What’s important is not what happens to you as much as how you interpret it. The underlying belief that lends meaning to your life influences your experience more than the actions of others. For example, a friend is rude. What’s your reaction? Take a moment now and note your first impression.
You can focus on having a friend, your history, the value of that person in your life, and how she must be having a hard time. Or you can (again) realize that (predictably) no one is there for you, disappointment is imminent, and life is just one hurt after another. It’s really your choice but the first and essential ingredient is to realize that you have a choice.
So much of the “filter” through which we see our life is unconscious. From infancy we’ve developed beliefs without knowing it. We’re comfortable and we decide the world is safe and welcoming. We’re frustrated and we expect life always to be difficult. We channel our feelings (our inner world experience) into thoughts about the outer world. Then we focus on what’s outside of us and become the victim or grateful recipient. (What’s your underlying belief about the world?)
No matter what happens we can fit it to our belief. If we distrust the world and someone is kind, we know not to take him at face value. If we believe we’re not good enough and someone appreciates us, we tell ourselves she doesn’t really understand. If we expect life to be welcoming, we chalk up the occasional unpleasantness to happenstance. It seems our beliefs are irrefutable. We’ll organize our experience as we must to support the beliefs that have long existed and may be mostly unconscious! Even if it leads us to misery, we remain loyal to those old beliefs.
We do so as long as we don’t examine the beliefs. When we stop and turn around and switch on the light, when we’re truly ready to see our filter instead of blindly accepting our assumptions, we notice different elements inside our heads. We all have a Critic. The Critic tells us we’re not good enough, we never have been good enough, and we never will be good enough. The Critic assures us no one could ever love us because we are so unworthy. The Critic doesn’t like the way we dress or walk or look. Many days the Critic doesn’t say a decent word to us.
We probably don’t “hear” the Critic’s voice as much as we feel a heaviness. The invisible wet blanket that smothers our vibrancy comes from the Critic. The Critic leads us to be less of ourselves because who we are naturally is unacceptable. The Critic blunts our awareness of joy, hope, creativity.
The Controller is another aspect of us. When the vulnerability is too painful to bear and we don’t want to remain stuck in suffocating muck, we resolve to avoid our feelings. We develop an intellectual façade. Or we become aggressive. Or we take care of others and hope they will appreciate us. The Controller wants to make life turn our “right” and will act to avoid feeling. The Controller wants to assuage the Critic.
Always the Critic and the Controller push on us. Very subtly but unceasingly. When someone in the world acts in a manner similar to the Critic or the Controller, we react with a minor atomic explosion. When we hear outside us what we’ve heard forever inside us, it’s too much. We can’t see the other person objectively, we lose our Adult status, and we take the other fellow’s words personally.
Until we remember we have a choice.
And then we choose to give thanks for our upset and to look behind the words instead of being carried away by the emotion. And we see the Critic and the Controller which exist inside our own head. When we look at them, we don’t identify with them. We stay in the Observer and we see the immaturity and the fear and the belief that we are powerless. And then we recognize that these attitudes are from an earlier time in our life. A time when we didn’t have a choice. Unconsciously, we got stuck there but now that the light is on we make the unconscious conscious. We see the forces driving us and we step aside. We watch but we don’t react or identify or lose our anchor. We just notice.
And at this point we have developed another belief. Now we trust that who we are is fine and we are firmly rooted in that awareness of our OKness. Nothing can shake us. We feel the gusts from our Critic and our Controller but we are rooted in our Observer and in our Adult. And when we interpret life from that standpoint we have en entirely different experience!