Beliefs Are the Mother of All Stress, Anxiety, Fear, Pain, and Suffering
We all have beliefs locked up in our heads about ourselves, others, and the way the world works. It’s our beliefs and perceptions that cause stress, anxiety, fear, pain, and suffering in relationships and life. But we have the power to choose what we believe and disbelieve.
When we learn to overcome and question our beliefs, we learn to live a life free of fears and stress that tend to get in the way of you becoming the best possible version of yourself.
There are 2 different kinds of meanings or perceptions that are generalizations about ourselves, life, and other people. These meanings are the ones that people are aware of, and they’re the ones that stay with us and run our lives forever if we let them.
These are the beliefs of “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy enough”, “I’m powerless”, and “life is difficult”. When you get rid of these kinds of beliefs, you can literally get rid of any individual problem in your life.
And the second part of it is that there’s another kind of meaning that we unconsciously and automatically give to events as they happen. As things are happening, there’s an area of the brain that’s instantly activated and it provides an automatic meaning for the experience/event based on past experiences that are similar. This is the source of most of our negative emotions and stress.
Here’s an example of how meanings run our lives. This example goes back to the beginning of my relationship with Steve. In the beginning of the relationship, everything was beautiful, until that first argument.
The morning started out like normal. I sent him a text message saying good morning and asking how his night at work had been, because he was working midnight’s at the time. Steve is upper management in a factory which comes with its fair share of stress and drama. He replied by telling me about an altercation he had with someone at work.
At that point I should have shut up and just listened and allowed him to vent. But me being female, immediately went into nurture and protect mode, the “I can take care of you”, “I can fix this”.
The thing about men is that they don’t like problems. Problems are obstacles to peace. Women do NOT work the same way.
Men will take a problem and try to immediately eliminate it because they need mental peace. And they can only concentrate or focus on one problem at a time. They eliminate one problem and move on to the next to regain balance in their lives. It’s not that they can’t mentally multi task, it’s just that they’re designed to have a singular focus.
Men also process differently than women. They run the problem over in their heads and look for the best way of eliminating it quickly.
Had I given him the time to simply work through it on his own, the events would have unfolded much differently.
The other problem that occured in that event was the meaning I had attached to it. The more I tried to “help”, and the more he shut me down in order to process his thoughts and emotions on his own, I attached my own emotion of being hurt, and the meanings of “he’s not being fair”, “he’s not listening to me”, and “he’s not appreciating me”. I automatically gave meaning to his response to me.
But over time, as I matured, I learned to change the meaning. I learned that it wasn’t really personal or about me. I learned that when you understand that there is an event, and there is a meaning, and when you group them as one, the meaning affects you. As soon as you realize that the meaning isn’t part of it, it’s something that YOU added, it all goes away.
When you pull the meaning apart that you gave it, it will dissolve the meaning away and there is no more stress or negative emotions.
The Problem with Should
Often times in relationships we attach a meaning of “he/she SHOULD be doing this, but they aren’t, so they are wrong”.
SHOULD implies right or wrong. You should do it. It’s right to do it. It’s wrong not to do it. That’s our perception.
The reality is that if it’s a question of something that just bothers YOU, then it’s not a question of right or wrong, because it’s just bothering YOU.
Your partner could ask you to do something and if it feels right to you, and makes sense to you, then by all means, why not do it.
But if what they have asked of you doesn’t feel right to you, or doesn’t bother you, and an argument is created from it, then the issue is within the meaning that the other person has attached to it if you deny the request.
Even if you have a really close, connected relationship, where you and your partner can typically talk about anything openly, and one day that partner comes home and is giving you one word answers and tells you to go away- just say OK and leave the room.
Understand that nothing about your relationship has changed in that moment. They still love you, they’ve just probably been through something emotional that they haven’t processed yet. They will come to you when they’re ready. It’s not personal. How can you be angry? It doesn’t make any difference because it doesn’t have anything to do with the relationship itself.
Hearing certain content or responses at times “feels” upsetting but you need to ask yourself, “What does it REALLY mean?”
By that I mean, what do you know for sure as a result of this event? What do you know about your partner or the other person? About your relationship with that person? About how your partner is going to be with you in the future? Do they love you? Do they respect you?
Getting upset is completely irrational because it doesn’t really “mean” anything.
Learn to start asking yourself a different set of questions:
- What’s the emotion I’m attaching to it?
- What’s the event that preceeded it?
- What’s the meaning I gave it?
Your Beliefs Are Not 100% Truth
The trick is to constantly be aware of the meaning you’re giving to things and ask yourself if there’s any other meaning that is as valid as yours. If someone else were to witness the event, would they have the same meaning for it? Probably not. So if other people can witness the event and draw a different meaning, then there are other meanings as valid as yours, which means that your meaning is not 100% truth.
What gives meaning its power is that it “seems” to be true. But an event is still nothing more than the meaning that you give it. That’s a realization that shifts you.
So think about all of the stories in your head about your relationship with others, and about the events you’ve experienced. Ask yourself, is the meaning that you gave it 100% truth? If not, then detach the meaning from the event and watch it dissolve itself.
And you can do this in any area of your life. Even with your job.
Let’s say that you applied for a better position at work, but you weren’t the person who was chosen for the position, even though you believe you should have been.
It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, or that the other person is better than you, or that you should have done anything differently.
It just means that you tried something, and based on your standards for success, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. And that means…. nothing.
If a relationship didn’t turn out the way you wanted with someone that you truly cared about, you can attach a bunch of negative emotions and meanings to it, or you can look at life in a completely different way.
We can’t control another person or their emotions. Maybe that person was the wrong person for you. So, next time around you can choose to be different.
If people would look at life as a game that they’re prepared to devote their time to and win, it could be the most blissful experience either of you have had.
What you need to focus on is the journey, not the destination.
Some people are even afraid to even enter relationships because they have attached a meaning that love equals pain. But what if the journey that you take with that person became the most magical experience and you got everything that you wanted out of it?
You’d never know how far you could have gone and all of the wonderful enriching experiences you could have had with that person because you allowed fear to rule you.
Most people would rather have the magical experience, and take all that they’ve learned throughout it, and all that they contributed to it, and all of the joy that they got out of it, than to experience nothing at all.
When you think about it this way, it gives you something to focus on and be passionate about for the next couple of years together.
Take some time to question the beliefs you have about yourself, others, and the world around you. What meanings have you given to the events and experiences from your past? Are your beliefs 100% truth?