulas for the other levels. Helplessness can be a pernicious trap. If you are helpless you also tend to be helpless about your helplessness. (Interestingly, Hubbard never identified helplessness as belonging in his "conditions formulas" - nor self-deception!)

The book Helplessness by Martin E. P. Seligman, contains a comprehensive theory of helplessness, including cause and cure - all supported by ample experimental evidence.

A basic experiment illustrates the nature of the origin of helplessness: A "naive" dog (one that hasn't been specially treated or conditioned) is placed in a "shuttle-box" (a box with two compartments, separated by a barrier a dog can jump). Electric current is applied to the compartment with the dog, shocking it. The dog soon jumps across the barrier into the other compartment, escaping the shock. A second dog, secured in a hammock, is "conditioned" with electric shock . This dog can shut off the current by pressing its nose against a panel. It quickly learns to do this. When this dog is placed in the shuttle-box and current applied, it also soon jumps across the barrier, escaping the shock. A third dog is also conditioned in the hammock. But this dog has no way to escape the shock. And when it is placed in the shuttle-box and the current applied, it lies down and whines, enduring the shock.

(Note that in the above paragraph, dog one is shocked in a shuttle-box, dogs two and three first in a hammock then in the shuttle-box. It may be necessary to read the previous paragraph again so you understand the mechanics of the experiment.)

According to Seligman's theory, the third dog acquired "learned helplessness." In the hammock it learned that no action it could take would change the outcome of being shocked. It learned that the outcome was independent of its actions - and it generalized this "conclusion." The dog was affected in three important aspects: motivationally, cognitively, and emotionally. In the shuttle-box the third dog was not sufficiently motivated to persist in finding a way to escape the shock. The cognitive link between action and consequence (outcome) had been severed in the dog's brain as a result of the conditioning in the hammock. And the dog had become more prone to anxiety.

Many (if not most) humans have to some extent been conditioned like the third dog. We were all helpless babies... and human babies remain relatively helpless for a much longer time than the babies of most other mammals... Many of us experience a variety of situations where we are helpless to influence certain outcomes - exemplified by phrases like "nothing is as certain as death and taxes."

Learned helplessness tends to be a generalized phenomenon. When a dog or human "learns" that there is no connection between action and outcome in a particular domain, this is often generalized to other areas of life...

Helplessness, then, can be recognized by:

1. Lack of motivation, listlessness.

2. Cognitive breakdown between actions and outcomes - inability to link actions to the consequences they bring about - also manifests as blaming others or external factors for your situation, condition, and outcomes.

3. Negative emotions: boredom, anxiety, frustration, anger, hopelessness, depression (sometimes suicidal).

The formula for helplessness is:

1. Recognize your helplessness, lack of motivation, listlessness.

2. Recognize that as a baby and subsequently you've had many experiences where you were unable to control consequences or outcomes.

3. Recognize your negative emotions: boredom, anxiety, frustration, anger, hopelessness, depression. Acknowledge them to yourself, for example, by saying, "I recognize that I feel hopeless and depressed."

4. Consciously and deliberately choose to experience any or all of these emotions. Make a cognitive link between that choice and what you experience, for example, by saying to yourself, "I consciously decide to feel hopeless and depressed. Therefore I feel hopeless and depressed."

5. Perform a simple action such as washing the dishes or combing your hair. Observe the consequences or outcome. Form a cognitive link between your action and its outcome.

6. Divide a sheet of paper into three columns. In the second column list both positive and negative outcomes you've experienced during the past 24 hours, including emotions. In the first column write down your corresponding actions or inactions that preceded those outcomes. In the third column write down the causal or cognitive links between actions/inactions and outcomes. Note that you consider only your own actions and inactions. (How to express the causal or cognitive link is explained below.)

7. Don't blame others or external factors for anything.

8. Pat yourself on the back for all the positive consequences you did produce.

One evening I was watching a TV program on Jodie Foster. Suddenly she says, "I developed an awareness of the causality of my actions by the time I was ten years old." Most humans never develop that awareness fully. Most of us grew up with a reduced awareness of the causality of our actions. It's so much easier to blame others, to run to "authorities" to "save" us... or just to do nothing. How often do you hear of a small plane that crashed in bad weather or smog soon after takeoff or while attempting to land under similar circumstances? Could the major problems that beset the world (war, drugs, crime, gang violence, pollution, inflation, unemployment, homelessness, degenerative diseases, etc.) actually be indicative of the extent to which humans generally are unaware of the causality of their actions?

In general, a causative or cognitive link between action and outcome is expressed in the form of a heuristic (rule of thumb), hypothesis, or prediction along these lines: "If I do 'A' under conditions 'B,' then the outcome is 'C' -- 'D' percent of the time." Examples: "If I wash my hands with soap and water, after reading the newspaper, the outcome is clean hands 99% of the time." "If I wash my hands with soap and water, after fixing my car, the outcome is clean hands 5% of the time." "If I wash my hands with "supercleaner," soap, and water, after fixing my car, the outcome is clean hands 95% of the time." These hypotheses or predictions are continuously tested and refined. This is the basic way we learn how the world works.

In the Introduction reference was made to replacing dysfunctional formulas or human failure programs (behavior patterns that don't work) with superior formulas or human success programs. The causative or cognitive link between action and outcome can also be called a formula - a formula for action. In fact, all the formulas for the different levels of creation could be expressed in the form, "If I do 'A' under conditions 'B,' then the outcome is 'C' -- 'D' percent of the time." By consciously formulating formulas, trying them in practice, observing the results, and reformulating them with increasing accuracy, we become more creative.

For much more on helplessness, including more comprehensive formulas for overcoming helplessness, see #TL10B: Escape from Helplessness and Move up to Power.


The difference between helplessness and confusion is that helplessness is characterized primarily by inaction; whereas the hallmark of confusion is undirected or misdirected action. In the case of helplessness there tends to be no cognitive link between action and outcome; while in the case of confusion the cognitive link is inaccurate. In helplessness you tend to do nothing; in confusion you usually do the wrong things.

The signs and conditions that indicate confusion are:

1. You experience a situation (or world) of random, unplanned motions, that are unpredictable and don't make sense.

2. You experience difficulties that seem to have no solutions.

3. You don't know where you are, where you stand, or how others see you.

4. You don't know what to do.

5. You perform random actions.

6. You produce unpredictable and/or undesirable consequences.

7. You fail to understand what is happening.

8. You blame others and/or external factors.

The mini-formula for confusion:

1. Identify a "stable datum." It could be a person, an object, a fact, a principle, or an activity. It is someone or something you understand, it makes sense, you can predict it, or it is just something you can do immediately.

2. Identify something else (person, object, fact, principle, or activity) you can relate to the stable datum.

Example: You have so many things to do that you feel confused and don't know where to start. You simply choose one activity (as your stable datum) and do it. Suddenly the other actions start falling into place.

The maxi-formula for confusion:

1. Ask questions.

2. Do something.

3. Observe the consequences.

4. Learn from the consequences (think).

5. Don't blame others or external factors.

6. Depending on the consequences, do more of the same thing or do something else. Return to step 1, if necessary.

7. Repeat steps 1-6 until you are ready for step 8.

8. Find out where you are, where you stand, and how others view you.

It is absolutely vital that you discover how others view you and your actions. To the extent that you do this, you'll be able to modify your behavior and become more capable at predicting the outcomes of your actions. Predictability is the opposite of confusion. Predictability depends on an accurate cognitive link between action and outcome.


How do we recognize self-deception? The simplest answer: Question everything! Believe me, I could write a book on the subject! The big problem with self-deception is that it hides itself, so to speak. If you deceive yourself you automatically also deceive yourself about your deception - obviously! If you knew it was deception, then it wouldn't be deception, would it?

"On the subject of blindness, there is a condition far below being blind. It is imagining that you see."

- L. Ron Hubbard

Mini-formula for self-deception:

1. When a bus comes down the street you don't spout theories about "mind-created realities" ("fakealities?") and "things exist because people agree they do" - you get out of the way. You act as if there is a reality that exists and behaves according to its ways, independent of what anyone thinks or says. If you don't act this way you don't survive.

2. Rocks are hard, water is wet, air is soft.

3. Words are words - noises from your mouth or squiggles from your pen.

4. What about thoughts?

5. Point to objects without saying anything.

6. Look, listen, feel, taste, smell.

7. Bump your head against the wall seven times.

8. Discover whether reality is in your head or outside it.

If you can crack self-deception (before you crack your skull!), you can achieve whatever is humanly possible.

" " " " "

The "Ostrich Factor" is an important aspect of self-deception. A great deal of research has been done to demonstrate that the more incompetent people are, the more they tend to overestimate their level of competence. See "Denial of Disadvantage" in #TL10E: THE POWER OF DOING THINGS RIGHT. (Crosby, Faye, Ann Pufall, Rebecca Claire Snyder, Marion O'Connell, and Peg Whalen. (1989). The Denial of Personal Disadvantage Among You, Me, and All the Other Ostriches. Pp.79-99 in 'Gender and Thought: Psychological Perspectives, edited by Mary Crawford, and Margaret Gentry.' New York: Springer-Verlag. Hence my term "Ostrich Factor.")

" " " " "

Self-Deception Syndromes

But before you get carried away too far, it may be worthwhile to examine some "self-deception syndromes". [Acknowledgement: These syndromes constitute an adaptation and extension from the book 7 Steps to Freedom by Benjamin Suarez.]

The Idea Inflation Syndrome: The notion that your ideas are so important that you just have to communicate them to the right people in the right way, and the whole company, country, or world will change. True believers and blind followers will kill and die for ideas.

The Competence Inflation Syndrome: Individuals and organizations tend to inflate their competence by vast multiples over their actual competence. True believers and blind followers tend to imbue their idols with competence out of all proportion to their actual competence.

The Role Inflation Syndrome: Individuals and organizations tend to inflate the importance of their role in any task, activity, or undertaking by vast multiples over the actual importance of their role. True believers and blind followers will imbue the most mundane task with extreme importance because of the "noble cause" it furthers.

The Ubiquitous Expertise Syndrome: Individuals and organizations who have developed expertise in one area resulting in success, tend to claim vast expertise in other areas where they have little or no expertise. True believers and blind followers assume that an expert in one area is automatically an expert in all other areas - for example, the weekend golfer who believes the golf pro is automatically an expert on the rules of golf - about three years ago top golfer Paul Azinger was disqualified from a tournament because a TV viewer spotted a rule violation and reported it by phone. Azinger didn't realize that he'd violated the rule because he didn't know the rule.

The Ornamental Magnifier Syndrome: The use of symbols like clothes, furniture, cars, buildings, fancy documents, name dropping, window dressing, jargon, dogma, etc. to boost your image, to create an appearance of proficiency, and to intimidate others. True believers and blind followers tend to be tremendously impressed by such symbols.

The Image Magnification Syndrome: Many individuals and organizations use ornamental magnifiers to boost their image or the image of their products, services, and achievements out of all proportion to their real worth. (This is necessary in advertising - the danger lies in believing your own hype, getting carried away, and being blinded by it - until you wallow in a sea of self-deceit, dogma, conceit, and arrogance.) Cult leaders tend to become true believers and blind followers of their own wildest, most far-fetched speculations.

The Sole Fountain of Wisdom Syndrome: The belief that your "truth" is the "only truth" and the only "complete truth," and that all other "truth" is false. This manifests as "Scientology is the only road to total freedom," "Why Neo-Tech must succeed while all other systems must fail," "Mormonism is the only true religion," etc. Because true believers and blind followers tend to gain some values from such "Fountains of Wisdom" (which many undeniably do), they eventually tend to accept almost everything from that source uncritically.

The Righteous Rationalization Syndrome: The notion that the purpose, goal, or end of your activity is so important that it overshadows all else. This lays the groundwork to rationalize as justified whatever means you use to achieve your end. It enables you to screw people on the basis that you will "make it up later." It also enables you to deceive yourself into believing that you are not screwing people when you really are. True believers and blind followers willingly allow themselves to be screwed for years in exchange for the "nirvana" at the end of the rainbow of the "utopia of year 2000."

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[Note: The advanced and ultimate self-deception formulas are included here for purposes of completeness. These formulas may not be appropriate for you. If you have any problem with them, this need not prevent you from continuing with the rest of this Report. Remember that these formulas are tools you may use if you find them useful, otherwise ignore them, Simply acknowledge that they are inappropriate for you, skip them, and continue with the rest of the Report, starting from the heading "UNREALITY" on page 6.

The advanced formula for self-deception:

1. Discover that you are free.

2. Discover that you are responsible.

3. Discover that you are sovereign; you owe no allegiance to anyone or anything, except by your own free choice.

4. Consciously choose the values by which you live.

5. Discover that you control your life; you create your life; you live the life you want to live.

6. Discover that you can associate with others based on trust, voluntary cooperation, and consent.

7. Discover that it is in your interest to want others to enjoy the same freedom, responsibility, sovereignty, control, trust, and power.

You discover that you are free when you realize that you control the energy that animates your body. If you lift your finger it is because of your decision to lift it. If someone points a gun at you and orders you to lift your finger, it is still your decision that makes your finger rise. You further discover that you are free when you realize that you can decide how you respond to any situation. You have freedom of choice, power of choice. You choose your actions. You are free to choose your actions. (Your actions also have consequences. You are not free to choose the consequences of your actions. You are free to stand in front of a speeding bus; if you choose to do so you get flattened.) Two books that may help you discover that you are free: The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane; and How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.

You discover that you are responsible when you realize that you create all your emotions and most of your feelings. In fact, you can eliminate all your unwanted negative emotions by saying, whenever you experience a negative emotion, "I am responsible." Whenever you feel angry and you think or say, "She made me angry," you are deceiving yourself, you are lying. You and only you can make you angry. You are free to choose how you respond to any situation. You further discover that you are responsible when you realize that you create most of your consequences. If you are happy, healthy, wealthy, sad, sick, poor, etc, you probably created all or most of these consequences. You are free to choose those actions that produce desirable consequences. You discover that you are responsible when you stop habitually blaming others or outside forces. You extend your responsibility by making agreements that you can keep and keeping them.

You discover that you are sovereign when you recognize the nature of political and religious systems. They were all created by humans to dominate and control other humans. By and large, modern political and religious systems are sophisticated forms of slavery and cannibalism. Instead of the dominators (masters) eating their victims (slaves) they live off ("eat") the values created by their victims. The masters use deception, fraud, and violence to dupe, subjugate, and even kill their victims. The masters brainwash their slaves into swallowing concepts like, "compulsory state education," "tax," and "conscription" ("the draft"). You discover that you are sovereign when you realize that you are only subject to contracts you have voluntarily entered into. The pretended political "constitutions" of the world are fraudulent hoaxes used to deceive the gullible. Two books that may help you discover your sovereignty: No Treason: The Constitution of no Authority by Lysander Spooner; and The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julain Jaynes. See also:

Once you realize that many of the "cultural values" of the "moral systems" foisted by political, religious, and educational masters upon their unsuspecting victims, result in war, crime, inflation, environmental destruction, degenerative diseases, and other personal and social ills, you recognize the need to consciously choose the values by which you live your life. By blindly accepting the "values" of others, you could deceive yourself into living a life that is not in your own best interest nor in the best interest of your fellow humans. Suggested reading: The Twilight of the Idols by Friedrich Nietzsche and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

You discover that you control your life, that you create your life, and that you live the life you want to live, when you integrate the first four steps of the advanced formula for self-deception. Suggested reading: The Psychology of Freedom by Dr. Peter Breggin.

You discover that you can associate with others based on trust, voluntary cooperation, and consent, when you have recognized the fraudulent and coercive nature of political systems. Suggested reading: The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert M. Axelrod.

You discover that it is in your interest to want others to enjoy the same freedom, responsibility, sovereignty, control, trust, and power, when you realize that in most cases there is no conflict between your genuine self-interest and the genuine self-interest of others.

The ultimate formula for self-deception:

1. Discover that words have no meanings.

2. Discover that you are the source of all meaning.

3. Discover that all meaning involves a degree of self-deception.

4. Discover that knowledge is impossible without a degree of self-deception.

5. Discover that communication is impossible without a degree of self-deception.

6. Discover that you are free from all the above.

7. Discover nothingness.

Consider the word "dog." If the word "dog" has a meaning, then where is the meaning? Is the meaning spread over the letters, "d," "o," and "g?" Is the meaning in the ink portion of the letters, or is it in the spaces between? What does the meaning look like? As soon as you consider these questions objectively, you discover that words have no meanings.

When you see or hear the word "dog," you tend to activate in your brain a mental picture of a kind of four-legged animal, as well as associations such as tail-wagging, barking, and licking. The mental pictures and the associations constitute meaning. You created the meaning. As soon as you grasp the fact that words have no meanings and the way you respond to words is your creation under your control, you discover that you are the source of all meaning. One of the implications of this phenomenon is that you realize that you are free to respond to the words of others as you wish - even if they call them "constitutions," "laws," etc! And you are not free to choose the consequences of your choices. Dominators, manipulators, and their ilk primarily use words to ply their trade. The discovery that their words are intrinsically meaningless and that you attach meaning to their words, could increase your freedom of choice by no small measure.

If you stop taking it for granted and you think about it, you might come to the conclusion that this phenomenon of "meaning" is very strange indeed. What in the universe makes meaning possible at all? We observe repetitive patterns in the universe which enable us to predict. "Meaning" is very close to prediction.

But predictions are prone to error. Hence there can be "false meaning" (deception?) How can one person induce another to create false meaning? Considering these issues will lead you to discover that all meaning involves a degree of self-deception. Paradoxically, this discovery will make it more difficult for others to deceive you and render you less susceptible to self-deception.

All knowledge results from metaphors: equating something with something else. You "know" something when you can say, "It's like this or that." The "this" or "that" is always something other than the thing you "know." Physically, knowledge comes from the senses. An image (structure of light) on the retina represents an object - a "physical metaphor." What in the universe makes it possible for one thing to "represent" another? Physical deception? Maybe deception is as integral a building block of the universe as matter, energy, space, and time. Is this what makes the never-ending improvement of knowledge possible? Such questions lead you to discover that knowledge is impossible without a degree of self-deception. And this discovery will help you realize the value of regarding your knowledge as provisional rather than final.

When you communicate you can never be absolutely certain that the meaning you attach to a word or sentence is the same meaning the recipient creates in his or her mind. The best you can do is observe the way the recipient behaves after receiving the communication. Certain behaviors will lead you to conclude that you succeeded in communicating; others that you failed. But you can never be absolutely certain. This is how you discover that communication is impossible without a degree of self-deception. And this discovery will help you realize why communication can be so difficult and exasperating and ridden with pitfalls, and needs to be handled so carefully.

You can empty your mind and discover that you are free from all the above.

Finally, nothing is a space of infinite possibility - the essence of creativity. Discover nothingness. Read The Experience of Nothingness by Michael Novack.

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Unreality is a severe form of chronic confusion with some elements of helplessness and an extreme degree of self-deception. Unreality spans the three adjacent levels of helplessness, confusion, and self-deception. Unreality also happens to be the "grandaddy" of addictions...

Ironically, there are certain gross unrealities in the area of food, language, and politics that practically all humans suffer from. And if you are not addicted to these unrealities, your fellow humans may consider you "crazy" and "unreal!" In the areas of education, economics, and religion there are also gross unrealities that large numbers of humans suffer from. Most of these gross unrealities are institutionalized. You better believe them - or be punished! They tend to render humans helpless, confused, and deluded. We may call them "social unrealities." They are transmitted culturally. Their consequences include such "social problems" as war, inflation, pollution, unemployment, homelessness, child abuse, poor health, crime, drug addiction, degenerative diseases, etc. Such social unrealities are exposed in other Build Freedom publications - such as Reports #TL06, #TL07, #TL07A and #TL07B. Here we are concerned with individual unrealities, those more or less unique to individuals.

"To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform." -- Theodore H. White


[This section is partially based on the Chapter "Metaphors and Metaphysics" by Dorothy Rowe, in Applications of Personal Construct Theory edited by Jack Adams-Webber and James C. Mancuso.]

At an early age, we as small children, create a myth about ourselves, others, and the future. This myth contains our beliefs about ourselves, other humans, the purpose of life, the nature of death, what we intend to do with our lives, the nature of the universe, moral principles, attitudes towards authority figures, and so on, that is, our personal metaphysics. The myth may include the notion that humans are bad and stupid and we must save them, or that humans are good and have the power to create a perfect world. The myth may be based on the notion that this life is the only one we have, therefore we have to make the best of it and live life to the fullest. Or it may be based on the notion that we have lived before and will live again, therefore we should live our life so we achieve fulfillment in the next.

Our personal myth may contain both individual and social unrealities. Individual unrealities result from decisions about self, others, and the world stemming largely from traumatic childhood experiences. As we grow up and become adults, essentially one of five things can happen to us and our myths:

1. Our myth and our actual life are closely related. We essentially live our life in accordance with our myth. We could be considered a "normal, well-adjusted" person. Whatever personal unrealities we hold, they cause us few if any difficulties. Our life can be said to be working. We don't necessarily recognize our myth as myth and it doesn't really matter.

2. Our myth and our actual life diverge and we change our myth. We realize that our life isn't working the way it's supposed to in terms of our myth. We recognize our myth as myth and consciously reformulate our myth so it is in accordance with our actual life. This probably means giving up on the grand expectations we had set for ourselves in early life. It could lead to a life of disappointment, cynicism, and disillusionment.

3. Our myth and our actual life diverge and we change our life. We realize that our life isn't working the way it's supposed to in terms of our myth. We recognize that the basic reason for our life not working is that we lack knowledge, skills, and resources, or that we need to make character changes, and/or we need to find appropriate partners. We set about systematically acquiring what we lack, changing our character, and/or finding suitable partners. We elevate our life to the level where it matches our myth.

4. Our myth and our actual life diverge and we change both our myth and our life. We become conscious of our myth as myth. We consciously reformulate our myth to remove some unrealities, but we retain the grand aspirations if there is a reasonable probability that they can be achieved. We also change our life by acquiring knowledge, skills, and resources, making character changes, and finding appropriate partners so we can achieve our grand aspirations. So we synchronize our myth and our life.

5. Our myth and our actual life diverge with an ever-widening gap which we refuse to acknowledge. We are committed at all costs to insist that our myth is reality. Nothing is more important than pretending that our myth is reality. We'll become depressed, drive loved ones away, descend into bankruptcy, get locked up in a madhouse, even kill ourselves - rather than admit the absurdity of our myth when compared to our actual life. We are the extreme case, the unreality addict.

A consciously formulated myth can become a vision that constitutes a powerful motivating force. A vision is by definition unreal - it represents a future state of affairs that we seek to bring about. Reality is the current state of affairs. The realist takes practical steps to transform the current state of affairs into the realization of the vision. The unreality addict pretends, deceiving himself or herself, that the vision is reality, or that it will become reality by some kind of "magic." The unreality addict is oblivious to the practical steps that need to be taken to progress form "A" (the current state of affairs) to "Z" (the realization of the vision or dream).

* * * * *

The most important origin of unreality is the "Ghost-Not" experience. At an early age, all "socialized" (or "culturally adapted") humans undergo a kind of "mind-snapping" during which they flip from using primarily their own senses to discern reality, to depending on what others agree with as their primary method for discerning reality. See "The Reciprocality Project." One of the most important consequences of Ghost Not is that it impairs your ability to use your senses to discern reality.

* * * * *

In order to have a realistic chance of achieving our vision, we may have to make major character changes. Stephen R. Covey has written a superb book to this end, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He makes a distinction between "personality" and "character." Personality changes are superficial (what much of the "success literature" of the past 200 years is about); while character changes are profound changes that fundamentally change our lives. I highly recommend Covey's 7 Habits.

There are two formulas for handling unreality: the junior and the senior. The junior formula you apply when you recognize your "unreality problem"; the senior, when you attempt to assist someone else to handle his or her unreality problem. Below are a fairly comprehensive list of unreality symptoms.


1. Inability to confront reality - acts like a compulsive fugitive from reality. In general, has a low "level of confront," that is, finds it difficult to face up to reality.

2. Inability to focus on physical actions that need to be performed in the present.

3. Lives in a state of waking dreams - dreamer of fantastic dreams. Suffers from grandiose, overzealous visions of the future - uses these to attempt to escape from the present.

4. Manic-depressive tendencies - flips between unreal euphoria and manic depression.

5. Cannot write a constructive physical action plan to proceed from A to Z. Indulges excessively in irrelevant and time-wasting activities. Generates numerous tangential "new ideas" (at a dime a dozen) that will miraculously solve all the problems. Cannot make realistic plans - jumps around from random action to random action. Tends to be impulsive.

6. Inability to set production targets. Cannot analyze what needs to be done to achieve production targets.

7. Has difficulty identifying the level of creation he or she is operating at. Has great difficulty applying the formulas for the levels of creation, particularly the "find out what's needed and wanted" step of the non-existence formula and the "change your operating basis" step of the emergency formula. Finds it almost impossible to apply the self-deception formulas.

8. Acts on feelings and emotions rather than on intellect. Tends to be a shallow, superficial thinker who deludes himself or herself that he or she is a "great thinker."

9. Creates a dreamlike unreal world in own mind almost completely disconnected from reality or the real world, based on how he or she would like the world to be rather than the way it is.

10. Has great difficulty distinguishing between reality and his or her representations or models of reality. Doesn't realize that whatever he or she says about reality is not reality, but a representation or model of reality.

11. Tends to have rigid views of "reality." Thinks that views of reality can be "proven." Doesn't realize that all views of reality are to some extent speculative. Doesn't realize that a thousand (or a million) supporting examples do not prove a view of reality, while it takes just one contrary example to disprove a view of reality.

12. May cling fanatically to notions like, "reality is all in the head," if I think I walk through the wall then I walk through the wall," "everything is relative," and "what is true for me is true." May have difficulty in seeing that some things simply are the way they are independently of what anyone thinks or says and independently of whether there's an observer or not. (Deep down these people "know" that when the bus comes at them, they get out of the way - or get flattened. And, for practical purposes, a woman is either pregnant or she is not pregnant, irrespective of what anyone thinks or says about it.)

13. Tends to see things in black or white. Often cannot distinguish shades of grey. For example, has difficulty distinguishing between an intention, a commitment, an agreement, and a contract. When someone says, "I'll phone you," he assumes this to be a commitment rather than an expression of intention.

14. Tends to have unreal expectations of others. Often expects them to think and behave the way he or she does.

15. Tends to operate on two-valued logic (black/white), as opposed to multi-valued logic (black/many shades of grey/white). For example, may insist that a question be answered by either "yes" or "no." May be unable to entertain, "There is no clear-cut answer; it depends on... "

16. May suffer from prejudices: "all Jews are selfish and crooked," "all niggers are thieves," "all women are bad drivers," etc.

17. Constantly looks for "small signs of success" - blows them up out of all proportion.

18. Suffers from delusions of grandeur such as "the Berlin wall collapsed because I wanted it down and I told people it would come down," or "I'm the greatest salesman in the world; I know everything about selling; I know exactly what to do; the product I sell is the market leader in its class by a long way - but my commissions are so low that I'm experiencing financial difficulties."

19. Tends to have a low level of responsibility. Often misassigns responsibility to factors or people outside self. Puts self as victim at effect like a reed in the wind. Compulsively blames others or outside factors for own emotional state. Very good at rationalizing (finding unreal reasons for lack of results) and self-justification.

20. Writes "great volumes of memoirs" (in an attempt to escape reality?) but never publishes them - seldom reveals their contents because of the deep-rooted fear that they will be exposed as garbage, or - even worse - the incoherent ravings of the mad...

21. Sometimes achieves great success, maybe partially due to chance factors such as being the proverbial millionth monkey with a typewriter who wrote the bible. Finds it difficult or impossible to repeat success. Cannot identify the true reasons for past success.

22. Almost fanatically wants to solve the problems of others and the world, while unable to solve own problems. May project own problems onto others. If he or she formulates a personal life purpose, it is usually unreal, for example, a purpose to "save the world" in some variation, but without anything said about personal development.

23. May be a true believer trapped in a religious or philosophical cult or a cult-like movement or organization. Tends to suffer from blind acceptance and automatic rejection.

24. May use sex, TV, religion, politics, sports, gambling, junk food, or drugs (caffeine, sugar, nicotine, alcohol, marihuana, cocaine, LSD, etc.) to escape reality.

25. May fanatically cling to misleading slogans, such as the following by Calvin Coolidge: "Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." May even post such misleading slogans prominently on the walls of their offices. (While persistence and determination are important, and Coolidge's quotation is not without merit, the problem with unreal persistence and unreal determination is that they can lead to disaster when fanatics persist in their folly - like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein. For determination and persistence to work, you have to pursue quality activities with determination and persistence. To "press on regardless" with stupid, unreal activities is a formula for disaster - in this case, determination and persistence only compound the disaster.)

26. Indulges in "magical thinking" - the notion that certain results will occur as if by magic - for example, "in the end truth will always prevail," or "a miracle will save me." Often prepares poorly for interviews, meetings, speeches, presentations, etc. Tends to get caught in last minute rushes. Often late for appointments. Tends to operate in "cope mode" ("management by crisis"), often having to react to emergencies without proper planning.

27. Tends to exaggerate compulsively - like a the proverbial fisherman or the jaded salesperson. Eventually believes his or her own lies.

28. May be superb at starting things, but poor at continuing and completing them. An activity or project can be divided into start - continue - complete. This could be called a "cycle of action." The sufferer from unreality may be a genius at developing ideas for starting things, but may lack the ability to continue and complete them.

29. May suffer from overwhelming automatic negative thoughts.

30. If managing a project or company:

(a) Makes unreal projections;

(b) Establishes vague, vaporous relationships;

(c) Dreams that proper contracts are irrelevant;

(d) Cannot make specific, detailed action plans with deadlines;

(e) Things drag on endlessly with little or no results.

31. When reality becomes so harsh that even the most fantastic dreams cannot provide any escape, the poor victim of unreality descends into a deep state of severe depression and debilitating paralysis from which he or she can see no way out (except suicide).

32. Additional unreality symptoms follow after the senior formula for unreality.


1. Admit to yourself that you are an unreality addict, if you are. (Ask your family, friends, and colleagues.)

2. Apply the helplessness formula, if necessary.

3. Read the unreality symptoms at least once a day.

4. Give copies of the unreality symptoms and formula to family members, friends, and co-workers and ask them to ruthlessly tell you when they think you deviate from reality. Note to family, friends, and colleagues: The person stuck in unreality may be addicted to unreality like an alcoholic to alcohol. If so, your help and support are vital in getting him or her to apply the formula. He or she can't do it alone. (And the problem may be that those around an unreality addict are often stuck in unreality themselves.)

5. Learn to observe yourself, particularly when you manifest any of the unreality symptoms.

6. Question your "brilliant visions" of the future.

7. Identify the key productive actions you need to take, express them as production statistics, chart them, and post them on a wall where you can see them every day.

8. Develop the habit of doing what you need to do, irrespective of your emotions or how you feel about it.

9. Ask family members, friends, and co-workers to help you write specific, detailed action plans of what you need to do.

10. Develop sharp focus to identify what needs to be done. Every day make a list of things to do. Ensure that every item on the list is a necessary action. Prioritize the items. As you do them cross them off. At the end of the day carry forward items not yet done to the following day. Also make a list of the (irrelevant?) things you did during the day, that were not on your list.

11. Set production targets for yourself, or get someone else to help you set them.

12. Develop perspective. When things look hopeless, compare your plight to that of a starving boy in Ethiopia or a thirteen-year-old girl being gang-raped by 20 soldiers.

13. Assume that whatever views you hold about yourself, reality, others, "all women," "all men," economics, religion, politics, etc. could be garbage that needs to be replaced by more workable views, models, or representations. Learn to act like a "personal scientist" who regards his or her views as hypotheses and his or her behavior as experiments to test and improve these hypotheses.

14. Whenever you get into a disagreement or conflict with someone, look for unreality on your part in the form of fixed ideas, unreal expectations, unjustified two-valued (black/white) logic, projecting your own problem onto another, or attempting to solve another's "problem" when you should be solving you own problems.

15. Get off junk food, drugs, compulsive sex, TV, sports, and gambling.

16. Discover that you control your emotions. Whatever other people do, you have the ability to respond any way you wish. You and only you make you feel the way you do.

17. Replace unreal determination and persistence with the attempt to identify exactly what needs to be done and do it - with determination and persistence. Read Million Dollar Habits by Robert J. Ringer ("Laserlike focus is perhaps the most common trademark of the supersuccessful.") - particularly the first chapter, "The Reality Habit." See also Focus and Concentration.

18. Apply the confusion and self-deception formulas as necessary.

19. If you suffer from negative thoughts, read Cognitive Therapy by Aaron T. Beck.

20. Increase your love of reality to the point where it exceeds your desire to make your dreams come true.

21. Launch "Unreality Anonymous." If it already exists by the time you read this, then join it. (The ideal person to launch Unreality Anonymous would be someone who is neither religious nor political - someone with the ability to question everything. Given the degree to which humans generally suffer from unreality, the founder of Unreality Anonymous should be able to make a fortune - in excess of his or her most unreal dreams!)


1. Finds it difficult or impossible to apply the unreality formula. Has no way of knowing whether he or she is applying the formula or not.

2. Tells others that he or she is "religiously applying" the formula, when he or she is making only a half-hearted attempt. Deceives himself or herself that he or she is applying the formula when he or she isn't.

3. Has great difficulty in applying step 4 of the unreality formula, particularly in asking others to ruthlessly indicate when he or she is attempting to evade reality.

4. Very reluctant to ask others to help him or her devise practical action plans to progress from A to Z, particularly where Z is the solution of personal problems like poor health or financial difficulties.

5. Suffers from DENIAL, possibly to an extreme degree. Unreality is a DENIAL OF REALITY. See #TL03E: The Many Forms of Denial .

See also:


1. Get and maintain permission and cooperation from the person you seek to help apply the unreality formula.

2. Get the person to read this Report.

3. Discuss which unreality symptoms, including ones not listed here, apply to the person.

4. Get the person to read the unreality symptoms at least once per day.

5. Have a discussion with the person to help him or her find the level of creation at which he or she is operating. Let the person himself or herself decide.

6. Help and support the person in applying the appropriate formulas.

7. Observe yourself and your situation and determine which formula you should apply - to set an example or to increase your ability to help someone else.

8. Be willing to be ruthless in applying pressure to the person you seek to help to apply the unreality formula.

9. Read (or at least skim) the books mentioned in this Report. Help the person to study the appropriate books and to apply them.

10. Be willing to continue the assistance and pressure - it may take months (or years) for the person to become reality-oriented.


You usually start a new activity, project, or job at the level of non-existence (unless you start in helplessness, confusion, or self-deception). Generally, you recognize non-existence from the observation that nothing useful is being produced. For example, if you've been trying to launch (bring into existence) some activity for a while, and you haven't made any significant progress, that might indicate that you need to apply the non-existence formula.

In attempting to apply a comprehensive non-existence formula, the prospect of "so many things to do" might seem overwhelming. So I've formulated both a mini-formula and a maxi-formula for non-existence. It's up to you to identify the steps you need to take to bring into existence what you're trying to achieve.

Mini-Formula for Non-Existence:

1. Get inspired and committed!

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy.
the chance to draw back,
always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative (and creation).
There is one elemental truth,
the ignornance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans --
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves all.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issue from the decision,
raising in one's favor all manner of incidents
and meetings and material assistance
which no one could have dreamed would come his or her way.

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

2. Humility: accept that you don't have all the answers.

3. Become willing to do whatever is necessary to succeed. (Be willing to do things you don't usually do in order to produce what is needed and wanted.)

4. Examine your situation from a perspective of advantages and disadvantages. What advantages do you enjoy that make it likely that you'll succeed? What disadvantages do you suffer from? What do you need to do to increase your advantages and decrease your disadvantages? See #TL04C: THE ULTIMATE SUCCESS SECRET!

5. CREATE A FOUNDATION! To build a house you need a foundation. This may a useful metaphor for discovering what basics you may need "put together" in order to bring your activity, project, or business into existence. The specific elements you might need to "put together" to create your foundation could include:

From studying all the non-existence formula steps, you may be able to answer the questions: "What should my foundation consist of?"; "What absolutely must be part of my foundation?"; "What's been missing from my foundation?"; "What can I usefully add to my foundation?"; "What negatives absolutely must be removed from my foundation?"; "What can I do to make my foundation more advantageous and less disadvantageous?"; "What basics do I need to master in order to succeed?"; "What kind of support system do I need?" "Do I need a buddy or partners, or do I even need to put together a mastermind team, in order to succeed?"; "What might have been in the foundations of others who have successfully brought into existence the kind of thing(s) I'm trying to achieve?"; "Am I willing to invest the necessary time, money, and effort to create the foundation I need for my success?" (If you're not willing to do whatever is necessary to create your foundation to bring a particular thing, activity, project, or business into existence, then it may be time to consider changing direction and doing something different.)

6. Realize that YOUR MIND IS YOUR GREATEST ASSET! At least, it's POTENTIALLY your greatest asset. Many people use their own minds more to sabotage than to aid their success. I emerged from school with a mind PROGRAMMED FOR MEDIOCRITY! The same may apply to you. I highly recommend the book 'Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams: The Fifteen Power Secrets of the World's Most Successful People' by Steven K. Scott. He writes in terms of Six Chains that hold you back and Seven Booster Engines that take you forward. Here are the "15 Power Secrets":

  1. Reprogramming your on-board computer -- Chain #1 (You've been programmed for mediocrity from your youth.)
  2. Overcoming fear of failure -- Chain #2
  3. Turning criticism from foe to friend -- Chain #3
  4. Gaining a clear and precise vision -- Chain #4
  5. Overcoming your lack of know-how -- Chain #5
  6. Overcoming your lack of resources -- Chain #6
  7. Achieving infinitely more in a fraction of the time -- Engine #1
  8. Dreaming and achieving impossible dreams -- Engine #2
  9. Recruiting the partners and mentors of your dreams -- Engine #3 (Remove the limits of your limited resources and multiply your potential -- infinitely!)
  10. Igniting the engine of positiveness -- Engine #4
  11. Effectively and persuasively communicating -- Engine #5 (The single key that unlocks more doors to your dreams than any other.)
  12. Acquiring the discipline of winning most of the time -- Engine #6
  13. Taking control of your life, one minute at a time -- Engine #7
  14. Acquiring the fuel of passion (Passion fuels all seven engines)
  15. Flipping the switch (All the power of your seven booster engines is meaningless if you don't ignite them. A single switch in your heart can instantly ignite each engine!)

7. Some people are so STUCK IN NEGATIVITY that no matter how many times they read and attempt to apply Scott's principles (or any similar books), they make little or no progress. It may be necessary for you to first MOVE OUT OF YOUR NEGATIVITY! I highly recommend the book 'Negaholics: How to Overcome Negativity and Turn Your Life Around' by Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. She writes:

"Negaholism is a syndrome in which people unconsciously limit their own innate abilities, convince themselves that they can't have what they want, and sabotage their wishes, desires, and dreams... Self-imposed limitations... contaminate the consciousness of the majority of the population in subtle ways. The beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions which keep us restricted, constrained, and curtailed have reached epidemic proportions.

The first few pages of the book include tests to determine if you're a negaholic and what type:

  1. Attitudinal negaholic
  2. Behavioral negaholic
  3. Mental negaholic
  4. Verbal negaholic

If you're a negaholic, you may have to move out of your chronic negativity before you can effectively implement any of the other non-existence formula steps. The best, most efficient, and most cost-effective way I know of to overcome negative subconscious programming is Idenics -- see WBM#182: Idenics: The Most Powerful Reprogramming for Success! See also "Freedom Step #16 is Confront COMPULSIVE KNEE-JERK NEGATIVITY without reacting in like fashion" in #TL05B: FREEDOM STEPS.

8. Creating a POWERFUL, POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE may be the most important part of creating your FOUNDATION:

9. Identify a communication line (find a means to communicate) to one or more individuals who can assist you.

10. Obtain a map, a recipe, or a set of instructions; design a plan of action.

11. Apply the "Small-Step-Progression Principle" -- see Special Report #TL13A: The Millionaire's Secret (I).

12. Discover "What You Can and Can't Control" -- take steps related to what you can control; don't take steps related to what you can't control. See #TL10B: ESCAPE FROM HELPLESSNESS AND MOVE UP TO POWER.

13. Make yourself known.

14. Discover what is needed and wanted.

15. Do, produce, and/or present that.

16. Identify obstacles that prevent your progress or success and develop ways to overcome them.

17. Discover what works and what doesn't.

18. Become Unstoppable. If you are stopped easily, you don't have much chance of getting anything significant off the ground. I highly recommend the book 'Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph for People Just Like You' by Cynthia Kersey. To the extent that people are "stoppable" they fail to follow through with whatever they need to do to succeed. Kersey provides 7 characteristics of the unstoppable person:

  1. Purpose ignites the spirit
  2. Passion fuels inexhaustible energy
  3. Belief sustains the journey
  4. Preparation builds the foundation
  5. Teams strengthen the cause
  6. Creativity taps unconscious resources
  7. Perseverance rewards

19. Research Reasons for Success and Failure. "Why have others succeeded or failed at things similar to what I'm trying to achieve?"

20. Find out what factors might cause disastrous failure (particularly after considerable success). See The All-Time Self-Sabotage "Hall of Shame." Here's my list:

21. Ask, "What's missing?" Use the answers to correct and improve what you're doing.

By applying the above steps (or a subset of them), you may be able to successfully bring into existence what you want to achieve. However, if you get bogged down, or don't progress as you would like, then you may need to shift the the maxi-formula -- or at least take some of its steps.

Maxi-Formula for Non-Existence:

1. Any of the 21 steps of the mini-formula, above, that may be necessary for you.

2. Overcome inertia! "Gravity is automatic... you must propel yourself forward and upward!" Maybe failure also tends to be automatic... and it's up to you to take whatever steps may be necessary for your success. Several wise men and women (e.g., George Gurdjieff and Ayn Rand) have indicated an important difference between humans and animals: Animals automatically reach their full potential; humans have to make deliberate, conscious efforts to propel themselves toward their maximum potential.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers


3. Give yourself "Permission to Succeed" -- see "Success Anorexia" in #TL10E: THE POWER OF DOING THINGS RIGHT.


5. Install the "X10 Software" in your brain, so you constantly look for and find ways to become 10 times more effective at what you do. See "BECOME A 10X PERFORMING PERSON!"

6. Find Out Where You Are -- the "Baby-to-Guru Scale":

7. Realize that you may be "operating below your success threshold." You may have to raise your level of competence. Consider the "Peter Principle": "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." You may want to bring something new into existence because you're dissatisfied with what you're currently doing for a living. You may aspire to "greater things." However, currently you may be doing something relatively simple more or less at the level of flipping burgers or pushing a pen. What you aspire to may be something you're not yet sufficiently competent to do.

8. Consider the "Ostrich Factor" -- many people (often grossly and dramatically) overestimate their level of competence. Just watch "American Idol" to see how most contestants grossly overestimate their ability to sing! (They are like IBCs who deceive themselves that they are IBPs.) See "Denial of Disadvantage" in #TL10E: THE POWER OF DOING THINGS RIGHT.

9. Discover if you need to apply other formulas before you apply the non-existence formula -- e.g., helplessness, confusion, self-deception, or unreality.

10. Discover the power of "Doing Things Right" -- my experience with large numbers of people indicates that most have a poor appreciation of the need to do things right. They suffer from a kind of "cognitive disconnect" between their actions and the results they produce. See #TL10E: THE POWER OF DOING THINGS RIGHT.

11. Develop your thinking skills. Your mind is important. Talking about baseball, Yogi Berra said: "90% of the game is half mental!" Basketball coach Geno Auriemma says: "People break down mentally before they break down physically!" Consider some broad styles and ranges of thinking:

  1. Common sense;
  2. Positive thinking (often unreal);
  3. Realistic, practical, or pragmatic thinking (sometimes called "negative" thinking);
  4. Wrong thinking;
  5. Magical thinking;
  6. Creative thinking;
  7. Lateral thinking;
  8. Making decisions;
  9. Logical reasoning;
  10. Inductive reasoning;
  11. Scientific thinking;
  12. From superficial thinking to deep thinking;
  13. Self-reflective thinking (metathinking or thinking about thinking);
  14. Self-observation -- see "Gurdjieff's Attempt to Wake Us Up" in #TL15: HOW TO ACHIEVE ULTIMATE SUCCESS and "Gurdjieff, Rand, and Trance States" in #TL05AA: THE BREEDING MOTIVATION: WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Step #1 of the mini formula for non-existence can easily degenerate into unreal "positive" thinking: "Well, I've committed myself and I feel inspired! Now I'll just sit back and wait for things to happen!" Consider step #3 of the mini formula for non-existence: "Well, I'm willing to do whatever it takes... however, I don't have to actually do it... my willingness and my thoughts will make it happen automatically!" After doing an Avatar course," a friend said: "I don't have to pay attention to other cars on the road because I can just create that I won't have an accident!"

Martha Stewart got bored with her life. She thought, "I want to experience something different... something very different!" She thought and thought and decided it would be interesting to go to jail. "But what can I do so they'll put me in jail?", she thought, "I know... I'll sell the rest of my ImClone stock because my broker says Sam Waksal is selling. I know all such transactions leave a paper trail for "government bureaucrazies" (whose 'de facto' "US Constitution" consists of only 8 words: "ANYTHING GOES... THAT WE CAN GET AWAY WITH! -- see How To Apply This Information). Then I'll set it up so it seems that I'd given my broker a stop loss order at $60, but I won't be able to prove this. If the "government bureaucrazies" later "lean on my broker" and persuade him to say that there was no stop loss order, it will increase my chances of going to jail. In general, I'll apply Sir Walter Scott's principle, formulated in 1808: "Oh what a tangled web we weave; When first we practice to deceive." I'll tell my secretary to change the record of a phone conversation. After that, I'll talk to the "federal bureaucrazies" -- forget the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution! And I'll make public statements about being "innocent." In short, I'll give the "federal bureaucrazies" -- on a plate -- everything they need to put me in jail!" Libertarian types will write about the outrage of my persecution, prosecution, and conviction... but that won't stop the "federal bureaucrazies" -- see Free Martha Stewart! and What the Martha Stewart Case Means to You: "So here we are in modern America -- a place where anyone can be charged with anything. And if there's no law against what you've done, the prosecutor can call it "conspiracy," "obstruction of justice," or "lying to investigators" because you claimed to be innocent."

A great guide to help improve your thinking skills is Steve Allen's book '"Dumbth": The Lost Art of Thinking; With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind.' After perusing "Dumbth" I've come to the conclusion that it is indeed the greatest problem/challenge in the world. In my view, "Dumbth" should be regarded as having the following components (in alphabetical sequence):

  1. Addiction
  2. Anorexia
  3. Automatic rejection
  4. Blind belief
  5. Coercion - ******** (The initiation of force/fraud/violence -- the basic formula of government.)
  6. Dependence
  7. Failure to learn - ******** (See #TL03C: HOW TO WAKE UP YOUR DESIRE TO LEARN, GROW & SUCCEED.)
  8. Ghost Not - ******** (At an early age, all socialized, enculturated humans undergo a kind of mind-snapping experience, during which they switch from primarily using their senses to discern reality, to primarily using "social agreement" to discern reality. An important aspect of Ghost Not is that the use of the senses to discern reality is considerably impaired. See The Reciprocality Project.)
  9. Helplessness
  10. Hopelessness
  11. Ignorance - ********
  12. Illiteracy
  13. Incompetence - ********
  14. Inefficiency
  15. Innumeracy
  16. Intolerance
  17. Knee-jerk negativity
  18. Obedience - ******** (Don't harm others or their property; don't get caught disobeying stupid "laws" -- like Martha Stewart!)
  19. Obesity
  20. Prejudice
  21. Short attention span
  22. Stupidity - ********
  23. Superstition/Unreality - ******** (The basic "formula" of most religion.)

In my opinion, the most important components of "Dumbth" -- the "Big Eight" (********) -- should be regarded as Coercion, Failure to learn, Ghost Not, Ignorance, Incompetence, Obedience, Stupidity, and Superstition/Unreality. Regarding obedience, see "Introduction" to #TL10D: WILLPOWER AND PSYCHOSYNTHESIS and OBEDIENCE, PUNISHMENT, AND POWER.

Allen's "101 Rules for Better Thinking" can help most of us improve our thinking skills. Here are some:

I highly recommend that you study Steve Allen's book '"Dumbth": The Lost Art of Thinking; With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind.' See also #TL11: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR INTELLIGENCE.

12. Subconscious programming may "force" you to take self-destructive actions that sabotage your success. The best, most efficient, and most cost-effective way I know of to overcome negative subconscious programming is Idenics -- see WBM#182: Idenics: The Most Powerful Reprogramming for Success!

13. Some people simply cannot advance because they are STUCK in something. No matter with how much determination they attempt to apply the non-existence or any other formula, they don't make any progress. If this applies to you, you may be stuck in one or more of the following:

If you find it difficult to identify what you're stuck in that's holding you back, do this exercise: Sit down with pen and paper in a quiet spot where you won't be interrupted. Ask yourself, "What am I Stuck in that's Holding Me Back?" Write down all the answers that come up. Just before you go to sleep at night, ask yourself, "What am I Stuck in that's Holding Me Back?" The next morning, or if you wake up during the night with answers, write down all the answers that come up.

14. Upgrade your life!

15. Master money! See Basic Money Skills, Advanced Money Skills, and Money-Making Articles.

16. Master relationships! Probably the most important thing to realize about relationships is that people tend to reveal their "good" while hiding their "bad" -- see #TL15A: THE GOOD AND THE BAD. See also #TL05AA: THE BREEDING MOTIVATION: WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, McWilliams -- Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, and McWilliams -- Life 101.

17. Understand the world! There's much more deception in the world than you might think! People tend to reveal their "good" while hiding their "bad" -- see #TL15A: THE GOOD AND THE BAD. Although Bill O'Reilly usually appears to me as an "obnoxious bully," his book 'Who's Looking Out for You?' may provide some useful insights on how the world works. See also #TL07B: The Nature of Government and "The Other Side of Religion."

18. A major obstacle to applying the non-existence formulas can be, "I am a ... (for example, accountant); therefore I only do ... (accounting)." The notion that you are an "X" who does only "Y" may be a debilitating self-imposed restriction.

19. Design your strategies and tactics so the "Path of Least Resistance" takes you where you want to go; become the "Creative Force of Your Life" -- see Special Report #TL13A: The Millionaire's Secret (I).

20. Hans Vaihinger formulated the principle of the "Preponderance of Means over Ends." There is a tendency to lose sight of the goals (ends) and for the means (actions) to become more important than the ends. This is most noticeable in government programs that produce the opposite of the intended or stated objectives. "Prohibition" in the 1930s was an example. It's worthwhile to ask yourself if the actions you're now taking or plan to take (though they may have been worthwhile in the past), will really help you achieve your goals. Maybe more efficient steps will now work better.

21. Discover what is not needed or wanted.

22. Do not do, produce, or present that.

23. Discover what constitutes a solution. Certain attempted "solutions" -- like "Prohibition" in the 1930s -- are in fact non-solutions. The probability that they will produce a desired result is zero. Many people waste a great deal of time and money -- sometimes to "fight for great causes" -- taking actions that are non-solutions. You may want to test your proposed actions against a set of criteria to help clarify whether a proposed action might be a solution or a non-solution:

  1. It must address a specific, real, individual problem (not a high-level collective abstraction like "pollution" or "third-world poverty").
  2. It must respect individuals and their property; i.e., it may not involve coercion (initiation of fraud or violence).
  3. It must be a win-win proposition.
  4. It should not cause worse "side-problems." (For example, a drug producing side-effects and "Prohibition" producing "organized crime.")
  5. The proposer must be able to personally implement it or get it implemented. (The proposer needs to have access to the resources -- people, know-how, capital, equipment, materials, etc. -- necessary for implementation.)
  6. It needs to be profitable so it can be "rolled out."
  7. It must address not only symptoms, but also causes.
  8. It should result in the individuals involved becoming less dependent on outside help. ("Helping" people to relieve symptoms without also handling causes, may render them more dependent, perpetuating the problem.)
  9. It needs to address the deepest levels of thinking that give rise to the problem.
  10. It should utilize the scientific method, as necessary.

(The above criteria are tentative; this area hasn't been developed thoroughly.) See also "What Constitutes a Solution?"

24. Make an inventory of the assets, knowledge, tools, skills, and resources you can utilize to produce what is needed and wanted.

25. Find out how you can apply available assests, knowledge, tools, skills, and resources to produce what is needed and wanted.

26. Discover what additional assets, knowledge, tools, skills, and resources you might need to succeed.

27. Acquire these assets, knowledge, tools, skills, and resources.

28. Question the entire activity, project, or business.

It may require great self-discipline to apply the non-existence formula steps you need to take. Most of us tend to suffer from preconceptions and fixed ideas about what is needed or wanted. This tendency needs to be curbed ruthlessly. Beware of being the "know-it-all" who wants to tell everyone else what to do - particularly in cult-like organizations headed by "know-it-all gurus!"

Baking a cake may serve as an example of how to apply the non-existence formulas. You decide who you want to bake a cake for. You tell them that you are a cook, chef, or baker and that you want to bake a cake. You ask them what kind of cake they like. You decide what kind of cake you want to bake. You get a recipe. You acquire the necessary ingredients in the right quantities and with the right qualities. You do not obtain unnecessary ingredients. You execute the instructions of the recipe. When the cake has been successfully baked you present or deliver it.

You apply the final step of the non-existence formula by questioning the activity of baking itself, or -- if you want to be more thorough -- the entire activity of applying heat to food -- see Report #TL09: How to Achieve Superhealth. If you have any health problems, I recommend that you investigate this area.


Build Freedom was created in May 1993 as an act of creation at the level of Vision & Choice. It was also the expression of a "gross unreality" - imagine someone starting a "worldwide information-based country" with a capital of less than $300! It was the relentless application of the non-existence formula that now - less than six months later - has advanced us to the point that our average daily income exceeds $300!

Through applying the non-existence formula, we can discover the thousands or millions of little steps that make it possible to advance a grandiose concept such as Build Freedom into a practical reality.

And we hope you'll agree that you need to find out what you need to do to speed us on our way - all of us as Build Freedomns.


I have often asked, "If freedom is so good and desirable and so many of our great minds have praised and promoted freedom for so long - then why does freedom get wiped out so easily in so many parts of the world?" We have so many fine organizations promoting freedom - where are the results they produce?

We often hear that "freedom is making great strides" because "Margaret Thatcher is privatizing state industries" or "Sweden is moving towards a free market" or "socialism is finished." But what if these are only swings of a pendulum?

Let me suggest that through the relentless application of the non-existence formula, we can become vastly more capable at making greater freedom a reality on a grand scale. You as an individual can continuously increase the degree of freedom of your own life. And you can assist and inspire a few or many others to do the same. Maybe a society is only as free as its individuals.


Notice what happens if you start a job and you don't apply the non-existence formula. You don't discover what is needed or wanted. So you resort to self-deception to "explain" why you don't succeed or get promoted. You drop to the next lower level. If now you don't apply the self-deception formula, the cognitive links between what you do and the consequences start becoming brittle. You get confused. You do what you "know" is right, only to be rebuffed. If you don't apply the confusion formula, the cognitive links between your actions and outcomes break down completely. You become helpless. And if you don't apply the helplessness formula... (Of course, you could also take a shortcut from non-existence to any lower level.)

On the other hand, if you start in helplessness and apply the formula, you will move up to confusion. Instead of doing nothing, you will do some right and some wrong things. If you now apply the confusion formula, you will start discovering what works and what doesn't. Your outcomes will improve. Your head will grow as you advance to self-deception. And if you apply that formula you'll move up to non-existence, where you can start finding out what's really needed and wanted.

You may find that the least successful areas of your life, job, or organization are precisely those where these formulas are not being applied.


There is a general approach to applying the formulas for any level of creation:

1. I am solely responsible for my level of creation and the results I produce in any area.

2. Only my vision, choices, and actions will raise my level of creation.

3. How can I add value to my personal and/or professional life, my project, business, or activity and its products and/or services, and to the lives of my customers?

Value can be added by acquiring knowledge and skills, improving the formulas on which you operate, improving your health and wealth, improving products and services, making a project more effective and efficient, better meeting the needs of customers, etc. Adding value is crucially important.

It may be a good idea to write down how you apply these formulas and discuss your actions and outcomes with a friend. You'll almost certainly both gain from doing this.

Further Reading

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