Awesome Kadi asked the following question in response to Monday’s video blog post: “I found your blog in the beginning of this year I think, so you could call me a new kid on the block. About a week ago I went through the archive to read any and all posts that caught my attention (some are still bookmarked-to-be-read) and in one of them (Screw Smalltalk! 11 Questions That Help You Truly Connect) you mentioned your greatest fear was to regain your previous weight. I don’t want to be rude in any way – I adore you, your writing, and am very thankful of how much you’ve helped me and others – but this brings up a very curious issue: how are some limiting beliefs so strong that even though we can banish them for a while, they still crawl back and affect our lives later on? How do we make peace with them and send them off once and for all?
I understand that some beliefs are multi-layered and therefore need more work; at the same time a lot of the spiritual guides say that it is a mistake to think we need to work on ourselves because all we need to do is realize that we are already ‘perfect’ and then we can release the past. However it doesn’t look as if I can just say: ‘I am willing to release past conditioning’, and poof! it happens. So how to deal with these deeply ingrained conditionings or the past that hold us down and make sure we really have let go of them?”
Dear Awesome Kadi,
Thanks so much for this awesome question. I’m happy to have a chance to give you an update on my own situation, as well as a breakdown of how to tackle those core beliefs that loom so large.
I’ve evolved, yo
One of the great things about having a blog for a few years is that you get to go back and read a full account of where your energy used to be. Your reminder of the Small Talk post gave me the opportunity to do just that. And while most of my answers are still totally relevant today, the resistance I talked about has shifted. In particular, the question on my biggest fear which you pointed out. At the time (January 2012), I stated that my biggest current fear was that I’d gain all my weight back. It wasn’t a huge fear anymore, and was only triggered from time to time, but it was still present. I’ve since released that. I’m no longer afraid of weight gain. I’m also no longer afraid of never losing the weight. In fact, I’m now excited about this challenge (the excitement is, to be fair, a recent development) and where it will take me. My weight has represented so many beliefs and has therefore served me in uncountable ways, how can I not be incredibly grateful for it? And I know it’s still serving me (otherwise it wouldn’t still be around).
I haven’t given up my desire to be thinner, mind you. I’m just no longer letting my weight determine my experience, and I absolutely know that I’m in the process of figuring it out more and more. I KNOW I will get what I want with perfect timing (in fact, I’m getting it), and I’m now having fun along the way. That’s a huge change from where I was in 2012. This new stance has allowed me to get more heavily into doing videos (much more to come on that soon), as well as get serious about live events (NYC, here I come!). In other words, I’m now ready to put myself out there in much bigger ways, without worrying how the shape of my body might impact me (it no longer does). Shit, even just writing this would’ve made me nervous a couple years ago. Now, I’m happy to share.
The anatomy of big, ugly, core beliefs
When it comes to those BIG ISSUES, those huge beliefs that seem to crop up again and again, it’s important to realize that 1.) we’re never just talking about one belief and 2.) beliefs have different layers or aspects.
In your question, you asked how a belief can be so strong that it can crop back up and bite us in the ass (my words), even though we “banished” it (your words). I want to clarify a couple of things: First, we don’t banish beliefs. We simply change our minds and believe something else. It’s like realizing that instead of looking left at a scene that makes you feel nauseous, you can look right at a scene that makes you laugh. It’s basically the equivalent of deliberately moving your head and focusing on what you want instead of what you don’t want. You choose to believe something that serves you, or you choose to believe something you don’t. Of course, in order to make that choice deliberately, it helps to become conscious of those beliefs and that’s what this work is really all about.
Once a belief is released, it doesn’t come back to bite you in the ass. It’s gone forever. HOWEVER, remember what I said about beliefs having aspects? When it comes to bigger beliefs, those core beliefs that have been with us all our lives and often go back generations in our families, you’re never going to be able to just release the whole belief in one go. Trying to do that would cause you go have a mental breakdown. It would affect so much of your identity (ego), that it would cause too great of a change to your reality for your mind to handle. A lot of people will tell me that they want to release their beliefs faster, but then, in the next breath, complain about their current pace being too uncomfortable. If they were to go faster, they’d be even more uncomfortable. There’s a lot of value in going incrementally.
The ego hates change
This discomfort comes from the fear that arises when we make changes. Basically, when you change the way you see yourself and how you fit into the world, you’ll have to go through a period of discovery of who you are now. You get to choose a new perspective, one that serves you better. And while this may sound fun, and it can be, it’s usually incredibly stressful for people, particularly if they don’t have a lot of practice choosing their identity deliberately. Let’s face it, most of us didn’t grow up being encouraged to be ourselves in all our weird and wonderful glory. We were told, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, to conform, to fit into some predetermined boxes, to take on the definitions and identities of those who came before us. This left us with very little room for individuality, never mind going completely off the rails and becoming fully Who We Really Are.
When you let go of a fundamental belief such as “I’m not good enough”, you also shift all the other beliefs that were based on that one; let’s call them child beliefs. So, you’ll shift how you show up in the world in pretty much all situations; your job, your relationships, your self-talk, etc. And in each of these situations, you’ll now have to figure out how to behave, how to react, what your opinion actually is. When you’re used to running on autopilot, this can seem like an awful lot of work. I’ll give you a trick to making this way less stressful in a minute, but for now, realize that if you tried to tackle all of these situations at once, by fully releasing the core belief in one go, you’d pretty much be overwhelmed by your lack of identity and the need to create a new one. It’s a hell of a lot easier to release the belief one situation, or aspect, at a time (each situation represents a different aspect of the belief, and different child beliefs).
How long is this supposed to take?!
And yes, this can take time. In fact, when it comes to the really big, core issues, it can take a life time. These large and lovely beliefs usually represent one of the main themes we came here to explore. But, before you panic, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to suffer your entire life. You can explore an issue from the negative side (“I’m poor and I hate it”), or from the positive side (“My direct experience of poverty has given me an appreciation of wealth I wouldn’t have otherwise had.”) And before you try and cry bullshit, that it’s not possible to make peace with an issue to the point where it actually becomes a positive in your life, let me point out that you do this all the time when you realize that something you thought was annoying actually served you. It just seems harder to make that shift in perspective when it comes to our big issues. That’s actually the challenge.
You haven’t gone backwards
So, when you think that an old belief has come back up again (“Goddammit!”), it’s actually just a new aspect of that belief that’s come to light. And this is a good sign. When obstacles pop up, it’s always a sign of forward movement. As you move down the path to Who You Really Are, you will bump into the blockages that are keeping you from going further (which is what makes you aware of them). If you weren’t moving forward, if you weren’t making progress, those blockages or limiting beliefs wouldn’t be coming up. You’re never ever moving backwards. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try to adopt a belief that you’ve fully released. Think about it. It will seem ridiculous to you and no part of you will accept it (like trying to make yourself believe the world is flat). You can’t go back. It’s the same for aspects of a belief you’ve released. So, a core belief may come up again and again, but each event will represent a different aspect.
Is it a mistake to work on ourselves?
And now, to the second part of your question. I’ve personally never had a guide tell me that it was a mistake to work on myself, however, I may have a different definition of this whole process than others. Of course, at our core, we are perfection. In fact, we can’t not be perfect. We are perfectly perfect even in our imperfection (and I realize this can be a hard pill to swallow, but I’ll need to explore this in a separate blog post; it’s too big an issue to cover in a tangent). When I talk about “working on ourselves” or “doing the work”, what I mean is “become more of Who We Really Are”. This doesn’t have to be work, but again, we humans tend to freak out a little when change happens, so it can seem like a lot more effort than it needs to be. We are not changing Who We Really Are, we are dropping all those parts of ourselves that aren’t Who We Really Are. We are becoming fully ourselves. Our work is to identify how and where we are not yet fully doing that, and drop the fakery.
Can we fully release our past?
This question was actually answered in the blog post Can We Use LOA To Release The Past?
Making change less stressful
Ok, so I promised to give you a technique to make those changes to your identity or ego way less stressful, so you can move through the releasing process a bit faster (or just more easily). Again, remember that the stress comes from the freak out we experience when we are no longer sure of who we are, as demonstrated in how we act and react in certain situations. Whereas before a shift, you may have known that you don’t like crowds, or can’t stand country music, or would never go out with a guy shorter than you, a massive shift in a core belief may leave you moving towards crowds, going line dancing or suddenly being attracted to shorties. When someone asks you how you feel about something, you’ll need to think about it first. The old answers just won’t apply anymore. This can lead you to feel like you have to think about everything (no more autopilot), and worse, the disorienting feeling of not knowing who you are. I addressed this temporary state to some degree in the blog post Managing the Void: When You Seem to Feel Nothing.
When you, however, recognize what is happening, that you’ve made a major shift in how you see yourself and the world, you can make the whole process of discovering your new identity (or actually, remembering more of your real identity) a whole lot less gruesome. Here’s how (keep in mind that this is kind of an advanced technique, as it requires a fairly large amount of trust):
Stop needing to know who you are in every moment and make peace with the act of discovering yourself over and over again. Basically, you have to let go of the safety net of having all your responses and opinions pre-determined. If you’re able to go into each situation with the attitude of “Hmmm, I wonder what my reaction to that will be?”, you’ll turn that stress into fun.
Let me give you an example: I often have no idea why I am where I am. If my intuition tells me to go do something, I do it. I don’t question her anymore. So, there I am, having no clue as to what’s about to happen, but knowing (trusting) that it’s going to be good (fun and of some benefit to me). I’m just wide open to whatever’s going to happen. When something does happen, I allow myself to respond in whatever way I naturally do, and I observe my response. In other words, I don’t need to know what my response will be before I allow it. This is where the trust comes in. I can’t be afraid that I’ll make a fool of myself, that I’ll say something inappropriate or that I’ll look stupid. I can’t worry about offending others or doing something wrong. I just have to allow my reaction, whatever it is, and know that it will be perfect for all concerned (how other people react to my reaction is their shit, not mine, and I trust that it ALWAYS serves them).
Often, my reaction will be different than it’s ever been before in similar situations, due to some releasing work I’ve done. In fact, when I’ve done deep, energetic work (meaning, I released without being intellectually aware of what I was releasing), it’s only through my new reactions to experiences that I figure out what has actually changed. So yes, this technique requires a higher level of trust, as well as a healthy dose of “I don’t care what others think of me”, but when you’re able to adopt it, it’ll make the whole process of releasing huge, core beliefs and the subsequent discovery of the real self a huge adventure instead of a huge hassle.