So now we have this list of beliefs that are shaping the way we live our lives and communicate with those around us. It’s time to interrogate each one of these beliefs to see if they really hold up to scrutiny. Sometimes what seems to be a strong belief about something will actually reveal itself to be about something completely different.
First, check the veracity of the belief. Is it a truth, or simply your opinion?
Let’s look at the example “My partner should let me know what he’s doing all the time”.
Is it objectively true? Well, no – it’s not a question of true or false. It’s something I want him to do, rather than a fixed “should”.
So the truth of it is – “I want my partner to let me know what he’s doing all the time”.
And now you need to question why that is. Write down all the Why’s. In this case it might look like:
- Because if I don’t know where he is, I feel out of control
- Because if he doesn’t tell me where he is, it means he doesn’t love me
- Because if he doesn’t tell me where he is, he might be lying to me and is with someone else
- Because I only feel ok if I know what all my loved ones are doing all the time.
Now you can ask if each of these statements are true.
- Yes. I feel out of control when I don’t know where people are
- No, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. It’s a way I interpret feeling loved – exchanging information about the minutiae of our lives
- I don’t know if it’s true or not. Do I have any evidence to support this fear?
- Yes. I associate information with feeling safe.
We’ve now got a whole lot of information and assumptions from this one belief. You can keep on going with the “whys” until you drill down to the essence of the “should”. And in the majority of cases, the essence looks like:
“because I don’t feel safe”
“because I don’t feel loved”
“because I don’t feel good enough”.
So, our job is then to look at why this is the case and what we can do about it.
It might feel overwhelming to do this with all your “should”. So be gentle and take your time. Just choose the one that seems to be the most emotionally loaded right now and interrogate it like some hotshot detective off the telly! Of course, you are still left with the issue of your partner not giving you information. But when you’ve managed to decouple the emotional load of “I’m not loveable enough” from “he should tell me where he is”, then it’s much easier to have the practical conversation of how you might be able to compromise on telling each other about your movements – plus it’ll probably bother you less anyway when you realise that your interpretations of his behaviour don’t mean what you first thought they did.