The Whole Person Blog: Week Three, Day Five, Part 2/2 - From Wishful Thinking to Sustainable Action
Thursday, January 16th, 2020
Cause and effect. Emotional eating leads to weight gain. Smoking leads to cancer. Poor self-image leads to judging others. We think the cause of our challenges is the protective behavior we're participating in that led to our unwanted symptoms, but it's not. Those behaviors are simply a manifestation of our problem and not the problem itself. In essence, we've learned all of our protective behaviors, and that's the root cause of our challenges. For instance, the lack of affection in your household caused you to find comfort in food. Smoking became a perfect "solution" to manage the anxiety related to the lack of order and predictability growing up. Your parent's intolerance for otherness led to the critical ways you seemingly cannot escape.
Many people find it difficult to observe the actual roots of their difficulties because they feel they're blaming people who loved and cared for them, which is the result of our wounds being entangled with love. I help my clients understand the difference between blaming and acknowledging and appreciating those that teach us our protective ways, were also taught by someone else. We're all doing the best we can with what we've got is a phrase I frequent because: 1. It's true, 2. It honors the reality and imperfection of human nature, and 3. Compassion is the primary ingredient in the recipe for healing. Once the "I don't want to blame anyone" issue is resolved, something magical happens, they're able to see their situation as it is without the filters and narratives to distract them, and transformation can finally begin.
Dr. Mario Martinez offers a wonderful meditation to recontextualize the cause and effects of your challenge.
Identify the cause to which you assign the problem and the solution you choose; for example, you can't save money because your parents never could (a learned cause).
Identify the cultural editor who taught you to arrive at the cause you attributed to the problem. This may require some digging because you are not used to looking at a cause as something you learned. You can also learn to attribute cause from personal experience without a cultural editor's involvement, but there is always a cultural context.
When you identify the cause, determine whether you learned it within the pale or beyond the pale? Did the problem happen while you were complying with tribal rules or defying them?
Experience how you embody the memory of the cause and the solution you learned. Breathe slowly and allow the physical manifestation to dissipate before continuing.
Find an alternative cause and solution for your problem from a framework of worthiness. View mistakes as opportunities to develop wisdom from the imperfections of life. For example, you find that you can't save money because you live beyond your means--a way to live up to what you learned from your parents. YOu can readjust your overspending lifestyle and release the dysfunctional lesson.
Identity the wisdom you extracted from your mistakes and your solution, and experience how the new context manifests in your mindbody.
Commit to attributing a worthy cause and solution to all recurring problems.
If you identify coauthors in future recurring problems, give your coauthor(s) permission to not like your new worthiness response. Coauthors may not be ready to evolve with you.
If you forget to implement your new strategy when you confront a future problem, celebrate the discovery rather than punish yourself for forgetting. Being patient with your imperfection requires self-compassion.
Look for hidden benefits in your old cause and solution. How did you control others with your dysfunctional distractions? For example, you conveniently "forgot" to bring your wallet to a restaurant, and for the second time, your friend pays for dinner.
Commit to giving up the benefits of unworthy designation of cause and effect. Celebrate the worthiness gained from giving up your helplessness and relentless pursuit of control.
The reason this process works is that it recognizes the role others played in your challenges while keeping you in the driver's seat. Simultaneously, where most struggle is embracing change as the process that it is, and taking on the emotional labor of performing the inner work required to heal from the inside-out.
"You cannot sustain positive mindbody changes unless you have a fundamental sense of self-worth that enables you to accept the benefits you can gain from the change." Dr. Mario Martinez