If so, then you are one of the tens of millions of people who either are in psychotherapy or part of the personal growth movement—reading books, attending workshops, and using digital products—in an attempt to reduce your anxiety and suffering and increase your happiness.
Unfortunately the success rate for these people is not very high. Although there is often some improvement, the negative self-talk, some noticeable anxiety, and an obsessive concern with the opinions of others usually continue after years of therapy and many courses.
Let me offer a possible explanation
Most therapies and personal growth systems assume that we all live and deal with the same objective reality, and that some of us need better thinking and/or additional skills and information to deal with it more effectively.
I think the reason for their poor success rates is that their basic assumption is flawed: we are not all dealing with the same objective reality and our biggest problem is not our inability to deal effectively with that reality. Instead, the problem is that we are all dealing with different realities (based on our beliefs) and our problems arise primarily from our mistaken views of reality.
Let me elaborate. Beliefs are statement about reality that we feel are the truth. “I am ….” “People are ….” “Life is ….” Beliefs like these describe our reality. We think it really is true that I am not good enough, or people can’t be trusted, or life is difficult. If you hold these beliefs, for you they are actual descriptions of the world you live in. The problem for you and others holding such beliefs people isn’t merely an inability to cope with the world as it really is, their real problem is that they are trying to deal effectively with a world that exists only in their mind.
For example, if you believe that mistakes and failure are bad and that if I make a mistake I’ll be rejected, then that is a fact in your world. That is an accurate description of the way the world really is, for you. That view of the world will inhibit you from trying new things, it likely will make you afraid to speak in public, it will result in anxiety that you will do something wrong and get rejected, and other dysfunctional behavior.
If in the “real” world mistakes and failure are only good learning experiences, if really successful people consider their “mistakes” and “failures” to be merely building blocks for later success, then people with the two beliefs just mentioned don’t need to think more effectively, to learn how to handle their emotions better, or to devise more effective business strategies—they need to change their view of reality. In other words, they need to eliminate their beliefs about mistakes and failure that constitute as aspect of their worldview.
Relationship problems are usually not due to a lack of interpersonal skills
Here’s another illustration of my point. Imagine that in your world, it was a fact that you were not loveable, that relationships never worked out in the long run, and that men/women couldn’t be trusted. For you, given the nature of your world, the possibility of a good, nurturing, loving long-term relationship would be slim to nil. Not because of your fears or your lack of social skills, but because your behavior in relationships is shaped totally by your view of yourself, potential mates, and relationships.
Learning more interpersonal skills, better understanding your childhood influences, and learning some behaviors that make for better relationships will do little to help you have better relationships if you have the beliefs I just named.
What will help you create and sustain a loving, satisfying relationship? Changing your beliefs so that you live in a world in which you are loveable, relationships can work, and men/women can be trusted.
There obviously are times when having certain skills and information can improve your ability to make money, have better relationships, be more successful at whatever your do, and reduce negative feelings. I am not saying that eliminating beliefs and changing your worldview will automatically provide you with everything you want, automatically. Regardless of your worldview, some behaviors will be more effective in getting what you want than others.
The single most important factor determining your happiness
What I am saying—based on what we’ve learned after helping over 13,000 clients in one-to-one sessions and over 150,000 people in our digital programs—is that the single most important thing causing the behavioral and emotional problems we face is our beliefs. And the single most important thing we can do to eliminate the behavioral and emotional problems we face is to eliminate the beliefs that determine our distorted worldview.
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copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe