Self Mastery

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A Process For Change

Like the seasons, every year I go through a process of change.  I take time to reflect on what I do, how I have spent my time, what I enjoy, what is fulfilling, and what doesn’t work. It isn’t the only time during the year that I do this, but at the end of each calendar cycle I take extra notice.

I put aside some projects that don’t seem fulfilling, or that I assume won’t bear much fruit.  Projects that inspire me are moved to the top of my list to work on this year. What I spend my time and attention on is considered. Most importantly I look at how I feel emotionally, and prioritize things around my happiness.  It is more a feeling and emotional process than a logical one.

I don’t know what the results will be so I can’t make a decision based on that. I can only make assumptions about future outcomes.  I only get to know how I feel about doing it right now.

You don’t get to know what the results of your labor will be. You get to change your expressions and your actions and then measure the results.  I think of planning for the future much like blacking out the front windshield of your car and looking in the rear view mirror.  You can’t see what is in the future.  You can only see what is behind you in the rear view mirror, the past.  Based on the past we make assumptions and decisions about tomorrow, what will work, and what won’t, and we steer our life in that direction.  It’s not the best decision making system, but since we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, it is better than none. I know that I don’t know, but I will consciously make an assumption, and in that I have the confidence to move forward. Most of the stuff I plan and intend doesn’t turn out the way I pictured it.  Such is life.  We keep taking actions as we create. Don’t let this not knowing cause you to hesitate very long.

This process of change for me has a format. I use it in my life, and I use it at my events, and it can be found in my Self Mastery Course.  I take time to gain some perspective on how I have been spending my time, my emotions, and my beliefs, and behavior.  I look at what works for me, and what doesn’t, as best as I can decipher in my rear view mirror.  I then let go of what doesn’t work.  I may do this in some journaling process, breath work, a meditation walk on the beach, or a ceremony.  I make some conscious decision and commitment to cut with that expression of energy. The commitment is followed up with vigilance and practice to change the habit.

By not expending any more energy on that expression, I have extra personal power to direct towards a new expression. That new expression might be a work project, or more personal, like how my wife and I communicate.  The important element here is that I first eliminated something and recovered personal power. This gives me a valuable resource with which to create something new.  There must be a death before there is a rebirth.

My events usually have the same process.  We spend time at the beginning taking a close look at ourselves and identifying what doesn’t work. What is important about this step is that we do it compassionately. We must reflect on ourselves in a very non-judgmental way.  We are not there to criticize, or find fault.  If this is happening, then we are not changing, we are just reinforcing a habit of our Judge voice.

Developing this compassionate attitude, or neutral perspective with which to reflect on our life, or year, or meeting, is necessary for good change.

As you make intentions for change I suggest you include these elements into your process.

  1. Take time to reflect in a compassionate way.  Do your best to view, without fault finding or criticism what you have been doing with your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.  The best version of your self now, is not a fair standard for the best version of yourself last decade, last year, or even last week.  You have traveled further down the road, and can now see things in the rear view mirror of your life that your past self couldn’t see looking forward.  Be compassionate for the former versions of your self that didn’t have this awareness.
  2. Take ownership and responsibility for the expressions you made.  This responsibility is an important part of tapping into the power that we create with.  When you put your attention and presence in the emotion and energy of those expressions, however painful they might be, you also tap into the force of life that propels you to express in that way. Tapping into that source of life, you can redirect that energy in a new way.  This is only possible when you compassionately take responsibility for how you created expressions in your past.
  3. Commit to expressing more beautifully.  This doesn’t mean a commitment to having a better image. How you look to your self and others is actually a byproduct of how you express your self.  Do the first and the second will come.  Expressing better sometimes means difficult changes that take us in a direction of new beginnings.  Whenever you are working to do something new, such as be more honest, vulnerable, and present in your relationships, you will be self conscious and fumble in the beginning.  Allow your self this learning curve. You have to fail at something for a while before you will be good at it.
  4. Use your mistakes as a chance to learn instead of a chance to beat your self up. Earlier in my life the voice in my head would beat me up for a mis-step as if this would somehow make me better. It was a lie.    We don’t play the guitar better because someone is yelling at us.  We don’t do anything better over the long period because of negative reinforcements. This is true even if it is coming from our own mind.  In reality we get better because we use an awareness of our mis-steps to improve. Self criticism isn’t part of this improvement loop. Allow yourself a learning curve for new habits to be integrated into your nervous system.  The Judge voice in your head might say that you are a screw up, but you will find that when you really look at it, the Judge character in your head doesn’t know what he is talking about. It might take a year or two to learn how to see the Judge this way, but it will be worth your time.
  5. Write out your intent. The clarity that happens through articulating it in writing will help solidify it and make it stronger.  It can also be helpful to carry it on a 3×5 card in your pocket and look at it once in a while.  Each time you read it you are making your commitment stronger.  This focus of your attention will help sustain the necessary conscious repetition in the long game.

Any one of these steps of the process can be your intent for change and growth.  You might just make it a year long commitment to develop a compassionate neutral observer attitude toward your self. This is just one step in a change process that will help you in all growth in the coming years. You might make it your intent for the year to let go of certain behavior patterns, emotions, or stories in your head.  You can do a ceremony or journaling that makes the commitment at this time of year, and then allow your self the year to do the step by step process of the work. Giving yourself a year to change a lifetime habit is compassionate, and realistic. Give your self the understanding that it will take repetitions of conscious practice to build a new habit.

If that critical voice in our head was any good at getting us to change, we would have already changed by now. So try it a different way.

Controlling Your Mind

Hi Gary,

I’m sorry that I e-mail you again. But I have this big problem that might be hard to explain but I’ll try. Your whole course depends on the belief that you can control your mind instead of the mind controlling you. Of course nobody wants that the mind has control over them but I’m starting to believe more and more that I cannot control my mind. And this realization alone makes me feel terrible. The reason why I feel good when I listen to your audio sessions is that they make me logically understand how you can control your mind. But that does not manifest in my experience – maybe I did not do the exercises enough – I’m planning to do the whole Self Mastery course again btw. Also what really makes this belief stronger as well is that my friends don’t seem to have this problem even though they never meditated or did any spiritual stuff.

I know that I should not think certain things in certain situations because I know better. But I still think them anyway – and this uurrgg freaks me out. It makes me feel that the mind is the boss over me while it should be the other way around. This is also the reason why I hate it so much that I cannot really implement your changes in my life even though I want to – because I think your course makes a lot of sense. Probably that I did not do the exercises enough is probably also because of the mind. I probably need to force it with all my power.

I hope you have some words that can regain my trust again :)

Feeling Frustrated,


Hello Feeling Frustrated,

I don’t think I am professing that we can take control of our mind this week, or even this month. I believe we can take control, but it takes time.  In the meantime we have to acknowledge that there are times we don’t have control and to make our peace with that until we develop more or our skills and will power. I think the process actually goes like this.


  1.  We don’t have any awareness that our mind controls us. So we aren’t trying to get control back.
  2. We get some awareness and discover that our beliefs (mind) are controlling many of our emotions and thoughts automatically.  (See session 2)
  3. We try to take control of our mind and get frustrated because we can’t even stop a negative thought.   (See session 3)
  4. We learn to practice acceptance that we don’t control our mind. (See session 6)
  5. We learn that we may not be able to control our mind just yet, but we don’t have to believe it, or let it control us. (Session 4, 5, 7 plus others)
  6. We learn ways to control our mind and attention at times, (session 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and a lot of the others )  This includes an identification and inventory of the beliefs that influence our behavior and emotions.
  7. We practice ways to gain better control over our attention and emotions, and the faith we put in our beliefs and gain more control.
  8. We get better at it.


Your friends might not have any issues with controlling their mind because they are not trying to (or other reasons) One of the reasons for this is that they might be at step 1.


Hope that helps.


Self Mastery Testimonials from Course Subscribers

Some feedback that I have gotten… just some. It would be too much to put it all here.

Hi Gary,

Hope all is well. I have finished the advanced series and have been reviewing older material since, really trying to integrate things that I missed or wasn’t fully aware of. At 24, I am probably younger than some of your listeners/clients but I found that this material spoke in a way that was unparalleled to the affirmation based material that is seen everywhere else. Some characters have been harder to dissolve than others, but I would like to think it is a fair assessment to say that I am much more accepting and authentic then before. I paired the self mastery course with the relationship course because disillusionment with my gf was truly the catalyst for this endeavor. That being said, it has become so much more than just about her. I use to be in such a rush to take in this material, that I developed a standard to judge myself against for material that was suppose to break me out of that loop! The awareness of that was big for me, and now it is different. I would never expect to break two decades worth of patternization and conditioning into a year of practice, but I do believe it is noticeable by others and myself, that some fundamental shifts have been made. I am truly grateful for this material, and I hope you release more material in the future. 
Best, Christian   Oct 2016
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Some amazing changes have happened to me in the last year. I have shifted my victim mindset to one where I am watchful and more centered than before. Although from time to time, my brain does succumb to the old patterns, I’m able to laugh about it and snap out of it rather quickly as opposed to lingering for days or weeks at a time. I do listen to the voice recordings often. They are so helpful!
This new found ability has shifted my mindset to move out of my comfort zone to a new larger city as the opportunity has arisen to do so within my company. This kind of thing has happened to me before where the calling occurred, but for whatever reason, I didn’t answer. I did not move. I always had the excuse of I’m busy, my family, this isn’t the perfect time. Not any more. This time I am answering it for the better of my life as I do have a plan.
On a personal note, the anxiety I experienced was directly related to an old pattern I had developed based on some issues I thought had resolved. I used to be the kind of person who had to answer the phone and return every call immediately and be there every second that someone needed me. I worried that if I didn’t answer, respond or reach out, I  imagined some other outcome. Well, for the first time, I had made the choice to be not be a slave to the phone. I actually forgot about it for a while. I allowed myself to exit  the perfection /rescuer scenario I created for myself. This went the same for constant attendance at religious ceremonies, house cleaning, gas. In fact, I remember listening to the one lady who described her issues with the half tank of gas and ran out! Well I haven’t gone that far, but I completely understood her.
I guess, what I’m saying is my overall sense of well being has improved. I do have those issues real or not from time to time, but not to the same extent as I had before I started the program. Thank you for everything.

Good Stuff.  I am on lesson 8 and have already felt some impact of what I have learned.  I seem to take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back (the judge has a pretty good hold on me).  The beliefs and emotions I am trying to dissolve have been with me most of my life so I realize that process could take awhile but I am so hopeful, for the first time in a long time, that this process will free me from a long standing emotional pain I have experienced and I take all the credit for it.  It has been all me causing the pain and the refreshing thing, is that since taking your course, I realize that if I am the source of the pain, I can also be the solution.  I am committed to founding happiness and probably more important, find contentment in my life.  Thank you Gary.

David  Oct 2016

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I am listening to your Self Mastery series and  I have listened to all of your podcasts. 

First, thank you so much for your incredible work in this audio format. Your philosophy, approach of using personal stories and the tone you use in your recordings have engaged me and transformed my self esteem. 

Regards, Julie   Sept 2016

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Dear Gary,

I am so grateful for discovering your program. I started it about 15 months ago and have seen many changes in myself since I started it. About 15 months ago I really hit rock bottom in my life. I felt so insecure and miserable. Growing up I was a rather happy person but that started to change when I internalized a lot of negative comments that were made towards me when I was around 19 years old. It was then that I started to form an image of perfection and belief that I just wasn’t good enough, and that eventually led to anxiety and depression. I didn’t feel like myself at all and I didn’t want anyone to know how awful I felt. A couple of years ago I started articling at an accounting firm working many long hours and the frequent criticism from managers was very painful for me. It was then that I came across your course and I’ve made it a priority in my life ever since. A couple of months ago I went on a study leave at work which has allowed me to really focus on the exercises. While I still have emotional reactions here and there, I have been able to eliminate the cause of many of my reactions and insecurities. Peace and happiness are starting to become my normal emotional state. I’ve gained so much awareness and understanding of what goes on in mine and others’ minds. Now I am able to avoid the trap of feeling not good enough. My relationships with family and friends have also improved as I find myself judging a lot less and just accepting people as they are. I don’t know where I would be if I never found your course. It has absolutely changed my life and I can’t wait to grow even more. So thank you very much.
Best regards,
Eliza           Sept 2016
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Hi Gary,
Hope all is well.
In the beginning of studying the audio traning it was just a lot of words to sort through which the places the words fell upon was not very deep. As time has gone by and I listen to the material again it penetrates at a deeper depth with greater understanding and a higher  emotional quality that was not present before.  I’m finding that because I didn’t react in the patterns that the people  around me react to they often misunderstand and take my behavior for weaknesses .I often think about what may have happened to me or where I may have ended up if not for these types of ideas.Thanks for bringing this materials to my attention.
Eduardo  Sept 2016
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Hi Gary –

Thanks for your email and also thanks for your course!
I first came across your site last November when I was in a very dark period.  I was struggling a lot with work.  It was a situation where – in my mind – I was being treated incredibly unfairly and with very little respect.  i didn’t see any way out and, on a whim, I just decided to google “how to deal with frustrations at work”.  Your article popped-up and when I read it the lightbulb basically went on.  it suggested another solution that had never even occurred to me.
Thus began my journey with your series of MP3s (and your book).
I can honestly say that my perspective on life has changed radically since I began your course.  There was so much eye-opening stuff that really enlightened me.  The latest thing that had a big effect on me was your MP3 on “Service”.  Whoa… that was a big game changer for me and completely changed how I am operating in the world now.  I think so many things in your course have helped me deal with an underlying anxiety that was making life pretty sour for me – even though others would look at my life and say “man, you’ve got a great life”.  But – as you know – nothing means much if your are locked inside your mind, having a constant battle with it.  That just gets tiring.
I’ll continue to listen to your stuff and work on things.  I know it’s a life-long process, but it’s worth it for sure.
Best wishes
Scott    Aug2016
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Hello Gary,

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in touch so I wanted to say hi.  I just received an auto email that it’s been about a year since I started the journey on pathway to happiness.  I found it interesting that so much has changed for me. I’m definitely happier but I think soon I will go back and re listen to some audio.

After Zion, I felt so renewed and free of so much guilt and shame. It really did wonders for my soul. Almost immediately upon return, things opened up for me and I acted.  I’m now back on Colorado as of last week where I got a great job  I feel as though I healed in Florida and now I’m back to start fresh and with a renewed spirit.

I hope all is well with you too.

Thanks again for everything.

Talk to you soon.  Laura  Aug 2016

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Hi Gary,
I’m still doing the self mastery work with the archetypes and am sending you a big thank you for the work you have done. Take care.
Peter    Aug 2016
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I had missed the target. I had difficulty truly understanding where and what the core beliefs were…about 4 months ago I got angry over a small thing with my GF.
I had “controlled” myself pretty well for some time and felt I had made good progress to that point. It triggered her to break it off with me saying I had not changed….calling me a drama king.
Well, I knew I messed up. Fyi, my outburst was not violent, thats not been my problem, anyway, I follwed the rabbit hole of what is drama, all the way to my core belief which was fear of abandonment…with side shoots of a few others…it was then that I started to understand your lessons clearly.

To get closer to the source of your lessons I purchased all of Don’s books and his detail in his message made it possible to finally have the light come on. I had finally understood and now the change I was attempting to make actually took place.

It all seems so simple now. Why was it so hard to see?
I know why now…
I informed my GF that my discovery caused a breakthrough and that I could now finally change my behavior for ever.
Her and I are together again, she is skeptical but did not want to loose what was good about us if I had found the key to eliminate useless behavior.
So far so good….in all areas of my life.
Relationships I have are much better.
I’m happier then I’ve been in a long while.

I’ve always been generally happy but my beliefs aquired though out my life were not correct and under certain circumstances I would get angry or make wrong choices…now..its a different day.

I still know I have to keep on top of it but like you’re example…to know how to see the exit sign is key. Now I see and I take the exit from my old ways…which feels so much better.

Its amazing how the old belief system justified poor behavior and clouded the truth of what it actually is.

So thanks to you and Don. I’m making the changes stick.

I’m also receiving counselling which involves disusing this technique to understand what and how the Brain operates…

I’m out of the woods!.

Dave   Jul 2016

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Gary, I am a 68 year old Vietnam Veteran and have had a long term unhappy, negative existence due primarily due to, I believe, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that went undiagnosed and I continued to bury my unhappiness for years until it felt like that was just the way I was suppose to live my life.  I have tried your first 4 free lessons and it has made more sense to me than anything else I have read or tried.  I am going to sign up for the basic lessons and look forward to improving my life.  I know that I have had a lifetime of tapes running through my mind that I hope I will be able to shred and through away and create a better existence for myself.  I just wanted to thank you in advance for creating a nonsensical approach to changing a very painful way of living and hopefully, change it permanently for a happier way of life.  I look forward to your insight and your lessons.  Again, I feel this is just the beginning of my life.  I just wish I would have heard about you many years ago.  Although, as you would say, it just wasn’t my time but now it is.


David   Aug 2016

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I wanted to share something that I experienced yesterday that has given me a new point of view to see life through. 

I was taking a nap on the couch yesterday, August 7th, 2016, while my wife read at my head.  I dozed off for an hour and woke up prior to having to wake the kids from there nap.  I was extremely relaxed and comfortable, I didn’t want to move, so I closed my eyes and began to count my breath and meditate.  While meditating I began to feel this intense love for myself.  I could feel myself loving each part of my body and being extremely grateful while doing a body scan.  I then dozed off because the next thing I remember was becoming aware that the body was asleep and I was awake, I being my consciousness.   My consciousness new the body was asleep and decided to step outside of the body.  I picked up out of the body, looking at it, and began to move down the hall.  I felt a bit timid to move to far away from the body.  While stepping out I noticed losing consciousness and beginning to think I was dreaming.  I then went back to my body and stepped into it.  Whenever my consciousness filled the body I felt the most intense pleasure of my life, beyond words.  I, the awareness, began to focus the pleasure all through the body with incredible pleasure.  Not sexual pleasure, just sensation all through the body, where I could feel in great detail everything moving within the body.  I was aware of my wife reading at my head and wondered if she could see my body shaking.  My consciousness was very curious like a child learning what the body could feel.  I then stepped outside of the body and focused between my growing area next to my wife.  The pleasure was so strong that I had to move back to the body.  I could feel and hear the body’s breathing and shaking changing.  I was awake, aware, and alive, I was the consciousness that filled the body, but was separate from the body. There were no thoughts, just actions, I was beyond thought.  I had complete control over the body in every movement and instance.  I sat there in the pleasure for a little while longer and then commanded the body to open its eyes.  I sat up with feeling like my life had changed, overtaken with happiness.  The mind then returned and I went about my day trying to figure out what the heck just happened (of course the mind has to “know” right)!  Just thought I would share, hope you have a good day. 
Austin                 Aug 2016
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Thank you for your email. I meant to email you but got caught up in some family stuff ( good stuff).
I feel good. I am not carrying any of the self doubt /loathing that I had and look forward to things unfolding for me.
Another interesting thing happened. I realized that the fixer voice is very loud inside me and in most of my friendships I take on that role. It’s not really that satisfying.
I have a friend who is going through a divorce and sometimes behaves in the same dramatic way my mum used to as she was going through her trauma.
After the session with you, my friend called me, hysterical and crying over an issue and for the first time I had no desire to fix it. It’s not being mean or unloving, but I just did not have any desire to hold her hand as I have over the past few years. From a place of integrity and non judgement, I could see plainly what role I had been playing( saving my mum) and how a lot of her experiences are coming from her own self.
I kind of became reclusive this past week and spend time with my mum who is visiting from India.
A lot of rage was coming up. Just old stuff and like most humans I hate the emotion of fear and anger, but this time, I just sat with it, looked at it and let it play out.
I didn’t suppress it. I just listened to all those voices screaming at me, and let the have their field day, without moving to fix myself. They finally stopped on their own and I went back into my state of joy I usually feel.I really love your work. For me personally, it made me get it on a level that I have not been able to previously and mostly it’s given me a tool. I know when I feel life is coming at me, it’s just a voice orienting me from my past experiences and all I need to do is not connect to it and observe.Do you have a teacher training course? That is something I would consider doing.Thank you so much,Warmest Regards,
Simmi                         July 2016
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Hi Gary,
I don’t need a call but wanted to share with you something I realized today: I believe I was born bad (!).  And therefore not deserving of love and happiness.  All those other stories on top of that were just to hide that I wasn’t good enough or try to prove to the world and myself that I am, and then reactions to circumstances that took that thin veneer away.  Anyway I think this is a huge revelation for me. 
Also the other day I was not happy with something my boyfriend did.  But the thing was, I could see his point of view and why he did it so I wasn’t angry about it but wasn’t happy about it either.  So I decided to wait and think about it for awhile.  I let it sit for a day or two and then had a calm discussion about it where I asked for what I wanted in our relationship and was understanding of his point of view, and he also understood mine.  Progress right????
Anyway I just wanted to share, and to say thank you so much for everything.  I’m starting to have fun again on this journey  :)
All the best.  Kris      July 2016
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Thank you Gary!!
I’m halfway through your self mastery series and I look forward to the rest. The series has been a useful tool for gaining more control over my emotional state. I particularly like the fact that you don’t go into putting a lot of new beliefs into our existing belief structure, rather, you help guide us towards breaking down our own structure of beliefs. I also enjoyed your book Mindworks. I appreciate you sharing.
Austin    June 2016
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Hi Gary,

Many thanks,

It’s been a pleasure taking this course over the last year, and beginning this journey. I send you my thanks for putting together such an insightful website and program, and I look forward to continuing the practice over the days and years to come.


Kim   June 2016

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 Dear Gary,
I am reading your book “Mind Works” and I can say after reading the first few chapters and doing one of the exercises, my life has changed dramatically. It was an instant thing where suddenly I could see the workings of my mind. I felt this separation. The voices, me and then an observer beneath both those. I actually initially went through an evening of disorientation and confusion, when the voices stopped talking to me and I could not figure out who I was or where I was. A little fear came from that, and then I saw I could re-orient myself to a different set of voices or stay in that non oriented state which became quite peaceful once I realized I still existed despite those voices/thoughts.Then, another interesting thing happened. I was driving and suddenly I felt my awareness expand and I felt as though I was in all beings and all objects and that I knew their inner workings. The world seemed very simple and very small and I could focus on it anywhere and know everything about it. I was still aware of myself but I was also completely aware of everything and everyone else.  This lasted for about 10 minutes and then it stopped. I feel this happened because my consciousness got freed from the mind trap.All this from just starting your book.I feel more alive, more at peace and more happy than ever before.I want to thank you sincerely,
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I wanted to circle back with you on this newest installment of forgiveness and I must say that it could not have been more timely. Over the weekend my preteen daughter was assaulted by another girl at a sleep over. There are few things that a parent or a mother can go through when a child tells you something of this magnitude that is as hurtful as this.
At first, the judge came out about the other person and people needing punishment and then the victim in my mind came and that I was powerless to do anything about it. I did approach the parents of this other child and held in my mind the expectations that I had thought would be upheld at a trusting scenario like a sleepover. When that didn’t turn out as I had expected, the cycle started another vicious momentum. I had put myself in hell. Actually, I was there, rented an apartment and had started charging rent.
 I had started to punish myself over the next week and suffering, working out and sleeping less, not eating. waking up early, mentally abusing myself without any consideration. And then today I heard your message. It was hard to listen to, I’ll admit. Mostly because the Judge wanted to continue terrorizing and the victim accepting it. But then I did as you said. I stepped outside of the argument these personas were having and said, “Who is it that we are angry with” and they all shrieked, ” YOU!!” we’re ALL angry at YOU because (filling in blank)…SOMETHING must be done…. So I asked, “Exactly what is it that can be done??” And they paused and said, “Well, honestly we don’t know, but this seems like a good idea to continue harassing you and   It seems to FEEL like we’re doing something, so maybe we should just keep doing this?
It was actually really, really funny and I started laughing.  Here I was, nearly in tears over this admittedly unfortunate situation with my daughter and my personas leaped on to my emotions  like a pack of ravenous wolves.
Finally, I became the forgiver and it was like a dimmer switch in my head. they became less and less visible, less and less noisy. They aren’t all the way gone, but it’s much better to an extent.
I will continue to monitor how I do over the coming weeks.Thank you.
Anita    June 2016
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Thank you.
Two words that can’t quite express my gratitude for the time and energy you’ve put into creating courses that have absolutely changed my life, in amazing (but sometimes challenging) ways ;)
I am sure there are so many people out there with similar stories, but so often you probably don’t hear them – that’s why I wanted to write and tell you what a difference your work has made to my life. Six years ago I was living a life I thought I should live, that looked picture perfect on the outside, but I felt numb and empty on the inside. Now, I’ve turned that around and live a full, meaningful and whole life. As you would know that doesn’t mean there aren’t ups and downs, but I am able to see the beauty, lessons and growth in everything that comes my way.
Keep doing what you’re doing and maybe one of these days I’ll join you at one of your retreats :)
Love & blessings,
Jo      April 2016
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Thank you very much for creating this series and making these insights and tools available.
My name is Matt E———-.  I recently purchased your Mindworks book on kindle after reading some of your blog and listening to your recordings. I have found your material to be the most concise explanation of the dynamics of emotion and suffering I have encountered to date.   Without going into too many details I have had opportunities to dig deep into how my mind works after going through a painful period of addiction, recovery and now divorce.  I am a successful professional and have had to come to grips with the dysfunctional beliefs and patterns that I developed from childhood on.  I have spent countless hours in recovery meetings, professional counseling sessions and have read a number of self-help books looking for a way to alter the dysfunctional patterns that have become engrained in my brain.  Your suggestions have been very helpful and I find them very easy to implement.  I have experienced a significant benefit in a short time.
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Hello Gary,

I am very happy with your courses.  I have never seen anything so advanced and placed in such an incredible perspective.  I have read nearly every toltec book there is but your ways of explanation are different and easier to understand.  I have signed up a few weeks ago for your self mastery courses beyond the four free ones.  I am joyful to finish them all and move onto the next sessions, right now I am on session 7.  Your simple gift to us all is one that is worth more then getting the best job or making the most money because I know if that I don’t dissolve these parasites, it does not matter what I do or accomplish.  I won’t be happy. I am amazed at the mind and how these characters seem to have a mind of their own, that they understand when they are being hunted or have been discovered, or that as you put it in one of the sessions, “they know they don’t stand a chance when being hunted,”. I do admit that they have put up unrealistic expectations on me and I feel down sometimes because for so long I failed to understand what the victim really was, but now I think I do and realize for now that my victim parasite is my primary villain and the other minions, many of them fall underneath the victim’s power.  I hope I am getting it right.  My mind is doing everything to stop me.  Incredible that these faulty programs can exist and have there own mind in some regard.  But I am not quitting or giving in.  I thank you so much, tears almost come to my eyes from the incredible work you have done.


Mark in Canada   March 2016

Healing and Reconciliation

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

And for imporving your relationship communication I suggest The Relationship Course Exercises. 

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.




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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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