There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Don Miguel Ruiz

“You see everything is about belief, whatever we believe rules our existence, rules our life.”

Of course, whatever we believe colors the lenses of how we see the world and our very next interaction. If we believe we can’t give that speech, lose that weight or live without our Blackberries or IPhones every minute it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder if not impossible to do so. The same goes for getting through anxiety, depression, or addiction.

We start to integrate fundamental beliefs in this world from the time we’re in the womb. We’re already beginning to sense the environment around us, taking in and processing information.

As life progresses we start to integrate this information as truths. Everything is fresh and new, so what we see must be how the world is. If our parents were erratic or abusive, we interpreted the world as unsafe or insecure and that stayed with us as a feeling of fear to this day. Maybe there is the belief that it’s impossible to love or be loved. Or perhaps they didn’t pay attention to us and so we sprout the belief that we are unworthy.

However, at the end of the day it’s all just a story, not a truth, not a fact.

You have the ability to rewrite your life story, starting today. I’m not talking about rewriting the facts, such as having abusive parents or not being made fun of at school. However, the interpretation of those facts is what makes up your story.

You may have sadness, fear and shame connected to these interpretations at a deep level; however, you don’t have to believe the story. This will take a while to unwind the strong neural connections that lead to such strong beliefs.

How do we unwind the stories and weave new ones?

  1. Exposing the belief – The first thing we need is a sense of radical acceptance of the actual beliefs and feelings that are there. If there is a belief that you are unworthy or incapable in some way, you need to call it out, write it down, and expose it.
  2. Feeling into the emotional reaction – There will be some feeling that is tied to this belief. We also need to acknowledge the reality of this feeling and give it space. It also needs this same type of exposure.
  3. Relating to emotion with compassion – It’s not enough just to expose the emotion; we need to do something that is restorative and healing. This would be to get in touch with a part of yourself that exudes kindness, compassion and/or love. As you feel into the emotion see if you can hold it with this kind awareness. If that is difficult, imagine someone you know, living or dead, who symbolizes this kind of attention and allow that feeling to flow through you. If any judgments arise around this step (e.g., this is so Pollyanna or I can’t do this), notice those as thoughts, mental events in the mind that seemingly come and go, and come back to this practice.
  4. Rewriting the story – Saying to yourself, “In the past I have had difficulty with XYZ due to my old story, this story is not a fact, and moving forward I’m going to open up to new possibilities.”

There’s likely been a lot of practice throughout your life around whatever belief is holding you back. So, go into this practice not expecting immediate miracles, but more as an experiment. Allow yourself to practice this with patience as it may take a bit of time to grow new neural connections that automatically begin to tell a new story, one of hope, ease and success.

Begin to try it out today!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.