A simple action sent me back, in memory, to the first time I became aware of attaching an untrue story to an experience. See if you recognize your own predilection or habit of doing this.
I needed to open a new pint of Half & Half. The container had that opening that requires you pull the flaps just right to create the V-shaped spout. I started the pull and had a flashback.
I don’t recall my age, but I was old enough to get myself ready for school without adult supervision (but still quite young). I needed to open a new half-gallon of milk for my cereal. It was the same type of container as the H&H I mentioned above, and my first time of having to open that type of container. The process of making a precise V opening did not go well. The thick paper stuck and I had to use a fork to pry it apart, which created a messy pour spout that sent the milk in many directions.
I attached a story to the experience that went something like this: “This is supposed to be simple and I made a botch of it. Mom always opens it perfectly.” (I was young enough to believe I lacked the required skill—For All Time!)
All manner of thoughts and assumptions got played with about perfectionism (as though a botched container opening was actually important in the grand scheme of things), scientific—adhesive, cold, moisture, tension (the other kind, not my own); self-confidence/self-esteem issues—which really got played up because . . .
The next time I had to open the same type of container, do you think I was thinking like The Little Engine That Could or I Don’t Want to Botch This but I Did Last Time and Now I’m Afraid (I’m Certain) I’m Going to Do It Again!
You might say such intensity of thought about this was overkill. You might even attribute it to my being a child at the time. However, we carry this kind of thinking process with us into adulthood whenever something doesn’t go exactly as expected, or each time we’re deciding to or about to take a “similar” action—or at least similar in some manner in our subconscious mind interpretation.
This botching, this being thwarted by that type of container, happened a few more times until, as I was standing there dreading to “fail” yet again, a thought came to me (though, I use present-day words, and past tense, to describe it here):
It happened the first time because it happened. I couldn’t explain why it happened, it just did. But, each time I had to open a new container, I repeated the botched job in my mind’s eye before I took action—I anticipated it. Each time I did that, my young energy felt increasingly anxious; and the expected result happened. If I could see it happening that way and it did, then, if I saw my hands and the container working as intended, it might botch, but it also might be the result I wanted. I did understand that I’d have a calmer experience by seeing it going well. And, it did.
From then on I got into that better mental space whenever I had to open such a container. Did the containers always open “perfectly?” Not always, but I no longer took it personally if that happened.
Beneficial Process: You suffer over most matters because of a belief. Often, the belief is, “This shouldn’t be happening.” Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. What core belief do you have about your issue or situation? Does this belief serve you? How does this belief show up in your life? How do you feel about this? Scale how you feel at this moment with 1 being the least intense and 10 being the most. Allow that number to be okay because it’s honestly where you are and you intend to shift this, even if just a little. Ask yourself if you feel okay about making even a small shift now. Think of a similar time when you had a similar feeling (it doesn’t have to be a similar matter or situation, just that you felt similarly then to how you do now) and it worked out. How did you manage yourself or work that one out? Maybe you used an inner process, an outer process, or both. What worked then and how can you use what you did then now?
We attach stories to experiences—beyond the actual experience (it’s a learned behavior). Just pay attention to the story you attach (and why) because it’s likely you’re going to repeat it to yourself, and possibly others, and then believe it. You may even act as if it’s true, when it isn’t.
You are what you practice.
[Process excerpted from Reinvent Yourself: Refuse to Settle for Less in Life and Business]
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