“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
What do you believe about yourself that keeps you feeling small, unworthy, incapable, or damaged?
Whatever you were told about yourself that defeats you, whatever you have come to identify as your flaws: Don’t believe it!
You were responsible for your mother’s alcohol use? You ruined everything by being born? Your sister is better than you? You shouldn’t reach for the stars?
Take any self-sabotaging assumption – and Don’t believe it!
Believing these untruths is the beginning of a downward spiral that we are all familiar with. In our minds, we create a reality that seems so real that we sacrifice our talents, inner clarity, health, and well being. Subtract these beliefs, and you will find unlimited treasures of possibility, sanity, and peace.
As you explore the smudges on the window that keep you from seeing clearly, can you have great compassion for yourself? No need to add a layer of self-blame for holding on to these beliefs. All it takes is this: start where you are, and cultivate a deep willingness to see through to the truth.
How Did I Get Here?
If you don’t have your own, spend some time with young children, maybe at a playground. They are so open and impressionable. This was you at 8 months or 5 years – open and impressionable. You were totally receptive to absorbing all of the messages that came your way from people around you. And sometimes those messages were unsupportive and defeating.
Young children are naturally self-focused, the center of their universe. Everything that happens is interpreted through a filter of “me.”
A young child isn’t capable of understanding the reasons why a parent would ignore or abandon her. She assumes it is her fault and takes on the identity of worthlessness. A parent says, “You’re no good;” a child can’t see that the parent feels inadequate, so takes the statement at face value.
Prior to these self-beliefs, we are confident and curious. After these beliefs set in, we feel contracted and limited. We scurry to find ways to cope with a life situation that seems frightening, aggressive, or empty. And the result is layers of conditioning that make lightness and joy seem unattainable.
Remember the lightness and joy? They are in there, I promise you.
The Process of Untangling False Beliefs
I don’t mean to be flippant by saying, “Don’t believe it.” For most of us, it takes some time to untangle these deeply-held mindsets we carry around. Ultimately, though, a thorough and precise investigation into these beliefs reveals that they simply aren’t true. When this is understood in all aspects of your being, the palpable result is freedom, a reclaiming of your natural self prior to conditioning.
Unwinding these beliefs is usually a process. Once you begin to pay attention to them, you see that each time they arise presents an opportunity to investigate how they operate in you. Each moment of investigation is a chink in the armor you have built around you.
Identify the Beliefs
How to investigate these core beliefs? Begin by identifying them. Signs of a hidden belief include depression, anxiety, strong emotions, conflict in relationships, general dissatisfaction, hopelessness. Take your current experience as the starting point, and use your loving attention to highlight the story you tell yourself. What do you believe about yourself and other people that leads to your unhappiness?
Say you feel lonely. You might be telling yourself: I can’t make friends; I’m unlovable; There’s something wrong with me if I’m alone. Once you have discovered these beliefs, you are ripe for investigating them.
Go to the Source
Think back to illuminate how these identities took hold of you.
- Who said these statements to you?
- What circumstances occurred that led you to believe them? Take your time here so you can understand exactly how these perspectives lodged in you.
- Now step into the shoes of people who were less than supportive toward you. What was happening for them that led them relate to you in the way they did? How were their hearts closed? Can you see how it was not your fault?
Integrate Your Discoveries
Return to the core beliefs and consider them in light of what you have just discovered. These identities may not feel so solid in you now. Maybe you will notice that you took as true a critical statement that was made because of someone else’s confusion.
Allow yourself to question the beliefs. Do they fit all of you? Can you find the part of yourself that is still alive and has not been affected by them?
The Emotional Aspect
Inherent in a self-defeating belief is a state of lack. Something about you doesn’t feel good enough, important enough, confident enough. As you now know, this feeling of lack originated early on in your life, and there may still be a part of you craving the love and attention you missed.
The final phase for releasing a belief often includes recognizing this place of lack and filling it up with love and attention. Where does this love and attention come from? From your own precious heart. You have within you the capacity to heal the apparent deficiency.
Open your heart to fill up all parts of you that are waiting to be seen in love. Pour it on like a waterfall, and let yourself drink it in in every cell. This is the remembering of your natural, full, unconditioned being.
Every time the contraction around a belief arises, the sadness and despair, you have an opportunity to fill with love even more deeply.
It was Jesus who said, “for you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Tell yourself the absolute truth, especially about those unexamined beliefs that seem so real.
Know yourself, as you are, and you are free.
image credit: R’eyes