Self Mastery

Why Do We Have Resistance To Change

What are the forces of resistance that come up when you try to do what you want, and live the life you want? Sometimes it is that ever ambiguous and elusive thing called resistance.

Are you finding it difficult to follow through with your New Year Resolutions? Perhaps you start the year with a commitment to exercise, eat healthier, or meditate regularly. Did it derail due to some resistance?

First understand it takes about 40 days to establish a new habit and make it an automatic part of your routine. One of the reasons is that you must build new neural pathways in your brain and nervous system. Until you have been doing a new activity regularly for 40 days it will require some effort of will power to establish the neural path. Once the new neural pathway is created, the activity, emotional response, or behavior becomes more like a part of your normal flow. It will likely take effort, but not as much now that the path is formed. If you find resistance after that it is because some unconscious beliefs remain in the way.

We are at that 40-day point in the new year. Maybe it is time to look at the resistance and procrastination behaviors that might have come up against your resolutions and see what can be done.

Here are some ways to overcome your resistance to change. The first one is a practical thing you can do. The others have to do with eliminating resistance all together. The benefit of eliminating resistance is that it makes it easier to make changes for the rest of your life. Once you become practiced at identifying and eliminating resistance, it is just a natural part of your mind that makes it easier to make any change you wish.

How to overcome Resistance 

1. Do Something Different

If you keep doing the same thing you will get the same result. “Trying harder” to do something that doesn’t work, might mean that you are putting more effort into an approach that doesn’t work.

Something different might mean that you exercise in the morning instead of after work. In the afternoon you are tired and have less will power to follow through. Something different might mean that you don’t buy the potato chips or ice cream or other unhealthy foods so you don’t have to resist them once they are in the house. Something different might mean saying “no” to someone’s request for your time so you can put attention on your goal and commitment.

Might this issue of saying “no” to someone bring up some other kind of resistance? Absolutely Yes. More on that with the rest of the list.

The Do Something Different approach is more like a work-around to the resistance. These are obvious, and you will find them in typical self-help and coaching approaches. The problem with them is that they don’t remove the resistance. They require you to take a different action that will have its own specific resistance that you then have to overcome. This happens when we consider saying “no” to someone’s request. There are likely multiple causes that we would hesitate or not even let our mind consider the option.

To really remove the resistance to change you will need to focus your attention on the resistance itself. Focusing your attention is more than just thinking about it.

2. Start with curiosity. 

There you were totally committed to a plan, and by some unseen forces you are knocked off your path. It’s as if you were walking on the sidewalk to your car and something pushes you over into the grass. You are laying on the ground wondering what happened. It might be at the end of the day, or a week, or month later, but you remember back to your commitment, and wonder, “why didn’t that get done?” Maybe you are continuing to have the same argument with your spouse and wonder, “Why am I here again?”

It’s a good question to ask. It is your natural curiosity and so run with it, but most people don’t stick with the question long enough to get to a good result. You might give up because you don’t see the answer right away. Or, worse, you accept some trivial that isn’t the real cause. A quick false answer, if believed, appeases the brain’s feeling of curiosity, but doesn’t solve the problem. Without the real answer you are set up to get knocked down into the grass again tomorrow.

3. Commitment to the Curiosity 

Stay committed to the question. You might re-commit to “I’ll just try again tomorrow”. But don’t let this appease your curiosity. This commitment is one part of the equation, but you need the other half about finding the real source of resistance as well. It’s better to make the statement, “I’ll try again tomorrow, AND I’m going to pay attention so I can be alert to anything that might derail my plan.” If you ONLY “try again tomorrow” you are setting yourself up to fall into the grass again.

To stay committed you need to avoid accepting the first answer that comes to mind. Make note of it, but don’t believe it. I got busy, I got tired, or the boss called me in to work and had me stay late are part of the equation, but not all of it. What got you busy? What got you tired? What was the decision making process? Was it conscious that you were trading away your goals, or did it happen unconsciously?

Your boss asking to stay late sounds like the answer. But in that moment did you weigh in the possibility of saying “no” and what you were giving up that you wanted? In this case, the “yes to the boss”, often comes out automatically. It is this “automatic” yes that is part of the resistance pattern where we derail ourselves. Saying “yes” to another commitment, is an “unconscious no” to your plan.

Quick answers won’t include such things as the uncomfortable emotions we would feel if we told our boss or someone else “No”, to her request. That’s a significant feeling, and it moves us towards an automatic yes. This is part of the unconscious that you need to become aware of if it is going to change.

Start with, “that’s interesting?” What was that? And then begin to look for the layers of feeling underneath. Resistance is often experienced as a feeling, physical, or emotional in the body.

What would I have felt if I had said “no”?

How would I feel just negotiating with her, “Hey, I have some plans for today, can I work on it tomorrow?” What feelings come up in the body? Where do you feel them? These feelings have more to do with our automatic answers than our conscious thinking.

Maybe you didn’t even consider “no” or negotiating as choices before you said “yes”? If not, then you have limitations in your perspective that takes away choices from your life so you don’t even get to consider them. This is a matter of having built certain neural pathways earlier in your life and noticing their tendency to make decisions unconsciously. The Self Mastery course can help you understand these layers.

4. Find the Underlying Sources of Resistance: There may be Many

What you might find underneath that resistance to negotiating or saying “no” to your boss, or others is a genuine desire to say yes. This will be understandable.

A. The Biological Resistance to Saying No.

First, we are instinctively dependent on others from the time of infancy. We need others, and we needed them to provide for us. Now, as adults we might not have this dependency, but our psyche and nervous system may not have grown out of it properly and so we are still inclined from that early age to say yes. If we’ve always relied on others around us in certain ways our biology will push our mind towards an automatic, and unconscious “yes” response to requests.

B. The Socialized Resistance to Saying No.

You might also find a motivation to say yes because as a species we have a history of growing up in tribes and communities. We have shared with each other and relied on each other as a way of survival and of life and it is a natural part of our social interaction to do things for others. So not only is there an instinctive biological “yes” but there is also a socialized instinct.

C. The Polite Resistance to Saying No.

Then there is just the more obvious response of yes because it is polite.
Now this is all fine to help others at times, and at times they help us. But there can be times that the other party doesn’t give in their sharing in an equal way. Do we do for our boss when she asks, but not get a raise, a bonus, or time off when we want it? If this is the case, we are continuing to act on our biological, social, and polite conditioning but not aware that the rest of the expected community isn’t reciprocating. If this is the case, then our automatic yes is happening without awareness of the full picture and we are not acting within our integrity. People can take advantage of our giving. This can be unconscious in others, or we simply haven’t learned healthy boundaries and to effectively say no to others. In extreme cases it is not innocent. The other party can be a sociopath and will knowingly do it and privately celebrate taking advantage of you.

D. The Fearful Resistance To Saying No

Then, if you look closer, you might find another layer of motivation affecting your “yes” or “no” response. Maybe there is a layer of fear. The boss may have say over your raise or getting laid off. In this case, maybe you want to say yes to ensure your job. Or, maybe your job is completely safe, but you feel such a fear because you have been laid off of a previous job, or grew up in a house where your dad lost their job and the family experienced rough times for a while. These memories can affect your response in ways that are unconscious to you.

Our unconscious memories and their connected emotions pushed our mind to agree to stay late without an awareness that our mind was made to think that way. Our conscious intellectual mind will miss these impulses from memory, biology, or childhood socialization. Our conscious thought might be some excuse that covers up these underlying patterns with a gloss over comment like, “no big deal, I’ll get that thing I wanted done tomorrow. It is these dismissive, and initial thoughts for you to look past and find some other layers. You will miss the significant unconscious motivations until you choose to look deeper at what your resistance is made of.
You will get knocked over into the grass at times. It is inevitable in life. But it will happen less and less as you become aware of these unconscious forces in memory, emotions, biology, and socialization. As you incorporate these beliefs and patterns into your conscious awareness you become wise, and strong, in your ability to do what you say you are going to do.

5. Once on the Ground, Don’t get Rolled into the Ditch

What knocked you over into the grass? You are lying there in the grass at the end of the day or week and look around at why things didn’t get done. You might see the hundred of other things that kept you busy. Or you might look at the procrastination and time you wasted. What typically happens at this point is self-judgment. The voice of the Inner Critic is harsher on ourselves than we would ever allow towards anyone else. The Judge berates you with an internal dialog about being lazy, poorly organized, or poorly disciplined.

For the record self-judgment like this doesn’t make you a better person. It doesn’t help you change a behavior, and there is good evidence to show that it reinforces the old habit. Some people will rebut that the “judge motivates me to get things done because it gives me a kick if I don’t do it.” This sounds true but is a lie. It sounds true because negative motivations work for short periods of time, but not over time, and not very well on us as adults.

Sustained negative talk demotivates us. Having the Inner Critic telling you bad things about yourself tends to keep you in the same loop of failure, resistance, and procrastination it says it is trying to motivate you to break, but this is a false belief based on old experiences of short term results. It is reinforcing the mindset and neural pathways that “you are a loser, lazy, undisciplined, and don’t’ get enough done.” If you receive this message from the Inner Critic, and accept it, the neural pathways and corresponding beliefs get strengthened, not changed.
The resistance might have knocked you into the grass, but the Judge is trying to push you into the ditch. The personal power lost to the Inner Judge is significant if you believe what it says. When you don’t reinforce the Judge’s thoughts anymore, you will have a lot more personal power to accomplish what you set out to do. The Self Mastery course will help with breaking the impact the voice of the Judge has on you. Phase II of the Self Mastery Series goes directly after this Self Judgment dynamic and provides and exercises to uproot the Judge entirely.

Sources of Resistance, and Sabotaging Behaviors In Your Unconscious Beliefs

If you don’t figure out what knocked you off your intended target, then it is likely to happen again. Because you look around and don’t see it doesn’t mean there isn’t something there. When it comes to your mind 95% of it operates at a level you are unconscious to. This is true no matter your level of intelligence. Thinking makes up a small part that we can consciously monitor, but the rest of it happens automatically.

Driving a car is an example of how much our unconscious patterns are living our life automatically. Driving is a complex activity, and yet we can do it while our conscious attention is focused on a conversation or listening to a podcast. Being vigilant for our safety, navigating streets, changing lanes, monitoring other drivers, obeying traffic signals, and mechanically operating the vehicle are part of the 95% that is controlled by the unconscious. This kind of automatic operation is at work all the time during the day in other activities as well. It influences making decisions and directing our thinking and attention in automatic loops. These automated routines are part of the resistance. Our mind likes to keep doing the same thing in the same way it knows.

Ever get into the same argument about the same thing and wonder how you got there again? Answer: Unconscious Beliefs.

It is extremely useful and efficient to automate certain tasks to our unconscious that can do them automatically, like driving. However, when we want to make a change, we have to re-program these unconscious patterns.

When you consciously decide to make a change in your life, your unconscious beliefs and neural patterns do not simply shift and say, “okay, we will build a new neural pathway for that and have it ready for you tomorrow”. No. You will have to consciously put attention on building the new habit and routine. It will also help to focus your attention on the details of the current patterns that act as resistance. Putting your attention on these beliefs, impulses, and emotional patterns will free you from them much faster.

Awareness of these previously ignored belief system dynamics is the pathway to change, and happiness. The first step is to have awareness that there are forces working in your unconscious. The second step is to hold your attention there long enough to see them with clarity so you can change them.

The Self Mastery Course will help you do this in a measured step by step process that you can apply to any area of your life.

Bad Thoughts

Janet has a memory of when she was about 3 years old. She followed her mom into her baby brother’s room. Mom picked up her brother from the crib and laid him on the changing table. In that moment, for reasons that she would not understand until 50 years later, she had the thought, “I hope he falls off the table and dies.” Janet immediately followed that thought with judgments of what a terrible thing that was to think. Janet then had thoughts that she must be a terrible person for having such terrible thoughts. Janet then thought, “I am an evil person.” A belief about herself was created.

Did Janet choose to think that thought about her brother falling? No. At such a young age we don’t know that our mind generates thoughts all on their own without our conscious choosing. Did she want her brother to fall? No, not really. Did Janet feel bad about those thoughts? Yes, even though she had no intent to think them. Janet had a deep sense of remorse about thinking something terrible. Her mind took that sense of remorse, and gave it a judgmental twist about her being a bad person. It took the worst thought of her whole life up until that point and exaggerated it into Janet’s identity of being an evil person. In this case, the worst one she had in her life to that point. That’s a pretty skewed measurement. The sense of shame, guilt, and unworthiness attached itself to that thought fixed an idea in Janet’s mind about the kind of person she is. That idea grew over decades not allowing herself to feel self-acceptance and self-love until she was in her 50’s and began to question the thinking of her thinking.

How could we think such bad thoughts?

As children we have an innate desire to love, and be loved. We also have many other instincts. One of which is a survival instinct. We know instinctively as an infant, that if we are left alone we will starve or die of other means. This is somewhere in our genetic intelligence for survival. The truth is that as an infant, and even as a toddler we are simply not able to provide for ourselves. We also need physical attention and touch. If a child 0-5 years old doesn’t receive adequate touch and empathy their nervous system and brain doesn’t develop properly. In some cases, when touch, affection, nuzzling, and hugs are so inadequate a baby will die from lack of touch.

So maybe, just maybe, there in her little brother’s room, Janet’s primal brain and body senses a survival need for connection with mom. Mom is walking away from her to her brother so Janet follows. But Janet is a polite young child and so she expresses this by tugging on mom’s pant leg and asking to be picked up. Mom, focused on getting her brother’s wet diaper changed understandably ignores Janet’s request and proceeds with one of the 100 tasks she will do that day.
The rebuffed request to be picked up amplifies the desire for connection just a bit more. Her nervous system creates a small “fight or flight” response for survival. Now there is a fear for herself, and a perceived competitor for the resources of mom’s attention.

Perhaps the primal brain and nervous system express this as an anger for not having these desires met. That feeling from her nervous system is looking for a way to be expressed. It isn’t big enough to have a tantrum, or take a swing at anybody. It isn’t even enough for her to complain, yell, or scream. It’s just enough emotional motivation to create an impulsive thought in her mind. “I wish my brother would fall off that table and die.”

The wish, if it came true, would eliminate her brother as a competitor for the resources of mom’s attention and affection. It is one of a thousand possible ways for her complex system to get its needs met. Is it really necessary for her brother to die for Janet to live and thrive, of course not. But her young brain isn’t sorting through a list of all her needs and feelings, taking an inventory of available resources to meet them, and how to appropriately ask for what she wants. Her brain is just processing some impulsive feelings and forming them into thoughts. Janet didn’t choose to think the thought she did. Janet didn’t even choose her desires and impulses. Nor did she choose to judge and condemn herself as evil. That was just another type of impulsive thought she didn’t choose.

It stuck with her though, that thought that she was evil. The creation became a belief in her mind and she felt it there for years. It was one of the many ideas of her self that made up a collage of what she thought and how she felt about herself. It was a very painful lie about herself that she believed. The lies formed around the memory held shame, guilt, and even some self hate.

The mind is a peculiar thing. It seems to gravitate to stories, and the more emotionally dramatic ones have more pull on our attention.

Janet’s thought about being an evil person might just be one of 100 ideas and thoughts she had about herself that week. But it is the kind of one that is emotionally significant. It generates more emotion than most of the others that month. It is also one that defines her identity. When Janet thinks of who she is, or what kind of person she is, her mind flashes on that memory, and a feeling of shame is invoked. It might flash so fast that she doesn’t consciously see the memory anymore. As years go by, she might not remember that day in her brother’s bedroom, but she will still feel those feelings of shame and unworthiness. Over time they grow into a kind of self-hate. As an adult she can’t figure out why she doesn’t love and accept herself as much as other people do. She has a difficult time taking a compliment, and she seems she is always trying to prove herself good enough to others. Janet doesn’t realize that these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can arise from false beliefs of her identity formed when she was three years old.

At 3 years old her mind had learned the ability to identify what good and bad behavior were, and her mind labeled it, automatically. Just the way we would if we had seen someone else steal a bike. A label formed an identity and self image in the mind that easily. The mind doesn’t think through this process. It doesn’t wonder if the label is accurate. It doesn’t look for alternative explanations. It doesn’t give it a proper ratio against all the good thoughts that day. It doesn’t understand the survival instinct of the nervous system and how it might be operating to drive feelings which create impulsive thoughts. It doesn’t look at the sense of remorse, and factor that into the measurement of moral character. Janet’s attention focuses on one thought, and uses that to define her whole identity in that moment. In that moment, the mind completely distorts Janet’s self image, and Janet, without any conscious considerations creates a false belief. The mind doesn’t even see that it is creating these labels while it is operating as something separate from Janet

Janet’s Mind Creates More Bad Thoughts Based on the Preceding Ones

By the time Janet was 5 years old she had a firm belief that she was an evil person. Of course she would never tell anyone that she believed this about herself. She worked hard to “act” like a really good girl. She did good in school, was polite, and respectful, dressed nice and behaved nice to everyone. As she did this it fed an internal story that she was deceiving people. Which added faith to the belief that she was evil. After all, she was deceiving people into thinking that she was “good” and deceiving people is what an evil person did. This goes back to the mind being a peculiar thing. The more polite and respectful she was, the more the story twisted it into deception and therefore she was evil. The “evil self image” began to make interpretations as if it were her and used everything it could, even lies, to reinforce the belief that the “evil character image” was Janet. It couldn’t see that there were very kind and loving motivations behind her positive actions as well.

When Janet was about 5 years old her dad would drive her to school and drop her off on his way to work. He would always tell her how smart and beautiful she was. This used to make Janet angry. Janet ended up being angry at her father for many years. She didn’t know why. At 50, and through her work in the Self Mastery course inventorying her beliefs, and some coaching sessions, she figured out why she was angry at her father.

Janet discovered that she didn’t feel accepted and loved by her dad. He said it all the time, but she didn’t feel the love. Janet just felt angry about it. Upon close inspection Janet realized what the anger was about. Janet believed she was an evil person. So when her dad complimented her, Janet’s belief was certain that her dad didn’t really “see” the “evil person” that she was. In her mind her dad didn’t know and understand her. It was as if he was talking about, complimenting, and loving a “good person” which meant someone else. Janet couldn’t accept that love because the belief image about “being evil” said it didn’t belong to her.

Janet felt that the “evil” person that she was wasn’t really seen, and wasn’t really accepted. The love and compliments weren’t for her, or at least that is what the false identity belief interpreted. Janet wanted to be accepted and loved for who she was, evil. If they loved a kind and beautiful person then they didn’t love her.

According to the false identity of the “evil Janet” her dad didn’t see, or acknowledge her at all. Not only that, but the “evil Janet” persona was really angry at being neglected. Never mind all the good behavior tactics the rest of Janet’s personality put together to be “good image” to hide the evil part. The “evil Janet” persona belief ignored the effectiveness of the deception and just focused on the aspect of not being recognized. As it felt more and more misunderstood, overlooked, and “unaccepted” it became more and more angry.

One night, when Janet was taking care of her father in his last year of life, he confessed how hurt he was that she was so angry with him for so many years. He was never able to figure out what he had done wrong or how he might have failed her. He worked so hard to express his love and support for her. He wanted so badly to have that love returned, but he felt he had failed her somehow. He just didn’t know how.

Janet apologized that night. She knew she had been angry for years, and told him what a great dad he was, and that she did love him. Yet, when she left the room, the voice in her head berated her for being such a terrible person for being angry at her dad and to have caused him such pain. That false belief image of “the evil Janet” persona, said that this proved that Janet was really evil. The false image of Janet was telling Janet that she was the false image. Janet continued to believe the lie. The false image was angry, and had Janet express it all these years, and then was angry at Janet for expressing it. Then told Janet that it really was evil for having expressed that anger.

Janet might have been playing out the role in some ways, such as not accepting love, and not feeling worthy of it, but that didn’t make Janet that character. It just made Janet believe the “evil image of herself”, that she began building at three years old, was her. You might say that Janet was hypnotized the “idea” of what she thought, and had been for many years. The false self-image of the “evil janet” acted and thought in a way to hypnotize Janet to believe she was the “evil janet” in one moment after another.

Janet discovered with some awareness and practice that it was only a story of her identity, and that she could change it.

Janet isn’t the “evil” character of the story in her mind, but she often believes she is. When this happens, Janet feels the guilt, shame, self-hate, and various other emotions. It also acts as a mental block to love, self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-compassion. In the story in Janet’s mind, “evil janet” doesn’t deserve these things and so they have to be pushed away. If she were to get some respect, acceptance, and love from others, she would likely feel guilty for getting love she doesn’t deserve. She would feel as if she had done something wrong by deceiving them. It is tough for Janet to take a compliment.

This isn’t the only story line of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. In many ways Janet has a wonderful life. She has a loving husband, and great career, and enjoys her work and her free time. She just couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t that happy when she had so much to be grateful for. At least as much as her internal dialog of false beliefs allows her, but she is changing that. Her exploration of these false beliefs about her identity, self-worth, love, self-judgment, hate, and self-acceptance, are changing her internal story. In doing so she is changing how she feels emotionally, and is becoming happier. She is replacing the lies she hypnotized herself with earlier in her life, and consciously adopting Truths about herself.

Janet isn’t an evil person. She wasn’t’ an evil girl. Her mind just had thoughts, all sorts of thoughts. We all have an imagination and it often thinks and imagines on it’s own. We don’t consciously decide what we think. Our thoughts arise and pass like clouds and weather. You don’t know what you will be thinking 1 minute from now or one hour from now. It is possible to consciously choose to think about something, but most of the time, thoughts just happen. The mind is imaginative and creative that way. However, you can decide what you believe about what you think. You can also decide not to believe what you think. Most importantly you can decide what to believe about your self.

You can change what you believe, and when you do, you change the story and the thoughts you tell yourself. When you change the false beliefs into Truths, you will change how you feel emotionally about yourself, and your life. Changing what you believe about yourself is the path to real change, and lasting happiness.

The Self Mastery Course – Find and Change Your Core Beliefs

The Perfectionist

Perfection can Inspire us to a goal, or be a demon in our head that makes us suffer.

The Perfectionist is one of the voices in our head. It has the role of pointing out all the ways that we should be perfect, better or different than we are. As a secondary role it also points out how other people should be as well. It might seem very helpful with high ideals and standards, and it might seem very noble with its authoritative voice of “knowing”, but it has a dark side. It can make us miserably unhappy, feel inadequate, and even invoke emotions of self hate and depression. So with that much at stake it’s best not to leave these goings on in our unconscious.

The dark side of the perfectionist is that we are always left feeling inadequate. Or, in its secondary role, when we believe what it says about others and end up disappointed, frustrated, or angry. We often don’t see this darker emotional role because we are focused on achieving that elusive standard of perfectionism. If we stop chasing that standard for a few minutes we can see some how wrong the Perfectionist is.

The Perfectionist is full of false beliefs and lies that we are trying to appease.

Perfection looks like the solution that will make us feel better. If we achieve it, we will avoid the harsh Inner Critic of the Judge. But the bar the Perfectionist puts up there isn’t what we should be striving for. It is a contest that has us set up to fail.

The concept of Perfection over so many years has become intertwined with the narrative of the Judge. The Judge’s use of the standard of Perfection is far more common than how we would use it, or in a way that it is used in our psyche for a helpful purpose. Getting things perfect, or even good enough is synonymous with the Judge’s criticisms and feeling inadequate. The same is true for related ideas of “good enough”, “right”, “Better”, “supposed to”, “success”, “should”, “Fair”, etc. All these ideas illicit some feelings of unworthiness, frustration, disappointment, and failure.

The Judge is likely to be using these terms against your emotional body more than they are being used in a way that helps you to be happy in the world. The same is true for all the terms that are the opposite, “imperfect, not good enough, wrong, worse, etc.

You can notice how much this game is rigged by counting the number of times the Perfectionist and Judge congratulate you on how great you were.  If you can’t think of any times that happened, then you get my point. They always use their standards to induce unworthiness and inadequacy feelings and that makes them a problem not a helper or keeper of some great goal to achieve.

Perfection, or even just the idea of something like it is a beautiful creation in your imagination. However, the perfectionist version is not generally based in reality and shouldn’t be used to judge what we do in the real world. Use it as a goal you strive for, but don’t use it as a measuring standard.

The challenge in awareness is to be present with that idealized perfectionist version as a goal in the imagination and be aware that what we create in imagination does not transfer immediately or easily to the world of reality. Creating beauty in the real world takes practice. With an awareness of the difference between the imagined world and the real world we can avoid the Judge’s misplaced criticism that expects the two to be congruent.


Consider this.

  1. Take something you do. It could be build something in your garage, sing a song, dance, or a project at work. Take a moment and imagine that you did it perfectly. Great.  You just used your imagination to flash on an imaginary performance. It probably took you a few seconds. Now consider how long it really takes to do that activity. Playing a song would take you 3-4 minutes. Getting to your ideal weight might take several months. A “perfect” work out at the gym might be 30-60 minutes. You can imagine being “there” in the imagination in only seconds but in real life that same thing takes 100 to 100,000 times as long. That is a clue how far removed your imagined version of perfection is from real perfection. Your imagined version is seen finished instantly.

2      Now imagine doing the whole song, work out, or project perfectly in actual time. Imagine playing or singing every note of the song. Imagine building that work project in the garage or at work and it happening perfectly. (no, I don’t expect you will do this but try doing it for 3 minutes)  If you just imagine doing it for a few minutes you will likely notice something interesting.  Your imagination, right where the Perfectionist can direct the whole show, can’t imagine doing it perfectly. Your imagination wanders.

Your mind will jump around, lose track of where you were in the project, forget something, retrace a step, or get distracted on to something else. In the previous exercise, where you spent 3-4 seconds imagining it “perfectly” you really imagined it in a really distorted way. You only had a symbolic idea of perfect. You can see that really focusing your attention can be a challenge. It also shows you that your Perfectionist isn’t even a Perfectionist in it’s imaginary world. He’s just pretending about that. This awareness can also help take away some of the authority we unknowingly give him.

The other place where your Perfectionist gets it wrong in the real world is in the instantaneous results. If I take a dance class and I watch the instructor demonstrate a move, my mind can intellectually say, “I got it.”  Now, what I have is the intellectual idea of what the instructor did. To really “get it” I’ve got to take the idea of what my mind saw and train my muscles and nervous system to move that way with the timing of the music with a dance partner. That is much more than an idea. It is work.  It takes multiple iterations to get my “idea” integrated into my unconscious memory, nervous system, and muscles, so that the dance move is automatic. If I practice 10 or 20 times I might get it, as long as I’m not also trying to learn other things at the same time or too complicated. Then there is the issue that I may not remember that move next week at the same class.

Your perfectionist lives in an imaginary world where it is possible for you to do things perfectly without any trial and error or practice. Actually, your perfectionist not only thinks that it is possible, but that you are supposed to do things perfectly without any practice. It thinks you live in the imaginary world also, but you don’t live in an imaginary world. If you develop awareness and mindfulness of these two separate worlds you can eliminate a lot of unhappiness from your life.

One of the consequences of these delusional “Perfectionists” expectations is that if we aren’t aware and skeptical of it, we succumb to the next character of the story in our internal dialog. If we accept the Perfectionists imaginary standard, then we fall to accept the Judges criticism for not meeting them as well.

Then one of two things happen. We attempt the dance move, song, or work project. It goes in accordance with reality, which requires some trial and error to get it right. This doesn’t meet the perfectionist standard and so the Judge has a harsh internal dialog of criticism for us about how we are a failure, can’t do things well enough, and that other people must think we are incompetent, etc. From this harsh self-criticism we suffer emotionally.

In the second scenario we have some awareness, that this harsh criticism and emotional crap will be generated by our belief system if we try to do something. So we unconsciously employ an avoidance strategy. We procrastinate any attempt or work on the project. Procrastination is one way to avoid self judgment. If you don’t try, your Judge can’t make you feel unworthy for not being “perfect.”  Or we avoid doing it all together often with a false justification like, “I’m not good at that.” Or “I don’t feel like it right now.”

But I think the real thing that is failing us here is the Perfectionist. It is failing to give us the space to learn, grow, practice and develop skills to get better. The Perfectionist is living in an imaginary world where things happen without time and without effort or practice and come out perfectly. It is failing to be aware that we live in a real one where our nervous system takes time to learn things and we have distractions in our life. Our failure is in awareness when we don’t notice that the separation between the imaginary one and the real one and try to merge the two. The “Perfectionist” is going to fail at this distinction but we don’t have to.

Baseball players swing at pitches and miss. Golfers hit shots into sand bunkers. Basketball players miss shots, including free throws when no one is guarding them, they still miss. These are the best in the world and paid millions of dollars, and they still live in world of reality where they practice, develop skills over years, and play for percentages not perfection.

The next time your Judge and Perfectionist want to give you a hard time for failing to meet their standards. Consider that they are failing you. They are failing to notice that their imaginary world doesn’t map to the real world.

If you find it difficult to be aware and skeptical of the Perfectionist and Inner Critic, this is understandable. Awareness and skepticism are mindfulness skills to be developed with practice and time.  You can find helpful exercises to practice in the Self Mastery course.

How To Stop Being Jealous

If you want to stop being jealous then you have to identify and change several parts of your emotional dynamics and the ways you think. These different parts of our personality are comprised of belief systems we have acquired over years, very often early in our life. Belief systems can determine how we interpret events, what thoughts we think, emotions we generate, and behaviors we automatically act out.  Very often these belief systems operate at a level that is unconscious to us. Because they reside in our unconscious, we can very often have a reaction such as jealousy driven by these unconscious beliefs, and then later, wonder why we reacted that way.

You can learn more about the different layers of beliefs that make up a reaction or behavior such as jealousy from this video. It will show you some of the different beliefs that create jealousy, and show you some insights on what needs to change so you can stop being jealous.



From the video you can see that beliefs make up more than just the thoughts in your head. Beliefs are part of how you see your self differently in different moments. In this way beliefs form various false identities of our self, or what we can call parts of the ego.  Beliefs are a large part of what causes you to generate emotions, and those emotions often drive another action in your behavior. When you look at the types of behaviors and emotions that create jealousy, you aren’t looking for one singular belief.

To identify and change the core beliefs behind such a behavior or emotional reaction such as jealousy sign up and do the exercises in my Self Mastery Course, and begin to get control over your self, so you can get control over your life. 


Happiness Is All Made Up

Someone kicking the tires on my Self Mastery program asked, “Is being really happy possible?  I think this talk about living with love is a bunch of Pollyanna Woo Woo.  It might just all be made up.”

My answer is, Yes. IT is all made up!!!!  That is kind of the point. We are all creators of our own emotions. From nothing we created thoughts and emotions and stories. We create behaviors and actions in how we treat people and how we treat ourselves.  Self-criticism, fear of what others think, feelings from failure, success, or rejection are all created by us from nothing but our beliefs.  If we have free will, and all the great traditions point to us as having free will, then we have autonomy in what we create.

All happiness and love is made up. We create it from nothing. Each day we wake up and we have not created anything yet.  Each day we live can have a different experience outcome.  We may not control the events or circumstances outside of us, but we can choose a better story than what we tell our selves or what we believe about it. This better story, or our interpretation about what is going on will change how we feel.

What often interferes with us choosing how we want to live is that we have created a number of pre-programmed responses. Our mind is set up to do some Pavlov dog type automated interpretations.  I call these programs our belief system. Some of these programmed beliefs system we may be aware of, and others are unconscious to us. We may see and experience the emotions we create from them, but the beliefs themselves are so automated we don’t notice. Much like many of our automated actions while driving a car go unnoticed so do our thoughts and interpretations. So we do those automated responses instead of create something enjoyable.

Here is a simple example.

Let’s say our partner has a glass of water and then leaves the glass on the counter. They could have put it in the dishwasher, or cleaned it and put it away but they didn’t. Maybe the programmed response we have is something of a big reaction:

What is this doing here?  I’ve told him dozens of times to put his dishes away after he is done. He just doesn’t listen to me. He doesn’t care about what I say. He doesn’t listen to me and he doesn’t respect me. He treats me like a free maid service. I can’t stand this relationship anymore.”  You end up feeling hurt, frustrated, and maybe even worthless and angry.  The emotions will vary depending on the beliefs.

What are these beliefs and why do different people react differently to the same thing. Or, more interestedly, why do we possibly react completely differently to the same thing at different times or different days?  What is it in us that causes no reaction on some days, and then to seemingly over react on others?  The answer lies in how our beliefs and emotions operate. Not all moments generate the exact same response. A belief system response doesn’t always behave the same way and that makes it more difficult to identify. Some days we are in a better mood because of other circumstances. Some days we are tired and have less resistance to the unconscious patterns.  Some days we have had a buildup of triggers and so are primed for certain responses.

The event of someone leaving the glass of water on the counter, by itself, doesn’t have any emotions to it. If we walk into the kitchen and see it there, it is like the ringing of the bell in the Pavlov’s dog experiment.  It triggers in us a response we have conditioned our self to have. We don’t salivate, but we do follow a programmed response of emotions, and thoughts. It follows some order of interpretations we have believed in the past. In that moment 10,000 different people will have 10,000 different responses. All will justify theirs as appropriate.  But we hardly ever consider a different one, a more pleasant one, or a happy one.  We are conditioned to accept the first one that our mind projects and go along with it. We do that until we become more aware that there must be a better way to live.

The thoughts we have are only part of the story. There is a lot of meaning, assumptions, expectations and unspoken beliefs that are woven between the lines of thoughts.

“What is this doing here?” Isn’t really a question.  Behind it is all the history of how many times we have told our partner we want the dishes put away after use. There is the expectation that since we told him that he should do it and he should do what he said he would do. We might have strong emotions of frustration.  If we did it shows we had programmed beliefs in our subconscious. He didn’t do it therefore he doesn’t listen to me and doesn’t respect me. This can produce frustration and feeling hurt.  He thinks of me as a maid so he finds me unworthy and not his equal. He takes advantage of me. In this moment “he” is not thinking of us that way, but our belief system is telling us the story of what he is thinking and we believe it.  In that moment it might help to ask. The emotional hurts from this belief can add up over time and produce anger. If he did love me he would have done what I asked, but since he didn’t, he must not love me. With this belief we are now in a story about our whole relationship and perhaps feeling worthless or despair.  We made this all up, but the emotions make the story feel like it is real.

Then our mind might add in some associated beliefs that it relates to the above. Since he doesn’t love me or respect me it doesn’t make sense to continue the relationship.  So now, based on the meaning within the thoughts to finding a water glass we are ready to end the relationship. These emotions didn’t come from the glass on the counter, we created them with our Pavlov dog type responses.

This story is an example of a big emotional reaction to a little thing, but it helps us question what the mind is doing.  In our smaller reactions it is more difficult to see.

Could we just consciously choose another made up story such as, “I’m sure he will use this glass later and didn’t want to be wasteful.”  Both are made up in our mind, but both create vastly different emotional experiences. Assuming you have free will, which would you choose to experience? In one version you are miserable and in the other you can be happy.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t facts and truths we have to face. Not turning in your homework will result in a bad grade. Not paying rent will eventually get you evicted. Not showing up for work and delivering good service to your boss or customers will result in a loss of your job or business.  In the external world, there are real consequences.  But for now, I’m only talking about the emotions we create from our beliefs, and that is most of them.

In our mind it is a world of make believe. It is in our mind that we generate most of our emotions. If we are stuck in traffic what story do we tell ourselves? We can get angry or frustrated with other drivers in our world of make believe.  Or, we make up a different story, and see that we are all in this together. Even have a chuckle that, according to the other drivers on the road, we are partly responsible for their traffic jam.  Nobody there is intentionally causing one, and we are all in this self-created mess.  In those moments what do you make yourself think, believe, and therefore feel?

When I am behind a slow driver, I like to imagine that the delay he is causing is preventing me from getting in an accident at upcoming intersections.  I practice being grateful for him driving slowly.  It’s a made-up story, and I generate emotions of gratitude from it, and so I feel good and have a nice time behind the slow driver. What do you make up, tell yourself, believe, and generate emotions about? I’ve had to learn to consciously learn to make up good stuff, and not believe the bad stuff.  It’s been worth it.  It’s all made up, why not make up something nice.

Don’t confuse the reality of the real world consequences with the world of make believe, but be aware there is a difference. It is a fine line and important one to learn.  In the real world the driver is going slowly.  In the story you tell, any other comments and adjectives you add are likely made up opinions. With the free will you have, choose to believe a made up story that is enjoyable, instead of one that makes you miserable, depressed, or angry.

Is it just that easy?  By my experience, absolutely not.  There is something in the way of us just freely choosing to be happy and think happy and loving thoughts all the time. That thing in the way is the programmed set of beliefs that often determine our thoughts, behaviors, and emotional reactions. So it has been my experience that if you want to change to a more positive interpretations and emotions you have to dismantle your existing belief system.

For a method and practices that will guide you to dismantle your false beliefs check out the free sessions of the Self Mastery Course for an introduction. 

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