Challenging assumptions and interpretations
Sometimes we don’t realise how much we’re interpreting a belief until we take the time to get it down on paper. This is a trick I got from Byron Katie (author of Loving What Is), and it’s brilliant for loosening those stubborn beliefs.
If you’re struggling to see why you’re feeling bad, try and get to what’s really underneath it by adding “and that means that” at the end of the statement.
So, for example:
“My children should listen to what I say”
But that fact that they don’t means that:
- I am a bad mother
- There’s something wrong with me
- There’s something wrong with my children
- I’m doing it all wrong
- All children should listen all the time
“My husband should bring me flowers”
And the fact that he doesn’t bring me flowers means that:
- He doesn’t love me
- He’s not a good husband
- I’m not a good enough wife
- I’m not doing something right
Again – what does this uncover? The feeling we’re somehow not good enough, defective or wrong. These are the beliefs that are underlying all our overreactions, anxieties and depressions. Some people believe that the best way to counter these thoughts are through affirmations.
Some people love affirmations. I remember buying “You can heal your life” by Louise Hay and feeling like I’d found the holy grail. As I mentioned in the introduction to this book, I love “fixes” and solutions, so I was very drawn to the idea that I could reverse years of thinking in a particular way by simply looking in the mirror and stating the opposite. “I am beautiful in every way. I am enough” I would solemnly say to my reflection. I felt annoyed with the person talking back at me, saying things I clearly didn’t believe.
I know affirmations do work for some people – and if that’s you, great! Keep on using them. But if, like me, they’re not a natural fit for you, what’s the alternative? I’ll share what worked for me in the next post.