WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG
As I sit in this foreign territory on the other side of being an emotional hostage to my own inner-workings for nearly 5 decades I now see that I was fighting the wrong battles.
We are told by professionals and counselors, and hosts of lay-people (and which I eagerly agreed with) that my emotional fears and insecurities (and other less pleasant trigger responses) were irrational occurrences based upon childhood traumas and not based in reality.
It’s not hard to agree with that idiom, clearly, traumas and other significant events generate huge amounts of emotion that write patterns on the soul which come back to haunt us.
Simply put, the mindset is… “feelings lie”
And so, of course, the logical conclusion is to treat feelings as the enemy. So many tools to reframe, process, let them pass, don’t wrestle with them just observe… all well-meaning tools to help “manage” the feelings so we can “function more normally“.
I have agreed with that statement and subscribed to the self-management tools of meditation, finding my happy place, changing my environment, and a host of other coping mechanisms for over 40 years of off-on therapy.
But now, in hindsight, I take great exception to this perspective.
If I have social anxiety it is because I believe social situations are dangerous.
I can throw a hundred different tips and tricks at my conscious mind to “manage” those feelings but that will never do anything more than help me “cope” on some level, but never thrive.
I see it as kind of like a “dry drunk”, someone who has learned how “not to drink” but still has all the same thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors as a drunk. Sure they won’t get a DUI anymore but they are still obnoxious people with broken insides.
And I can use that example, I had 14 years of sobriety and lived a pretty good life on the outside, but inside I was still operating under the premise that I’m not good enough, my feelings don’t matter, and that I need to serve others so I can like myself.
I was doing all the right stuff, and living an OK life doing what I believed others expected, but no matter how good a tooth looks on the surface, if the roots are infected there is lots of pain.
Today I define feelings differently.
Feelings are a 100% accurate representation of what is going on in our core subconscious belief system.
Feelings do not lie to us! Yes, they can be destructive and wreak havoc, but they are not flawed! They are not the problem! Managing them is not the solution!
It is our core belief that we are flawed, that we are damaged goods incapable of handling a certain situation. And it is the Western Medicine system that profits from labeling us with PTSD, SAD, Addict, ADD, ADHD (ad nauseum).
As an example of this (I’m assuming) controversial viewpoint, I believe the 12-step formula initiated by AA many years ago is a wonderful program that can lead people to sobriety and very fulfilling lives. But I also struggle with “once-an-addict-always-an-addict”.
For me, being labeled an alcoholic meant “I will be an alcoholic my entire life, and life will always be hard, and I’m supposed to always need a drink… because I’m an alcoholic”.
That mindset (belief system) can scare me off of alcohol for the rest of my life, but I will never be free from the devastating effects of alcoholism, I can only manage and minimize the damage one-day-at-a-time.
THAT IS THE POWER OF BELIEFS
Like the movie Les Miserables, Jean Valjean was labeled a thief, so he acted like one. Once the Bishop “treated him differently”, Jean began to see himself (belief) differently.
His character, behaviors, feelings towards himself and the world around him changed almost instantly, but he first had to allow the thought “maybe I’m not a thief” to take root.
Today, I value my feelings greatly, for if I can clearly see an out-of-proportion response to a situation then I know there is a BELIEF that is out of alignment with my VALUES.
If someone misunderstands my motives and judges me harshly that is understandable and fine, not everyone will understand me, I’m a complex guy (haha).
But if in that same situation I find myself defensive, needing to be understood, and I have old feelings of insecurity arise, then I know that I have allowed myself to believe I am what THEY see, and I have stopped believing who I KNOW I am to be.
The battle is with our beliefs, not with our feelings, emotions or even behaviors. (That statement could use clarification but that will be another blog). Addictions and crazy behavior is simply our childish ways of trying to avoid feelings by shutting them down, which hopefully we now all agree isn’t possible.
The root must be ripped out or the pain will never go away (think Good Will Hunting)
CHANGE THE BELIEFS AND THE FEELINGS WILL FOLLOW
If you would like help learning how to better get in touch with your limiting beliefs and learn how to arrest unhelpful thinking patterns dead in their tracks then give me a call, I’m here to help 6 days a week! ~George @ Nikaos Coaching