Can you remember a time when you’ve completely over-reacted to something somebody said? It could have been an innocent remark but something about it pushed your buttons and led you to react in a way you know was unacceptable, even embarrassing? Yes, we’ve all been there, but why does it happen?
The conscious mind thinks it is in control of our everyday lives but this is far from the case. Events and activity in the external world dominate our conscious mind. However most of our motivations, beliefs and emotions are unconscious, meaning that we are constantly being driven by unknown forces within us. So where do these emotions, beliefs and motivations come from?
When we get upset as an adult, the real reason you are upset is nothing to do with the current situation. Present circumstances have triggered a painful memory; they are not the cause of the pain. As a child a lot of painful things happen to us that we do not have the words or emotional maturity to deal with. When emotions cannot be expressed, they are bottled up and suppressed. The unconscious mind is the receiving ground for this painful emotion. The adult may display anger, frustration, sadness or anxiety, but the initial encounter has been suppressed and buried so deeply that, in most cases, our conscious mind no longer even remembers it.
The Effect on your Behaviour Today
Those painful emotions of not being good enough, being blamed for something you didn’t do, feeling responsible for something that wasn’t your fault etc are so important to identify because they condition your behaviour today. These emotions are what drive you to act the way you do. So if, for example, you have an unconscious belief that you are a failure, then even if you do well at something and succeed in reaching a goal, instead of feeling happy about it, you will probably have a sense of disappointment that nothing seems to be really rewarding, but not know why that is. If people tell you that you are successful and you try to believe it, there are no positive beliefs to anchor it, only self-doubt and distrust. Instead of feeling pleased, you become self-critical and focus on the parts that could have been done better. The unconscious mind can always find evidence to support the negative beliefs it has acquired over the years!
The Process of Change
The way to move forward is to try and break the habit as soon as it starts to kick in. as soon as you go into self-criticizing mode, stop that thought. Ask yourself where that emotion, belief or thought came from. Usually it can be traced back to a series of humiliating and painful experiences that have undermined your faith in yourself. Ok, so you were told that you were stupid – but that is only one person’s opinion and why is their opinion more valid than yours? After all, everyone has something to offer, regardless of ability. I think a large part of the problem is that a lot of these experiences come from parents, teachers, even older children at school, in other words the people we are taught to think of as our ‘elders and betters’ … but that doesn’t mean they are always right, often far from it.
This self-analysis is best done sitting quietly and meditating on the belief/emotion/thought and see what comes up from your subconscious mind when you allow it to do so.
Eventually, over time, on an occasion when you find yourself thinking “Don’t get your hopes up, that was just a fluke, it won’t happen again”, you will be able to realise that you are dealing with some past negative conditioning. First, acknowledge and feel that pain. Then say to yourself, “No, that critical statement was not true then and it is not true now. I did well and I deserve credit for it. I no longer want that old belief that I cannot succeed and I am letting it go now.”
I wish you well on your journey of change, self-discovery and transformation.
Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at Little London Herbal Stores on Kings Walk in Nottingham city centre. For further information about her courses, workshops and therapies, please visit her website at http://helenshortland.com.