Positive Thinking or Positive Belief
Claire Aslangul - Thursday, June 26, 2014
The past eight months have been some of the most transformative of my adult life. I have grown in a myriad of ways. Can you guess which self help book I read to make that happen?
Actually, I didn’t read a single one. It has been a journey of growth through painful experience and awareness of my own negative belief systems that have been holding me back from happiness for years. For a very long time I have had a positive attitude and viewed the world with optimism, but when that positive thinking clashed with some deep dark core beliefs, suffering ensued. I couldn’t “think” my way out of the pain of my marriage break up, nor could I visualise a happy ending to a miscarriage. I had to stop, be vulnerable and feel the anger and grief and recognise the core wounds and attachments that were behind all this suffering. It was not enough to just think positively, I needed more. I needed to go deeper.
Self help and is like every other industry, it has its good points and it's not so good points. It has its gurus, its success stories, its charlatans and its clueless imitators, but above all it has some major logic gaps.
On average, a person who walks into a bookstore and buys a self help book will be back in 18 months time to do it all again. Now things aren't moving that fast in the evolution of an individual's psyche that the information from the first book is no longer relevant, it is that the desired outcome hasn't happened; to be rich, healthy, happy and/or in a passionate relationship. Chances are very little has changed in that 18 month period. The reader has probably not only read the book, but implemented some or all of the strategies and yet still those goals have not been attained. So back to the bookstore to pick up the newest self help book (which is probably yet another rehash of "Think and Grow Rich") in the hope that this one will have the missing ingredient. And the cycle begins again...
The irony is most of the time the only people getting rich out of the self help industry are those selling books or expensive seminars to people looking for answers. It is not a case of swindling the public though, more a case of not realising that they are confusing "casual relationship" with "causal relationship". Here you have a whole group of self made people trying hard to share the secret of their success with others, but being oblivious that their message lacks an essential piece to the puzzle. Their positive thinking, visualisation and goal setting only has a casual relationship to their achievements.
But why is it some people can walk out of an Anthony Robbins seminar and blitz their goals within months and most others try like crazy, but find themselves with exactly the same problem, just different a expression. The answer is not that they weren't disciplined enough, nor is it that they didn't listen. It all comes down to this little thing called belief.
Our belief systems are much more complicated than we once thought. Unfortunately, we can't think our way out of a belief, no matter how hard we try. Actually, when you look at the research, the opposite is true; the harder you try to think your way out of a core belief, the more reasons your brain comes up with as to why the belief is true. So in many situations when your core beliefs and thoughts are incongruent, thinking positively actually makes things worse. It cements further into your mind the underlying negative belief that got you into the unhappy position you are in the first place. Every self help book, every seminar you go to gives you a short term energy boost and inspires you to work harder, but your amazing brain always comes back to create a reality that lines up with your core beliefs. So, if you are one of these people who truly believe you are going to be successful in a field that gives you complete joy, every book you read on success and every event you attend cements the idea further that you have unlimited potential. Unfortunately, people like that are by far the minority.
So what are our core beliefs? Where do they come from? And importantly, how do we fix them?
Our beliefs can be slippery little suckers, sometimes we think we know what they are, but we don't. Identifying what beliefs you have is the first step to fixing them and this is often the case of being unable to see the forest for the trees. For myself, there have been two ways in which I have recognised belief systems that are holding me back from my true potential. The first is quiet contemplation, this could be in the form of meditation, going for a walk/run/swim/bike ride on your own without earphones. In this time of quiet contemplation, bring a stressful situation into your mind and look not at what is going on, but the feelings you have about it. Anger? Injustice? Deep sadness? Unworthiness? Ignored? Unlovable? Stupid? Judged? Shame? Fear? Out of control? Sick? Pick out all the feelings that come up with this situation and sit with them for a moment. From here think about the why behind the feeling, what is the reasoning behind feeling this way?
For an example, you walk into the kitchen to find your 5 year old has just thrown all their dinner on the floor because they didn't want it. You feel angry, but beneath that anger is a feeling of rejection. You spent an hour cooking a nice meal for the family, it was an act of love and that love has been thrown back at you, rejected by someone you adore. The rejection is really a feeling of being unlovable. Why you are angry is you believe you are unlovable. You try so hard to be an attachment parent, but in situations like these you lose it and send your child to their room. Then you spend the next few days berating yourself for not being like Suzie who would have calmly asked her kid to get down on the floor and help her clean it up and probably made a fun game of it too. This self flagellation helps you to believe that you are unlovable.
Little situations like this are huge clues into our belief systems, but sometimes it is really hard to make the connections on our own. The second way I have been able to recognise my negative beliefs has been through talking with someone else, in my case Myra. There is a tool used in psychology called a Johari window which describes the 4 selves we each have:
• The open self which is the me I know and the me you know,
• The blind self which is the me you know but I don't,
• The secret self the one I know but you don't,
• The closed self which none of us know.
Talking through a situation like this with someone who is going to be more than just sympathetic can be incredibly enlightening, because it can open up the blind self to you. Asking the right questions and pointing out connections to the same reaction in other situations works a bit like an emotional GPS. You can pin point the exact root feeling and core belief.
Now that you have recognised the belief, the next step is to work out where it comes from. This can sometimes be a difficult thing to discover because our beliefs can come from a number of places, they may be something we have picked up as adults, as teenagers, as children, as babies or they might not even belong to us. Some beliefs are passed down through our DNA*. To work out where this belief comes from you need to think about when else you have felt this way.
This can be done by going back to your very first memory of that root feeling. It might be really easy, it could be a case of thinking, "Oh yes, I will never forget the time when I left my shoes at the park and my dad yelled at me and made me walk all the way back there in the dark, telling me I wasn't allowed home until I found them. I spent hours looking for them, but they weren't there. I sat on the letterbox and I cried until my brother came out to get me. Dad didn't talk to me for a week. I felt like he could never love me again". When it is something so obviously traumatic it can be a simple task to recognise where the feeling came from, but sometimes it is much more subtle. It could be that your belief comes from more than one event, but a number of small incidences that you have tied together to create a picture. A hurtful word here and there, being ignored by a busy, stressed parent or even modelling your parent’s negative belief systems. This is where hypnosis can really help put the pieces together.
Finally, once you have recognised the belief and found the source you can begin the healing process. As I mentioned before you can't just think your way out of it. If you try to just stick a positive thought over the top it is like sticking a bandaid over a festering wound. You won't be able to see it anymore, but you sure will be able to feel it and it will just get worse. Healing the belief requires healing that initial wound and you are most likely going to need help with that. Again, hypnosis is a brilliant tool for this. It allows you you to be guided back to the time of the injury and give yourself what you needed at that time to be ok rather than what you got. Kinesiology can also be an amazing medium for this sort of healing, especially in conjunction with some more active forms of emotional healing.
So before you go and buy your next self help book, have a look at which core beliefs have been stopping you from achieving success and move into that group of people guaranteed to win out of it.