What do you believe about yourself? I'm not taking about the things you tell yourself you SHOULD believe, I mean those thoughts you chase around in your mind unquestioned. The ones that cause you to dim yourself a little or maybe even a lot.
Esther/Abraham-Hicks says something that has always stuck with me... "A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking". We all have some beliefs that we have thought over and over again for so long, that we no longer question if they are true. Sometimes these grooves we've worn in our brain with these repetitive thoughts are not only untrue, they are very harmful to our well-being.
I’m certainly no neurologist, but I DO know that brain neurons that “fire together- wire together”. It’s a sort of communication system in our brain and when we think a thought over and over again, it creates a sort of circuit in our brain that is like a path that has been walked on over and over again. Left unquestioned, our thoughts will automatically take the path we know best – even if it’s the worst possible route we could take. It’s a mental habit not unlike taking the same route to work each day or doing things on auto-pilot.
I've worked long and hard to grow myself on a personal level. I've been reading self-help books most of my adult life, done counseling 4 different times, multiple training courses to be a coach, immersion seminars, watched videos, the list is long. Even with all this work to bust my own limiting beliefs and habits of thought, I discovered very clearly recently that those beliefs run very, very deep and can hide in the nooks and crannies of our psyche.
My hair stylist is a long-time friend. I've actually known her since she was a child. We have great respect and love for one another. At a recent appointment we were catching up and she said something like "I'm not judging, but there's a rumor about you." Then she said what it was. I replied, without hesitation; "That's true."
I had absolutely no issue with her asking me this question directly. In fact I appreciated her authenticity and the respect she showed for me by asking me straight up. I figure I'd much rather have someone ask me if they have a question about me. It's my call if I chose to answer or not. She wasn't accusatory in her delivery, just asking by telling me what she had heard.
What came next is what shocked me and showed me just how deep our limiting beliefs can be hiding. My mind started going through all these contortions... thoughts like "what a horrible person I was", "I'm fatally flawed", "unlovable!" This by itself was disturbing enough, and then after I had knocked myself to the ground mentally – I came up swingin’!! I started looking in every corner of my mind for justifications. Things like "other people have done things that are considered "bad", worse, I'm no criminal or villain". Then my over-achiever took over; I dredged up a few more skeletons from my own past to whip myself. I heaped them on the fire I was starting in my mind to make sure I built plenty of evidence for the case of me being of no value. Wow. The speed at which I found my mind tearing myself down, justifying, etc... I was in the middle of what Dr. Brene’ Brown calls a SHAME S&!@ STORM! (click the link on her name for her amazing Ted Talk on shame)
It was shocking. I was doing all this to myself in a matter of minutes. Allllllll this personal growth work and here I was, spiraling mentally into a place that leads nowhere beneficial. I tried to just breathe, slow down, notice the storm rolling through, but I kept getting pulled in, deeper and deeper by these groves worn deep in my brain. I told myself “Just shut up and be with it.” Dr. Brene’ says the antidote it to call it out, TELL somebody what's happening in your mind. So, I text friends, who throw me a life preserver. Telling me it's natural, it's ok, of course I feel what I'm feeling, pointing out some big positives about the whole thing. I semi-recovered, followed by pretty much losing it – crying during my hair color... and that’s okay!!!
I think perhaps everyone goes through this kind of mental storm from time to time. The unfortunate thing that I feel happens for some people is that they aren't aware that their thoughts are creating "the storm of the century" and they spend a large percentage of their life thinking that these painful thoughts are true. This will certainly dim your light and when we judge ourselves harshly - it's inevitable that we will judge others with equal harshness. There's no gettin' around that one. Take the Lady Ga Ga body shaming stuff recently on social media... when we say things like that we say much more about ourselves than we do about the person we are attempting to shame or discredit. I normally don't think it's wise to respond to negative comments, but the Ga did it with style. Addressing her followers rather than the haters. She battled hate with love, the only formula that has a chance in hell of working.
Dr. Brown defines shame as the fear of being unlovable, it's the opposite of owning our story and feeling worth. She also says there are three truths about shame: 1. We ALL have it. 2. We are ALL afraid to talk about it. 3 The less we talk about it, the more power it has.
So what did I learn in all this that I'm hoping will be helpful for you in some small way???
2. We all need a list, a very short list, of people we can reach out to when we are in a shame s#!@ storm. You need to be selective who is on this list. It’s likely five people or less. I want to personally strive to be the kind of friend that I have been honored to have in my life. I can’t explain this any better than Brene’ Brown in this article. The women in my life that are my amazing friends knew just what to say, throw me some life preservers in the midst of my storm and that enabled me to LEARN from the whole situation rather than stay stuck in it. That’s an incredible gift. Reaching out for help is sometimes scary for us because it's vulnerable, but it's a game changer.
3. When a thought it's painful, that is the tip-off that it’s NOT TRUE. This is especially true when thinking thoughts about ourselves. When we think a thought that is untrue about ourselves, it is painful because we are seeing ourselves in the way that our Source does not agree with. For example, when we look at someone and were angry with them or we judge them, it doesn't feel good. That's because our Source looks at them and thinks "I don't know... I kind of like them!". The Love of us never sees others or ourselves as lacking in any way, so when we see ourselves or others in that way of being lacking, or not good enough, or too much... it feels off when we judge others or ourselves because it IS off to see it that way. It’s simply not true. Questioning our painful thoughts is the best way to bust them. If a thought feels crappy - it's because it's not true, remember that!
4. We all have stuff. ALL of us. If we are fortunate enough to be willing to look at our story, own it, then we get to stop running from it. It takes courage and the only way to get to courage is to be vulnerable. As Joy said to me “We all want to feel better. The question is… are we willing to do what it takes to get us back to our sweet spot?”I think often times, due to these pathways in our brain from habitual thinking, many of us end up finding other things to beat ourselves up with, rather than being willing to really feel good and get back in our sweet spot. We can unconsciously chase suffering because we get used to it, it sort of feels comfortable like an emotional home or set point. An example might be if saying horrible things about ourselves has as some point led to others giving us attention or loving us – we will create a connection in our brain that says “if I put myself down, I get love” and it can become an unconscious addiction. Staying awake in your life takes effort and practice.
5. We all want to be understood, accepted. But here’s the rub with that deal… no one can ever fully “get you” because they haven’t walked around in your story. It’s like walking in on a movie in the middle and then expecting to understand the whole thing without crucial information. So that means we have to understand and accept OURSELVES.
6. There is something called spiral dynamics. It’s a very interesting concept that I learned about in some leadership training I did and also in the Tony Robbins Date With Destiny immersion training. It’s about large scale psychology. It’s sort of a way of understanding human nature and how we are all at different points in our own evolution. It gives you an idea about why two people can look at the same thing and see it completely differently. I can look at my story and know it’s true for me, okay for me. Someone else may look at my story and not see it that way at all. We each get to choose. Remembering the motivators for each of the dynamic really helps me in coaching others, understanding their motivations and beliefs.
Notice in the above graphic that 40% of the population operates in the "TruthForce" dynamic. Order, right & wrong, rules are what resonates with and drives this group of people. Not ALL people. That also means that 60% of the population is driven by and resonates with other main motives. It's also interesting to me that the further we evolve up the scale, the more we are focused on the bigger picture view of life. As we evolve in this theory, we are less self-focused and more world focused. This likely means we are less and less driven by what others think of us as we go further and further up the scale and more interested in what serves the whole. Interesting stuff.
So! I'm so glad this storm happened for me. I learned a lot about myself! With any luck, what I learned might help you too. Shame and guilt are indicators that we are focused on the past, which means we are totally missing out on the present moment by being in negative thinking. That's a waste.
I’m going to try a new mantra next time the shame s#!@ storm rolls through (because it will, it will for all of us from time to time), when shame pops up in my brain I’m going to tell it “Yeah, you’re right… so what?”. I’m going to get curious about why it’s there and what it wants to teach me, and then I will compassionately say “Thank you. Now please go sit down, I got this”.
Sandy Edie Hansen
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