Framework for Change Part 2: Getting Unstuck
We all have issues. We all have difficulties and problems that we have to face each day. It is built into the very core of being human that we are all facing challenges. No one escapes from the moment we are born until we die and then probably beyond that. When I first started doing the change work with myself many years ago, I was just hoping that I could eliminate having issues. And then I believed that if I made substantial progress on one big issue, then the rest of my life would be a lot easier. The truth is that the more change work you do the easier it becomes, but the challenges never cease. This is simply because we were created with infinite potentialities which our inner self is hard-wired to strive after. There is always an urge from the inside to move forward with new possibilities. There is no way to stop it nor should there ever be a desire for slowing it down.
The tests, the ordeals are what keep us motivated to change, but they also have the capacity to destroy us if we deal with them in the wrong way. There are two ways to deal with the testing process. The first is to go the way the ego, which is our animal nature that we share with other creatures. It tries to cope with the negative challenges by fighting them or fleeing them in any one of millions of ways to do so. The second is to find the positive inner energy that our true self want to become and then learn how to live in that energy.
The amount of tests that you get don’t seem to depend upon what kind of life you are living, positive or negative. Tests are a function of being human. We all get our share and more. If, however, you deal with the tests in the way of the true self, then your capacities to do positive things grow. If you are tested and go by way of the ego like fleeing into an addiction, then your abilities weaken, and you become less capable of beneficial action.
How does it work? When you are faced with a challenge that is beyond your current capacity, the first thing that happens is that your ego, the protective part of yourself, sends a message from your brain to your body announcing the unprepared state. That message is in the form of a negative emotion like fear or anger or guilt. It says that whatever positive capacity you need inside yourself to deal with the current challenge is not there yet. If you respond in the protective way of the ego, you will run away from the challenge or you will fight needing to develop the capacity like blaming others for its cause. As long as you respond in the protected manner, the negative message in the form of an unpleasant emotion will continue and then grow over time. The more we run or fight the bigger the message and consequence needs to be to wake us up and develop the new capacity. It never goes away until we change it.
The reason we run or fight probably has a lot to do with the fact that negative emotions are uncomfortable. When you have fear, you definitely feel it in your body. Who wants to keep it there? The most automatic response is to protect ourselves, and that leads us to being stuck in our lives without growth. Growth happens when you recognize the negative state, realizing that it is a signal for developing a new capacity, and then take systematic steps to unleash the new part of yourself.
The first step always involves humility. It is recognizing that you are in over your head, and you need help. When you are in a state of humility, you allow yourself to be at the bottom so that learning and assistance can flow to you. It is for this reason that leaders in a top-down organization often have such great difficulties changing. They already believe that they are perfect and everyone else is beneath them in abilities. Wherever there is a great discrepancy in rights and resources, there is a huge lack of humility. When you have humility, it instantly becomes OK to have fear or grief or hurt. It allows you to be in a weak state as a starting position. If you get to feeling as though you are in last place, then you can just grow like crazy.
The next step is to understand the message that the negative emotion is giving you and what your ego response to it already is. For the most part human beings start the process of growth and change because of their problems with each other. Unity, closeness, love, and harmony are where the core issues always start. The biggest fear that human beings have by far is the fear of exclusion and that is what we, as a human race, seem to do best; exclude. The exclusion almost always starts in our family or origin. When we want to get closer to others or be in harmony with them, we are overcome with fear or hurt that sets off a whole range of coping behavior often in the form of addictions.
To get unstuck from being a workaholic or drug addicted or food addicted or whatever other running or fighting behavior we might have, we first can get to a great understanding of what the fear is like inside of us. If often goes like this. Suppose you want to get closer to your spouse. When you are trying to get closer, the first thing that comes up is the protective emotion of fear that warns you that you may get excluded. This is because you already have experiences of being excluded. It may have been the memory of being left alone a lot, in which case the memory may register as you being in a dark place all alone as if something is going to come and get you. It may have been the memory of feeling like you are not good enough to be included because you were criticized. The memory may register as a loud angry voice telling you that you are not good enough. You may have been beaten in which case the memory would be a huge monstrous figure in your mind. The problem with dealing with the exclusion in whatever form it may take is that the negative memory that runs the fear is what determines the behavior. A workaholic will seek endless amounts of money and get lots of recognition for achievement, but ignores his family completely. This is simply because when he goes for closeness he might be left out in the darkness in his head. Usually where there is a lot of alcohol there is a loud negative voice in someone’s head.
Once you understand what is going on your head, which is not usually advisable to do on your own, and you also know what kind of coping it causes you to do, then you can make the steps to let go of the negative memory, to get it disconnected from the coping behavior, then connect to new structures in yourself for the positive new ability. This principle of connecting to the new structures is that of finding the energy inside that is the positive opposite to the negative structure. If you have a memory of being yelled at or criticized all the time, then the energy will be a really powerful positive voice that finds the really good things about you and reminds you of them all the time. If you were alone and in a dark place in your mind, the new energy will be with memories of being close to others.
Disconnecting or letting go of the old memories is not always that easy to do. It is usually best to seek assistance in the process. This is because the awakening process can be very fearful which you are now controlling by way of adaptive or coping behavior. When you open the new energy and go for it, your life will be dramatically changed in ways you cannot currently describe, but mostly it will bring you closer to others and yourself.