Self Mastery

Healing Old Wounds

Conflicts are bound to arise, whether they are in our marriage, with our children, or between groups in society. The resolution of conflict involves something different than figuring out who was right. Ego’s take us away from understanding and towards prolonged conflict and unhappiness.  To create a peaceful coexistence both parties need to listen and understand each other. Once both parties understand the other, you are a step closer to reconciliation and in some cases you have peace.

After you have been harmed, there is something in the human psyche that seeks a confirmation from the other party about the past indiscretion. Often this is done just by recognizing remorse in the other person. At other times this can be done with a simple apology. We learned to do it at 5 years old on the playground.  If one child hurt another, the teachers stopped the fighting and got the two kids to understand the other’s experience. Once that was done, there would be an apology and they could go on and play and be friends again.

It looks simple but there are some critical social steps that need to happen in that process that are often overlooked as adults. Because these elements are lacking is why problems in your relationship, protests in society, and conflicts between cultures can go on for years or generations.  What we need as humans to reconcile our past relationships whether between our spouse, or another race are often the same.

Imagine that you are at a concert. It’s your favorite band and it’s rocking and rolling.  The person in the next seat is excited, jumping up and down, and they accidentally bump into you. Maybe your neighbor steps on your foot, or maybe you get an errant elbow. Its not really painful, but it is bothersome.  You are polite and you don’t say anything.  You figure they noticed and so you let it go.  But then it happens a few more times.  It’s all in good fun, but it is interfering with your enjoyment of the concert.

What do you want in that situation? What would help?

Maybe they play a mellow song next and so your neighbor calms down. But in your head you are still bothered by what might be coming when the beat picks up again. The problem looks solved in the moment, but maybe it’s just the mellow song? You can’t be sure. You want to be able to just let it go and trust that it won’t happen again, but you don’t have any way of knowing.

You could take a moment during the mellow song to point out what they were doing.  What kind of response from your neighbor would work to alleviate your concerns so you could enjoy the show? What kind of response wouldn’t?

What you want is for them to acknowledge what happened and recognize the impact it had on your toes, or your person.  If they respond with concern or remorse you can trust them to be good human beings that will be more careful. When they have empathy or remorse for what you experienced something in you registers that it will be okay now.  You are understood at an emotional level. When that happens you may not even need an apology, or a promise that it won’t happen again. Something in your consciousness recognizes that they are now aware and will be more careful.  These are seemingly small, but crucial elements in this exchange. Without them, you will feel that you can’t trust the situation, and you will worry about elbows coming your way.

Until you can register the right response in their facial expression, emotion, tone, and attitude, you will live in doubt, and some fear of having your toes stepped on again. What we seek in this communication is for them to know how you felt, or what we could call empathy, or compassion. This understanding between you and the other person isn’t just about acknowledging the past infraction, apologizing and moving on. We need this recognition in order to go safely into the future.

We want confirmation that we can have a future that will be free from the type of hurts we received in the past.  Something happens in that emotional recognition of empathy that not only heals the past, but ensures a new bond going forward.

Without that social confirmation our mind will be on guard with fear, looking out for possible problems with every new song for the whole show. Even if it doesn’t happen again you will not have enjoyed the show because you were  on edge for the two hours.

A Reply that Escalates

What if they reply that they aren’t doing anything so mind your own business?  Factually they are correct. Right now the song is mellow and they aren’t doing anything.  Facts about the present moment don’t alleviate your concerns for safety and comfort.  You would like to just let it go for now and stop living in the past, but something in your mind still fixates on it.  You have not gotten them to listen and understand.  You had no indication that there was empathy or an understanding or a caring for your well being.

Maybe they talk about how they were just enjoying the music, and that everyone here is having a good time, and why don’t you just go with the flow. Maybe they talk about how you are being rude and inappropriate about interrupting their enjoyment of the show. You might like to but something in your mind concerned for your safety can’t.  The less you are acknowledged and the more you are dismissed, the more you are tempted to raise your voice.  You want to be heard. And being heard means more than physically listening with their ears.  Being heard means something shifts in the other person’s understanding at an emotional and compassionate level. It happens when they know what you felt, and acknowledge their responsibility, even if it was unintentional.

You don’t want them to be punished or kicked out of the show. You don’t need restitution for the past indiscretion. Your main concern is to be able to go forward without having to protect your toes. Your psyche is looking for a signal that you are safe and that means that they have an awareness and concern for your well being that they didn’t display in the past. Until that happens, you will be tempted to raise your voice, interrupt what they say, and call security. The more they do the talking, interrupt, or change the topic from your concern, the more your anxiousness rises.

If your relationships aren’t healing, then likely it is because your communication process lacks compassionate and empathetic listening.

You don’t need that person to feel bad. You don’t need them to feel sorry, or have pity. You don’t need any special treatment. Most people today aren’t even asking or demanding restitution from the past.  They just want to know, that you know at an emotional level, what the past experience was like for them. They trust that if the other party knows the experience of another human’s pain, our social instinct will guide us to be more careful.

Did it hurt emotionally when your partner criticized your cooking or made a joke about your weight?  What kind of acknowledgement and understanding do you need to feel safe about it not happening again?

Their awareness will expand to have concern for our well being.  Just like when we realize something we have done has hurt another, we instinctively change. This is remorse.

Once we recognize remorse in a person, we can drop our concerns about our toes being stepped on.  It is this essential emotional component that changes human behavior. Intellectual understanding will not suffice.

The Larger Scale of Protest

This is what is happening today. People are seeking to be heard. They want to go forward with the concert of their lives feeling safe that old patterns of mistreatment will cease. People have been speaking up for a long time, and still don’t feel heard. It is why the same issues can last for decades in a family, or society. Some people are marching in the streets wanting that understanding and empathy from others.  Some understand and give it. Others protest back and tell them to get over it. The latter wouldn’t work for you at the concert and it doesn’t work for them in their lives either.

People protest in many ways, some take a knee at a sporting event, some march in the streets with signs, some camp out in the streets and occupy a plot of land for days.  What do they really want? They might want a policy or law to change. In the case of racial discrimination and police violence, they want police behavior to change. But before that change can happen, and what is at the core of this expression of protest, is they want to be understood at an emotional level. They are seeking compassion for their pains and empathy for injustice. This is a human emotional need, even though they may not be asking for it, or even realizing it consciously. Until this happens we can’t constructively move to the next phase of the conversation and reconciliation.

By seeking understanding of their past, and acknowledgement of responsibility, they are also seeking assurance of safety and peace in the future. People may be going about their protest in a ways not everyone agrees with. Some people listening are not responding with understanding. Some even respond with a complaint of their own about how the protest is inappropriate. It’s like that person that bumped into you says, “Mind your own business. Just let it go and enjoy the concert.” It wouldn’t work for you.  It doesn’t feel good and so the tension and aggression escalates.

In this escalation a false belief is operating. “I will try harder and louder to do more of the same thing that didn’t work, and expect a different result.” If we start yelling at our neighbor for stepping on our toes they are not likely to be concerned with our well being. They will be on the defensive now and seeking their own safety from our violent words and emotions. We need a different process so we can move on from this echoing of hurts masquerading as reconciliation.

Reconciliation for Both Sides

One of the other problems in this layer cake is that the person stepping on the toes, probably hasn’t been heard and acknowledged either. They just went to that concert to let off a little steam, and enjoy some free expression in their life. That police officer might be too tightly wound from too many dangerous situations of violence. Given what they have witnessed and experienced they are going to be more careful. Unfortunately, that means assume the worst of every person, and situation, until they know they can feel safe.  The police have had more than their toes violently walked on at some point. He or she may need to be listened to and understood as well until they feel safe in their community. We need to listen with compassion and empathy to them too. We need to understand and acknowledge what their life is like. It is likely that everyone’s toes are still sore and still hurt from someplace in the past.

Now, take your concert experience and multiply it by a factor of 10 or 100 for physical, economic, and emotional abuses. Then multiply the evening by years and lifetimes and you will begin to have an idea why people are so loud in their protest and of the desire people have for empathy. In that magnitude you will know the pain that drives their protest.

Often the problem here is that when a person protests loudly we see a person who is loud and disruptive. It becomes easy to miss the hurt they want us to see and understand. Do your best to look past the loudness and the anger of people and with your awareness look to see what the hurts are behind them.

Then take a seat and be prepared to close your mouth for a while and listen, to both sides. No one is asking you to agree with their point of view. You didn’t have their experience, they know that. They are only asking that you listen and do your best to understand their experience.

If you find the need to interrupt, to change the topic, dismiss what they say, or correct them on the minor details of factual points like names, places, and times, then you stopped listening to understand their experience and emotions.

For some major issues in this country this honest compassionate conversation hasn’t happened yet. Our racial tensions continue to exist because there has not been a full and honest acknowledgement of past hurts. People are still seeking confirmation that injustices be acknowledged so they feel they can go on safely with their lives without repeat.  This kind of deep listening was accomplished in South Africa, and other places in Africa through  Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. It was only after all sides got heard, emotionally heard, and understood that reconciliation happened and progress in restoring relationship bonds could be made.

How do you want to be listened to and acknowledged when you have been slighted?  What can you do to listen to another when they have been mistreated?

You can call it compassionate listening, empathy, or listening to understand.  I call it a pathway to healing and happiness in relationships. You don’t have to heal all of society, but it might be good to begin with practicing with your spouse, your children, family and friends. Once we take that step, we can take the next one.


Gary van Warmerdam

For more on how to eliminate the chatter and emotional impulses that often interfere with listening and healing check out the free sessions of Gary’s Self Mastery Course, and his book MindWorks

Belief Systems

This article is a transcript from a talk given by Gary van Warmerdam on Belief Systems. The Youtube video from that talk is embedded below. 

What we’re talking about is this thing called the belief system. What we’re working to transform is this belief system and it is, at least in my experience, my personal process, something that was completely invisible to me. We operate with this belief system and it’s invisible to us. Someone tells a joke. One person is laughing at the joke and they think it’s a beautiful insight and a commentary about life, in a way that’s funny. They have a joyful experience. Someone else hears the same joke, same time, same comedian and they’re offended. One of them interprets it by whatever they interpreted by to get this experience of laughter, joy, and insight. Someone else has an experience of being offended. They feel hurt. They feel violated or whatever it is. The event was the same. What happened that one person has experience A and another person has experience B? The answer is the each person’s belief system about the meaning of that joke. The interpretation of that joke and their perspective of how they apply that to the world makes the experience.  Essentially their interpretation was different. But that interpretation happened very fast and we didn’t see it happen.

When we hear a joke, are we aware of how we interpret it? We hear a comment, we’re offended or hurt by, are we aware of our role in interpreting it in that moment? Then we have a reaction, get frustrated or mad.  They said something, we got frustrated. They said something and we laughed. We don’t notice that something happened within us first. That invisible, silent mechanism is where the belief system is. It produces in us responses. If I want to go live in the world, and I want to be happy but I have a belief system that’s producing angry, frustration, judgments, victimization, sadness, I don’t have much of a chance. I don’t even see the place that reactions are being created. All I see is that they said something, so it must have been them. This is because the belief system is very much invisible and silent, until we begin to look for it.

Until we really start to take time from a conscious point of view, and say ”What’s going on in that moment between something being said and my emotion or the responsive words in my mind? What happens in there?” That is important because that is what’s determining my experience of life. That’s what’s determining my emotional experience of the moment. This emotional experience of life, or misery, or suffering, is happening in part because of something invisible. I look in that overlooked space, at what appears to be invisible, process of a belief system, that’s interpreting life. This takes a conscious, willful commitment.

Without awareness Belief Systems operate in a way that is invisible to us.

Most people most of the time are looking outside themselves and go ”Oh, you tick me off” or ”That’s sad” or ”Okay, that’s really beautiful”, ”You’re great”. They think they’re just living in the response to something outside. They’re thinking that ”You made me feel that way. You did that, that’s why I feel this way.” This is the habit of a victim perspective of the mind, blaming other people, or events outside themselves for the emotions they feel inside.

This is surface level understanding, not noticing, the interpretation and meaning that the belief system is applying to experiences, and is what’s changing it all.. It takes 12-14 years before our body matures enough to reproduce. It’s going through a maturing process. That’s a dozen years to develop and mature by, and then it continues to develop into adulthood. Okay, now there’s an adult person. That’s just physically, and it takes 20 years. Our mind continues to grow and mature, but there’s another part of our being, that grows and mature over time. That’s consciousness. As we grow into adulthood we develop consciousness  It really starts to wake up, it varies for a person, but say roughly 20-30 years old. For some it may be way later or not at all.  Early in life the mind is growing faster. At say 30, to 50 years old, consciousness wakes up and says, ”Hey, what’s going on in my mind?”

The mind can’t perceive the mind clearly, but consciousness can.

As you start looking at yourself, and what’s going on in your mind from a consciousness’ point of view, you notice the mind making interpretations you didn’t see before. You begin to notice all these things going on in the mind, that it’s doing it automatically. These are things that we were programmed with. It’s making the interpretation, that’s applying meaning from a belief system. It’s automatically getting offended, or getting angry. You see that happening automatically. What’s that about? That’s nonsense. From a consciousness point of view all those uncontrolled, negative thoughts, or anxiety looks crazy. From a consciousness’ point of view, it’s out of place and unnecessary. But there was very little chance that you could notice it from point of view of the mind, which is where we were for many years. This is why people show up into this work in adulthood, because now their consciousness is going ”I got to look at this. This is the only way it’s going to make sense to me.”

We are developing our consciousness, what you can also call awareness, that’s been gestating here in this human form. That takes years. You can speed up development and actively practice it with exercises and willful commitment. If you practice being conscious, whether it’s meditation, or practices that I teach, or somebody else teaches you develop consciousness faster. You’re actually strengthening the muscles of your consciousness and your attention through exercises.

Who Can You Talk To About Belief Systems, and Who You Can’t

When you realize there is a belief system and it is doing all these things, you are now seeing something that was previously invisible. You can talk about what you realize with some people, but if they’re looking at it from their mind they can’t see belief systems. They think what you are talking about is nonsense. They think it is nonsense because it is still an invisible mechanism to them. They haven’t seen this mechanism operating in the silent realm, giving interpretations and automated responses. Even if they’re by themselves and they hear all that chatter in their head. They don’t realize that’s it. They think that’s them talking and thinking. From consciousness point of view you realize that just goes on by itself and operates independent from you. It’s coming from the belief system, or we could call mind, or unconscious mind, and it is generating stuff. You can mention this topic of what you’re looking at to someone, but if you talk about it from a consciousness’ point of view, not everybody is going to respond and look at it from their consciousness. They’ll look at it from their belief system and not know what you are talking about.

The belief system doesn’t recognize itself. The belief system doesn’t look at what it’s doing. It doesn’t have awareness and consciousness to self-reflect. This is sometimes called meta-thinking.  Meta-thinking is when you can observer and describe your own thinking process. You need consciousness as a perspective to self-reflect or reflect on what the mind and belief system are doing. Not everybody in adulthood will follow you as you talk about this. It depends on what point of view they are in. As you look at your own belief system there are methods to see what is going on, and to unravel the meanings and interpretations that were silent. Then you can say, Okay, I can see these layers now. You develop a kind of insight, self-reflection capability. From there you can dismantle it. But that’s skill and practice. That doesn’t happen because the mind says it should or wants to. If it is just the mind working the process you end up with a lot of, ”Why am I not getting this?” Or, “Why am I still thinking this way?”

You have to develop it as a willful conscious practice. Like reading music, or learning a new language, to see what happens in that instantaneous interpretation, to look and then closely slow it down in reflection. That wasn’t just a response, and it wasn’t that, “They made me feel that way”. That was my belief system making this interpretation which created the emotion. And my conscious mind ignored that part happened. My mind is just pointing to them and says they created that emotion in me. Noticing the mind says this is a development of skill. It takes time. This is what we’re doing. When we’re in the point of view of the mind, we’re blaming everybody else, we don’t have any issues. It’s all them. If they just stop doing that, I’m fine. If they did this instead of that, I’d be fine. We’re not at all responsible and in control of anything going on with us is the explanation of the mind. Everything happening to us is depending on the world. This is a victim paradigm of the belief system.

The Belief System is not reflective and so takes no responsibility for the emotions created within us.

I have no responsibility for how I feel, or how I react. The world has to change and then I’ll be fine. People can say this even in a righteous, moralistic way, about how they’re hurt. But it is a victim paradigm of powerlessness. It’s kind of common, when you’re looking at things from the point of view of the mind or the belief system. When you’re looking at from the point of view of consciousness, you look inward instead and say, that’s my creation, my automated interpretation, my responsibility, my issue. You know what? I’m the only one that can clean it up, because it’s all me. It’s all my doing. And that interestingly enough, can suck.

I’m creating that anger. I’m doing that. So there might be a layer of self-judgment when this happens. The mind might kick in and say ”You stupid idiot. Why the hell have you been doing this all these years and didn’t even notice?” There is a layer of that story and victimization. Now I feel like a stupid idiot. I should have known this before. The truth is that, No, you shouldn’t have.

The mind is making nonsense again. It’s blaming you for what it is doing.  There’s no way you could have known this before. Your consciousness hasn’t developed yet to step outside of it. But as soon as your consciousness goes ”Oh my God, it’s me” which is progress in the area of responsibitly, the mind wants to kick in and take control again, and go ”Yeah, you stupid idiot”. Very quickly we switch from consciousness perspective to the judgmental and blaming mind perspective.  Now you’re in a dream of judgment, victimization, comparison to some imagined reality, like you could have had realizations 5 years ago, had a conscious awakening 5 years ago. No, you couldn’t make puberty happen 5 years early. You couldn’t make conscious awakening happen 5 years early. It’s supposed to be that way. You wake up when you wake up.

Conscious awakening happens when your consciousness gets mature enough. You can begin to self-reflect at that time. Even when you begin to awaken consciously the mind will want to take over and do the judgment story and hold you back. When you have a consciousness moment the mind will try to reassert some kind of judgment or other story, and you have to say ” Wait.  No.  I wake up when I wake up. I realize when I realize.” Step outside of that story that you should have known this 5 years ago. No, you shouldn’t. That’s a lie. You go forward from there. That’s the game of self-realization, conscious awakening, with the mind trying to derail the process. That’s the path.

How Relationships Change as You Change Your Belief System

There’s a number of common barriers to cross as you see the belief system and begin to make changes. One of the things is you don’t relate with your friends and family and co-workers the same way. When they would do their victim story of poor me, and they would want to go on a rant about their partner and relationship, and how he’s not doing this or she’s not doing that, and you chime in and go ”Oh, that son of a gun.” You would all be together in the same story and that feels like togetherness. It looks like support, but you’re both really,… you’re intertwined in the same victim story. You’re not supporting them in their happiness. You are supporting them in their beliefs that perpetuate misery. When you see that, you don’t want to feel miserable anymore. You don’t want to support them in the misery of a victim story. They respond by saying things like, ”What’s wrong with you? You don’t care about me anymore.” They fight against your conscious awareness and your authentic compassion. They want their victim sympathy.

In a way, you love them more and you care about them more. But to a victim, love and caring looks like something else. Loving, caring looks like, “you have to do my victim story with me.” But consciousness knows it’s not helping them. It is only making you miserable and keeping them miserable long term. Sometimes you will feel the loss of a friend. Sometimes they’ll get so tired of you and say something like, “I don’t understand you anymore. Get out of my life.” Sometimes they try over and over to bring you into their story of misery, and you have to put a boundary like ”I love you and I know you don’t understand that. It seems in a way, that I’ve changed, and I love you differently. I’m interacting with you differently. I can’t spend time believing your stories the same way, because it’s just not getting us any happier, or any better this way. I got to spend less time with you, or no time with you for a while.” You put a boundary there. To them you look like you are acting strange, weird, and crazy to them. You’ve gone evil, because in their world, their belief system, each person that acts like them is normal. Because you act differently, the word they have for that is usually negative.

They believe they are living how they’re supposed to be. So once you individuate from the victim and judge suffering paradigm, you look different or they don’t understand you. Their belief system doesn’t look to themselves and go ”What am I doing differently?” or ”Should I be changing?” No. That never occurred to them within the belief system. The belief system, its own interpretation always concludes it is fine to itself. It’s the world that’s the problem. They look at you and then go ”You’re the problem. You’re different. You’re weird. You changed.” As if you should never change. No, you’re changing anyways. They have these justifications, even ”Something’s wrong with you now. I can’t talk to you anymore. I hope you get better.” Since they don’t see any other interpretations they could make from their world they don’t see the belief system choosing only one line of thinking. You seem nonsensical when you talk about belief system things. To them it sounds like you are seeing things that aren’t there.

Feeling Like You Don’t Fit In

So in this journey, we can feel a little alienated when we begin to become conscious and change our belief system. We can feel alone. We don’t connect with people the way we used to. We start to wonder ”What am I doing? Is this OK?” We have enough awareness hopefully, to kind of check in and go ”I could do their stories, but that’s misery. I can’t do that.” That’s the crazy thing, to go live in the mind or stories of suffering that say It’s somebody else doing it to me. We go forward, we trust going forward.  If we believe what our friends and family say, if we listen a lot and consider it, we will have fears and doubts about our progress.  We can even try to shut down our consciousness and try to make it go back to sleep.  This is like the scene in the movie the Matrix where the character Cypher wants to go back into the Matrix.

Sometimes the relationship doesn’t work itself out. Usually in that different state of consciousness, you eventually start seeking out new relationships, and you talk to people at a conscious level about this thing called the belief system, or mind, or whatever label you learn for it that you’re unraveling and it’s like discovery. You have a conscious conversation about what the mind does unconsciously, and that’s cool.

The Belief System is a Working Template of the World

What the belief system gives us in this invisible operating system, is a mental model of the world. In our young years, often through action-reaction just experienced relationship. We’ve experienced the world and other people. We draw assumptions, we build paradigms of identity. We build paradigms of how the world is and how other people are. If I do this, they will treat us this way. If I do that, they will treat us this way. If we’re 4 years old, and we’re loud and angry, we’re going to get hit. Now we’re afraid to get hit. So we interact in the world in certain ways and not other ways. We see responses. We operate from these paradigms that we’ve built going forward with past experiences creating the paradigm of expectations.

Sometimes we operate from paradigm of conscious word-based beliefs we’ve made in statements. I’m better than them. I’m worse than them. I’m a terrible person. I’m right. They’re a terrible person. Then we interact with the narrative we’ve built about them. That belief system can have a lot of language. That’s part of what makes up the structure. The agreements we make about ourselves, what our life would be like if we’d done this instead. Or I’m this way, because mom or dad did this to me. We live in that narrative. Often, it is really our commitment to be that way, based on what they said. At some point we build a construct in our beliefs that “we are this way.” We think it’s, mom and dad told me this, or didn’t let me do that. We continue to put responsibility on mom and dad even if they haven’t been in the picture for years. We continue to live in the narrative belief years later. But we fail to see our part ”Okay. We made a commitment about what that meant. We made a commitment to interpret that way and be that way.”  Our commitment, our response was what created us and our behavior afterwards. We operate in that paradigm.

Yes someone in our past may have mistreated, and even abused us.  But at a certain point they aren’t doing that anymore.  From then on we are the one that is continuing to abuse our self with our thoughts and beliefs about that past event.

Belief System as a Mental Model of Reality

The belief system gives us a mental model of the world. It is a template of expectation and assumption about how people will treat us, how they will react to us, and what we should do to get attention, and recognition, and what we should fear etc.  Sometimes it is accurate, sometimes inaccurate. If you could imagine, the way I see it is, you have this mental model of the world and it’s kind of like the Google Glass images projected on to your lenses. You get this see-through screen projection onto the world. Then there’s a real world behind it. We’ll look at it from somebody else’s point of view. Somebody else is living in their own mental model of the world and what they believe of you is on their lens, and you’re in the background behind it. They don’t see the real you. They see the template of what they believe you are on their projected glasses. They have this version in their mind and they think, “I know you this way”. It’s like our parents would say they know us. But we know they don’t know us. They don’t know everything about us. They have their version of us. They have their mental model of us, and then there’s how we really are. Well, we have our paradigm of what we know about our parents. That’s our mental model of them, and then there’s how they really are.

We’re not necessarily consciously aware of our belief system like this. We’re certainly not as aware that consciously it’s false. It’s not the real them. We usually don’t perceive our mental model side by side with reality and check for discrepancies. That’s the only time you would notice the belief system.

When Our Belief System Doesn’t Map to Real Life

Everybody has their own belief system mental model. Most of the time that’s a totally fine way to operate in the world and life goes along okay. But there are certain things that happen when we’re operating according to our belief system of who they are. It misses the mark. Now we think ”They’re this way and they’re going to do this.” They don’t do it. Now there’s a disparity between reality and our assumptions or our unmet expectations, belief system of where we thought it would go. That disparity sets up an emotional reaction. This could be surprise, or could be disappointment. You didn’t fit what I thought would happen. Reality showed up quite a bit below and that’s disappointing. Or reality showed quite a bit high, Oh, that’s awesome.” Why is it awesome? Usually we weren’t even aware we had an expectation in our belief system to compare it to.  It was unconscious to us.

We Try to Make Reality Fit our Belief System

Much of our life we try and get reality to fit our mental model. Mental model of ourselves is like I think I can really go do this, in my life. And so we go and try. Sometimes we can make reality happen to that plan. Because we are the most changeable thing in our life, we can make ourselves into a doctor, an engineer, a manager, an athlete, or run a marathon. We can make that reality happen, but when it doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen the speed we would like it to happen, ”Oh, I want to be through all these emotional issues and clean up this whole belief system.” Our belief system is saying ”Yeah, let’s finish this. Let’s go read this book, that’ll get it done.” You read the book but you’re still doing the drama stuff. What’s the reaction to the belief system plan and disparity with reality? Frustration. Our belief system assumes transformation happens quickly, like in a weekend. Reality is ”No, you need to develop your consciousness’ skills and dismantle these beliefs.” But our belief system doesn’t see that development is required. Our belief system doesn’t believe it should have to dismantle its beliefs and actually develop skills.

When the reality of change doesn’t happen like that, there’s a reaction of frustration, and self-judgment. Our expectation of how fast change should happen doesn’t fit reality, and what is there? Emotional reactions. This is the silent interpretation system that’s falsely predicting what the world’s going to be like, or what we’re going to be like by the end of the book or weekend. This blinds us from seeing the world. It blinds us from seeing how the change process actually happens. It blinds us from seeing us the way we really are, and having patience with our self. It can also blind us from seeing our beauty. We miss it because all we have is images in our belief system to look at, as opposed to really experiencing ourselves and all those multi-dimensional levels.

When Other People Have Beliefs About Us that Aren’t Congruent

Where the loop can get really tricky is when there’s that disparity.  Like I mentioned earlier, for someone else, we’re now not acting according to the way we used to act. We’re not acting according to their version of us. We’ve changed. We’re not fitting in their belief system model of us and they have an emotional reaction to this disparity.

They’re having reactions. They don’t want to have reactions. They don’t want to be uncomfortable. It’s confusing when we’re not living according to their mental model belief system expectation. They’re confused and disappointed. They’re going to have emotional reactions. You know what? They don’t want to have emotional reactions. What’s their approach? Well, if they get us to change and go back to be the person of their model in their mind, they’ll be more comfortable, because they won’t have those reactions.

If we would just be what their belief system is predicting they would be more comfortable. They are completely unaware of this invisible belief system. They think the cause of their emotions is us. They believe that if we change they won’t have as much emotional reaction. Their belief system would be less confused, and more comfortable with us acting like it expects.  Do you see why they might want to get us to change back? Their belief system is having reactions to us.

Do you see how when other people change, we might want them to change back, because they don’t fit what we are used to? Some people say ”Oh well, we want to just go with what’s familiar or known.” No, this isn’t true. Our belief system wants to go with what our belief system has formulated.  Changes to this are confusing to the mental model the mind is trying to maintain.  It reacts with something like … “Things are not the way I thought. I’m not the way I thought. They’re not the way I thought.” That belief system goes… Sort of like a ripple in the matrix, and gives a little shake. That feels uncomfortable; to find out that something you believe is not true. We will, and other people will at times try to react to us in a kind of punishment. “Hey, get back to being who I expect you to be, and my belief system expects you to be.” Sometimes we will react to people when they’re different.

Consciousness Perspective is Different

What we could do instead from a conscious perspective go ”Wow, why is my belief system having such a response to this?  I’m uncomfortable with them not fitting my expectations.” Which is more accurately my belief system is having a reaction to reality. My belief system is having a reaction to reality, which means my belief system is holding some false belief in conflict with reality.

If your belief system is in alignment with reality, you don’t notice it. Because it’s giving you a good map of reality and so everything is congruent. Reality matches expectation and the response is, ”OK, that’s predictable.” If you’re in this part of the world, the power stays on regularly. If the power goes off, you’re like ”What’s going on?” If you’re in another part of the world, the power goes off regularly. You don’t have any response about it, it’s just the way it is. You know that’s normal. This is where the belief system tries to push us and other people back to normal for the belief system, or what we would call belief system model of it. Not that it’s normal, not that it’s healthy, and not that it’s really going to help make you happy. It is doing what is emotionally comfortable to the belief system, so it doesn’t have to change.

Conscious Awakening from a Belief System

If you want your personal freedom and you want to awaken the consciousness, you have to dissolve this belief system. So when you notice an emotional reaction you can go ”Cool.” Then ”Oh, I had an emotional reaction. Cool. My belief system is exposed now.” There’s a chance to see that it’s got something false going on. When you become more consciously aware and have an emotional reaction ”OK, that’s not a big deal.” They actually become fun like ”Now I can find something false that my belief system is doing.” It’s a totally different attitude about emotional reactions from a consciousness’ point of view. You’re like, this is a beneficial thing having emotional reaction, but from the point of view of the mind it’s a problem.

Let me give you the case where this world we live in, dictates decisions that are detriment to a process. Just following along with the belief system, we’ll try to do what’s comfortable to the belief system. This means keeping patterns and habits and emotional cycles in place.

We’ll take a belief system, kind of an extreme case, that’s easier to see this way. A woman who has really low self-esteem, feels worthlessness, has a belief paradigm she doesn’t deserve to be happy or treated well. She’s in an abusive relationship. She has a really low self-image, doesn’t deserve to be happy, and punishment is regular in her life. This isn’t who she is but it fits her belief system image of herself. She’s always doing things wrong, messing things up. Punishment, being mistreated fits her belief system of herself, her mental model of herself, and that image is she deserves to be hit, because she’s doing things wrong.

Her partner, as an abusive partner, says she deserves to be hit, ”You deserve that.” That fits with her story about herself. There is a congruency. There are cultures in the world where this is accepted by men and women as appropriate.  For instance, both the man and the woman believe that it is appropriate to beat the woman if she burns dinner. The inside belief system and the outside reality match up. This is familiar and congruent, so while the emotional experience may be painful, it’s not confusing. Everyone is living according to the same expectations. In a way it makes sense to that mind. Then why is she still there? ”Oh, you know, I should have done this, I should have done that. It’s my fault he is that way. I did this to tick him off, it’s totally understandably he got angry about that.”  You can hear many justifications, which is a clue that the belief system is busy reinforcing itself.

There’s nothing that appears wrong with this situation to these two people so there’s nothing to change. There is congruency between the belief system model and reality. Now take that woman and you put her in a relationship with a man, who just loves her unconditionally, is kind and sweet. She is still the same person, but he treats her very respectfully. All this love and acceptance and adores her. She’s going to be confused. It might feel good emotionally, but her mind will be in conflict.  She might think, “He doesn’t really understand me. He doesn’t know what I’m like. If he really knew me he wouldn’t want to be with me. This won’t last. Or maybe she thinks, “He doesn’t know how to be a man. He doesn’t know how to be in charge. Who is he really? He must be crazy. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t deserve this.” That’s her narrative response. What does she do? She’s uncomfortable. Her belief system is uncomfortable. This doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t fit with her mental model.

Her belief system wants congruency. Her emotional and physical body might prefer this way of living, but her belief system is confused and uncomfortable so there is an internal conflict.  Part of her mind wants somebody that’s going to mistreat her according to what her belief system says she deserves. Her unconscious belief system is going to try and sabotage the relationship. She is going to unconsciously try and get that guy to treat her poorly. She may give a little jab verbally. She’ll forget to do things. She’ll break promises. She’ll cheat on him. Unconsciously all this love and affection is uncomfortable, because her model of the world, is shaking. This doesn’t fit. It’s so incongruent. It’s uncomfortable, and getting back to comfortable means getting back to what the belief system says is congruent. Unfortunately what is congruent is abuse. It’s painful, but it doesn’t have this disparity. It’s congruent. Not comfortable but congruent.

So she will poke at him, and she will jab verbally. She’ll get angry. She’ll do things, try to create emotional reactions to sabotage that relationship. Either so he becomes mad at her, or ”I can’t connect with you.” Or she’ll run, she’ll go leave and say ”You know, you don’t make any sense to me anymore. I can’t do this anymore.” And the guy wonders ”What’s going on?” He’ll be confused. Or, she can change her beliefs and give up the false beliefs of the mental model and enjoy her relationship.

The same can happen with a man, who’s really loved by a woman. Understand what the belief system is doing, is trying to create not what’s comfortable, as we often use the term, but is trying to create congruency. So we don’t feel confused about the world and our role in it. Then the belief system can go… situation normal. Situation is congruent. Nothing to figure out now so beliefs can all stay intact.

In this way, we talk about people creating their own reality. I see it more as people often creating the world, or making the world fit the non-reality of their belief system model.

Becoming Conscious of the Belief System

Sometimes you look at what’s going on in the world, in your life and you go ”What’s in my belief system that I would be doing this? What is going on in my belief system that would have me behaving this way or living this way?” Sometimes you change your belief system and yet the outside behavior hasn’t gotten around to changing yet. This thing in the external world, this friend that does drama or lousy job, you see that it’s got to go now. You have changed the internal world of your belief system and it is better. Now you want an external world that matches. You treat your self better internally and now you want that matched in the world.

I want a life that reflects how I feel about myself in this way, which is with more love and respect and acceptance. So we decide we need to lose some relationships that are abusive. As you change your inside belief system, then you have to change your outside world to be congruent with that.

Sometimes you realize you don’t know what the belief is, but this thing in the external world that I’m doing, it’s not working for me. I’m just going to change it and let my belief system catch up. So you go through with something comfortable, with a job or relationship that isn’t working and change it. The belief system of the mind will resist as it has to go through confusion.  “Did I do the right thing?”, or “Do I really deserver to be happy?”  comments of doubt comes along that show up from your belief system. You continue with your external changes with resolve not to fall into that doubt. You let your belief system change to catch up because that’s what you want the external world to be.

It’s not necessarily one or the other. You can do it either way. You can change your beliefs, and let the external world follow, or you can make changes and let your belief system struggle and break until it follows.  But there will be a seeking of congruency from the belief system that resists it either way. Not that it is seeking something comfortable or familiar, but congruency that makes the belief system comfortable. The belief system then has less emotional reaction to it.

The most comfortable way to be in the world, is to have a belief system that is without false beliefs so you just see reality as it is. Then you don’t have this invisible layer mental model reacting when things don’t fit, because you just see it as is. It is the way it is and you are not surprised or disappointed. Emotions are easy, because you don’t have this separation layer of beliefs that you have to look through. Is that a little clearer how our mental model, or someone else’s mental model react, and how our mental model of belief system fits with the world? Is it clear how we try to make it fit or not fit with all our justifications?

You can find a step by step practical method for identifying and changing your belief in Gary van Wamerdam’s Self Mastery Program.  The first four lessons are free as a trial and no credit card is required to check them out.




Youtube available here: Audio:

What is a Belief

This article is the transcript from the podcast, “What is a Belief” which you can find on iTunes or listed in my free audio. 

”What’s wrong with me? “Jim asked.  He is basically fighting depression, barely gets out of the house and off the couch some days. Lots of chatter in his head, most of it negative chatter about being a failure and not good enough. Emotionally he feels miserable a lot of days. Some days he’s great, and often feels great at work and doing things. Outside wise, Jim looks great. He is a martial artist. He’s got a PhD. He’s running his own business. He is very successful in so many regards, but internally he feels miserable.

So he asked me: ‘What’s wrong with me?’ My answer is to him, the same as it is to everybody else I talk to, “Nothing.” You’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Then he asks: “Why do I feel so miserable?” This is where I have to make a distinction between what is Jim, and what constitutes his thoughts and emotions.  “You’re fine, but you don’t feel fine. The reason you don’t feel fine is because of all the negative thoughts running through your head, sourced in all those negative beliefs, false beliefs, fear-based beliefs. All the negative thoughts arise from those, and you react to the beliefs and the thoughts emotionally, and those emotions aren’t pleasant. So no, you don’t feel fine. You’re fine, but the program set of beliefs and thoughts running through your head, you’re having the appropriate emotional reactions to those, because they’re fear-based and they’re negative. So the emotions are appropriate to those beliefs, and they don’t feel good. They don’t feel fine at all. That’s what you’re feeling. At the same time, underneath it all, the core essence of what you are, you’re perfect. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

This is my essential message to everyone. If you have followed my work, what I’m telling you is, you are fine. If you’re troubled, you’re having emotional reactions, doing drama, self-sabotaging your relationship or your finances. Even if you’re doing that, you’re fine. You may be operating with a system of beliefs that are negative, false, fear-based and that’s a problem, but you’re not the problem.

Let me break out the layers of it this way. The things that Jim notices are his thoughts and his emotions. Let’s take a metaphor of a computer. What shows up on your screen, what’s displayed when you type words or numbers into a spreadsheet, or word processing program, whatever your software program is, you type that stuff in and it’s displayed on the monitor. That’s what you can see. Thoughts and emotions are stuff you can see. But it is not the software underneath. The software underneath is that spreadsheet program, that’s crunching the numbers. It’s made of all sorts of symbols and characters that software programs are written in. That’s the belief system.

We don’t always see our beliefs. We don’t see our belief system, we are not trained to look for it. But it’s producing a lot of thoughts and emotions. Just like we don’t see the software running on our computer. What we see is what’s displayed on the screen. Underneath it all, there’s a computer made of hardware that is a separate system. There’s a core processor and a motherboard, all those mechanics that make the computer run. The essential you is the hardware. You’re that processor, that’s centrally in this metaphor what you are. And you’re fine. Your computer system is running perfectly. But if you’re producing a lot of negative reactions, negative thoughts, unpleasant emotions, fear, anger, jealousy, insecurity, anxiety, that’s because the software, meaning the belief system, has viruses. They’re, what I call, false or fear-based beliefs that then produce what you can perceive in terms of very unpleasant thoughts and emotions.

You’re the central processor in this. You’ve got a software program, that’s your belief system, and it produces what you display on the screen, is the thoughts and emotions. The thoughts and emotions might be bad, but that’s not the problem. That’s just what’s displayed. What’s really running your mind is core-based beliefs. Those beliefs are all fouled up and false. That’s why you feel the way you do. That’s why you experience, your mind, emotions and your thoughts the way you do. Underneath it all, that computer, YOU, perfect. It’s running perfectly. You are fine. You’re just running a software program that has a virus of false beliefs with fear, self-judgment, and hopelessness, etc.

What I pointed out to Jim is this question ”What’s wrong with me?” has got a big belief embedded in the question that “I’m broken.” That’s an assumed belief by itself. That’s part of the program of thoughts that generates more negative thoughts. Now, he can’t answer the question, because he’s like “I don’t know. I’m confused.” Now he feels confusion as an emotion. He feels like he’s a failure, because he hasn’t figured this out, and for a PhD, to not have an answer, that’s very frustrating. He feels like a failure for not having figured out this question, “What’s wrong with me?” But the problem is the questions is bad. It’s a falsely generated question from a virus in his belief system that has him looking at him, the hardware, when in fact you should be looking at the software of the belief system. That question What’s wrong with me is a really distorted question. It has us looking in the wrong place and has us feeling like there’s something wrong with us, when there’s not. It makes it hard to notice the real problem, which is in the software of the belief system.

What I endeavor to do is put your attention on this software program of belief system. So you have a better idea what it looks like, how it affects us emotionally and what’s involved in changing it. I think having that lay of the land is extremely important, if we’re going to change the emotional reactions and our emotional states in our life, in our relationships, and everything. Our beliefs are the main generator of our emotions. There’s other sources of emotions of course, there’s actually several sources of emotions. But most of the negative emotions we feel, are from the false and fear-based beliefs we have in our mind. When you identify and you change those, which I explain how to do in Self Mastery Course, your emotions change and you feel different.

What is a belief and what does it look like? That’s a big question. There’s multiple parts to a belief, the way it’s constructed in our mind. We’re not trained to notice it, so it takes a bit of work to separate them out with clarity.

The first part to understand about a belief is imagination. It takes place in this vicinity of the mind. The thing about imagination is it’s amazing. It’s creative. It has incredible depth and can appear to extend forever. You can just imagine the stars going out in space beyond galaxy, beyond galaxy, beyond galaxy. You can imagine the galaxies, hundreds, thousands of galaxies. How big is your imagination? Create this incredible virtual world in the mind that’s massive. Then you can go into any galaxy within that world, and then a solar system within that galaxy, and planet within that solar system. Then you can imagine going into one person’s head in that galaxy. Now you see, we’ve gotten into layers, and layers, and layers. Now in that story, we are going to one person’s head and that person is imagining what’s going on in somebody else’s mind. It’s imagining, “That person must think I’m an idiot or I’m wonderful, I’m the best person in the world”. This is the field of imagination and it’s incredibly creative.

If you watch kids play, they do extraordinary things with their imagination and make believe. They take a box and that box is their car, their airplane, their spaceship. They’re traveling all over the world or all over the state. They’re visiting new places, they’re on alien planets in their spaceship. That all takes place in their imagination, even though they haven’t physically left the living room. This is how creative, and fast, and amazingly our imagination works to project onto the real world around us, a virtual world. While we live in the real world with its physical constructs, we also have this virtual world of our imagination, and it can change moment to moment.

In that virtual world, one of the things that happened is we can assume different identities. In that little kid’s mind, they become a superhero, they become a space traveler, a cowboy, an Indian, a fireman, a road builder. They really feel they are that persona. When kids play dress up, or they play pretend and they make tea and have a tea. Little kids, 5 year old, you can watch their whole body posture change, their voice changes, their mannerisms change. They embody this whole personality of an adult princess having tea, and they’re 5. They know how to do it, because they imagined it and then they embody it. They make believe. While they’re living in the regular world in the same living room or the same house, all of the sudden, it becomes this whole other world, it becomes a castle where they’re having tea and they’re princesses.

We do the same as an adult. Like Jim. He has, in his imagination, this picture that he is a failure, that there’s something wrong with him. He embodies that. It’s a whole persona thinking other people are criticizing him and his imagination, and his body posture takes that on. His emotions feel that. He includes mannerisms and all that. Even the thoughts he generates, the kinds of things he thinks, and the words that come out of his mouth, are from that persona of a broken person, ”there something wrong with me” is the one talking and thinking. “I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable.” Within that belief field or bubble, not only is there an imagination of what we project out into the world, but there is a persona we embody. Not just this image, or self-image. But no, we embody that and we say that is what I am. When we do that, now that picture of the world we project isn’t just coming from ourselves, it’s coming from this false identity, this ego-created, mind-created image of what we are. We call it EGO itself, ego personality of something’s wrong with. It’s a false identity, but we call it ”ME” or ”I”.

The projection we have of the world is now from that false identity. If we have the belief There’s something wrong with me, I’m not lovable, what we project now and how we see the world that we imagine, it’s no longer stars and galaxies, and traveling in spaceship, or having tea. We project other people and we imagine what goes on in their imagination, and assume that they think something’s wrong with us. Or that we’re not likeable, or an idiot, or something negative. Our imagination field doesn’t just include what’s in our mind, it includes our beliefs software version of what’s in their mind.

What makes this particularly tricky is, now there’s a factor in this imagination field we have to add, that makes it a belief. That’s what I call faith. Not a religious version of faith, but faith in terms of a kind of personal power. We add faith when we have to accept or believe, or agree, YES, that’s true. It is the power of conviction that sometimes goes with an idea.  I accept that as a truth. Faith is a personal power. It’s a force that we invest into this imagination field that says that’s reality. “I know this.” I agree to that. That is the world that I live in, or a cause I believe in, or a principle I will even die for. When we do that, it now looks like the real world. When we do that, we say that, what is in my imagination, is the real world. That which is my false identity is my real identity. That agreement when infused with faith, which is a very powerful force of our will, we lose the line between what is in our mind’s imagination and what is reality.

You can look at lots of beliefs that distort reality. From anorexia, a woman is not able to see the real reality of her body vs. what she believes her body to be. We can look at what’s going on in a financial market and say: ‘Oh, it’s just going to keep going up forever.’ That looks like reality and we lose track of it when it is already going down. Or we imagine it’s going to go down, it’s going to be catastrophic, we’re all going to end up on the streets, or I’m going end up on the streets pushing a shopping cart. Our imagination creates that. We imagine ourselves in that identity role of that happening. We feel the emotions as a natural result of believing that, and that appears to be reality. What it really is, is a virtual reality. I often use the word DREAM, because it is as if we’re having a daydream, but it’s as if it’s even more real like a nighttime dream.  You’re experiencing as if it was really happening, having all the emotions as if it was real, but it’s a dream. Because you’re not aware it’s a dream, you react the way you do. But when you wake up ‘Oh, my God, it was a dream, that was wild.’

Having that clarity of perception, in terms of what’s going on in your mind, that is reality and maps clearly on the world vs. unawareness of what is virtual reality is what I call awareness. Without awareness it is like saying “This is my virtual reality of my imagination and belief system, and it perfectly represents what is reality.” What I call awareness is that ability to perceive clearly, that which is our imagination vs. that’s which is real.

This awareness is crucial to sorting out what is make-believe and what is reality. What’s virtual reality vs. what’s reality? That clarity in perception is what I call awareness. Awareness helps you make a distinction between what is this false identity that I’m embodying and feeling that I’m broken, there’s something wrong with me construct vs. What am I really, what am I as authentic and genuine. To perceive clearly the difference and when we shift between one and the other, having that ability is essential for change. This awareness can be developed with practice.

At first glance, a person might think “I’ve got awareness, that’s no-brainer, I know what’s real and what’s not real.” But we don’t have that awareness when we’re in a dream. We don’t have that same level of clarity when we’re in a daydream. We don’t have that same level of clarity when we’re having an emotional reaction. We exaggerate things, or make assumptions about things. We have thousands of thoughts a day, and our tendency is to believe what we think. When we believe what we think, we create a virtual reality version. It’s unlikely that 10,000 of our thoughts are all accurate. So how many aren’t accurate, that we then build a belief out of. How many of them during the day to you question? Having that kind of awareness in the midst of emotional reactions is the critical time to have it. It’s easy to sit back when you’re relaxed and look at things in a very sober way. “Oh, I know what’s real, what’s not real.” But when you’re in the midst of emotional reaction, you’re caught up in this virtual version of what’s going on in your imagination, that’s when it counts.

Let’s take someone as an example, who has the belief I’m not lovable. They’re fine. They’re perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with them in the core essence of what they are, that hardware system, the central processor is, they’re fine. But they have this software program, somewhere they picked up, made the interpretation I’m not lovable and they agreed. “Yes, that’s true. That’s what I am.” And they formed this kind of identity, that’s false. They put faith in it, give it a kind of power and now that identity projects out into the world its own thoughts. Other people must see me as broken, false, not lovable and they don’t love me. This is the virtual reality, that’s projected into the vastness of the mind’s imagination that appears as reality. Now, that person imagines what’s going on in other people’s head. Now they really think it’s going on in other people’s head, that these people don’t like me, they must think I’m an idiot, they don’t want to talk to me.

That’s not what’s going on in other people’s head. That’s going on in the virtual reality of their own mind, but being unaware, they miss out on that and they react as if it’s real. They react in this virtual world emotionally as if it were real, because our emotional system responds to stuff that is believed to be real and stuff that’s real the same way. If we believe it to be real, our emotions respond. That’s just what our emotions do. Our emotional reactions system is working perfectly. Our thoughts that we have are, “They probably don’t want to talk to me, I don’t know what to ask”. Or our thoughts are about trying to impress them, what can I do that will make them laugh, what can I do to make them like me, and I can’t come up with anything. But we try really hard and then we feel like we failed, because we didn’t come up with anything. So all of our thoughts are playing on this trying to solve this problem and get people to like me. That’s what’s displayed on the screen of our mind.

What’s displayed in our experience, emotionally is all this anxiety of trying to come up with the right thing to say, and feeling like we’re not coming up with the right thing to say. Our thoughts of what they must be thinking about us, this is on the display portion. This is what we notice because it’s being displayed in thoughts and emotions.  But we don’t see the belief system that acts as the software.  It holds this operating system of I’m not lovable, and I’m this identity of a not lovable person, this is in the background. We can only notice where we project out and create this world, where I cast all these people in these roles, as people who don’t even want to talk to me, or don’t like me.

Regardless of whether they love you or not, we imagine people this way. We’re living in that virtual reality. That is a whole dream. Within that dream, you’re not even acting as yourself. You’re acting as this false identity, feeling as this false identity, even embodying the mannerisms and thoughts of this false identity. This kind of self-hypnosis happens in a daydream. You might try to change the emotional reactions or negative thoughts you have from this software program. We might try and change that, but that’s like changing the display of what’s on the computer screen. The real problem is that the software is just going to generate more of it. The virus is still in the computer, because the core beliefs haven’t changed. If you are running around wanting to change your emotions and thoughts, you might as well be putting white out on your computer screen. It’s going to be about that effective, because those thoughts and emotions are being generated from the software system that you’re not looking at. You really want to make those changes you’ve got to look at the software system, which is this false persona, the faith you put into it and the unconscious beliefs underneath. Projecting the virtual reality.

This all might be summed up with a few words like I’m not lovable. That might be the core belief, but that belief creates this whole dream world, this virtual reality dream world that then produces the negative thoughts and emotions. When you endeavor to change a belief, it’s not enough just to change the words, and say: ‘Well, I’m lovable’ and ‘Gosh darn it, people like me.’ Because those are just words that describe this dream world you’re in. You haven’t changed the identity you’ve adopted and, how you’ve projected in your imagination what’s going on in other people’s minds. You haven’t changed the framework of that belief. The framework of that belief actually exists in this whole field of imagination, and is supported and giving the appearance of reality, by putting faith in it. So when you go to really change a belief, to really do it, you’ve got to take your faith out. You’ve got to shift your perspective out of this false identity. You have to dissolve or detach from this field of imagination, where you assume to know what’s going on in other people’s heads. All of those factors have to change and then your emotions will change, because you’re not reacting the same way. Because you’re not in the same virtual reality of the dream, when your thoughts change.

I explain this to people and say: “This is what’s causing us emotional reactions and emotional suffering, is this software program with a fear-based belief virus, or false-based belief virus.” Someone usually ask me: ‘Gary, you can’t tell me that what’s going on with me isn’t real. I really am having a break up with my wife. I’ve moved out. I’m living in a separate apartment now. I’m only seeing my kids half the time. You can’t tell me that’s not real, and it’s not affecting me.’ And my answered to that is: ‘That is very much real.’ There is certainly emotional responses and experiences from something like that. Major changes in our life are going to create strong emotions.  ‘But what about the part where your mind imagines you’re a failure as a husband? That your life is ruined. That you’re going to be alone the rest of your life. That you’re not lovable. That you need her to be happy. That your kid’s life is ruined and they’re going to be miserable the rest of their life. And they’re going to be in therapy for the rest of their life.’

What about those stories that play in your mind? Are you reacting emotionally to those? They respond with, ‘Yeah’.  How do those feel? Miserable. Are those real? Are those things really true? No. Okay. So those stories, those kinds of thoughts, Doomsday, horrific, my life is over, I’ll never be happy again. Those are beliefs. He’s responding to those with emotions as if they were true, and that’s generating the majority of his unpleasant emotions. Yes, the reality is creating some emotions, but his beliefs amplify things to the unbearable.

Having an awareness and to see clearly that those are generated in this field of imagination is important. To separate those out from ‘Well, the actual facts are; Yes, I’m separated from my wife, and I’m only seeing my kids half the time.’ There’s emotion from that. But this other stuff about my kid’s life being ruined, that’s not true. All these other things about what my life is going to be going forward, none of that is true. I don’t even know what my life is going to be going forward. My mind is trying to fill in with scenarios, but it’s trying to fill in scenarios from the perspective of this false identity I’m not a lovable person, nobody wants to be with me, I’m a failure as a father and husband. That’s the false projection that the software system is creating all by itself. That’s what he’s reacting to emotionally, and those are the negative thoughts he’s having from that software system made of false beliefs and fear-based beliefs.

The steps to identify these false and fear-based beliefs that are causing so much of our unpleasant emotional reactions, are outlined in my Self Mastery Program. It is broken down into a number of steps, because as you can see, there’s a number of factors involved in addressing this virtual world that we create. It’s not enough just to change the words, in trying to tell ourselves “I’m a beautiful person, and I’m lovable”. My experience is that’s not enough. What you actually have to do is detach and dissolve this whole dream world, including this false identity, the false persona we’ve created with that, that I’ll call EGO.

So fundamental to this question I want to answer today is “What’s wrong with me?” That’s a kind of question you can see is generated as a thought and reaction to how we feel, and it points us in the wrong direction. It points us towards looking at ourselves as the problem and reinforces this false identity of us as a broken, unlovable person. That’s one of the things that happens in this field of imagination, when we believe it and we assume a false identity, the kinds of thoughts we have reinforce the very false world we’ve created. We end up asking a question like, “What’s wrong with me?” It has us looking at this false persona identity as the problem, until with awareness that you can wake up and see that false identity is not even me.

The false persona is an imagined construct of myself, that I’m wearing so tightly, I can’t see it as something separate for my own skin. But with awareness we learn how to peel that away, and find what’s underneath it all. You find that what’s underneath it all is something genuine and authentic, that’s always there. That always will be there. Always has been there, and that which is what you are, the essence, the core processor behind all this, is you, and you’re fine.

There’s nothing wrong with you. You have dreams and false ideas of what you are. You have stuff going on in your imagination that you’ve put faith in that’s false, and fear-based, and lies. It’s generating a lot of negative thoughts and emotions. But underneath it all, you’re fine. When you take the steps to develop awareness, you’ll see that these false and fear-based beliefs, this false ego identities, are not you. You’ll begin to experience yourself emotionally very differently, and you’ll begin to feel fine.

Hope this helps clarify the lay of the land of what goes on in our imagination and belief system, and why we end up with the unpleasant emotions and negative thoughts that we do. Hopefully it clarifies what’s involved in changing these virtual reality dream-worlds. It’s more than just changing thoughts and words.

Related Article: What is Wrong With Me

For a program with specific steps to help identify and change beliefs see the  Self Mastery Program.

this article transcribed from the free audio podcast by Gary van Warmerdam.

Unconscious Beliefs

I was sitting with my wife Lisa in the back yard a few weeks ago. The moon was out and almost full. I had read that when the moon rises as the sun sets, it will be full. If the moon rises at midday, it will be a half moon. If the moon rise happens at sunrise, then we have a new moon, one you can’t see because the illuminated side is away from us, or only see a sliver. I had some time to think about the geometry of the planets, the phase of the moon as related to their time of rise and set made sense to me. It was a surprise when I read it, and yet so simple. After years of watching the moon and sun rise and set I had never noticed the pattern or put these things together.

Lisa was quiet thinking about it for a while and then asked in curiosity, “How did they figure that out, what goes around what? How did they figure out the orbits of where each body is in the solar system?” I didn’t know.

I could imagine people watching the sun, moon, and other planets pass in the sky. It would be easy to assume that we are stationary and everything moves around us. Turns out that is what smart guys like Plato and Aristotle did 2500 years ago. It fits with appearances so would be believable and as such, we wouldn’t look further. But for real understanding there would need to be a more disciplined system and skepticism. That would come about 2000 years later with Copernicus and Kepler. They would need to take careful records and chart what was happening over time. They would also need to account for little bits of data that didn’t fit with the expectations, like a planet going into retrograde.  It’s important not to dismiss the small stuff that you don’t know what to do with.  A person’s memory is not good enough to track all 28 days of the phases of the moon in their head and see the pattern. However, charted on paper, the pattern would be there.

It would take longer to determine the tilt of the earth and deduce the earth revolving around the sun. It seemed that one of the biggest leaps to understanding would be to imagine that, even though we have the sensation of standing still, that the earth is spinning and traveling around the sun at thousands of miles per hour.

It’s is easy to see that without careful recording of the changes, and charting of all the bodies that a person could get it wrong. If you take things as appearances, then you are going to assume that you are standing still, and everything revolves around you.

The same thing happens when we look at what goes on in our mind or even in our relationships. We give it a glance, our mind comes up with a quick explanation for why we had a certain behavior, or an emotional outburst, made a bad money decision, or ate too much food that didn’t agree with us. We rationalize why someone else did what they did.  We have quick explanation for ourselves or them, but it is likely that we get it wrong.

We don’t know the truth of how unconscious belief systems are moving us on the inside. We cannot “see” these beliefs with our intellect, much in the same way we cannot detect our motion around the sun from watching it pass overhead.  Our intellect sees the sun passing from east to west, when unknown to us we are spinning from west to east.


If you want to really understand how your behaviors and emotions are being moved by your Unconscious Beliefs, then you will need to take some time to do some observations, and write them down. Your intellect and memory doesn’t have the ability to track your emotional, behavior, and thought patterns over the course of a day, much less a month. We have more than 10,000 thoughts a day, and our intellect can handle only about 7 bits of data at a time. To understand your self with some clarity it helps a great deal to write things down for a while.

The Self Mastery Program provides an organized system for taking data on your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.  It then allows you that ability to shift your point of view from a stationary egocentric one the way astronomers did and see what is really going on.

Repressed Emotions

An excerpt from my book MindWorks

Memories are a kind of informational energy that we can store for years.The physical body has the ability to store energy in the form of emotions as well. These stored emotions can be held in the body without our intellect knowing they are there.  When we don’t have memory of these emotions and lack an effective way of releasing them these emotions remain repressed or suppressed.

Imagine that little Johnny is three or four years old. It’s time to go to bed and he is told to put away his toys. Johnny is having such fun and loves what he is playing so much that he ignores the direction. After a few failed attempts at getting him to comply, Mom or Dad takes Johnny’s toys out of his hands. Johnny has an emotional response of sadness at the loss, or perhaps hurt at losing the feeling of joy he was having with his toys. Some of these emotions can be genuine, some generated by attachments through belief systems.

As a defense mechanism against these unpleasant emotions, Johnny becomes angry. Anger is a natural response that we use to protect ourselves from danger. Johnny isn’t in any physical danger, but his automated system responds the same way to pain and, in this case, to emotional discomfort. Anger may also arise from a belief system of Victim/Villain because of his attachment to his toys. Regardless of whether his anger has one or more sources, Johnny expresses it to his parents.

But this doesn’t go over well with Mom and Dad. Disrespect and angry behavior are not going to be allowed, so they respond by raising their voices, scolding, physically lifting him off the floor, or even expressing anger back at him. Mom and Dad’s response scares Johnny. After a few experiences like this, Johnny finds that when he gets angry he starts to feel afraid. Johnny learns to be afraid of Mom and Dad’s response and associates this to feeling angry. Johnny becomes afraid of his emotion, and even more afraid of expressing his anger.

The next time Johnny gets told to stop playing, he still feels the hurt and has the emotional reaction of anger. That part of the emotional response hasn’t changed yet. However, as the anger starts to build, so does the fear, and he instinctively pushes down the energy of anger back into his body so it doesn’t get expressed. He holds it in and doesn’t let anyone know that he has anger inside. After doing this awhile, Johnny becomes so good at it, and he does it so quickly, that he has no conscious awareness of the responses of anger going on inside him. Later in life, he feels afraid of letting his anger out because of what might happen or what he might do. The fear of feeling anger is bigger than the anger itself, as it is a layer of energy and emotion holding the anger in.

In later years a person’s repressed anger may not be so easily controlled. The anger being held in the cells of the physical body has built up too much pressure and needs to be released. The emotion may come out at traffic, employees, oneself, or one’s spouse for the smallest of reasons. When a repressed emotion bursts out, it’s often completely out of proportion with the cause or trigger. This is confusing, and the mind scrambles to come up with a reason for it. When we have enough awareness to recognize that the justification we give is bogus, our Judge and Victim characters pile on with their stories and condemn us for our outburst and inadequate excuse. The characters use what we did to make us wrong again, which encourages us to return to repressing our feelings. We then add guilt and shame, as well as fear of angry outbursts, to our emotional layers. We might also express some anger and hate at ourselves for being so angry, thus increasing our level of hurt and ensuring further repression. In a vicious cycle, this kind of expression from our characters adds more emotion to our emotional field and makes it more likely that we will have an outburst again.

Commonly repressed emotions are anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and grief. We are most fearful of these emotions because of how we will behave, what others will think, or how much we will judge ourselves for feeling them. These fears and judgments about our emotions interfere with releasing them. When these emotions are not released in a healthy way, they can take a toll on our physical body, often manifesting as a physical pain. Or they end up getting released by venting to other people in inappropriate ways, taking a toll on our relationships.

A solution out of these fears and judgments is to make an inventory of the thoughts, beliefs, and judgments your characters have about the emotions you feel. A better understanding about why we feel what we feel, and a compassionate acknowledgment of those feelings, will help remove the forces of fear and judgment that keep these emotions repressed.

While some of these repressed emotions are belief-based and have an accompanying story or belief, some do not. We may have repressed natural-response emotions as well. For many of the natural emotions there are often no stories, thoughts, or beliefs to dismantle. When they are released there can be a great deal of emotion with no connecting thought or memory. For example, when we lose someone we love there is often grief. It is a natural response that even animals have, despite having no belief systems. There are no words, thoughts, or beliefs that accompany these natural-response emotions. As humans, we also have a mind that will project thoughts, beliefs, and images to form stories. Both these belief-based emotions and the emotions that have no story have to be allowed and released.

At first the healing and change process is just a matter of letting the suppressed feelings empty out. The emotional body, much like our physical body, has its own guidance and healing system and release mechanisms. It will have bouts of crying or rage for no apparent reason. As best you can, allow the process and let the emotions be vented off without inflicting them on others. What will take the most work, particularly in the case of anger, will be to refrain from expressing that anger at anyone. The mind will try to justify and explain in some simple way why we feel what we feel. In these intense emotions it is looking for an answer. In reality, you don’t need one. The work that needs to be done is to let the emotions move through you in a healthy way without sending them to anyone or believing the accompanying thoughts. It will be helpful to suspend belief in any of the justifications for these emotions. Investing faith in justifications just adds more emotion-producing beliefs to your system.


The work that needs to be done is to let the emotions move through you
in a healthy way without sending them to anyone or believing the accompanying thoughts. If we fall into the cycle of believing the related thoughts we generate more of the same emotion. 


The Repression of Love

Surprisingly, one of the biggest emotions that we repress is love. As very young children we were free to dance and express excitement and joy through our body. While growing up, we were told not to be so silly, that laughing is inappropriate, and that we should be more serious. We learned that how we appeared to others was more important than expressing our joy. As we learned to be more responsible, we also tried to act more serious. All of these little moments add layers of energy that hold back our natural expressions of joy, wonderment, humor, creativity, curiosity, and love.

As we sort out career choices we may put aside interests we love, like art and music, dismissing them in favor of more “practical” fields of work. Our worries about making money and financially providing for ourselves and our family take precedence, and the expressions of love that come with those other, cherished activities are repressed. We try not to think about what we gave up because it hurts too much not to express that love for things we are passionate about.

If we fall in love and then have our heart broken, we can make an internal agreement that love hurts, or that we have to be careful, which really means to be afraid of love. We become hesitant to love again, unaware that it wasn’t the love that hurt but rather the pain of not loving when it ended. We create false interpretations and beliefs about our emotions and future actions. We hold back our feelings of love as if love itself were painful. Like the child who stopped feeling joy when his toy was taken away, we also repress our painful reactions at the loss of love by covering it with layers of denial about feeling anything. “I’m fine” is a convenient statement to repress the hurt, and to repress the love we want to express underneath.

As we remove these layers of denial and notice what we feel with honest acceptance, we first find fear and judgments of our emotions. Beneath that are repressed layers of sadness, grief, and anger. But below those layers are the repressed layers of love, passions, and an abundance of joy in great reserves. Some of those emotions based in love have been held back for years and may at times rush out in overwhelming waves. Once that repressed love is no longer under pressure, it returns to a normal authentic flow in a balanced and sustainable way. However, there isn’t one specific way this looks for everyone; each person’s experience of this process will be unique to them.

For methods on accessing repressed emotions, see the exercises in the Self Mastery Course and the special exercise on Releasing Emotions.

This article is an excerpt from Gary’s book MindWorks: A practical guide for changing thoughts, beliefs, and emotional reactions.

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
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