“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” -Anais Nin
Screening our world
From very early in life, we begin filtering our reality. Our minds filter out many things so that we can focus our attention and not be overwhelmed by the huge amount of sensory and conceptual information coming at us all the time. We also filter out experiences that are too difficult to understand, or too painful to manage.
Filtering is a mixed blessing. It’s beneficial in many ways, by allowing us to attend to the task at hand without millions of internal and external distractions, and by allowing us to survive experiences that are physically or emotionally painful. On the other hand, it becomes disruptive, or even destructive, when it interferes with our ability to receive love and nourishment, when it prevents us from connecting to ourselves and others, or when it keeps us from reaching our goals.
How and why we filter
When we’re young, we all have experiences that are beyond our ability to understand or cope with. It could be something seemingly benign like not having other children to play with. Or it could be something overtly devastating like physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
If the experience is intense enough, or happens often enough, we form generalizations about ourselves and the world to help the experience make sense to us. We might conclude that there’s something terribly wrong with us, or that it’s never safe to show emotion. These beliefs usually protect us in some way. They may help us blend into the background so we don’t attract abusive attention. Or they may help us create drama so that we do get attention. They may just help us keep our sanity when things are incomprehensible.
Our filters persist
Whatever conclusions we come to, we then carry these beliefs unconsciously into adulthood, and anything we encounter that doesn’t fit with a particular belief gets filtered out. We literally block it out of our awareness. This is why two people can witness the same event and have totally different interpretations of what happened.
As adults, we have capabilities we didn’t have as children. We are physically stronger, more knowledgeable, and much more able to take care of ourselves. We know how to use words to explain ourselves, defend ourselves, find common ground with others, and ask for what we need. The things we had to filter out as children are now things we can handle.
The problem is, our old beliefs have become deeply entrenched, and operate unconsciously and automatically. For example, people may offer us all kinds of love and support, but if we have a core belief that says, “I don’t deserve love,” or “People are only trying to get something from me,” then we will filter out their offers. We’ll re-interpret the offers as manipulative, or inauthentic, or we’ll miss the message altogether. After enough of this, people usually stop offering, and the belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Change your filters with Hakomi Therapy
The only reason a core belief like this stays in place is that it’s unconscious. It has become such a part of how we perceive the world, we’re convinced that it is the world. The moment we become conscious of it, we realize the discrepancy between perception and reality, and the stranglehold of this core belief begins to unravel.
Hakomi Therapy can assist this unraveling in two significant ways: One, it helps you become conscious, so the outdated beliefs can no longer run your life “on autopilot.” Two, it helps you learn new beliefs that are more in alignment with your current level of development.
Hakomi is particularly effective with unconscious material because it’s body-centered, experiential, and deeply honoring of each person’s process. More than anything, fear is the glue that holds our detrimental unconscious beliefs and filters in place. The immediacy and gentleness of Hakomi offers such a beautiful safety that the fear begins to dissolve, loosening the grip of patterns that have limited your life.
The ultimate result is Freedom. Freedom to choose the life you want to live as opposed to having it determined by automatic responses.
Schedule a session by emailing me or by calling me at (616) 262-3848.
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