When I was a kid, like many people I had dreams of a life well lived – a life of possibility, freedom and unlimited joy. However, as I grew up I discovered that life was often harsh, people couldn’t be trusted and feelings of joy were often fleeting.
As children we tend not to be aware of what’s ‘normal’ or dysfunctional. The older I got however, the more I realised that my dad beating my mum or me up for that matter, was not right or normal; that my dad being a con-artist, drug dealer and in and out of prison was not normal; that living with my grandparents (who were both Colonels in the army) from the age of seven and being sent off to boarding school – was not normal. As a result, I grew up with a ton of limiting beliefs. I became angry, scared and violent.
“Action will furnish belief, but will that belief be the true one? That’s the point you know.” Arthur Hugh Clough
Over time, I came to learn that beliefs are nothing but a feeling of certainty about what something means. They are not truth. However, we operate from these ‘truths’ – from the limiting beliefs we grow up with – as if they are truths. These beliefs are like glue holding our internal worlds together, often very shakily, or unhealthily in my case. And because we act as if our outdated and limiting beliefs are true, they often become self-fulfilling prophecies. The world is dangerous. People can’t be trusted. I’m not lovable. These become true because we believe them to be true. As we mature however, we all come to realise a deeper truth – that the world is both safe and dangerous.
When I entered my twenties and begun to hear of ‘depression’ it dawned on me that I was depressed. I realised that I had been depressed for much of my life. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun and adventurous times with my parents, at school or University. I did. But I had this creeping sense of unhappiness; like a dark storm brewing in the distance, covering the sun and never quite passing. Beneath the mask of being ok, was a sense – that all was not ok. I’m sure that many people read through it.
When I discovered NLP techniques, I began to see that ‘depression’ wasn’t a thing. It was a process. In other words, we have to do very specific things in order to feel depressed. Yes, it’s a label. But depression is more than a label, an idea or a disease. We ‘play’ a part in it. And if I played a part in creating my depressive states, then I must have some control over this ‘thing’ that had controlled me for most of my life.
There was a way out at last! What I’ve learnt to do since (and this is the essence of NLP) is to understand HOW I do what I do (in other words how I got depressed) so that I could do more of what I wanted.
As Mosche Feldenkrais said “when you know how you do what you do, you can do what you want”.
I now understand how I get depressed, despondent or un-resourceful, so I go there much less often. We have to do very specific things in order to get stuck. In fact we are never really stuck. We only ever think we’re stuck.
It is our thinking that creates stuck, unhappy or depressed states, just as it’s our thinking that creates joy and happiness.
We have to believe untruths in order to get into and stay in these kind of unresourceful states. I still have that capacity and to be honest, I still find myself in un-resourceful states more than I’d like to. I’d like to live in perfect joy and harmony. But if we’re human that’s a pretty tall order.
That said, I now have so many ways out of stuck states. I have choice. We have choice. The starting point is truth – that’s the difference between our distorted version of reality and reality in actuality.
This is the beauty of NLP. It gives us a framework where there is always somewhere to go in our thinking. And it is our thinking that creates how we feel, which drives our behaviour and ultimately the results we get in life.
As Michael Neil said, we feel our thinking.
This has profound implications. If there is always a way out of our stuck state, limiting beliefs or emotions, what then becomes possible?
Continue the journey… Untying the Knot