A Belief-Elimination Vignette

Last Sunday I was out with a friend, and through distraction and inattention I made a dumb and very visible mistake. My friend didn’t seem to feel that it was any big deal, and I quickly corrected it and figured out how to prevent such mistakes in the future, but for the rest of the day I was depressed and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

A few months ago that would have seemed perfectly normal and natural. That’s how I’ve reacted to such things for as long as I can remember, but since I started eliminating false beliefs, I haven’t been depressed at all, let alone to that level. That made it stand out like a sore thumb.

Given my relatively new knowledge of how this stuff works, I immediately suspected that I’d triggered some erroneous childhood belief, something related to the mistake or to making mistakes in general. It just didn’t make sense any other way. I had no idea what that belief might be though, and I didn’t have the time or energy to explore it that day.

The next day I was feeling much better, and after lunch I found some time to dig into it further.

Previously, I’d seldom had much difficulty figuring out what early experiences were causing the problems I was targeting, and from there the belief(s) that were responsible for them. I’ve spent a lot of time digging through my childhood, even before learning about the Lefkoe Belief Method, attempting to understand what drove me to do and feel the things I did, so I usually had a very good idea where to look the moment I focused on the problem. This time though, I didn’t have any clue how to find it.

There’s a trick I’d discovered for this, when I had problems finding a cause for something. It’s to start a sentence with the problem and see how my brain automatically finishes it, like “if I’m too happy…” (to which my brain filled in “…bad things happen”), or “chores depress me because…” (“…they’re never done”). That usually gives me some clue as to where to look next, but this time I couldn’t find any phrase that would trigger anything.

After fumbling around for a while, I finally stumbled onto a new trick. Instead of using language to track it down, I followed the emotions I’d felt when I realized my mistake and afterward, letting myself feel them completely and see what memories came up. And lo and behold, there it was: my mother, wearing a pinch-mouthed expression of fury all out of proportion to whatever event triggered it, berating me for making some trivial mistake, her voice getting audibly angrier and more disgusted with every word. I couldn’t recall any specific instance of it, but it happened often enough that I knew her expression and tone by heart.

Even better, for this purpose: for a moment I was the child that I had been then, maybe six or eight years old, and felt the much-smaller body I’d worn at the time. Its dejected posture and body language, and the beaten-down mental tone of voice that went along with them, showed me exactly what I’d been thinking: “I never do anything right.”

(Days later, I’m still amazed that I hadn’t noticed that one before. Apparently it was only triggered by making an embarrassing mistake like the one I did Sunday, and I hadn’t done anything that dumb since I’d learned the Lefkoe Method. I’m also amazed that that one wasn’t covered in the Natural Confidence program. Several similar ones were, but that specific one can’t be rare.)

With that realization, eliminating it was easy, through the usual steps of the Lefkoe Belief Method. Curiously, I could tell immediately that it had worked; with most of the earlier ones, I had to go back to probe my feelings about the belief several hours later before I could tell for sure whether it was gone. Maybe that’s just a matter of experience.

In any case, I doubt I’ll have any further trouble from that one.

I hope there aren’t too many such land mines still lurking in my subconscious mind. Running into one isn’t pleasant, and since I discovered how it feels to be happy, I really prefer to remain in that state.