“The most remarkable feature of man’s future is its flexibility. It is determined by his attitudes rather than by his acts. The cornerstone on which all things are based is man’s concept of himself. He acts as he does and has the experiences that he does, because his concept of himself is what it is, and for no other reason. Had he a different concept of self, he would act differently. A change of concept of self automatically alters his future; and a change in any term of his future series of experiences reciprocally alters his concept of self.” Neville Goddard**
Years ago, I was seeing a therapist who did her best to try to convince me that I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was, but every time she would attempt to show me a more expanded, kinder, loving, view of myself (or others) I’d throw back example after example of the opposite. I finally stopped seeing her because I didn’t think she was helping me.
I’m not sure that anyone could have helped me at that time in my life. Even though I put on a good show of being happy, internally I was restless, irritable, and struggling to figure life out, and yet, I refused to see myself (or others, especially my family of origin) in any other way than the one I’d grown accustomed to. The story of my family was that it was a highly dysfunctional, unhappy, place to grow up. Period.
I wasn’t looking for a way out/growth, I was looking for “validation”. I wanted someone to agree with me that my ex-husband, parents, etc., were the ones to blame for me begin the way that I was, so I could feel better…and I did have people around me who agreed with my view, and I did feel temporally better when we were talking about the screwed up people in our lives. But things never changed. The people whom I’d blamed seemed to stay the same and so did I.
I thought that I was changing/advancing because I was doing spiritual study, retreats, workshops, etc., but that only gave me a reason to feel superior to “them”. The more study I did, the more I thought I didn’t get along with “them” because I was above them spiritually. Of course I didn’t admit this to anyone.
And then this began to change. I can remember the day I knew that I wanted to tell a different story about my past. It felt like complete fiction, but it was also fun and a little exciting. I realized that I didn’t know myself at all…and this was a good thing. I also became aware that I didn’t really know anyone. I noticed that when I held a concept of others (in my mind) as unpleasant, they probably would act that way when I saw them, but I also began to play with the idea of seeing them through new eyes.
The first time that I did this with a family member, I was stunned when she said something so kind and loving to me that I almost wanted to write it off as “manipulative”…but I didn’t . Instead I said, “Thank you. Why do you say that?”. I wanted to know what she was seeing in me, so I listened. I didn’t energetically bat her compliment away, I took it in. There is a power in words that I don’t think I’ll ever understand. They can change us when we are ready.
The other day, I was driving back from Vermont thinking about faith. I kept saying the word over and over. I said things like, “I have faith. I am showing active faith in my dream….”, just all sorts of “faith talk”. An hour or so later, I went into a shop and a woman looked at me and said, “Excuse me, are you Faith?”
It is wonderful to see ourselves and others through new eyes and to become open to hearing good things about ourselves…and to entertain the possibility that those words might be true…and to see what happens next!
*painting available on my artwork page
**from the book, The Neville Reader, pp. 233-234 (a book that I highly recommend)