During the time I was a disc jockey in the late-70’s, a genre of music known as Funk was made famous by George Clinton and his band, Funkadelic. Funk was a dance-able, guitar-heavy blend of rhythm and blues, jazz and soul, meant to get you up and going, and keep you moving and grooving.
Although I was never a fan of Funk, I was a fan of Funk song titles, compiling a list of some two hundred song titles with the word Funk in them. One of my favorites titles was the simple, yet effective, “Aint We Funkin’ Now,” by the Brothers Johnson. The title speaks volumes about the song, which is an irresistible blend of repetitious rhythms and unimaginative lyrics.
I am struck by a couple of things when I think of this; first by the way I chose to spend my precious time then, making a dumb list to read on the air so I could get a laugh.
But I also think about the word Funk in another context with which I am very familiar; the famous TBI Funk. I have been in the TBI Funk many times, trapped in a thick mixture of noxious fumes; unable to breath, see, or accomplish anything. The TBI Funk can be brought on by any number of things; including somebody saying the wrong thing, beating yourself up for never doing the right thing, forgetting where you put your car keys for the fifth time today, having friends stop paying attention to you, or being unsuccessful in completing a task you once were able to complete easily. I think of the TBI Funk as TBI Junk.
You’d think, on hearing the term TBI Funk for the first time, that, based on the 1970’s usage of the word Funk, you’d be talking about some kind of happy dance. However, if the TBI Funk were a dance, it would be the dance of inaction, of self-inflicted pain and of self-doubt.
The TBI Funk is no dance, and is so very different from the dancing inspired by the sounds of the Brothers Johnson; instead of movement, it inspires paralysis, and it is debilitating and all consuming. The TBI Funk stops us dead in our tracks and sometimes leaves us wondering why we survived our brain injury only to go through things like this, which seem to have no purpose, meaning or end.
How do we get out of the TBI Funk and put ourselves in a place where we can just live our lives?
First of all, we have to acknowledge a few things. As much as we might like to think that the TBI Funk is brought on by our brain injuries, the TBI Funk is only brought about as an in-direct result of a brain injury. In actuality, that TBI Funk is a self inflicted condition, brought upon us because our expectations are not in line with what actually happens.
Our expectations are arrived at through experience, and are based on our previous performance. (i.e. we expect ourselves to respond a certain way in certain situations ) The issue now is;we can no longer count on our past performance as a predictor of future performance because we have had a brain injury. Adjusting to this new reality throws our system out of equilibrium, and, unable to predict the future based on past performance, we get angry and make ourselves miserable.
What is the solution?
We must adjust to our new reality, one in which we do not perform as we used to. Saying it is easy, actually adjusting our behavior and our thoughts is something else. Much of our behaviors and our reactions are ingrained in us through years of living our lives. Not only that, but adjusting our expectations can be a huge blow to the ego because we look at it as accepting less or settling.
This is a difficult situation we find ourselves in, but it’s made easier once we realize the source of our TBI Funk. Realizing we, ourselves, are the cause of our Funk may enable us to redirect some of our thoughts and emotions so that we are not constantly beating ourselves up over things we can’t control.
We all know the TBI Funk is no “happy dance,” but it doesn’t have to be the debilitating, stress inducing fog we put ourselves into. Aside from beating the Funk by redirecting our thoughts and emotions, we can actively work against it by taking ourselves and our expectations less seriously so that we are less susceptible to negative events and emotions.
The next time you feel the Funk coming on, perhaps it’s time to, 1) take a moment to settle down and rethink the situation we are in so we can be more realistic and less judgmental of ourselves, and 2) put “Aint We Funkin’ Now,” by the Brothers Johnson in the CD player, so that you can listen to some mindless music, feel the beat, and let the Funk get rid of your Junk.