“Who you are, what you are, and where your life is going are all choices”
In my previous posts, I’ve talked about change, how to change for success. Many including, myself, have thought that counseling or psychotherapy is the answer. Yes, it helps to have someone to talk to, but too many times, people who go to long term counseling fall into the trap of wanting to be rescued. After a few sessions, the counselor or psychologists become the one you off-load to and they “fix the problem,” or that’s what you expect. You totally expect the counselor to have all the answers. It never occurs to you that they don’t.
So, what are you paying a therapist for – “to listen?”
Many spend years in therapy and don’t see much progress. Why? They unload all their problems onto the therapist, but they don’t take responsibility for making any changes. So years and hundreds of dollars later, they are basically the same as when they started. Oh yes, there may be a few noticeable changes, but nothing significant.
After a while, you become addicted – addicted to being rescued.
Connie in the Coaches Office
You feel what you believe. Your actions (behavior) are also determined by how you feel. Furthermore, the way you act can have a positive or negative effect on your feelings. Consequently, you may be acting in ways that perpetuate your bad feelings.
My husband “Rejoices by Choice.” When he feels bad he does a little “Happy Dance.” It’s silly and funny but afterward he always feels better.
Remember Connie, We Feel What We Believe, who went to see the life coach and psychologist, Gary. She had left a message with the receptionist, “Can I change or is this all there is?”
When Gary walked out into the waiting room, he saw Connie sitting slumped over with her head down, this was her second visit.
“Connie,” he said.
She looked up.
“Come on back,” he said as he waited in the doorway to usher her into his office.
He showed her to a comfortable chair in front of his desk and got her a cold bottle of water from the small refrigerator. He then handed her a tablet and stylus.
Please mark the questions either True or False, however, it applies to you. Please fill in any blanks.
Core Belief Inventory Sample
T F My job just stresses me out.
T F You hurt my feelings.
T F Because of …………… I can never get ahead. (fill in the blank)
T F You make me feel so …………….. (fill in the blank)
T F I am sad because nobody likes me.
T F I feel really bad because I was abused as a child.
T F I’m really down because I lost my job.
T F I’ve had a bad life because my dad was mentally ill.
T F I’m having a tough time and it’s always been that way.
T F I am more often negative than positive.
T F I usually dread waking up in the morning.
T F I am a fearful person.
T F I seem to have a lot of bad luck with everything.
T F I waste a lot of time.
T F I do a lot of what-iffying.
Mirror Check – Security Inventory
- Are you happy?
- Are you content?
- Are you where you want to be in life, job, career, personal life?
- Do you feel unhappy, downtrodden, a failure?
- Are you bored with your life?
- Are you restless and what a change, but don’t know what to do?
Do you want to change?
Do you really, really want to change?
If your answer is yes, then let’s go. If not, you can stop reading now.
Becoming aware of where you are in life is the first step to change. Look at your life as you would look into a mirror. When you look in a mirror you check your hair, you check your clothes, in some cases, did you put your teeth in, do your shoes match, do your shirt or blouse match your slacks, are you color coordinated?
Life is a choice. You are where you are at this moment because of choices you have made in life. You may say, “Yeah, but what about my core beliefs?” It’s still a choice. You choose each time a thought or feeling presents itself, whether to believe it and act on it or change it. Yes, you do have to become aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and that, in itself, is a choice. It’s a choice to stay the same or a choice to change.
Statements like the above indicate that you feel what you believe is because of what has happened to you. With this belief there is no room for change. Until you fully embrace this truth, that you feel what you believe, you will continue to live as a victim. In the victim state or mindset, the world and circumstances have to change for you to get better. Is that going to happen? I doubt it.
The solution then is knowing the truth rather than trying to stop the pain or trying to change situations, like quitting your job.
- Circumtances do not dictate your emotional response.
- Your emotional response is an interpretation (belief) of what has happened to you.
- Therefore, your emotions are always a result of what you believe, whether the belief is the truth or a lie, it doesn’t matter.
You can change your beliefs, which, in turn, change your perception of the situation. It also changes how you feel (emotions): your low self-esteem, frustration, insecurity, victim mentality, self-image, etc.
You can change the direction of your life toward happiness and success.
The power to change doesn’t rest in a counselor or therapist or coach. The power to change is within you. You have the power to choose what you think. If you have a relationship with God, you actually have more power than those without the relationship.
Connie Begins Her Journey
Gary looked at Connie’s answer sheet, “Like I told you last week, you can make changes in who you are, what you are, and where you are going.”
Connie looked at him, like she didn’t really believe him. Finally, she said, “Are you really serious that I can change and I can actually have the life I want?”
“Yes, you can Connie. Are you ready to start?”
“Yes, I am,” she said.
“Life is a choice. Where you are today is a result of the choices you’ve made to this point. I know it may be hard to believe. It’s like a building made with individual bricks, each life choice you’ve made has contributed to the person you are today – choice, on top of choice, just like the bricks in the building.”
Connie began to bristle just a little, “But, I didn’t have a choice. If I wouldn’t have gone to work at 15 we wouldn’t have had anything to eat. It’s not my fault. I had to do it.”
“So you’re saying that everything is because you went to work at 15?”
“Had to go to work,” she corrected.
“So you’re saying that everything, your life the way it is right now is because you had to go to work at age 15?”
“Where are you working today?”
“Well, I work at a store on Market Square.”
“The one you live above?”
“Do you own the store?”
“Oh, heaven’s no. They couldn’t pay me enough for me to get an apartment so they let me stay upstairs rent free.”
“I got your work record from the factory in Cinncinati. You had worked your way up to a supervisor. You were making good money. So, why are you here? Why did you quit your job?”
Connie squirmed in her seat for a few minutes before answering. Gary sat quietly looking into her face while he waited for an answer.
“Well, it was like this.”
She cleared her throat before continuing.
“There was a guy there that asked me out several times.”
“Was he inappropriate with you? Or make demands on you that you didn’t want?”
“Did you ever go out with him?”
“Oh, heavens no.”
“I don’t understand. Please fill me in.”
“Well, my mother used to tell me that men were no good. All they wanted to do was hurt me. They would use me then throw me away.”
“Where was your dad?”
“He left before my little brother was born. I was 18 months old.”
“So you moved down here from Cinncinati to get away from, what was his name?”
“Because you believed what your mother has been telling you all these years. Why did you take a job in a boutique shop instead of another production job?”
Connie squirmed in her seat again.
“Well…ah…I was afraid he’d find me.”
“James? So, basically you’re hiding out in a boutique shop to avoid James who has never given you any problems. He just ask you out on a date, one date?”
“Because you believed what your mother said, with no other information. Is that correct?”
Connie nodded, “I told my mother and she about came unglued. Then I was really scared.”
“Do you want to live alone for the rest of your life?”
“No, I don’t. But every time I think about it the same fear comes over me.”
“Where does the fear come from?”
“My belief that my mother was right?”
To summarize, our minds are limited in how they perceive what is happening now and in the past by what we believe. Yes, what happened to you may have been wrong, unjust, unfair, evil, hurtful. I’m not saying it wasn’t. Many of us have had horrible things happen to us.
Still, our response emotionally to the event is still our interpretation of the event. It is what we believe about the event.
You are saying, “But what happened to me was evil.” Yes, it may well have been evil. Yes, it was very hurtful. Yes, it is normal to feel bad about what happened.
Our minds may say, “What s/he did to me was evil (possibly true) therefore, I feel worthless.” (not true).
Yes, we need to take ownership of what we believe. Yes, we need to take ownership of how we feel.
Here’s where it changes.
What happened does NOT have to define who you are. What happened does NOT have to define what you do. What happened does NOT have to define your success.
You can choose to detach from the belief that what happened defines or causes you to be a certain way. Detach from the belief that the person or situation makes you feel a certain way.
Choose to change what you think about the situation. Choose not to react or respond. Choose to re-frame it as an opportunity to renew your mind – change what you believe.
Romans 12:2 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern … what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Choose to resist the negative, bad, hurtful thoughts that pop into your mind. Resist by saying the opposite.
“No, I’m not going to think that, what happened to me does not dictate who I am or what I can do.”
I saw a news article recently that reaffirms this statement. It was a story about a high school football coach who was born without any arms and legs. He could very well have said, “I can’t do anything.” But instead he was motivated to show that he could do whatever he wanted to do in life – a football coach.
What are you motivated to do?
Are you really ready to change?