An Emotional Checkpoint – Challenging Beliefs
In the tool of rewriting the script, we looked at how we create scripts which reinforce self-limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves, about other people and about the world as a whole.
If you have not read that post, it may be helpful to read it first before digesting this one. You can see it here.
Emotional scripts are a specific kind of script that define what we believe about ourselves when we experience a specific emotion. They can make us repress our emotions and hide them. Ultimately, they are beliefs about how we should feel, how we should behave and what other people will think about us when we experience an emotion.
It is important to remember that having emotions is not bad. They are natural. There are two issues which can stem from our emotions though:
- Choosing to feel them rather than expressing them – we explored the solution of developing awareness in the previous post.
- The existence of the self-limiting beliefs which they enforce.
Awareness of our emotional patterns is the first step. Challenging and changing our belief system is the second and equally important part of the two pronged attack.
We can allow ourselves to express and consciously feel our emotions in a natural and healthy way. To do this we need to take control of the beliefs which come along with the emotions as they are the source of the fear which prevents us from embracing our emotions.
Limiting beliefs trigger secondary emotions in response to the fear associated to the belief. Reprogram and belief and you are then free to express or choose to feel your primary emotions with no fear.
Time to look at how we do this…
Breaking Emotional Scripts
The way we break these scripts is very similar to how we break the others. These steps can be followed as an exercise of reflection where you write your thoughts down.
Spot which emotions you are experiencing
Become aware of the emotion – see the previous insight.
Write down the name of the emotion you are experiencing, and a short summary of the situational context that contributed to its manifestation. (e.g., where were you, what happened, who said what).
Accept that the emotion exists and take responsibility for how you let it influence your life
Discover your beliefs
Identify the beliefs that you hold about yourself when experiencing this emotion. Imagine yourself vividly in the situation where you are experiencing this emotion, now with that image in your mind ask the question “So what?”
- So what does this say about me….
- So what does this say about what will happen…
- So what does this mean others will think about me…
When developing your awareness and asking ‘So what?’, observe the whisper of the foreman and take note of what is being said. Here are some examples of the kind of thing to listen out for:
- If I express this emotion in front of others, they will think less of me.
- If I let myself feel this emotion, I will become overwhelmed by it.
- If I tell others how I feel, they will use it against me.
- If I tell others how I feel, they will think I am weak.
- Other people don’t feel this way. There must be something wrong with me.
- This emotional state is not a normal; I have to get rid of it.
- A happy person would not feel this way.
- Letting myself feel bad would mean falling to pieces, being a total mess, or wallowing in self-pity.
- If I show signs of weakness then others will reject me.
- I’m stupid for feeling this way. I should just suck it up!
These are your beliefs. Write them down.
Understand the value of your Beliefs
Examine the consequences of holding those beliefs by evaluating the impact they have on how you feel, behave and talk to yourself.
This means writing each of your beliefs down, then also writing down the positive and negative effect of each belief on your life.
- Will this give me more confidence?
- Does it increase my vitality?
- Will it stop me doing what I want to do?
- Does this help me learn and embrace new situations?
- Does this make me feel happy or sad?
Think about all of the positive and negative aspects that you can.
Now consider: Do I really want to continue to hold this belief?
Accept that the beliefs you hold exist, and acknowledge that nobody is to blame for them. Not you, or your parents.
Simply accept that they exist. Knowing why does not change their existence.
The act of acceptance means that you have fully turned to face the truth. Hunters use both eyes to hunt and now your beliefs are in your focus you can choose to do something about them.
Updating your Beliefs
Once you have brought a script in to the light of your consciousness, its ability to unconsciously overtake you will be diminished. You will be able to anticipate the attack.
When you can see the script for what it is, you have the power of choice to effect change in your life by updating the beliefs that you hold.
You can choose to believe anything you want. We are all free in this respect. You don’t need to come up with some super complex set of beliefs to map to all your emotions individually. A simple short higher order set which can be universally applied will act as a great start point for you to effect change.
Your new beliefs can be used to replace and overwrite your old beliefs.
Here is a suggested set of universal beliefs that I have chosen to hold:
- All of my emotions are natural; expressing them is ok
- There is great strength in vulnerability
- I have the power of choice
- When I make mistakes, I will learn
- I am not unique in my struggles
- My approach to life is based on experience I have; I am free to change my mind as I learn more – I am an agent of change and growth
This set of beliefs has helped me to learn to embrace my emotions and has allowed me to learn to express them sincerely and without prejudice. Well, I say learn but I am still learning!
No two moments in life are ever identical; whenever life presents you with a new experience, it is a chance to practice and learn.
Developing awareness of your emotional patterns and beliefs enables you to embrace the power of choice when it comes to your emotions. This is a journey of becoming a master of your emotions.
When we are no longer afraid of our emotions and we are able to choose how we feel and express them, we can actually start to use them to our advantage.
This is what we will explore next…
Enjoy, for now.