When we identify with our feelings and thoughts as who we are, we get caught in a recurring cycle of pain. Peace comes from questioning our beliefs, facing the destructive pattern, and replacing it with the truth.
A man came to see me with the complaint that his partner did not want to have sex with him enough. He was convinced that if he could get his partner to connect with him more, he would be happy. He explained that when his partner did not want to connect, he was fine on his own, but, he said, “why be in a relationship?” When he came to me he wanted to figure out a way to get his partner to be more sexual, but in learning to Be Free we used the story as evidence of his own beliefs and when we clear the feelings attached to the story, the glue that holds the story together becomes unimportant or totally goes away.
It can be useful to recognize the pattern. Howard’s partner, Jane, was not the first lover to deny him sex, nor the first person in his life to be withholding and uncommunicative. He had been abandoned time and again, which showed me that He was self-abandoning. There was a pattern or thread that ran through his stories, but for a while, Howard was convinced that if we just got Jane to change one little bit, both their lives would be perfect. Howard is not alone in his thinking. We all try to fix the people around us so that they can give us the love and appreciation we need. But when they slip up for a minute, when they can’t be manipulated, when we can’t replace them fast enough with a better version, our sense of safety disappears because it was built on an illusion. Those people were supplying proof that we were okay, that we weren’t needy or weak or abnormal, but our negative beliefs about ourselves cannot be out-argued, out-smarted, or convinced in any way. No matter how successful we are, they lurk underneath, waiting for the slightest ripple in the circumstances of our lives to seep in and fill us with pain.
Howard’s statement that he was fine on his own is a defensive strategy that had been around so long that it was a believable part of his story. What was his story and who was he in reality? It was just a part of programming and not him at all. Everyone he knew would describe him as self-sufficient and strong, almost arrogant. But again, this is part of the smokescreen of programming personified.
He was militant in his belief that he deserved a partner who would have lots of sex with him. Howard came to recognize that a lot of his “strength” was bluster protecting a negative belief, the scary and humiliating belief that he was needy, and that being needy made him unlovable. The belief was so life-threatening to him that he made himself relentlessly strong and independent. His defense, his story, had made a life of its own and called itself Howard.
Our beliefs are so believable to us that we develop personality defenses that we identify as “us.” We never allow ourselves to question that the beliefs we hold and the wounds we feel are not ourselves but only a balloon full of hot air, a conglomeration of data and programming. Dissolving the lie (illusion) in the midst of a resistant ego is tricky business. We begin to recognize the explanations and hurt feeling and the trying to prove to ourselves and others that the defended personality is indeed true (“I can take care of myself."). We begin to notice and allow what is felt. Now we know that no story is true, yet you would be amazed at the intense desire to keep the status quo and the misery attached to it intact.
Facing the defeat of our defensive strategies can be scary and painful. We would rather do just about anything. Some people are willing to die in order not to let them go. Now we discover that the way out is through them. By facing them and the defeat of our carefully composed and defended selves, we can come to know our core self, who we really are, and feel safe.
One consequence of directing our attention to the outside is that we abandon ourselves. As we learn to allow what is to be as it is, letting the false self dissolve and the core self emerge, we become self-referred, centered, and free.
It is actually by opening to these well-defended feeling of sadness, pain, hurt, abandonment and loss and a multitude of other emotionally charged feelings that they can loosen their tenacious grip that keep us repeating the patterns that keep us trapped. The way out is to feel these well-guarded feelings and notice we want to fix and manage and take them to be who we are. We relax and feel. We open and love the parts of us we have given away. It only takes a moment to stop, and feel, open and allow what is gripping the body and I promise you will be amazed how fast you end the cycle of pain in your life.