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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Beliefs and Bad Weather

Over the course of your life, if you are keen to heal, to move toward a greater sense of integrated authenticity, you will be confronted with the task of revising, resolving or dissolving core beliefs about yourself, others, and the world. So many of your limiting beliefs arose from an early environment of empathic failure, where the brilliance of your little heart was unable to be held, where the majesty of your emotional landscape was unable to be recognized and mirrored back . . . seeding pathways of unworthiness and shame. Even if you did not experience overt neglect or abuse, an environment of consistent mis-attunement accumulates in the psyche over time, where even subtle traumatic organization can take root and flower. While these beliefs and their resulting narratives and feeling states have their origin in the past, they must be maintained in the present to stay alive. This is ultimately a liberating discovery! You cannot change the past, but you can reorganize perception in the here and now. This is a simple concept but not so easy to execute. Reorganizing perception in the present requires the capacity to tolerate, contain, and integrate the underlying anxiety from which these beliefs, feelings, and behaviors helped to distance you. While you may genuinely wish to transform your experience, it is likely that you simultaneously remain invested in certain old beliefs about yourself and your relationships, in order to maintain the protective function these old beliefs provided. As painful as these outdated adaptations can be in your present life, they once provided a buffer that helped keep you away from the psychic experiences that felt life threatening to your very young and undeveloped nervous system. The good news is, you no longer require the protection and buffering that was long ago essential. Sit quietly with yourself. Experiment with deep personal inquiry. Explore to what degree you still require the protection of beliefs such as “I don’t matter,” “Everyone else is more important than I am,” “I have to perform for others to get my needs met,” “If I meet your needs then you’ll meet mine, right?” Notice if these old, tired core beliefs are serving your deeper longing to feel alive, connected, intimate, and free.

To what degree are these once important strategies keeping you out of life now, instead of protecting you; keeping you out of relationship with your spouse or partner, out of full embodied participation in the magnificence of the human form? You can’t just tear the old organization down in one great enlightenment experience, think your way out of it, or “manifest” it away in five quick steps. It happens slowly, by practicing the activities of courage and tender containment. Developing these capacities may require that initially you seek the witnessing and attention of a resourceful adult, (therapist, priest, coach) giving your nervous system and ego an opportunity to register that your experience of loss, grief, shame or rage can be cared for and valued. This will translate into your own capacity to integrate those experiences, to feel difficult feelings without being controlled or flooded by them.

In the same way that you learned how to protect yourself in rainstorms and heavy winds, but still go out in the world with galoshes and an umbrella . . . “bad weather” can move through your nervous system, and you will have developed resources to deal with what passes through. And like weather, our obsolete narratives and habituated beliefs always pass through, and pass away. This is love in action; simple, not dramatic, not romantic, not coming from someone or something beyond you . . . but rather coming from within you: a quiet, simple, tender awareness and acceptance of whatever is moving through your body . . . be it loneliness, rage or delight . . . awaiting your acknowledgment and attention. It is by way of attunement and presence to the weather patterns of your beingness that the new life you long for will flow.

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