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Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones

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Life is interesting and challenging when we believe that we are its creators. It's exciting when events unfold according to our hopes and dreams, and frustrating when they don't. It's downright awful when we bump into conditions which we can't seem to change, and we may find ourselves spending our lives tiptoeing around them.

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The Past of Least Resistance

The signpost which directs us towards the path of avoidance reads, "You Can't." When we see this sign we detour. After a while this detouring can become automatic, and the idea that we can't do whatever it is we've decided that we can't do becomes an equally automatic way of acting.

This pattern applies to both habits which have physical manifestations, and also to mental patterns. Thus someone whose pattern is compulsive worry or depression or habitual responses to people ("I never like my boss") also has as powerful a built-in detour in his/her life as does someone who can't contemplate the future without a drink in hand.

A common "I can't" has to do with weight loss. Jean, who is fifty-two years old, has always had trouble losing weight. When she goes on a diet she may lose a few pounds, then not lose any more for a while and get discouraged. She may lose quite a bit of weight, keep it off for a while; then slip back into her old eating habits and gain it back.

At this point she's convinced that she can't lose weight and keep it off. She's acquired a number of beliefs which support her "I can't," such as the following:

Jean has read or heard information about the difficulty of losing weight in terms of addiction, age, and heredity; in her mind these are facts (I read it in a leading magaazine; even doctors say so), but she selects those facts which support her basic belief that she can't lose weight, and filters out information which might challenge this belief. She might not see an article which claimed that a vegetarian diet assists weight loss or not really listen to a friend of her age who told her that an hour a day of exercise helped her to lose weight.

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Why "I Can't"

Jean has, in part, created this filter because weight loss has been a long and losing battle for her, and she's worn out and discouraged. She doesn't want to try anything new; she doesn't want to get her hopes up, only to have them dashed again.

On a deeper level, she doesn't want to feel guilty about her failure. If she believes that there are unchangeable factors which keep her from losing weight it isn't her fault that she can't.

Down at the bottom of the belief structure are the beliefs she doesn't know she has. They're connected with her fear of losing the protection of weight, and they get activated when she tries to lose it, or, having lost it, tries to keep it off. They tell her that she's in danger.

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Moving Out of the Safety Zone

I feel that the most effective way to unearth such buried, protective beliefs is the way archaeologists excavate ancient treasures - very carefully. In the case of beliefs it's not so much that they will break but that they may go into deeper hiding. Unless we combine the process of giving up our unconscious protection the old beliefs will continue to operate.

A first step can be to identify that there is an "I Can't," because sometimes we can get so discouraged that we pretend it isn't there. Jean, for example, may not step on the scale or look at mirrors. Someone who's blocked her creative desire might say that she just doesn't have time.

What's needed when the detour sign flashes automatically is to pay more attention to yourself. If you're feeling discouraged or frustrated, ask yourself what's missing - and don't settle for easy answers.

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Getting To Know Your Beliefs

Once an "I Can't" is identified the next step is to ask how this blockage is protective. Jean comes up with the following answers.

If there's less of me I'll be more vulnerable. People will think they can push me around.

If I lose weight I'll have to deal with people being attracted to me.

If I lose this familiar problem something worse could come along.

These beliefs FEEL true to her, and she decides to get to know them better. She writes about them, and remembers that her mother, who was extremely overweight, never left the house, that she herself began to gain weight as a teenager when she felt threatened by sexual feelings. She discovers that she uses weight to keep herself from feeling close to people, as a way to avoid an imtimate relationship, and as a way to pour energy into guilt and low self-esteem so that she doesn't have to change her life - because she can't.

Once she feels well acquainted with her beliefs she develops a plan of action. She creates new beliefs: that it's safe to be close to people, that she wants an intimate relationship (or that she feels all right about not having one), that she can explore new possibilities without having to decide on any right away. She may think of friends she'd like to know better; she may investigate weight-loss groups and choose the one which seems best suited to her needs and desires.

She - and you - may also have miracles. Once we remove the filters which screen out information which doesn't support our limiting beliefs, and no longer automatically follow the detour sign we may find ourselves daring to explore new roads, and on those roads, which have no ending, we may discover new selves.

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Nature's Helpers


Royal blue azurite helps to replace the fear which keeps unconscious beliefs and mental patterns in place with an understanding which allows one to dissolve these patterns.

Black obsidian is the good friend who tells you what you don't want to hear. Snowflake obsidian is more diplomatic.

Hawk's eye can help to give you a more distant perspective on your belief structures, allowing you to observe yourself without protective mechanisms clouding your vision.

Clear quartz, the mirror of the soul, helpls you to know who you really are, beyond the confusion of habits and beliefs.


Agrimony (Bach) helps those who present cheerful exteriors (often held in place by alcohol, drugs, or eating habits) to hide the confusion and often anguish beneath to discover what makes them run (and hide).

Chestnut Bud (Bach) is especially helpful for those who've tried to lose habits more times than they care to remember. It helps to reveal the ineffective pattern they've played out over and over again.

Walnut (Bach) is the ideal remedy for making the transition from the familiar behavior patterns which didn't work to new ones which do.

Deer (Wild Earth Animal Essences), though it is best known for helping to cultivate a gentle spirit, also helps one to be in full consciousness of the present moment, an invaluable aid for discovering paths which have led to dead ends.

Beyond the Rainbow
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