Self Mastery

How Not to be Jealous of Your Friends

Our mind can work like a computer doing multiple processes in parallel. In one story we are happy for our friend and their recent success. In a parallel emotional track we have a pang of jealousy for their same success.  On a third track, or following that jealousy is a self-judgment about what a lousy friend we are.  Then, with that bad feeling about being a bad friend, we might even over compensate with congratulations to make up for it in a way that feels false. This is all possible because our mind can do multiple narratives and emotional responses at the same time or in rapid succession.

The first step to getting past such jealous responses is to be aware that this is what the mind does, even if you don’t want it to. Much like the doctor tapping the knee to check your reflexes, the mind can have a number of conditioned responses to the same input.    Often we are pulled into the next layer by judging ourselves, or our mind for these rapid responses. Unlike the reflex in the knee, you can change the responses of your mind and emotions.  Acknowledging and accepting breaks the self-judgment cycle.

The second step involves identifying the source of the reaction. When it comes to jealousy and envy of our friends successes one of the biggest factors is often self-judgment.  It is likely that you have had in your mind an image of success about where you wanted to be in your life at this point. Beliefs are acquired over years form Images of lifestyle, income, relationship, children, and career that you have labeled success.  Your mind unconsciously remembers all of these standards. Whenever you see someone achieving such a “success”, an Inner Critic jumps to compare where you are to the stored reference of success.  It then gives you an emotional slap for having failed to achieve unsaid forgotten standard.  Your friend getting what they want, is just a trigger for the Inner Critic to give you an emotional slap.

Why the emotional slap?  Sometimes we have learned through negative reinforcement.  We have collected in our memory a way to motivate our self even if that motivation has made us feel bad or label us as a loser/failure.  Are we really upset that our friend got something they wanted?  No.  We are more likely hurting because our mind quickly and unconsciously did a self judgement. If we don’t have awareness we don’t notice this dynamic. All we see is our friend with what they have and think that is causing us pain, so we direct or ill feelings to them. When you notice these less conscious layers of beliefs then you can detach from them and the emotional response changes.

At more layered levels we might add in a sense of comparing ourselves not just to our fictional image of perfection for our self, but to them.  Sometimes our mind’s mental function of comparison doesn’t use its own image of success, but uses someone else as the basis for comparison.  In that case the Inner Critic labels one person as the successful winner.  In its continual game of comparison and keeping score when it labels someone else as a winner it indirectly labels us as the failure. This self-judgment is often at the core of the jealous reaction. Detach from that belief dynamic and you will not just be a better friend to others, but to yourself also.

You can find more specific instructions on finding and changing these core beliefs by doing the exercises in the Self Mastery Course.  The first four sessions are available free. 

Related Articles:  Jealousy 

Workshops and Retreats

What Goes on at One of Gary’s Workshops and Retreats? 

I want to explain that I don’t know what is going to happen at one of my events.  I don’t know the specific content of what I will cover, or how I will go about it.  I’ll get to explaining why this is in a minute.

First I need to answer two common questions. I don’t repeat the stuff that I have in my online program. That would be boring for me and the people who have already worked on it. Part of the reason I made recordings was so that I didn’t have to repeat the same material. I like to get creative and that means new approaches incorporating new practices.

Second, I do a mixture of talk, ceremony, meditation, discussion, journeying, and a process I call Dreaming. “Dreaming” is a mindfulness exercise where you inventory through various emotions, impulses, thoughts and beliefs with a high degree of awareness. It allows for bringing various unconscious beliefs and repressed emotions to the surface so they can be worked with and changed.

The whole intent of every practice, and the overall process is to let go of the stuff that is causing unhappiness and opening to more love so you can be genuinely happy.

Aside from that, one of the hardest things for me to do is to explain what to expect at one of my events.  I understand the feeling people have of “needing to know” what is going to happen.  Particularly since you are taking valuable time off, spending money, traveling to get there, and investing in your self.  You want to be sure you will get the personal changes you want.  In spite of the need to have that question answered, it is difficult to describe what is going to happen over several days. Even though I am facilitating the process, I don’t know what is going to happen. Yes, you heard me.  I don’t know what the outcome of any exercise is going to be for any individual person. I just know from experience that the process works.

I am not trying to be coy or mysterious here.  I honestly don’t know what a person will discover in their unconscious beliefs or what emotions will need to be shifted. I can’t know that. The person doing the process knows themselves better than I do, and they don’t know it.

It is impossible for me to write up what you will have as your experience at one of my events because the person next to you will have a different one in just about every exercise we do. You might review an old relationship and realize how much your ex really loved you. The person might review their old relationship and have to release repressed anger about them.

Everyone that shows up is different. One person is working on healing their relationship and making it better. A second person is getting over a heartbreak and needs to heal so they can move forward. A third is working through a layer of self judgments that seems to cause feelings of anxiety and insecurity. A fourth wants to have an experience of peace within themselves where all the internal dialog goes quiet. A fifth has realized that they have lived their life trying to please other people and now want to have the courage to say no to others and yes to themselves. A sixth person doesn’t quite know why they are there, they just have a feeling that they are supposed to be there.  They are all bound for a different experience, yet their hearts desire can all be met with the same inward approaches.

One of the ways that I address different needs at the same time is to address the common elements of Beliefs, including Perspective and Emotions.

Beliefs and emotions are at the corner stone of how we feel and how we behave.  If you change your beliefs you will change your actions. If you have faith that getting into a relationship will lead to a painful heartbreak, you will not want to get involved with anyone. If you get into a relationship you will be looking for them to break your heart. You might even leave before they get the chance.  That is just three different ways one belief can lead to sabotaging a relationship. No doubt we have more than one unconscious belief about love, relationships, heartbreak, our self and people.

When I take people through the various processes at my events I don’t know what agreements they are going to find.  I do know that it is important to see those beliefs as structures in the mind instead of facts about life.  This is the part about Perspective. That means that you discover what you think and believe about your self isn’t true. For some people that is a relief. For others it brings up a fear about not knowing their identity. These little hurdles change from person to person.

I guide people with exercises and practices to embrace new emotional experiences of love. I do exercises and practices to have them identify their beliefs and see them as false.

Since each person has a unique set of beliefs they will see something different. They will also be working through the process from a unique point of view and level of awareness.

Some people have more motivation, or experience with the process so they trust to go further. They bet more of their faith and power into a process. They dig in find extra layers of beliefs and fear to release.

The bigger the release of fear and lies, the more room there is for love and truth to take its place.

Everyone gets the right amount of transformation corresponding to their own motivation, emotional needs, ability to absorb from the different exercises they are dealt, and investment in the process. Each person gets a different amount from each exercise. When I add the next exercise to the process then each person gets a different amount again. Over the course of a few days the return they find they have changed a great deal. Sometimes it is hard for people to leave an intensive event because they know they don’t want to go back to who they were before they arrived.

As you go through the week you become more skilled at the types of practices and working through emotions to maximize the change you specifically are looking for.  In the end, I do my best to get everyone what they ask for and need. Sometimes you walk away with more than you bargained for. Sometimes you leave with the clarity of the personal work to be done and a confidence in your ability to do it. I can’t promise you enlightenment at the end of retreat, but I can promise you will be happier.

Gary van Warmerdam



How to Change a Belief

With all our intellectual smarts and education you would think that changing a belief would be easy.  Except that if it were easy we would quickly change any thought without it showing up again, but that doesn’t happen. Yet sometimes a thought or belief does change quickly. Maybe some beliefs are easy to change and some others are harder.  Why is that? What if there are certain techniques that work for some beliefs but don’t work for others? Could it be some beliefs are like nuts and bolts that are reverse threaded? Most come apart with a turn to the left, but certain beliefs need to be turned in a different direction to loosen? I’ve been intensely focused on changing beliefs for over 20 years.  I first started with my own and then began to coach other people in changing their false beliefs. Here is an answer to these questions and summary of how to change a belief.

How can you change a belief in a way that will work?

The first step to changing a belief is to understand their construct and what makes us so attached to them.

Here are some typical beliefs that you might be motivated to change?

*They are so stupid. – A judgment that tends to create conflict.

*I’m not lovable.  – A self judgment that creates feelings of unworthiness.

*He is such an idiot. – Can create anger, resentment, disappointment.

* I hate/dislike/am unhappy with my body.  – Unhappiness and shame.

* I shouldn’t have done that. – Guilt, Embarrassment

The first thing you notice is that I’ve identified emotions that are often connected with these types of beliefs. Usually the idea, or thought, by itself doesn’t FEEL bad. It is when we have that thought as a belief that we have strong emotions. It is the emotions part that cause us the misery. A thought by itself is just a concept in the form of a sentence or statement that we can manipulate with our intellect. We can pick up an idea or drop it in a moment  without any problem.

For example, we can have a thought about what we, or someone else is wearing and whether it looks good or not without having much emotion.  But what if we walk into a business social event wearing jeans and find everyone else in business suits? The “thoughts” about what we are wearing now comes with heavy emotions. It is no longer a conceptual idea that we can easily drop or change with our intellect.

We might think thoughts about what people think of us.
But we are likely having strong emotions because our beliefs say they are judging us.

We are quickly into emotionally charged beliefs connected to thoughts like:

“I’m such an idiot (worthlessness feeling).  I must have misread the invitation (feeling stupid). Everyone here is staring at me (feeling judged). I should go back home and change (self doubt and insecurity about a decision).  This is going to look bad to my boss’s boss (feelings of inferiority). I’ll never get promoted again (fear of loss). This is a career ender (feelings of doom and hopelessness.)”

What is important to note about all these thoughts and emotional beliefs is what you were wearing didn’t change. When you got dressed you believed you were perfectly fine with what you were wearing. Your clothes didn’t change to something terrible. But suddenly you looked at the same clothes with a different set of beliefs and that activated many emotions.

The powerful component that we need to consider when changing a belief is that we will need to change the corresponding emotion.  The “thought” in our mind is just a conceptual thing and our intellect might say that it should easily and quickly change. However, changing the emotions that are attached to the belief need a different approach. Emotions don’t move, dissipate, or change very well through our intellect. The strength of emotions connected to a belief are part of the difference between an “easy” belief to change and a “hard” belief to change.

Some beliefs are harder to change because they have much stronger emotional attachments.

Identity is Part of a Belief

Suppose that in your negative self talk there is a thought such as: “I feel like such a loser.” What our mind does with this kind of thought is to build a mental story. In a way it plays a very short mental movie. In that movie our mind projects an image of our self as a loser character.  That character has one attribute, “Loser”.  For that moment of the movie this is your whole identity. Since it is a version of you based on only one negative attribute it is a completely distorted self image. In that moment you have no other characteristics, no other history and no other qualities that would make this image accurate. It is a false image, but because the imagination fixates on one attribute and exaggerates it to a whole personality it is accepted as true in the moment. It also might seem true because it is congruent with emotions you feel in that moment.

This Self Image is a False Identity, but we don’t notice it as a lie.

The part we don’t see of the movie is that it is archived in our sub-conscious memory. Our mind doesn’t give proportional credit to all our other qualities and characteristics. Our mental process isn’t concerned in bring up all our previous experiences and accomplishments to create a truthful image of our self. Our mind is making a simple movie for the moment in an effort to explain the current emotions. Our mind does not fairly and proportionally balance the “loser” identity with all our other good and generous qualities. When our mind plays the “Loser” movie fixes that as our WHOLE identity. It also sees the “Loser” as what we have always been and what we will always be. Whenever we look to those “Loser” moments in our past our memory calls on the “Loser” character to show up in our memory and imagination. Another word for this false self image of an identity is “Ego.” 

By taking something that is a slip up in one moment and exaggerating it we have turned it into a self rejecting self image and will generate lots of emotions every time we think about it. We can also generate feelings unconsciously nor realizing our mind still has it stored as our identity. Your mind doesn’t care that it is believing a lie. It also doesn’t care that the lie is about something so fundamental as who you are.

This False Self Image of Identity is Part of the Belief.

In the process of changing a belief you have to include changing your identity, or at least your mind’s false version of identity.  Since your false  identity is part of memories, when you change a belief you will also change emotional memories. One of the ways you can make this go smoother is to have another sense of your identity that you can associate to in its place. If you don’t have an alternate identity perspective then the process will include developing a different sense of self. The exercises in the Self Mastery Course will give you practical ways to shift your perspective on this identity process as well as the other steps to change a belief.

If you have been unsuccessful in the past at changing beliefs sometimes it is because you have not successfully shifted your sense of identity at the unconsciously stored level.

Some people try to make this identity shift by affirmations like, “I am smart and brilliant person.”  There are a number of problems with this approach.  One of which is that the current belief structure already has an identity for you. The “I’m so stupid,” part of the mind dismisses these positive affirmations before the can be integrated deeply. There is more on this aspect in my free podcast about how Affirmations Backfire.  For now I’ll just say that changing our False Identity perspective is one of the steps that needs to be included in order to change a belief.

Sometimes the belief wills seem it is about another person, such as, “they are such an idiot.”  Yet behind this statement is still implied a kind of projected Identity. There is a belief in our own persona that feels righteous, better than, and smarter than the other person. We are indirectly propping our ego up with this image.

Something to consider that makes this easier, is that you aren’t actually changing your identity.  You were never the distorted image of a “stupid” person to begin with.  This was a false identity narrative that you acquired. When you give up this identity you will be giving up something false. In a way you won’t be losing an identity, but rather moving closer to who you authentically are. I suggest listening to my free audio and doing the exercise on Becoming the Neutral Observer so that you will have an experiential understanding of this.

Faith – the Glue that Holds Beliefs Together

I give a detailed explanation about the role Faith has in beliefs in my book MindWorks so I will be brief here.  Faith (not the religious kind) is a kind of personal power that we invest in thoughts or ideas. It is the power of our conviction that turns an idea into a belief. When you are absolutely convinced or passionate about something there is a certain kind of energy that flows through you and keeps any contradictory or distracting thoughts out of your mind. When we are “convinced” that we or someone else has done something “stupid” or “wrong” it is that force of faith that makes it difficult to see it any other way. The opposite of this energy is skepticism. When we are skeptical we look at what we are telling our selves or what others tell us in a very different way.  We look at it from all sorts of angles and consider alternatives.

If we have the belief that we are stupid, or another thought with congruent emotions, it is because we have invested some faith in this self image of “stupid”.  The false self image of us as a stupid person is attached to us using this elastic gluing energy of faith.  When we try to discount it, deny it, or push it away, we find it springing back due to this elastic glue.  One of the keys to changing beliefs is that we have to break these bonds of faith that keep us attached to false ideas and false identities.

Beliefs that are held in your mind with a small amount of faith (glue) are easier to break than beliefs you have invested a lot of faith in. Your ability to change a belief will depend on your skill at skepticism as well as your ability to direct your personal power of faith. Your skepticism over what you believe and your personal power are two factors that affect how long it takes you to change a belief.

Steps to Change a Belief

  • Become aware of the different parts that make up a belief.
  • Release the emotions held in those beliefs.
  • Shift your perspective so you can see the identity as false.
  • Break the bonds of faith that make an idea or thought powerful.

It’s not a complicated or long list, but it needs to be done for each belief. Since we might have many beliefs, as indicated by numerous negative thoughts, the process will have to be repeated.  In the beginning these mental and mindfulness practices might seem slow and clumsy. That is to be expected because you are doing things like shifting perspective and releasing emotions for the first time. It is normal to feel somewhat incompetent when you are learning new skills.  However, the more you practice, these things will become natural and you will do them with ease. The important thing is to put in the work developing these skills so changing beliefs become easy.

I mention that these practices are skills, and I mean that. Much like doing math, or reading, we fumbled through and practiced our multiplication tables and long division.  We spent hours upon hours listening to conversations in order to learn a language and then were taught through repetition how to pronounce syllables and read words. Releasing emotions, changing perspective on our identity, and changing the ideas we have faith in are also mental skills. If you haven’t learned these skills then you have probably had a difficult time struggling to change your beliefs in the past. You can find help in learning these belief changing skills in the Self Mastery Course audios.  These processes are also outlined in my book, MindWorks: A practical guide to changing thoughts, beliefs, and emotional reactions.

Help Asking For What You Want

Asking for what you want might seem like a simple thing, but it isn’t. It is a complex process of noticing your desires, eliminating the selfish and unreasonable, feeling worthy of having, feeling safe that you won’t be judged or rejected, finding the time and space to be heard in our busy lives and competition for attention, and then phasing our request in a way that they hear and feel how important it is to us. If you are at work all this might get pushed aside because your priority is to take care of your boss’s needs, clients needs, and co-workers so that you can keep your job and take care of your financial needs. If you are a parent taking care of kids you might be so busy that you don’t have time to notice your own needs. When there is a break in the action and you have time to slow down, maybe all you notice is that you are too tired to want anything else. That is your sign that you need time to rest by the way.

This isn’t the complete list of how to become aware of what you want and how to ask for it, but it should help.

Know that wanting something for yourself isn’t selfish. 

When you believe that asking for something that you want is selfish, you don’t allow yourself to even ask.  Often, when sub-consciously you feel it would be selfish, you might even repress the desire for it, or quickly dismiss it mentally when the desire comes up. This kind of self-negation can stop your request from getting out of your mouth, or distort the way you ask so it is no longer clear that it is important to you.

Asking for what you want doesn’t mean you are needy.

Having desires, wants, and needs is a natural part of the human experience. We have a desire for water when we are thirsty, and food when we are hungry.  These aren’t the only wants, needs, and desires we have as normal human beings.  Other wants and needs that are natural are for emotional connection, support, time for our self, freedom, empathy, compassion, affection, understanding, sex, creativity, physical exercise, and to express our own authentic voice.  When we don’t have these needs met we get restless, frustrated, or possibly depressed.  Having wants and desires is natural. It doesn’t mean we are weak or petty.  It means we are human.  Meeting our wants and needs is what helps us feel satisfied and fulfilled.

Recognize that it is not the other person’s responsibility to provide what we ask for.

It is their choice. If you demand or try to obligate another person to meet your needs and wants you may be interfering with their freedom of choice.  People we ask have their own needs and when we obligate others we are not respecting what they need and want.  If you ask someone and they say no, that has to be okay. If you become angry, annoyed, frustrated, or withdraw, then that kind of emotional punishment is a sign that you are not respecting their choices. It is okay if they say no. You don’t have to have all your needs and wants met by one person.

Tell the person you are asking how you feel and what it means to have what you are asking for.

If you are asking for some time alone your partner might think you don’t like him and reject himself with the lack of information. If you inform him that your time alone is how you nurture your soul and spirit so you can be more of yourself and better with him, then he is more likely to say yes, and feel good about it.

Always express appreciation.

If someone provides something you asked for then make sure they know you appreciate it. A big hug with your words makes more of an impact. Getting appreciation from people, particularly our partner is one way we get emotionally nourished in relationships.  When people are recognized and appreciated for what they do they feel better about doing it and want to do it more. That means you will both be getting more of what you want.

Be reasonable and negotiate.

You might want that 2 week vacation to the Greek Islands this summer and you might not feel it is selfish. That’s good.  But your partner might not want to empty the bank account to give it to you.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. It just might be interfering with his need to provide for the family long term. Listen to what your partner’s needs are and how they can be met. Asking questions and listening to what your partner’s needs helps them get their needs met.  Sometimes they might not be able to articulate exactly what their needs are. Those needs might seem like random thoughts and uncomfortable feelings at first. Asking questions and providing a space to listen will help them identify and articulate what they want and need. When you can help them get what they need in the negotiation then they are more likely to give you what you want as well. You might also discover that what you really wanted was a romantic dream getaway to a beach island.  You might find that the middle ground that gets both your real needs and wants met is an island in the Florida Keys for a few days.

For Better Self Awareness so you can identify what you want more clearly, and clearly ask for what you want, check out Gary van Warmerdam’s  Self Mastery Course.

Lessons From Integrity

I plan on starting a new program later this year.  It will be Lessons from Integrity.  Integrity has to do with integrating all the different parts of our self. We are more than just a mind, a body, and emotions. We have a Spirit, a Soul, and a Consciousness as well.  In the Self Mastery Course I have principally focused on the beliefs in the mind that create negative thoughts and contribute to emotional reactions.  For changing one’s life, I feel this is the best place to start.  However, if we are to live truly happy lives, we will need more.

We have emotions that are from other sources than our belief system or mind made.  We have genuine authentic emotional experiences and are a valuable part of our life.  They inform us and help guide our decisions, relationships, and behavior.  If you want to be in a healthy relationship you will want to feel these natural emotions.  Our natural emotions also help guide us to work in a career we enjoy and is fulfilling to our soul.

We also have desires that arise from our soul. Instinctively we seek out community and social connections. This nurtures something in us at a Soul level.  At the same time, our Spirit may desire some peace and quiet that requires us to be alone.  These opposing desires won’t make any sense to us at the level of our mind. Our mind is looking to organize these desires in a simple logical way and so the conflict is confusing.

Living in our Integrity is about balancing these different forces, feelings, and desires within us. They are only in conflict because our mind hasn’t been informed of the larger picture and how to include all of them. We need time and connection with our community and family. We also need time alone, or in nature, to satisfy the yearning of our Spirit. Men may need more time alone than women for reasons too involved to explain here.

All of this comes down to a deeper level of work that I will be sharing beginning in the summer.  It will help you listen within and get in touch with what is in alignment with your own Integrity.  The details and logistics of the program are still being worked out. As of now I envision it being a live video cast for 2 hours once a month. It will likely be on Sunday morning 9AM Pacific time.  Since the process will build over time it is not feasible for people to drop in and out, or to start late.  There will be homework assignments to practice in the weeks between and probably support groups to share what is going on with the changes in your life.

A pre-requisite for doing the Lessons from Integrity program will be that you are through, or mostly through the Basic Self Mastery course. You will also need to have done, or be doing Phase II of the Self Mastery Course (previously called the Advanced Series). This background work will make the advanced practices we will be working on much more effective. You have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.

I will let you know of the dates and times and other details in the future.  In the meantime I wanted to let people know of the opportunity and to get started with the Basic Self Mastery Series, or the Phase II so they can be best prepared to get the most out of the Lessons From Integrity Course.

The Self Mastery Course: Practical Tools for Getting Rid of the Emotional Drama in Your Life
  • Stop Emotional Reactions
  • Change Core Beliefs
  • Quiet the Criticizing Voice in Your Head
  • Develop Communication and Respect in Your Relationships
  • Create Love and Happiness in Your Life
Check out Gary's Self Mastery Audio Program and Download FOUR Sessions FREE