I’m grateful to my mentor and therapist, Andrew Feldmar, for this principle. When he first dropped it on me I remember being speechless. I could hardly imagine putting it into practice. It’s wisdom spread through my system like a time-release capsule. Here’s why I think it’s so hard to accept, let alone practice.
When we are young and dependent (including growing in our mother’s womb) we are either provided with a “good enough” environment: healthy food, focused presence of the other, attunement to our internal rhythm (not too fast or too slow), tenderness, emotional connection, the feeling that we are worthy, safety), or we experience the absence of one or more of these factors. If the latter, there may be a tipping point, where we are forced to compensate in order to survive unbearable conditions.
Compensation strategies are multiform. We may exit our bodies, living away from reality and our bodies, because reality is overwhelming. We may retreat within creating a protective bubble in an attempt to keep reality (the other, the world) at a distance. We may start over-thinking, moving energy upward toward our brain. We may develop hyper-intuitive skills, connecting with the realm from which we came, and preferring to stay in the “heavenly” realms. We may become empaths, exhibiting hyper-vigilance in reading other’s feelings—all in the service of survival.
And in the process we will form beliefs about reality and “others” that will become interpretive filters through which the raw data of experience will be sifted. These beliefs will also create what we call reality, as we participate directly in shaping our reality to conform to those beliefs.
These unconscious beliefs will always be negative because they were created in a milieu of insufficiency: I am not enough. I am bad. I am wrong. There is something wrong with me. Reality is unsafe. I am not worthy of affection and tenderness. Reality is too much for me. I must escape. The list of core unconscious beliefs (CUBs) is almost endless. These are what mysteriously sabotage us later in life. But nobody outside of us is doing the sabotaging. We are doing it from within.
It’s not our fault that we formed these beliefs. But it is our job to dismantle them and get on with our life.
As it relates to this principle, in a traumatic environment we are forced to endure these conditions. We have no choice. We are dependent and powerless to change them. (This is where the belief gets formed “I am helpless” to change my circumstances.) Being forced to endure and hopefully survive these conditions is a kind of torture, in which day after day, for years, we are held captive and forced to endure behaviours enacted by those who are supposed to be our allies. It only heightens the indignity when those enacting the torture claim to love us. It gets twisted real fast.
The good news is that when we do our work of understanding how we came to these premature (but intelligent) conclusions about reality, grieve the failures of love, and shower ourselves with self-compassion, it dawns on us that we’re free. Never again do we need to endure circumstances or other people. We can walk away. We can tell the other what we’re experiencing (or not). We can leave the party. We can exit a bad marriage.
Remember, we are hard-wired to merely endure life if conditions in our early life triggered our inner survivor. A voice will at first tell us vociferously that we must simply endure what’s happening. We mustn’t be impolite. We can’t have things the way we want them. We’re being selfish. Or it may never enter our mind that we have the freedom to change our circumstances. Once tortured, we torture ourselves for a lifetime.
It might help implement this principle by remembering how it feels yourself to be endured. Humiliating. Who wants to be merely “put up with”. Nobody. So remember, you aren’t doing anybody any favours (especially yourself) by sitting through that boring conversation, listening to a dry lecture or the complaining of your spouse. (Ask him/her to make a request instead of complaining).
You’re free! Live the life you want.