Adam wants to stop the negative thoughts and emotions of anxiety, insecurity, and frustration. But there is more to it than just thoughts and emotion. When you look closer you find there is something pushing those negative thoughts and emotions. There is a past memory with repressed emotion, unconscious beliefs, and most importantly a false self image.
In spite of being very accomplished Adam still has many of the same feelings and emotions he felt in grade school. When Adam was 10 he wasn’t very big or athletic. In school pick up games he would be picked last. Emotionally it hurt at the time. He explained it to himself in his mind by saying he wasn’t that good. That part was true, but the story and explanation didn’t stop there. Multiple times teams chose sides and multiple times his mind made up stories to explain his situation. He concluded that people didn’t pick him because there was something wrong with him. When he would think about going out to play the next day, or next year all he could see was that he wouldn’t get picked. Nobody wanted him on their team. Over time the story exaggerated into “Nobody would ever want him”. What Adam didn’t know in grade school was that he was forming beliefs about himself, including beliefs about his identity that would be with him for a long time.
These are the kinds of thoughts Adam would think and from his perspective of how things looked on the playground, it seemed like reality. He could point to the playground and conclude that it was true. The pain of these experiences cut deep into him. But worse, the agreements, or beliefs, Adam made about himself remained there into adulthood. In that memory was not only the story, but also an image of himself as a grade school kid with the emotions of feeling rejected.
Adam’s mind also made a kind of template that he used to explain other things from then on. What started as an explanation to oneself continued into a long running narrative. When a girl turned him down or broke up with him he had a ready made explanation. “Of course she doesn’t want to be with me. No one would want to be with me.” When one of his projects was up for an award he was preemptively managing the possible painful rejection with, “Of course I’m not going to win. I never get picked.” Whenever he is going to meet with a potential investor for one of his deals he has a voice in his head that is certain it won’t go well. The common element in these stories in his head is that he identifies himself in the same role as on the playground. There is part of his mind, formed when he was 10 years old still alive in his memory explaining and justifying with the same reasoning at 40. It comes complete with that boy’s perspective, explanations, emotional pains and anxiety. The repetition of these types of narratives reinforced all the false beliefs and false identity patterns and made them seem more like reality each time instead of a story he told himself.
Adam has been trying to be aware of the thoughts and how to change emotions that he didn’t even notice that there is a false identity formed years ago claiming to be him which is the source of these thoughts.
Adam often saw the adult world from this emotionally wounded perspective and view events in a way that no one else around him did. When he would talk about potential investors turning down funding for one of his projects Adam would say, “It’s like I’m still on the playground and no one wants to pick me.” The agreements and beliefs he made about himself at 10 years old were still active, alive, and even bigger at 40.
These days Adam still spends a lot of time looking at present day world experiences and possibilities through the identity and emotions of a 10 year old version of himself. When he is having lunch with his girlfriend of 8 months, and she checks her work phone for messages, there is a voice in his head saying, “She cares more about work than me. She’d choose work over me. Whenever she has to change plans his 10 year old self is quite certain that she will break up with him. The internal dialog of thoughts has a continual narrative about what is wrong with him and why she will choose someone else.
Adam would say that his issue is insecurity and anxiety. Adam has figured out that these feelings are connected to these negative thoughts. What Adam is currently working on is realizing a layer deeper. These thoughts are not coming from him but are coming from some aspect of the mind that is generating them on its own. This strong emotional memory forged into a false identity doesn’t just have thoughts, it has emotions, lots of them. It’s got emotions churning around since the playground days, struggling in school, old relationships, and career concerns. Because there are so many emotions throughout the day it is difficult to tell which ones are from where.
Adam has a talented and creative mind that is brilliantly quick. It is why people are willing to pay him six figures a year to work on their projects. His imagination can simultaneously be in several places at once which is a great creative gift as he is considering options. However, when it comes to his emotions and a hurt ten your old imagining and explaining things it becomes emotionally painful quickly. Adam could easily be operating consciously or sub-consciously to produce emotions in four different narratives at once. He can be thinking about a meeting coming up and creating anxiety about it. He can also imagine that the meeting happened and that the people turned him down producing a feeling of rejection. Simultaneously, he can be replaying a memory in the viewpoint of the 10 year old feeling the fear of not getting picked. At the same time he is imagining a later segment of time not getting picked which produces feeling of rejection and unworthiness. While he is in the meeting with potential investors, he is also on the playground feeling the emotional memories of a 10 year old self.
Sometimes these characters speak to us from our past as if they still live there. They might still live in that same time period of the memory as well as emotional state, but they don’t live in reality. Imagination is powerful when it comes to our emotions. If we believe the thoughts that these characters think then we will see the world the way they do, and we will continue to feel the emotions of our past. For Adam the challenge is to separate his perspective from the hurt 10 year old and keep it separate. It’s a tricky illusion of a belief bubble to step outside of but worth doing. Becoming aware of identity perspective, and how our imagination can dream multiple distorting ones at the same time is critical to changing thoughts and emotions that arise. It is so important that I spend more than one lesson of the Self Mastery course on ways to change perspective.
One of the common associated lies about these voices in our head (characters is what I call them) is that they are trying to help us. They have some plan to protect us from getting hurt. They will tell us not to ask that person out so that we don’t get hurt from rejection. They will tell us not to ask for a raise so we don’t get hurt from being told no. They will tell us not to start a business because it won’t work out anyways. If we listen to all these fears telling us what not to do a person can feel trapped and afraid of trying anything. The result is that we aren’t really happy. It turns out that these voices don’t really protect us from the pain. The pain is already there in the memory. All the things these voices tell us work to protect their identity emotional memories and rarely helps us to be happy.
If you wish to change the negative thoughts and emotions you feel you will have to look deeper than the thoughts and emotions themselves. You will have to look at the source of them. There you might find some voices from your past, or something that you once identified as you at a younger age. If some of these character voices in your head are giving you advice on what you should and shouldn’t be doing today you might want to check their references. Where did they come from and what emotions are they operating in?