Unconditional Love: A Parent’s Guide Part Four: Finding and Fixing Your Negative Beliefs
In Part Three we established that negative or limiting beliefs block love. In this section, I will show you how to find and fix negative beliefs using the Choose Again Six-Step Process (Diederik Wolsak). The method is applied to any upset however small, because these upsets reveal to us the feelings that we replay the most. These feelings are chosen by our beliefs. By following our familiar feelings we can retrieve early childhood memories in which we can discover the genesis of our beliefs and we can begin to transform them.
The Choose Again Six-Step Process
The Choose Again Six-Step Process is used to process any current upset – any feeling of discomfort. You have to be in the feeling for it to work – it is a process that has to be felt, not an intellectual exercise. When you apply the following six steps to that upset, you will find and fix the negative belief that was triggered by the current incident.
Step 1: I’m upset. Acknowledge that you are upset. An upset can be defined as any feeling other than joy, love, or peace. It could be as mild as an irritation or as huge as rage. An example would be that I’m yelling because my children aren’t listening and I have something important to say to them. I’m clearly upset.
Step 2: Me. It’s about Me. In this step, you take full responsibility for the way you feel in any situation. It is not your children’s fault that you’re upset but a negative belief that you made up in early childhood has been triggered. That your children are not listening is a completely neutral fact – it is the emotion that you are bringing to the situation that we are experiencing and that comes from an early memory. In practice, this is very difficult because we have been raised in a culture of blame. We want to blame someone else for upsetting us. We want to blame our children for making us angry. To disable your buttons, it is crucial that you understand this step – it is by far the most difficult and is resisted by most people. In my example, I have to acknowledge that my anger and frustration has not been caused by my children not listening, but by my reaction to them, which is the result of an early incident in my life – now it is my job to find out what that was.
Step 3: Focus on the feeling. Note how you feel and how strong the feeling is on a scale of 1-10. Any feeling you have or your child has is a signal that a belief is being triggered – you have work to do to find and heal it. What is the specific feeling? Use a feelings chart which lists numerous different emotions to help you isolate the feelings. List them all – there are likely several - then choose the biggest two or three to process. It is likely that these are feelings that recur with some frequency in your life. Anger and frustration are the two that, in combination, lead me to yell when my children aren’t listening to me.
Step 4: Remember the feeling. Our feelings are closely linked to memories so ask yourself, “Is this feeling familiar?” The answer will always be “Yes”, because it is linked to a negative belief that you have, which in turn is linked to a memory. So, in my example, I had the same feelings of anger and frustration when I was little in the kitchen trying to get my Mom’s attention to show her something, but either she couldn’t hear me, or she ignored me. It is this memory of the feelings I had when I was three-years-old that replays in the present upset.
Step 5: Establish what the judgment was in the memory you retrieved in step 4. How do you think you were judged in that situation? How did you judge yourself? What did it say about you that you were treated in that way? Our judgments become our core beliefs. In my example, I made up that I’m not worth being listened to. I must be worthless or my mother would hear me and be interested in what I have to show her.
Step 6: Embrace the truth of who you are. Each of us is created in God’s Image (Genesis 1.26). We have equal worth – inherent worth so it is not logical to think that the essence of who we are is flawed. Those ideas are incompatible. This step seeks to fix your mistaken belief by a process of forgiveness – a process that replaces your mistaken belief with the truth of you – that you are inherently worthy, whole and complete, an Image of God. This process is designed to be done by yourself – using a mirror can be helpful. Say the recommended forgiveness formula out loud, or to yourself as follows:
“Forgive me for believing that I’m worthless (or whatever the mistaken belief is – bad, guilty, weak, powerless, flawed, separate, etc)”.
This is followed by a statement of the truth of you:
“Forgive me for forgetting that my worth is inherent (or that I am whole and complete, an Image of God, Love, part of Oneness etc)”.
Use whichever words you feel comfortable using but which express your truth as an Inherently Worthy being.
If your partner is also learning this technique, then it will be very helpful to make eye contact and say the words to them. Your partner’s eyes are just there to reflect you in this process, but working on this together is extremely powerful. You may need to do several rounds of “forgiveness” in order for the original upset to dissipate. At this point, check back in with the level of your feelings. Has the intensity of the original upset diminished? Where are you on a scale of 1-10? If there is any residual feeling, you may need to repeat the process – perhaps a different belief has been triggered.
Go back into the early childhood memory and check the level of your feelings in that memory. Ideally you should be able to bring that down to near zero. At this point you can explore that memory and reinterpret what was happening in a much more palatable way. In my case, I could see that my mother was busy making dinner, I can also now understand that she was almost completely deaf at that time in my life, so didn’t mean to ignore me at all. Whatever was happening in that memory said nothing about me – whatever was happening in the memory you retrieved said nothing about you. Even if a parent was being abusive, shouting at you, or hitting you, those actions said nothing about you – they were the result of the beliefs that the adult had about themselves. In this way, you can begin to undo the harm that you perceived had been done to you and disrupt the cycle.
I wouldn’t expect you to be able to use this process flawlessly on your own now – it is usually taught over a weekend or longer workshop and even then, usually needs some support on a regular basis to keep on target, but persevere and you’ll be amply rewarded. Be assured that even though this seems onerous initially – it can take a while to figure out where that feeling came from, but it is worth it to set some time aside at the end of the day to go over whatever upsets you may have had during the day. Eventually you’ll be able to process upsets as they happen by immediately knowing what the triggering belief is and dismissing it as a false belief and that can take just a few seconds. If every parent could recognize their triggers instantly and move from anger to love in the few seconds it takes to process the upset, just imagine how healthy, happy, resilient and fortunate the next generation would be!
This process is radical, profound and life-changing. There are online courses available to explore it in more detail, and Choose Again circles in a number of communities around the world. You can check the Choose Again website at www.Choose-Again.com for workshops and other information. It can be a challenge to maintain on your own, but will pay dividends if you do.
In Part Five, we’ll look at the importance of loving yourself in order to love another.
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