So, we said the first step is to become aware of every thought and feeling you have. When you look into them, try to see if they can all reconnect to one common fear, even if on the surface they look very different from each other. For example, you may get really angry at times, and you also may be really shy during public speeches. Very different, right? Well, let’s examine them. Why are you getting intensely angry? It could be that you have poor boundaries, and you let people do and say things to you that really make you uncomfortable until you reach a point where you cannot take it anymore and you explode. Why do you let people do that, why don’t you tell them to change or stop their behavior as it happens in the moment instead of letting it repeat over and over again? Well, because you are afraid of their reaction. You are scared that they may not like you anymore, and leave you. So, when you look at the roots of the anger problem, it is out of fear of abandonment. What about public speech? That is an easier connection to make. You are afraid you will not perform well and that people will think you are not good enough, meaning they will ultimately leave you. Also in this case, at the bottom, there is fear of abandonment.
The fear of abandonment is truly one of human biggest fears. If you link it to more biologic states, it is linked to the fear of not be able to reproduce and also to the fear of dying as, alone, we have less supportive mechanisms and we are easier targets. So it is literally linked to our survival. However, you may agree with me that survival in the years 2000s, with few exceptions, looks very different from when humans were living in the jungle, and had to sleep with an eye open to avoid being eaten by a predator!
So now, our fear of abandonment and overall survival mechanism gets activated for the most irrelevant and superficial things, that are mostly wired within us since when we are little kids, by pour parents and our environment. For example, we may grow up obsessing with our physical appearance and feeling insecure over it, or thinking that we always need to have good grades at school otherwise we are a failure, or that we need to have the proper ‘’job-wife-house-kid’’ deal to feel like you have succeeded in life. However in our modern society, if you don’t get all straight As, you will most probably still survive and have a pretty normal life. If you don’t get married, you also will still survive and can be even happier! But the sub-conscious pressure to conform, the automatic fears linked to abandonment that certain situations bring, are really just cultural and depend on how you were raised. Some people were raised by a mother that told them everyday there were beautiful the way they are and could do anything they wanted in their life, others by mothers that told them if they did not lose weight or improved their grades they were a failure. When you are a little kid you depend on your parents for survival, so if you parents love you ”with conditions” the fear of abandonment gets activated. These two approaches will shape a person behavior over time and create different fears and different reactions to everyday events that will last even after the person has grown up. The little girl who was told every day she needed to lose weight in order to be loved, well she will probably struggle with feeling accepted by her peers, will most grow up being insecure, and probably be obsessed by her weight and will have image issues. The other little girl, who felt loved for the way she was, will probably not have these issues. What a difference, right? The way we were raised, the environment we grew up with, really forges us much more than we think. We indeed mostly are a result of it. And the identity we built, is mostly based on this and is reinforced everyday by the way we act. For example, if we grew up feeling not accepted for the way we are, we will probably grow up assuming people reject us or that we are not good enough. So we will most likely act insecurely, and paying careful attention to behaviors people have towards us that confirm we are rejected or not good enough, which will strengthen the belief that we are not good enough and rejected. This will, of course, also strengthen our identity: we identify as a person who is insecure and not good enough.
And when you become aware, which is the first step to create, is when a huge realization happens: just because I assume people will reject me or that I am not good enough, doesn’t systematically mean that it is true! Can it be possible that I am actually simply projecting my past into my future, therefore creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? Hell yes!! Your brain has been over time so used to thinking a certain way, that, even before the event happens it will assume a certain context will happen again, will therefore fire the same thoughts which lead to the same emotions, even before the event even occurs! And as thoughts and emotions lead to actions dictated by them on a sub-conscious level, you will act as a person who is insecure, you will focus your attention on that, you will see that in other people’s looks and actions, and this is the reality that will manifest!
So, to recap: steps 1 and 2 to create are to become aware of every thought and emotion different everyday situations make you feel, and try to understand what are the root fears attached to them. A good exercise is to write them down in a journal. You can write them down at the end of your day, or as they happen by keeping a pen and paper handy. You can write down sentences like this one, for example: ”today my colleague talked to me in a rude way, without any reason. I really felt sad because of it, I felt unappreciated and disrespected. I spent the whole rest of the day thinking about what I did wrong and why she acted like that. I felt stressed by it, so I noticed I responded badly to my husband for no reason and I ate junk food. I care about her judgment and my colleagues opinions of me because I want to be reassured that I am good at what I do and that people like me”.
And this is where the reprogramming happens, which is the third step to create.