Emotions are often the most direct road to discovering beliefs. So often we resist emotions such as anger, hatred, resentment, and judgment because we don't like ourselves for feeling them. Yet part of unconditional love is allowing yourself to feel what you feel, and when emotions are accepted, they are far more likely to dissipate.
Often emotions become so integrated into the fabric of how we live our lives they become almost invisible for us. In this chapter I elaborate on some emotions which stand in the way of experiencing unconditional self-love.
Often beliefs and emotions cluster together to create a way of viewing the world and behaving in response to this viewpoint. I call this a way of being.
I can best illustrate this with a way of being I discovered while designing and writing this course.
I wrote parts of the first draft under stressful conditions. One of Beyond the Rainbow's computers was broken for a two-week period. My computer being the only available one, I found myself having to handle all email, all printing, and numerous other tasks which I usually share with my partner. (She responded to the stressful situation by thoroughly cleaning the office, and throwing away untold numbers of old wholesale catalogs and other miscellaneous items. That's her way of being.)
I felt as if there was never enough time. I felt deadlines suspended over my head like guillotine blades. I was beginning to demonstrate all the characteristics of an ultra "Type A" (highly driven and stressed) personality.
Many people have told me they admire my ability to get things and my level of productivity. Now, however, I began to suspect that this way of being wasn't a freely chosen one, but one I was driven to achieve.
Immersed as I was in thinking about the nature of beliefs, I decided to investigate my own beliefs about productivity. I realized that managing huge accomplishments and setting myself impossible deadlines and meeting them were what I did to be a good girl. This was the behavior I followed in order to earn love.
I took my explorations into the realm of emotions. The predominant emotions I experienced were fear and anxiety, but others were also operating. I realized I experienced guilt when I couldn't fulfill my deadlines. I was impatient and angry when unexpected duties interfered with their fulfillment. I often felt overwhelmed and resentful.
Going deeper and into the past, I remembered an incident which related to my way of being. When I was twelve or thirteen, I had a paper to complete for a past. I waited until the day before it was due, and hadn't finished it by the time I was supposed to go to bed. I asked my parents if I could stay up later to finish it.
My mother said I shouldn't have waited so long. She was for my taking my punishment for procrastination. My father disagreed, and said I could stay up to finish the paper.
Later on, I heard a huge argument going on downstairs, and slammed doors. I was sure it was my fault that my parents had fought, and, although I wasn't consciously aware of making this decision, I realized in retrospect that I had vowed never to be late with anything again. I was afraid that if I missed a deadline I would lose my parents' love, and worse, they might break up because of me, and my ability to survive would be threatened.
This discovery released vast amounts of energy. Now I am much easier about deadlines (a meaningful word), and call them target dates. When I find myself getting tense and stressed (old habits don't dissolve easily) I remind myself that I don't need to do this to be loved.
The discovery has also had a positive impact on my creativity. Instead of being driven to be creative (another way to win approval and love), I am more relaxed. I write for the pleasure of writing, and inspiration comes much more easily than when I was driven.
I am very happy when others appreciate the results of my writing, but no longer devastated if they don't. I respond far more positively to critiques of my work. I am increasingly able to receive these critiques as generous gifts, and use them to improve what I've written.
Read these descriptions of emotions carefully. If you either feel they're true of you OR find yourself resisting the possibility they have any connection to you, study them even more carefully.
I don't promise that you will never again experience your particular way of being. You will probably, for example, not live a life which is completely free of the experience of self-judgment. How you experience it and what its impact is on your life can, however, change dramatically.
Perhaps until now you have held self-judgment as a constant element in your life. ("Whenever I do X I judge myself, so I won't do X.") You may have assumed that self-judgment is a perfectly natural and reasonable response to certain thoughts and behaviors you have.
You've been living inside self-judgment. It is an automatic program which runs certain areas of your life. By being conscious of this program you can achieve a valuable degree of freedom because you can choose how to respond to it.
For example, in the past you may have, in relationships, judged yourself about hurtful things you said without thinking about their possible impact on lovers. You may now believe you just can't communicate in a sensitive way. What we believe we can't do, we don't do, and you experienced no improvement in communication skills during subsequent relationships. Now you're alone again, and you wonder why you should even bother to seek a new relationship.
At this point you can do several things. One is to recognize that your low opinion of your conversational skills is a belief about reality, not reality itself. You can remind yourself that beliefs can be changed.
You can also begin to explore the origins of your sharp tongue. How did your parents speak to each other? How did they speak to you? Did you think this was how people who loved each other talked? (I mentioned in Chapter 3 that I thought people showed their love by teasing each other. I was shocked to learn others in the world had a different viewpoint on teasing.)
Research particular crystals and essences which can help you communicate in a loving way. Chapter 11 has some recommendations.
Finally, don't resist the self-judgment. Allow yourself to completely feel it. You can do this in meditation, while holding a quartz crystal in one hand, or by lying down and placing stones on your body.
As you do this, other emotions will probably surface. You may find it's difficult for you to speak with tenderness. You may discover you use sarcasm as a way of avoiding vulnerability, intimacy, and, ultimately, fear.
Whenever you access fear you've probably gotten to the core issue. Experience this and allow all of it to go. Imagine it dissolving and feel new energy within you.
You will probably feel self-judgment again in your life, but instead of it having you you can have it. You can say, "I'm judging myself." You can recognize it with a degree of detachment. You can identify the fear associated with self-judgment.
Another way to unravel your way of being is to write about it, beginning with, "I judge myself because---"
In addition, as with all of your beliefs, experience the feelings associated with the above ways of being. How does self-judgment feel in your body? Where do you feel it the most? What thoughts or actions create the most intense feelings? If you simply allow it to be, the charge of the feelings will dissipate.
You will probably see, as I did, that you are prone to more than one way of being. You will also see there can be areas of overlapping. People can be paralyzed by guilt, which can have a direct relationship to resentment. They can feel that they're such bad people they don't deserve to even think about having self-esteem.
Also, one way of being may lie beneath another. Resentment or anger could be concealed by guilt. Judgment of others could conceal self-judgment. At root, you will always find fear.
A fear which can come up for anyone on the verge or in the process of making significant changes is the fear of change, of leaving a life and a you which if, not so satisfying, is very familiar. You know everything that's wrong about your relationships, but your complaints and frustrations are as familiar as the features of your face. You know how to live with them; they don't offer any unpleasant surprises.
When you begin to move out into the unknown life becomes full of surprises. and possibly dangers. What guarantee do you have that you won't fail, that things won't end up worse than they are now?
There is only one guarantee: that if you do nothing to change your life you will make no mistakes and you will never fail. All the rest is risk.
You can, however, manage your risks. Decide how uncomfortable you are prepared to be; decide how much fear you can handle. Know that through your ongoing work of uncovering the beliefs which might otherwise sabotage you the road is more clear than it may seem.
Recognize that the fear of failure isn't all that's operating. Consider your fear of success: that having loving relationships will change you and your life so much that it and you may become unrecognizable.
And this may happen, but you can prepare for this as well. In terms of managing fear visualization work is particularly important. The more fully you can imagine yourself in your desired situation, the more vividly you can feel and experience it, that more powerfully will you draw it to you.
And you will feel much more at home in your new, loving state of being.
Did either of your parents ever say to you, "I'm punishing you for your own good" or "I'm punishing you because I love you?"
Think of the hidden messages in these statements.
An extreme response to this message may be to seek love in the form of physical punishment. Many of us have less dramatic, but perhaps no less damaging responses.
Children who receive attention only in the form of punishment will seek it by "misbehaving." This behavior can persist through adulthood: the person who constantly makes mistakes at work and is called in to his boss's office on a regular basis, the person who forgets to perform expected household duties and is yelled at by a spouse or partner, the person who regularly gets into financial difficulties.
If we have this way of being punishment can make us feel important. It may even make us feel like martyrs. If we come from strict Christian religious backgrounds, being martyrs can make us feel not only very important, but can reverse our thinking so that we see ourselves not as wrong, but as right and persecuted
A history of punishment as love can also make us fear love. "If this is love who needs it?" is a reasonable response to childhood punishment.
Some may decide as adults that it's better not to speak up about injustices or abusive behavior on the part of their spouses or partners, since it may be returned by punishment. Others may fear to leave an abusive situation because it is so familiar -- or because they fear leaving may make them targets of even greater abuse.
Victimization easily becomes internalized and thus invisible. "Everyone is against me" is an unheard belief which dictates one's attitude towards life.
If you have discovered a pattern of punishment as love in your childhood history there is a good chance it persists to some degree as a pattern of victimization.
When something goes wrong in your life do you:
Note: I am not suggesting you take responsibility for a hurricane which knocks down power lines, just that you not blame the weather, God, or mysterious forces which are out to get you.
On the other hand, if you forgot to pay an electric bill and your power gets shut off, do you blame anyone for not reminding you about the bill or blame the utility company for not allowing enough time to pay the bill? Do you say you can't help it if you're bad about paying bills? Or do you blame yourself for being so stupid? Responsibility and blame are not identical. Responsibility is the ability to respond - and it is also the ability to learn from a mistake.
You may not have immediate answers to these questions. It will be helpful, though, for you to keep these questions in your mind as you go through your days. They can come up in the following ways:
Essentially, the important thing is to notice how you respond to any situation which is a problem, crisis, or in any other way disturbs the flow of life as you expect it to flow.
I strongly believe that everything you do to help yourself to a state of unconditional self-love will release the Victim within. When we love ourselves we don't experience problems as punishment. When we love ourselves we don't experience punishment as love.
Specifically, being alert to feelings of victimization will help to defuse their charge.
Learning to laugh at problems (and life itself) is also very, very helpful.
Solving problems calmly and lovingly will also help. (Does your son need a tutor, is he seeking attention from you because he, too, believes punishment is love, is he trying to meet some impossible standard, does he simply need some reassurance and unconditional love).
If you find yourself in a victim situation because you have trouble asking for help I suggest rereading the section in Chapter 4 entitled "People Who Need People."
In terms of self-judgment we may be dealing with a disguised Victim. However, in these instances, Victim and Persecutor are one.
I call the voice of self-judgment the Inner Critic.
The Inner Critic speaks when we stop listening to ourselves because we don't like what we're hearing. When we're working towards feeling positive about our lives it's all too easy to try to paper over our negative feelings with affirmations and other cheerful sentiments. The difficulty with doing this is that negative beliefs are just as much our creations as positive ones.
Just as a parent, while having preferences for certain offspring, loves all of her/his children, problems though some of them may be, so we love our idea-children as our creations. When we try to punish the badly-behaved ones by ignoring them they clamor all the more loudly for our attention.
I have therefore adopted the practice of letting my inner critic speak. A typical conversation from my past went like this:
Me: I'd like to learn how to paint in watercolor.
Inner Critic: You? Remember your first day in kindergarten when you did finger painting and you got most of the paint on your clothes? Do you really have nothing better to do with your money than to waste it on paper and paint? And brushes? Brushes are expensive. Besides, that's a really frivolous idea. Who told you life was supposed to be fun? You have more important things to do. You have a business to run, classes to give, people to counsel. How can you be so selfish as to consider doing something which is strictly for your own entertainment (since you know you'll never get anywhere with it)? Play now, pay later.
A dialogue with the Inner Critic is an excellent way to discover beliefs. In the above remarks I discover I'm afraid of being idle, of not being constantly busy and making money, of being humiliated (a very severe form of not being loved).
As I continue to converse with my Inner Critic, its storehouse of opinions and complaints gradually empties out. No longer ignored or suppressed, it becomes the Inner Companion, Inner Counselor, my best friend who will always tell me the truth I'm now ready to hear.
Some other ways to deal with self-judgment include:
Judgment can take some variant forms.
This emotion combines judgment with anger. The Inner Critic has become the Inner Persecutor, whose voice is high-decibel and never seems to run out of breath.
This voice usually judges you on intelligence and speed. It will shout, "You're so stupid," "You're so slow," and "How could you make a mistake like that?"
It's usually easy to discern that this voice was originally a parent or other significant adult. Teachers are often reliable sources, and you may find the Inner Persecutor most vocal when you attempt to do something you were told you were no good at doing when you were younger. I hear the Inner Persecutor quite clearly when I attempt anything involving physical coordination.
The Inner Persecutor can whittle your self-esteem down to toothpick size, and it can be difficult to even contemplate becoming its friend. The most common way people deal with it is to avoid every possibility of hearing its voice. ("You're a social failure." "No one will ever love you .")
The following methods can be useful:
In speaking to the Inner Persecutor , it's trying to teach you. You may be surprised by the answers.
Guilt is an originally useful emotion which has been corrupted. It was intended to decide whether a contemplated action was in harmony with one's highest nature, with others, and with the natural world. When humans lost their sense of connectedness with the natural world guilt, instead of a warning to prevent violations against oneself and others became punishment for real or imagined past violations.
Guilt is in some ways a form of self-judgment, but it has an essence which is far more immobilizing. The phrase, "paralyzed by guilt" may be a cliche, but, like many cliches, it is based in reality. When we feel guilty we don't just feel stupid or slow, we feel wrong and bad, as if there is an unremovable stain on our very souls. If we have religious backgrounds, we may feel damned.
When we feel guilty we certainly don't feel deserving of love. We may spend our lives constantly apologizing for our wrongs, real or imagined. We dwell on past errors and fear repeating them.
Guilt has a particular relationship to the examination of the past which is an essential part of this course. Many people were raised to believe that what went on within their family was private. They may also have been raised to believe that it was wrong to have critical feelings about one's parents or other family members. They are afraid to betray their family because it means losing their love.
This present barriers to an honest evaluation of the circumstances
This subject is particularly relevant for this course because, as you've surely noticed by now, I ask you to do things, such as investigate your hidden beliefs. Your doing these things is key to the results you will achieve.
Digging down for the purpose of discovering beliefs you might well prefer not to discover can give rise to procrastination, especially if procrastination is a way of being for you.
Beneath the reluctance to dig down may be a deeper reluctance. The unearthing and dissolving of the beliefs which are stopping you is bound to initiate a cycle of change. Change (as described in the section on fear) takes us into the unknown, and the unknown can be frightening.
I have been a world-class procrastinator in the past, and I've discovered that the best way to lose the habit is to change my focus to the benefits of taking action. I won't have to feel guilty about procrastinating; I won't have to have the anxiety of thinking about whatever it is I'm avoiding doing. I will get that thing done, and have the benefits of completion.
Regarding this course, some benefits might include:
Reward yourself for doing what you said you'd do. Be proud of yourself. Remind yourself that each time you have a victory over procrastination it makes the next victory easier.
Resignation is often the source of procrastination, and it can have a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves in terms of relationships. We say:
When we are resigned we have given up. If someone tells us (s)he met a person who would be perfect for us, we say, "No, thank you." If we feel the merest flicker of interest in another, we squash it.
Usually resignation is the response to some other ways of being. We may be afraid of failure. We may have low self-esteem. We may have many unresolved feelings of betrayal. We may feel guilty about how we've treated others in relationships.
If resignation is your issue, you will find it helpful to explore more deeply. Again, returning to the answers you gave in the questionnaire may prove to be enlightening.
Be honest. No one will see this list but you.
This week I promise to explore my own way of being. I also promise to choose crystals and essences most appropriate for my way of being.
Beyond the Rainbow