So, you came back for more. Good. I’d hate for you to duck out of this little conversation we’re having just as things are getting interesting. Last time we talked, we touched terms like “lower self”, “ego”, and “the game”. We messed with the psychology behind the development of “identity” and the “limiting belief” driven ego who protects it. We once again mentioned “the vision” without having the time to articulate what that was. And after all that exploration, we ended up uncovering more questions than we started with.
Well, that’s par for the course with self exploration. It’s never boring and it’s never finished. We are each of us a wild conglomeration of changing facets that express themselves like ripples on a pond. Every time try to understand what made the ripples, we become more self aware; and suddenly we realize there are ripples everywhere - and each of those new ones wants our attention too.
But despite that, you came back. So you want something here. You want to dive deeper, go skinny dipping under the surface, and find a meaningful source that gives birth to your human experience. You want to know there is something you can do - some tools you can use - to change the currents of your experience.
You want to get personal...
So let’s get personal.
The first thing a travel company asks us when we want to schedule a flight is “What is your point of departure?” There is wisdom to this in that it implies 1) there is a process at work to get us from here to there; and 2) the process begins with recognizing where we actually are first.
It almost seems like an echo of Pythagorus' words, “Man know thyself, then thou shalt know the Universe and God.” (Don’t skip ahead to Nietsche yet. He’ll come later). And if knowing ourselves is the departure point for this journey, then let's see if we can figure out where we are.
Understand, I don’t mean “define who you are as a human” or some other elevated sense of explaining your existence. Our egos have been trying and failing to do that effectively for the conditions of adulthood. So maybe it’s actually deconstructing that ego that becomes the starting point.
For me, that meant inspecting the thing that makes makes me feel the strongest negative emotions. The stronger the emotion, the easier it is to identify (though often it’s a mess of multiple negative emotions). The thing these emotions are attached to are probably also parts of your life you aren't pleased with; which means it definitely needs some attention. What I'm saying is, take a moment and remember that "thing" in your life and try out what you're about to read here for yourself.
One example in my career was choosing to record and release my first music album. There was a point prior to committing to that decision where I felt near-parayzing resistance to the idea. The emotions of fear and anxiety dominated the subject of what actions I was actually taking to the point where my actions were extremely lacking. So that’s where I started. I stopped thinking for a second and just asked:
"Why do I feel this way?"
A voice replied, “I don’t know how to start this project. I don’t know who to ask for help. I don’t want to dedicate the time to it when it’ll probably not be great. This project is really too big. Let’s just keep making music and writing songs by ourselves and just see what happens.”
This voice was fearful, anxious, doubt-ridden, and ultimately - my lower self dominating my actions and experience. Don't judge yourself or this voice when you recognize it. Don't follow the temptation to cop out and say "I shouldn't feel this so I'll just stop thinking about it." No. Doing that prevents you from ever diving under the surface to see what's causing the ripples. If you never reach the source, you cannot change it.
All of that was just the emotional REACTION to something underneath. It was the ripple on the pond. So, without trying to think dove deeper and asked:
“What is this voice really talking about when it says these things?”
When I actually just listened to what was going on in response to that question, the voice’s words translated into something else:“I feel helpless and powerless from not knowing where to start. I don’t want to fail. And I don’t want to look weak and foolish.”
Now this was something! This was the TRIGGER underneath the emotional REACTION. I’d gone a level below the feelings and the doubts to something more meaningful, something like a subtextual current that was leaving the ripples behind as it flowed. But if the REACTION is the ripple, and the TRIGGER is the current, what was the source? For that, I had to go further and ask another question:
“What is the personal meaning I am applying to myself that give me these fears?”
I intended to wait, but in the absence of logical thinking and head games, the voice almost immediately growled back, “I am incapable. I am a failure. Thus, I am unworthy.”
Welcome the bottom of my pond. This was the source. This was the LIMITING BELIEF that my lower self had which gave rise to the current which created the ripples. In the words of the previous post, the limiting belief created triggers that expressed as suffering and fear-driven inaction. That in the context of my music, meant that I'd accepted the falsehood that my value was dependent on other’s affirmation (fame, fortune, acceptance, etc.). Thus the possibility of not achieving those things - and the personal meaning attached to that outcome - meant that I was risking my self worth. The ego will NEVER accept that kind of a risk. It exists to protect your sense of self and value, and so it will fight with everything it has to keep you "safe". Which means that it will get between you and the meaningful things you want to do and experience.
And this is why LIMITING BELIEFS are limiting - they are ways we define our self that 1) restrict our willingness to take meaningful action by forcing us to live in a victim's position of fear and anxiety; and they 2) prevent us from feeling lasting fulfillment and happiness because they give the power over those emotions to temporary external things, people, circumstances. It is this combination of factors that ultimately defines the SUFFERER’S MINDSET. And if you find yourself here, if you have ignored something because you didn't know what to do about all this negativity - it's ok. Most, if not all of us were here, are here, or will be here at some point.
However, once we recognize a limiting belief, we can disempower and then change it. As for what to change it to and how to do that - along with all the other questions we have lined up from the last time…that’s all a conversation for the next time.