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Change and Transition, Core Beliefs & Transformation (Part 2)

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

We discussed in Change and Transition, Core Beliefs & Transformation (Part 1)

that many core beliefs are established in childhood as a result of our attempt to make sense of the reality and the world around us. These beliefs are self-perpetuating and often keep us trapped in patterns of behaviour and events that are not always positive and uplifting. In order to change these, and thus embark upon the road to transition and transformation, we must first recognise the core beliefs. We cannot change what we don’t know.

A great starting place is a recurring pattern of thought or feeling. Let there be complete clarity regarding this thought or feeling. Don’t be vague about this. E.g., Instead of identifying the thought as ‘music annoys me’ you might flesh this thought out as ‘music that is loud and dissonant annoys me’. Or instead of identifying a feeling as ‘loneliness’ you might express it more fully as ‘feeling disconnected with family members and feeling judged and misunderstood’. The greater is your clarity, the easier it shall be to move on to the second step, which involves recognising a deeper pattern of thought and feeling. E.g., ‘music that is loud and dissonant annoys me’ could lead you to deeply analyse the fact that loud sounds agitate you, which could make you aware that loud sounds remind you of your childhood home that was filled with shouting, screaming, and doors banging. Or that ‘feeling disconnected with my family members and feeling judged and misunderstood’ is, in fact, a pattern that exists even in your close friendships and relations, and stems from times in your childhood when your parents criticised your behaviours, and there was little or no meaningful dialogue between them and you, whereas your siblings were the recipients of positive attention from them.

Each layer of thought and feeling that you unfold shall take you to a deeper thought and feeling, and eventually to what could be the origin of the recurring thought or feeling, the belief that this stems from, and the situation that resulted in the belief. Most beliefs centre around ‘the world is…’, ‘I am…’ or ‘I (you) must be…’. At this point it is important to reiterate that core beliefs were established, and still exist, as a way of making sense of the world, and dealing with the world. This is because change or changes in the external situations are not grasped from a mind-heart-consciousness balance but are perceived from an over-charged emotional and psychological space.

The beliefs perpetuate thought patterns, behaviour patterns, attitudes, and patterns of feeling and emotion, that come together to create energy dynamics and equations that continue to replicate in significant ways the external situation that lies at the root of the core belief. Beliefs lead to thoughts and feelings, and these, in turn, strengthen the beliefs. Though these recurring patterns of thought and feeling are unpleasant and often self-destructive, they serve a vital purpose, if we follow them deeper towards their origin. Think of an onion that you peel, layer by layer, till you reach the core.

I have found this ‘downward’ process of peeling very effective. When you begin the process, you might think that you are not going to be able to get your answers. This is only your perception. Move beyond it, and you shall be happily surprised that each layer that you peel, reveals another layer of deeper awareness. Your brain has complete memory of everything that you have experienced, even though you are not intelligently aware of these memories. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself by pushing too hard. When you hit a layer that seems like an unyielding blank wall, move away from the process, and return to it the next day. And the next, till it reveals itself to you. You may wish to proceed with this process with a therapist, a spiritual counsellor or coach, or a close confidant, so that the feelings accompanying the memories are easier to cope with.

When did you first think ‘this way’ about yourself, or the world, or others? What were the experiences in your external situation or the changes in these situations that contributed to the establishment of these beliefs? Do other family members hold similar beliefs and thoughts? Are these truly your beliefs, or have you unquestioningly accepted the beliefs of parents and/or adult care-givers? How did these beliefs, thoughts and feelings help you in earlier times? When did they begin to hinder you? What are the feelings and emotions you were/are scared of expressing? What has led to this fear? These, and more, could be questions that would help you to better understand the layers as you peel them.

While going through this process of deepening awareness and self-knowledge, do remember to include all the strengths that you have developed along the way. Recognise the strengths that you developed at each stage of your life journey, journalise these, and give yourself a virtual pat on the back, and a very real embrace. Become aware of the strengths you are trying to hide from yourself, and from others, and if you are, look deeply into why you do so. This shall help you to understand your relationship with yourself, and others.

This ‘downward’ process is like a pyramid. It starts at the apex with your awareness of one thought pattern or one pattern of feeling. And you take that and begin to ‘unravel’ it, layer by layer, each layer broadening your awareness of yourself, till you reach the foundation. When this layer is reached, you are ready to challenge your beliefs, and begin the inner reorientation and redefinition.

In Change and Transition, Core Beliefs & Transformation (Part 3) we shall look at why it is important to challenge our beliefs, and how this can lead to transformation.

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