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If we could tune into someone else’s radio-mind to hear what stations are playing we would find their core beliefs. They explain why our results aren’t always what we consciously say we want.  Let’s call this destructive radio voice, “Buster”. Buster unconsciously directs our actions in most areas of our lives and is responsible for the way we sabotage ourselves.  On a level hidden from our conscious mind we don’t believe we deserve what we say we want and Buster works relentlessly to be right.

John and Mary

Johnny wants better relationships but his Core Belief is that the world is a hostile place so he is always on guard. In order to protect himself, he is either defensive or aggressive with friends and family.  He acts the same way at work.

When he walks into a room of strangers he is energetically drawn to anyone with a hostile attitude.  If someone he meets is not hostile, he finds a way to provoke them.  Because of this belief and his behavior based on this belief, people respond to him in hostile ways.  At the end of the day Buster tells him: See I am right.  The world is a hostile place.

Mary believes the world is a friendly place, so she treats her friends, family and colleagues with a warm and open attitude.  She welcomes new people into her world. If she meets someone with a hostile attitude, she seeks out common ground and turns them into friends. People respond in kind and she gets to be right.

Core beliefs can be either negative or positive.  They provide the flavor for each slice of our life. 

Negative Core Beliefs Affirmative Core Beliefs
Life is a struggle Life is a wonderful adventure
I’m not good enough I do enough, I have enough, I am enough
People abuse me People support me.
I don’t trust myself. I believe in myself.
Good things happen to others, not me. I act in ways to empower myself.
I’m trapped with no way out My mind is open to new possibilities every day.
I’m invisible I have a voice and it’s safe to use it.
People discount me I attract positive people.

 

What would it take to change Johnny’s belief (The world is a hostile place.) to an affirmative one: The world is a friendly place?

Our unconscious belief system controls us.  In a negative belief system affirmations are alien and don’t fit anywhere. Before we can integrate an affirmation we must tune into our neutral observer and become aware of Buster. Once we are clear about and accept that Buster exists and has an agenda, we are no longer compelled to follow it.  At any point in time we have a choice.  Do we allow Buster to sabotage us or can we choose to pursue what we truly want?

 What core beliefs are preventing you from having what you want?

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Our thoughts create our world. The chatter in our heads is constant but we’ve become accustomed to and oblivious to it. If we don’t know what we are thinking we can be hijacked by the default station of our radio-mind. We get to choose our thoughts if or when we know what we are thinking!

We need to start paying attention to the voices in our head; become aware of our thinking. After observing our thoughts without judgment for a while we become aware in the moment. Awareness is the next step in the process of change.

Jesse realized that most of her interactions with Clara, her mother, made her feel guilty and angry. Her mother had a negative opinion about everything Jesse did and didn’t keep her opinions to herself. Even though Jesse was an adult, she desperately wanted her mother’s approval and love and blamed Clara for her own unhappy life. She reasoned that if her mother were different she could be happy.

Jesse didn’t realize how much time she spent playing this scenario in her head until she started Observing with her non-judgmental mind. With her new awareness of her own blame voice and how it controlled her, she recognized that she was giving her power away. She needed to break free—not of her mother—but of her thoughts.

The Serenity Prayer gives us a formula we can use in situations like Jesse’s: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jesse can’t change her mother no matter how hard she tries. While trying she is robbing herself of the opportunity to change what she can. She can change a couple of things: her thoughts, when she becomes aware of them, and the only physiological process she has control over: her breathing. By changing the station playing in her mind she can tune into constructive thoughts and transform her self-defeating behavior.

Using positive thoughts sets us in the direction we want to go. Here are some affirmations to start us off:
The path I choose is the right path for me
I learn lessons from everything I do
Conscious breathing brings me clarity and serenity.
I am willing and able to change old ideas and dysfunctional patterns
My mind is open to new possibilities every day
In any given situation there are options that never occurred to me before
I am in charge of my life
No one can make me feel inferior without my consent (Eleanor Roosevelt)
My choices are limitless; the power to choose is mine
I take responsibility for my choices
I act in ways to empower myself

Our thoughts create our world. How have you used affirmations to break free of old patterns?

Our minds are like radios with many stations. We each have our favorites which we have preset. Some of the preset stations are blame, contempt for ourselves or others, fear, guilt, resentment, and worry.

When we wake up in the morning, the radio in our head is playing. The negative litany begins and doesn’t stop until our head hits the pillow. Some of us can’t sleep because our minds don’t stop. In the morning our eyes open and we pick up the issues we obsessed about yesterday and spend the day possessed by our radio-mind.

We don’t even know what’s playing or that we can change the channel. And although the radio has many other stations, like paying attention to your breathing, being grateful for our blessings, appreciating the people and systems that support us, and marveling at the beauty of music, art or nature, we don’t even think of them.

This is what makes us victims: persons with no choices; we must do what we must do and think what we must think.

The first step in overcoming our self-imposed victimhood is to notice what we are thinking: Observation.

1. Find the part of your mind that is free of judgment, which is a neutral observer. You are a scientist in discovery mode.

2. Stop what you are doing 3 times a day and observe your thoughts and ask, “What am I thinking about now?”

a. Are you worrying about something over which you have no control?

b. Calling yourself names and berating yourself or playing any other negative “station” named above?

3. Choose your most recurrent type of thought and using your neutral observer, stop and notice your thoughts 3 times a day for a month.

4. In future posts I will explain that Awareness, Acceptance and Change must follow Observation. The problem is most of us fail to develop our non-judgmental, neutral observer and want to Change as soon as we discover our negative thoughts and so we berate ourselves for berating ourselves.

5. If we have been doing this for years, correcting it will not happen in an instant. Be patient with and kind to yourself!

Barbara Plasker, EdD

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