I sat with a friend the other day who was deep in her story. She was trying to work through challenges and frustrations she’s been feeling around where she wants to be in her life, but I kept hearing her circle back to the same charged beliefs, the same excuses for why her life was harder than other people’s. When I shined a light on the beliefs and asked her to consider that they might not be true, she launched into defense of all the ways they’ve shown up as true again and again.
And I wanted to laugh, not at her, but at the insanity of the cycle. Because of course they’ve shown up as true. Of course those beliefs have surfaced in painful, limiting ways over and over again. Because that’s how beliefs work.
When we choose to believe something, we are putting attention in that direction and giving our brain the go-ahead to gather all the evidence that reinforces that belief. Our brains love a job, and when given a task, they will deliver with gusto.
Let’s say you’re feeling like you do all the work around the house, and no one ever helps. The brain will immediately spot the dishes your child left on the breakfast table and the socks and underwear your husband left strewn all over the floor. It will catalogue the trip you had to make to the grocery store and the dinner you cooked the night before.
But here’s what else it does. It will conveniently overlook the snack your child made herself after school. And it won’t even see when your husband changes the towels over into the dryer. Because that’s not what it’s supposed to be looking for.
Where we place our attention, we place our energy. And if our attention is on collecting evidence to verify how we’re victimized in this life, then our energy will be on feeling and acting like a victim.
I get it. For some it’s a slippery slope. You’ll argue until you’re blue in the face that you really do in fact do everything around your house. Or that you really are alone. Or that you are verifiably broke. Or whatever other belief of your life you’re desperately clinging to.
And I’ll argue back that it’s because you believe it’s true.
Now I know that it’s a huge leap to go from believing one way to taking the opposite stance. How can we look at the blue sky and suddenly declare “I believe the sky is orange.” But what I’m suggesting is that we don’t jump to the opposite edge of the pool right away. I’m suggesting we wade over a few feet into neutrality.
You see, neutrality is that sweet spot where the true magic actually happens. It’s the state we achieve when we meditate, when we sleep, when hit rock bottom. We let go. We give less fucks. We stop holding so fiercely to one side or the other, and we find an unemotional, uncharged, non-polar state of being.
And that’s when clarity, possibility and yes, even evidence of a new belief, come rushing in.
When I used to do coaching I would encourage my clients to use the statement, “I’m willing to see things differently. I’m open to change.” as a way to noodle into believing something different for their life. I think it may have its root in a Louise Hay book somewhere, but nevertheless, it was a powerful statement for moving into neutrality and inviting something different.
A Course in Miracles says that we are meaning-making machines in a meaningless world. And when we allow ourselves to shift out of the fiercely-charged state where white-knuckled beliefs live, we open up room to be surprised. We create the space for meanings to shift or disappear altogether, and suddenly where there was angst and frustration, there is now possibility and hope.
What I know for sure is that you absolutely cannot change your reality while having a choke-hold on the very beliefs that created that reality. And I also know that when we argue for our limitations, we strengthen them.
What could you ease into neutrality about in your life? Where could you allow even the smallest room for people (yourself included) or situations to show up differently?
When we let go of our emotions around a situation, we offer ourselves the best gift of all.
And suddenly we find ourselves saying “Maybe the sky really is orange…” only to look out our window and see the most shocking shade of orange we’ve ever seen in a sunset before.
And then we laugh. Because we realize how we see the world is always a choice.