Many people claim they want to 'heal'. In reality, however, what they're actually looking for isn't healing, it's a quick-fix that can reduce their pain and suffering. This is an important distinction.
Many of us hunger for some 'magic bullet' that will alleviate our discomfort, the frustration we experience at work and at home and in our everyday relationships. So we search for the quick fix. It might be a chemical remedy through a prescription or over-the-counter medicine or a non-chemical but usually socially-acceptable remedy, be it food, alcohol, television, sex, or surgery.
All of this is done to mask our discomfort and treat our symptoms. Pop the pill. Eat the food. Take the drink. The discomfort disappears. We move back to some sense of normality but certainly not towards any real healing.
Healing can be scary The reason we look for quick fixes is that true healing can be threatening because it demands far more than just feeling normal again. If we want healing, we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions, like:
1. In what ways do I contribute to my own discomfort? How am I responsible for the situation (mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social, financial, health, etc.) in which I find myself?
2. Which of my thoughts, beliefs, preconceptions, values, expectations, assumptions, "stories," choices and actions are responsible for the imbalance, dis-harmony and unhappiness I'm experiencing in my life at work, at home at play or in my relationships?
3. Am I willing to make the necessary life changes, including taking action to reduce and eliminate the imbalance, dis-harmony and unhappiness?
Simple, right? But not easy, which is why so many of us think about change but rarely take any positive and sustaining action to effect it. As someone once said to me, "I'm thinking about getting ready to get started."
Ego and change The thing that stands in the way of most people's willingness to change is their ego.
Our ego is necessary. Ego supports us as we navigate how we live our lives. Ego includes our personality, our individuality. Ego helps us to pretend we are individuals. Ego helps us remember where we left our wallet and what time the team meeting is. Our ego defines our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.
But ego also believes that its ultimate responsibility is to keep us safe and protect us from harm. So the ego tends to view the world as scary and hurtful. Because of that, we spend much of our lives defending ourselves against others whom we perceive as judging or being critical of us.
So ask yourself how many of your thoughts are healing or loving thoughts? How many are fear-based, judgmental or negative thoughts. For most people, the answer is the latter.
Remember, our ego's job is to feel safe and secure. When we contemplate changing our (ego's) beliefs, thoughts and preconceptions, our ego becomes scared. In subtle and insidious ways, ego works to insure that we continue to think, believe and behave exactly as we have in the past.
That's why change is hurtful to our ego. It wants us to feel that it is acting on our behalf to keep us safe, and it does that by resisting change and getting in the way of healing. It believes that even our most painful, limiting beliefs are necessary because the small amount of pain that we experience actually protects us from a much bigger pain: "death" in some way, shape or form.
- What stories do you tell yourself that keep you from making real change? Did you have any of these beliefs when you were young? What beliefs prevent you from experiencing change in your life?
- Do you ever follow your intuition, your "gut?" Do you trust your intuition? What's that like?
- Do you constantly beat yourself up? Why? Would you allow friends or colleagues to speak to you the way your Inner Judge and Critic speaks to you? Do you constantly judge yourself as bad, wrong or not good enough? Why?
- The average person has 16,000 thoughts a day. Would you characterize the majority of yours as healing (love-based) or killing (fear-based)?
- Did you ever simply observe your thoughts without getting caught up in them, or in a "story" about them? What is that like?
- What one or two debilitating or limiting beliefs would you like to update right now? Can you do it? Will you?
- What one or two baby steps can you take this week or next to make changes in your life by creating new thoughts and beliefs about your Self and then taking action?
- Do your fixed beliefs about life bring you true and real happiness (be honest) or pain and suffering? If the latter, why do you continue to hold them? If the latter, how can you heal yourself?
When we consider making real changes in our lives, it is because we acknowledge that there is something bad or wrong about our current thoughts or beliefs. This triggers our ego which goes into protection mode. We spend lots of time beating ourselves up for thinking we are, in fact, bad or wrong for what we have been thinking or believing.
Allowing and resistance
Most of the limiting and painful beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world were created during childhood. We employed whatever resources we had at that time to help us feel safe, secure and garner mommy and daddy's love, attention, and approval.
Our beliefs worked then as children and as we matured to adulthood. But they don't work so well now. We need to update them.
So if we want to embrace real change, we have to allow our beliefs and thoughts to take shape in our minds. Then we observe them without rejecting them. We do not judge them. This action quiets the ego and calms our inner critic - that little voice inside us that wants us to feel small, invisible, scared, wrong or bad.
When our ego understands there is actually nothing wrong with our thoughts or beliefs, resistance fades. Then we can grab hold of the freedom and the opportunity to introduce new thoughts and beliefs that help us to create the capacity to make new choices and take new actions.
The bottom line is that we can change our words, thoughts and beliefs. We can, in fact, change our lives by creating new, supportive thoughts and beliefs by choosing to do so and then taking action that supports our new way of thinking. That is healing.
If you really do want to heal, that choice is yours to make. What better time than now?