Who is running your show?

Living life awake…

Have you ever encountered a book that has shook your very core? That book for me was ‘Living Every Day Zen’ by Charlotte Joko Beck.

What this book did was shine a spot light into the corners of my being. Everything I have believed about myself had been based on a flimsy set of structures called the core belief.

Core beliefs are entrenched ideas about yourself in relation to the world and others.

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She states “As a child meets disaster, He can’t afford to blame her parents, and therefore she blame himself to explain what has transpired.” Unable to see or admit that our parents are flawed people, we turn the reasoning onto ourselves.

Some examples of this belief are:

‘I can’t do it’

‘I’m unlovable’

‘I’m not enough’

‘I need to prove myself to others’

‘I have the worst luck’

These core beliefs are so tricky to spot at first, because they are entwined into the fibre of how we define ourselves. Having core beliefs can place a lid on what we are capable of achieving and feeling, as we live life with blinders over our eyes.

The core belief is like a shadow following us throughout our lives.

The Good news is: over time with greater self awareness, one can become less attached to the broken record. It can be seen as an old foe rather than an integral part of what defines you.

The Bad news (and in my experience!): it is a lengthy and painful process at times, that takes patience and unrelenting discipline.

I am far from ‘enlightened’ and I am still peeling back the layers. However, the following 5 key have helped me to start becoming a truer version of myself.

Key ONE: Recognising your old friend, “CORE BELIEF”.

You may not stop your core belief at first, as it is tightly woven into the tapestry of how you define yourself. Often it surfaces in the heat of conflict or through life’s hard knocks. Here, it is important to have the courage to reflect and question what maybe driving your behaviour.

Another way I discovered my core belief was through the art of sitting or meditation. This was super hard at first! I wanted to be everywhere else and the more I tried to still my mind and emotions, the more I shook up that coke can. And let me tell you, when I cracked that open, emotions, tears and all sorts went flying around the room. Here, I named that core belief for what it was.

It is only when we start to examine our lives, we begin to see patterns in our way of thinking and behaviour. And I marvelled at how predictable it all was! It is impossible to make note of things while you are busy doing life and running in circles. You need to stop and reflect. Medication and journaling have been great with this.

Key TWO: Choose to see the falsehood of it all

“I am not enough”

“I am unlovable”

These are my core beliefs. When I first recognised this, I had so much inner resistance to accept this belief has no substance. It was an integral part of how I defined myself and didn’t want to believe this could be otherwise. I had a long list of experiences that confirmed my beliefs and I didn’t want to accept any other explanation.

Why? Because I felt like I understood my world and felt safe believing I wasn’t enough and no one could love me. If I were to entertain thoughts that challenged my core belief, who does that make me? It was very unsettling at first and required a whole paradigm shift.

It took much courage for me to say “This is my core belief talking, not me”.

Making that detachment was hard. You may be attached to the feelings around that belief. (That’s the ego for you!) They have been an old friend for some time.

Be brave: try and see your past through detached eyes.

Key THREE: STOP and reflect

Recognising your core belief initially isn’t enough to orchestrate change. It’s a huge step, however you need to get the microscope out and put your day to day life underneath.

This requires a great deal of discipline here, because it is easier and requires less effort to run on autopilot. You have set the coordinates and you are heading in a certain direction.

The only question here: Is that where you want to go?

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Self-reflection and critical thinking are the muscles you need to build. See how your core belief runs the show in every day life when you stop to reflect. For me, the most effective form of reflection has been journaling, but meditation and talking life over with a trusted friend, partner or therapist can be really helpful too.

Get it out of your head and into words. This helps to detach it from your ‘core’ and make light of it’s flaws.

Here’s an example to illustrate how I recently used the STOP and reflect process. I applied for a promotion at work last year, and worked tirelessly on my application. After the interview, I felt quite positive about the experience. But I didn’t get the promotion. Darren did. I was crushed with disappointment. I had an array of emotions; anger at the panel who chose the candidate, frustration at my boss for giving me a bad reference and finally disappointment at myself for not being enough. Here, in the midst of turbulent emotion, which I wanted to get carried away by, I forced myself to STOP and reflect.

Let’s look at this situation: I had less teaching experience under my belt and Darren had several. This was my first interview, and I could presume that Darren had attended many others. This was the first application I had written as well. Was I not enough or had I not acquired enough experience to be effective in the position? Question answered

After reflecting, I felt like the adult part in me was speaking sense to the child in me. Did I resist it? Yes. Hey, I wanted to feel sorry for myself, have a mega tantrum and say ‘Well, that’s just my lot. I’m just not good enough.’ I needed to exercise my will and force myself to take the path less travelled.

Key FOUR: CONSISTENCY

Awareness or consciousness MUST become a regular practice, or you will operate out of your less conscious state: your core belief. Personally, I reflect daily and have slowly developed less resistance to seeing my core belief at work. My core belief has prevented me from doing many things I have really wanted to, and by training my mind to reflect and see things objectively, I am capable of achieving a great deal more. It is like the lid of my limiting core belief has been taken off.

Imagine building a muscle that has been involuntary for some time. In fact, it follows where your impulsive emotions lead. Train it to work for itself through regular observation, reflection and conscious action. It feels wrong, but it starts to feel more ‘right’.

Key FIVE: STOP then act

Over time, you will become more skilled at seeing your core belief enter your thoughts and behaviour sooner rather than later. Our natural state of being has been to act impulsively, however it is important to train yourself to:

STOP (think): Ok, I am feeling something right now, it may not be completely rational. What is driving these emotions? Ahhh, I see. I am motivated by my need to prove that I am lovable here. I can resist the temptation to act through impulse.

ACT: Finally, be kind and accept yourself through this process. It is going to take time and much emotional and mental energy to start thinking in a different way. So be patient.

You may constantly oscillate between awareness and blindness for a while. This can be frustrating for sure! With regular observation and reflection, you will start to see much more rapidly what is really going on.