Transcending Problematic Beliefs

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My last few posts have been pretty heady and esoteric, so I figured today I’d write about something a little more concrete. This is a simple  technique that I learned from a mentor a couple of years back that I’ve been putting into play over the last couple of weeks.

I had kind of thought that I’ve got the Rock-Star Delusion largely banished from my psyche, and that I do a pretty good job of defining success in my own terms these days. It’s taken a long time and a lot of internal alchemy to transcend the belief that my worth is tied up with what I do, but for the most part I feel like I’m pretty good at running my own race, not comparing myself to others, and acting for the sake of acting/letting go of the results. However, over the last couple of weeks I’ve found that niggling little golem voice piping up now and then…

“Why aren’t playing at Coachella…?”
“Why isn’t my name written on the side of that bus…?”
“Why does he have 1,000,000 plays on his Soundcloud page…?”

Not gonna lie, it can get really tiresome. Seeing these types of thoughts/feelings come up can be enough to make me want to break out my trusty personality scalpel and start carving away at myself. But… perhaps that’s not the best approach.

At the moment I’m operating on the hypothesis that these types of thoughts emerge out of what we could call a pathogenic belief (in other words, an emotionally charged assumption about the Nature of Reality  which gives rise to behaviour which is detrimental to the self). So, my guess is that the assumption at play is something to the effect of “Love is conditional, I need to earn it through what I do.” and that it’s deeply charged with the feeling of shame. Brene Brown has a lot of great stuff to say about shame, but what a lot of it boils down to is that we need to stop avoiding it if we’re going to self-actualize and live genuine, relatively joyful lives. We all feel shame in one form or another, and if we avoid it through alcohol/drugs, media intake, excessive business, narcissistic attention seeking, etc. we numb out  all of the feel-good emotions along with it. I highly recommend checking out her work.

So here’s the technique that I learned for when these types of thoughts/feelings come up.

1. Notice it and name it.
2. Pause and bring attention into the body (yes, literally inside the body). Feel what’s happening there. Very likely shame will show up as a dark churning mass in the lower belly.
3. Feel into it. Let it be exactly what it is. Sit with it.
4. When it passes or lessens, count backwards from 17 to Zero.
5. Think aloud the belief that you’d like to install in the old belief’s place. It should be stated positively and in the present, something like “My worth is inherent.”
6. Use your imagination and powers of visualization to feel in your body the emotion that this new belief is charged with. What does it feel like to be inherently valuable?
7. Go back to your day.

So does it work? It’s hard to say. The human psyche is a chaotic system, and it’s very difficult to pin down any kind of direct cause and effect. But it’s definitely better to respond to these kinds of challenges thoughtfully and consciously, as opposed to being absorbed with them or beating myself up because I don’t have it all figured out yet.

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