Have you noticed how our lives follow patterns? How we seem to be replaying the same script? And wouldn't it be great to redirect our soap operas – snap the clapper and retake? Starting with the belief system we set up as kids. When the same scenario keeps repeating with the same effects, then likely I have been working from a dud belief.
Barry Kaufman suggested a simple rejig. He points out that two people can have very different takes from the same incident. I came across an example in Serge King's Imagineering: two kids bring mud into the house. Their mother gets mad. One kid decides Mom doesn't like a mess; the other that “Mom gets mad!” You can see how they are set on different trajectories. Because we always look for proof that we are right (and disregard what doesn't fit), the first kid will, hopefully, be a bit less messy; the second will become increasingly fearful.
Barry's method is very simple, almost deceptively so. You work out the underlying belief that is powering your actions. How to find it? I try and stand back from the situation and ask what belief would drive this reaction. Then tell yourself, “This isn't working for me. Is there another belief that would work better?” A belief, after all, is only our interpretation.
Sounds crazy, but it makes you look at the situation from outside and ask: Is there a different way of seeing it? Once you have an alternate view of the situation, then see what your new belief could be. Roll it round your head. How does it feel? How do you feel about the situation now? What difference would it make to your life if you adopted thus new belief.
I used to get very stressed getting supper before Bill got home – and it took me quite a long time, Finally, I asked what on earth belief would drive this anxiety? He is the mildest man; I wasn't afraid of his anger. But I had been brainwashed by pre-women's lib – good wives always have a hot meal ready etc. Have you seen those old ads telling us how to keep a husband?
When I took the belief out and dusted it, it was patently absurd. So – replace it. After all, an exhausted, ratty wife greeting an equally exhausted husband, punctuated by kids ricocheting in and out, can't be a recipe for married bliss. So I let things roll. We were relaxed – and supper got made in half the time.
A petty example, but aren't most of our anxieties? But I have found it worked profoundly on core assumptions. What a difference it made when I revisited childhood distress which, seen through my four-year-old eyes was interpreted as frightening and bewildering. It changes radically when I look with adult eyes at a distraught young mother lashing out at life. She had had a body blow, uncomprehended by me – and my frightened reaction had seeded a belief that affected us both – until I revisited it.
It is as if the clouds have cleared, like grey mist clearing before sun. The same situation but lit quite differently. Simple? But it works.
Son Rise by Barry Neil Kaufman.
Imagineering by Serge King