In Steering By Starlight, Martha Beck describes the problem of a man she met in Bali. Apparently, this man had sneaked into the tooth-filing ceremony of a woman he loved. This man felt terrible guilt because a man of his caste was forbidden to attend such an event. So, of course he needed coaching around this guilt. I am guessing that this man felt such tremendous guilt because he believed that he did something terribly wrong, and perhaps that meant he was a bad person. Now, I bet your thinking what I'm thinking: That's not true. He doesn't need coaching. He just needs to stop believing something so ridiculous!
Which brings me to the second Big Idea:
Most thoughts that cause you pain and stress are not true.
Now it's easy to apply this to the Balinese man's thought. It's not as easy to see the cracks in our own thinking because, of course, our beliefs are solid and true (Is my sarcasm detectible?). What's interesting is that the stressful thoughts we tell ourselves may be just as ridiculous to this Balinese man as his belief was to us. Do any of these sound familiar?
- I'll let everybody down if I do what I really want to do.
- I can't quit my job because I have to support my family (which hinges on the belief that there is only one way for you to make money).
- Good people...(insert list)
- Good moms...(insert endless list)
- I've put so much time/effort/money into this project; I can't quit now.
- I have to make them happy.
- No one would love me if they really knew me.
- I should spend more time...
- I have to fight my body to lose this weight.
If any of these thoughts cause you pain in a given situation, they are not true.
We acquire the thoughts/beliefs/stories of the people around us. Then we live our lives looking for evidence to prove those beliefs (even those that cause us pain) true. It's like we'd rather prove our minds right than be happy. At the same time, we overlook any evidence that may disprove our beliefs. We go on believing our stories and ignoring much of our experience that may tell a different story.
The way to get out of this and feel better is to start thinking of ways that these painful beliefs may be false. In my experience, there is just as much, if not more evidence to disprove our negative beliefs as there is to support them. It just depends on what we are looking at. While we ultimately decide what to perceive, the point is not to make up positive thoughts or lie to ourselves. The point is to uncover the truth. As Marianne Williamson says, "The truth doesn't stop being the truth just because we're not looking at it." The truth always feels better than a lie, so you know you've hit on the truth when you feel better. Your body is a great detector of the truth.
If this Big Idea doesn't make much sense right now, don't worry about it. I look forward to explaining how to find the thought that is causing stress (sometimes it takes a little digging around) and how to question and dissolve it. But for now, just sit with the possibility that the thoughts that are causing you to feel crappy (that's the technical coaching term) may not be true. And if they are not true and they do not feel good, then they are not going to help you reach (or even figure out) your goals. And if they do not feel good and do not help you reach your goals, why would you want to keep them? And if there are other ways to think, then there are amazing ways to feel. And when we feel this good, we do amazing work in our lives.
I couldn't decide on just one of these quotes, because they are all perfect:
There is no such thing as a true story that keeps you from your best destiny. All thoughts that separate you from genuine happiness are lies. - Martha Beck
I will see it when I believe it. - Wayne Dyer
There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them. -Anthony de Mello, Jesuit priest and psychotherapist
I am excited about my next blog post. There is a limiting belief that keeps coming up in my clients. This belief keeps them from living their best lives. I bet you have this belief and you don't even know it. I am going to talk about it so that we can all let it go. At the same time, I am re-designing the look of my website, so check back in a couple of weeks!
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