Is distress irrelevant?
Most people are interested and puzzled by this
How can I not be distressed about being unemployed, sick or because of a significant loss?
I find that while working with clients, the main causes of confusion about the needlessness of distress relate to four main issues:
1. Confusion about desire vs. attachment
2. Limited self-concepts
3. Unrecognized nature of fear-based thinking
4. Confusion about cause and effect
Briefly, here’s my take on these:
Confusion about Desire vs. Attachment
I find many people believe themselves to be “sinners.” They think their desires are selfish and therefore wrong. Yet, they can’t give them up, so they feel distressed in the pursuit of them. Since they are “wrong,” they feel ashamed and guilty. Since they are “selfish,” they have to be covert and manipulative in their effort to satisfy them.
Very distressful orientations indeed!
How’s this—it’s natural to have such desires, and to meet them with ease and self-respect. Natural desires arise from simply being alive. We should celebrate them. Respecting life means being grateful for the guidance of natural, healthy desires.
Desire is not the problem. Grasping at desire is the problem. We can’t grasp desire, all we can really do is squeeze our guts. This is what we think, what we hallucinate, is that we are in fact grasping our desire. Instead, the actual squeezing is causing the distress. If we recognize the actual activity of squeezing then we can evaluate the following questions:
1. How does squeezing our guts help us get our desire?
2. How does squeezing our guts help us overcome not getting our desire?
It doesn’t, clearly! Enjoy the desire with ease, if you meet it. If you don’t, move on, hopefully with a lesson learned and a feeling of gratitude. No squeezing required!
Next, is the issue of Limited Self-Concepts.
Here are the primary root forms of limited self-concept:
1. I’m unworthy (not good enough, not deserving, and therefore, the universe is against me, nothing I do will work out).
2. I’m a victim (not strong enough or smart enough).
3. I’m special (other people get the right help and can change; not me).
4. I am what I think I am and nothing more (don’t try to trick me into trying something new; it won’t work because the universe is against me—cycle back to #1)
5. I take up too much space/there is not enough space for me—if I expressed freely, I’d bother people
These are so painful when we deeply believe them that we do not recognize that they are basically complaints. Recognizing them as complaints can actually diminish the power they have over us. It can take them off the pedestal we have put them on as unassailable truths.
There are several ways to antidote these complaints. One way is to accept the possibility that they are true, but with an open respectful mind, require absolutely clear evidence: “Maybe this is true about me, but I need clear proof. Please show it to me. If you do I will happily believe it, without complaint.”
Our habitual thoughts are fleeting and insubstantial and yet they catch us and put us in a box. Before we know what hit us, the next thought stream is carrying our attention away so we can’t examine what hit us. This is the inherent hypnotic quality of chaotic speedy thinking.
Hypnotic subjects can be made to accept a suggestion if it is delivered in a moment of surprise and immediately followed with a distraction. This blocks the ability to evaluate the suggestion and reject it if it doesn’t serve us or make sense. Our own speedy minds do this to us all the time! This is why it is important to address each of these limiting beliefs on paper.
Write down the evidence that “proves” each is true. You must be honest with yourself and that could take practice. You may have to do the exercise repeatedly, hopefully getting more clear and honest about the real reasons you feel compelled to believe any of these. Write down the thinking that habitually “hooks” you and see it on paper. Having the thoughts on paper where you can keep your focus on them robs them of their power of stealth attack! If you get distracted or space out, they are still there on paper and you can come back to them and examine them! With undistracted attention, you will see the absurdity of them (unless of course it’s true!
It is not enough to say, “I know it’s absurd,” without writing it down. You must do the exercise, seeing the full expression of the belief on paper, until you feel a release inside. To experience release without undistracted attention on the whole “thought package” is much more difficult to achieve just by thinking about them and labeling them absurd. This is why many people say, “I know it’s absurd but I still can’t stop believing it.”
Another method that can help is to write out in detail what your life would be like if you believed the opposite of your main self-limiting belief—write out the good, bad and the ugly of living with the opposite belief. Again, it will probably take repeated writings to get all the details, but it’s worth it! You most likely will experience your mind bounce between extremes: “This would be good, but this would be bad,” “I’d like it to be this way, but if it was, then this (negative thing) would happen.” Don’t give up if your start becoming aware of a wild confusion of conflicting concerns. Getting them out in the open and on paper where they can’t attack and disappear gives you the edge you need to free yourself from their influence.
Previously published at blog.findingtruemagic.com
Jack Elias, CHT is founder and director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP, a book and course which blends NLP training modalities with philosophical traditions of both East and West. Jack offers private sessions in Lucid Heart Therapy and Life Coaching. He offers live trainings and distance learning trainings in Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP. jack@FindingTrueMagic.com http://FindingTrueMagic.com
Editor: Maja Despot
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