When we find an old bottle with a message inside on the beach, we get immediately excited and expect at least a romantic love note if not a hint to sunken treasure. I remember as a child I waited for the postman, convinced he would bring a letter from a forgotten uncle in America, telling me I inherited a fortune. Needless to say, it never happened.
I want to talk about the other messages, those that cause heartache and pain for years on end. Messages we carry with us–sometimes from early childhood on–that cause deep scars and can get in the way of a happy, fulfilling life. They are often given through hurtful words and actions or through the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. They are emotionally crippling and can cause gazillions of problems.
But are these messages true? Can we sum up a person with a single statement like you are stupid, ugly, lazy, unworthy? Of course not. Human beings are too complex to be described with just one word. We’d see immediately that the person who said such a horrible thing did so in anger… and angry statements only tell us about the speaker’s state of mind and nothing about the person they speak about. A statement such as “you are… xyz” can’t possibly be true and accurate given that whatever a person perceives is filtered through his/her own history, filters, biases and subject to distortion, deletion, and generalisations. Neuro-research tells us we can’t perceive what is ‘out there’ without distorting it through what is stored in our memory systems. Reality is created from our inside out into the world, not the other way around.
How is it then that people carry these messages for years and years in their hearts? Partially because they are uttered in the context of strong and painful emotions. Emotions like anger, hurt, fear act like glue making memories stick at the forefront of the mind! Often these hurtful situations take place in childhood when the child’s cognitive development is shaped by egocentrism causing her/him to believe she ‘made’ it happen.
Thinking “I am not OK” or anything negative about ourselves can’t possibly be real because it does not take the whole person into consideration and completely ignores that thoughts are just thoughts. They are fleeting constructs we pull arbitrarily and unconsciously out of thin air, more influenced by the mood we are in than by the world outside of us.
Literature, TV, and movies use the problems messages from the past cause people to keep us interested. Overcoming the limitations such messages pose for people, is the stuff interesting stories are made of. Overcoming the limitation is every person’s task. Some take the long road and revisit incidences of the past to understand how these negative self-beliefs came about. Others go about understanding how the processes of thought, mind, and consciousness can help them to have a better life.
If you are interested to find out how to let go of a child’s perspective, my book DELICIOUS LOVE FOREVER gives you a comprehensive introduction. Alternatively, you’ll find lots of free information on the internet. Try You-Tube and search for Three Principles/Sydney Banks or clips by Eckhart Tolle.