When I first developed the Lefkoe Belief process to eliminate limiting beliefs almost 28 years ago, very few people talked about the importance of beliefs. Today most people in the personal growth field acknowledge that permanent change is really impossible unless you eliminate the beliefs that drive your current behavior and make lasting change almost impossible.

In the past couple of years, however, I’ve discovered that beliefs are not the immediate cause of our behavior and feelings. Our occurrings are. As a result, fundamental change is possible without eliminating beliefs, if you know how to dissolve your occurrings.

Because very few people even discuss occurrings, much less distinguish between them and beliefs, I’m going to devote today’s post to explaining the difference between them in detail. (I discussed aspects of this issue in an earlier post, http://www.mortylefkoe.com/beliefs-dont-behavior/)

This distinction is important for many reasons, especially because each is formed differently and each is eliminated differently. The process required to eliminate beliefs won’t dissolve occurrings and vice versa. If you aren’t clear about the difference between the two and use the wrong process you won’t be successful in your attempts to change.

There are crucial differences between beliefs and occurrings

Despite their similarities, occurrings and beliefs are two very different phenomena.

Beliefs are the meaning we give (usually) to a series of events. Beliefs are broad generalizations, for example, I am …. People are …. Life is …. A belief is a statement about reality that we feel and act is the truth, although it is possible to intellectually disagree with something we believe. Once formed, beliefs continue to exist and affect our behavior, feelings and perceptions forever, unless we are able to eliminate the belief. We view life through the filter of our beliefs.

Our occurrings, on the other hand, are the meaning we give to a specific event, in other words, how reality occurs to us at a given moment. Each occurring is a distinct meaning that usually lasts only a short time and then fades away by itself when we stop thinking about the event. An example of an occurring is your boss asking you a question and it occurring to you as she doesn’t trust me, she doesn’t like me, or I’m going to get fired. That is the meaning you have given to the boss’s question. In reality all that happened is that she asked you a question. Contrast that occurring—the meaning you gave to that specific event—to beliefs that act as a filter through which we view all events, such as No one trusts me. No one likes me. I can’t keep a job.

Why occurrings are so important

Because we don’t distinguish between reality and how reality occurs for us (our occurring), we think the meaning we give reality IS reality. Because we think our occurring IS reality, we interact with our occurring, not reality. In other words, we rarely deal with what is actually in the world; we deal with the meaning we have given what is in the world, a meaning that exists only in our own mind.

For example, losing our job is a fact in reality, seeing it as a disaster or a great opportunity are two possible ways the event can occur for you. You can “see” that you no longer have a job. You can’t “see” that the job loss is a disaster or an opportunity. If your job loss occurred to you as a disaster, you would try to deal with “a disaster,” instead of with a job loss, which probably would have you feel and behave differently.

The simple distinction between beliefs and occurrings

Is it now clear that beliefs are broad generalizations that filter your view of all events, while occurrings are “one time” meanings you give to specific events that do not affect the meaning you give to similar events in the future?

Your long-held beliefs are NOT occurrings. An occurring is how an event occurs for you. Therefore, occurrings require, by definition, a preceding event, either in your mind or in the world. If there is no event, there is no occurring.

Beliefs are the major source of our occurrings

Is it now clear that beliefs and occurrings are two totally different phenomena? There is a crucial relationship between them, however, in that beliefs are the major source of our occurrings. In other words, how a meaningless event occurs for us is determined mainly by our beliefs. (Other determining factors can include our mood, physical condition, and stage of development [see almost any of Ken Wilber’s books for details on stages of development]).

Change your beliefs and you can change how events show up for you. For example, if you believe, People are stupid, individuals will occur for you that way. Eliminate that belief and your future occurrings probably will change.

It is important to realize that it is possible to dissolve an occurring without eliminating any beliefs. On the other hand, if you don’t eliminate the beliefs that are causing a occurring, you will continue to have similar occurrings when similar events happen in your life.

I don’t want to mislead you. Although you can change your behavior and feelings by dissolving occurrings without eliminating beliefs, in most cases the fastest and easiest method to do that is to eliminate the beliefs causing the behavioral or emotional problem. For example, procrastination for most people is caused by about 16 beliefs and conditionings. Although you could dissolve the occurrings caused by these beliefs whenever you had to do something that you might procrastinate, it would be simpler to eliminate the 16 beliefs and conditionings and never procrastinate (or have to dissolve an occurring) again.

Define a few relevant terms

Let me define a few other terms that are relevant to this discussion. First, reality, by which I mean what actually happens in the world. Events. What you know through your five senses, especially what you can see or hear. What you usually could capture on a video recording. Sometimes “reality” can’t be “seen” because it is inside your mind, such as thoughts, memories, projections of the future, and physical sensations. We can give all of these meaning, so we can have occurrings about all of them.

The next term I want to clarify is “No meaning.” Events in reality have no inherent meaning. In other words, you can’t draw any inferences or make any predictions—for sure—as a result of observing any events, including internal events such as memories or physical sensations. All meaning, therefore, is in your mind.

This idea can be difficult to prove to someone who hasn’t experienced it. I hear all the time: “Of course events have meaning! Doesn’t dying have meaning? Doesn’t it mean something if someone treats you badly?” The best way I know to make this idea real is to experience it when you use the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) to eliminate a belief formed in childhood, where you experience clearly that mom’s and dad’s behavior had no inherent meaning, that the way they treated you meant nothing about you or even about them. (You can experience the LBP in a free online interactive program at http://recreateyourlife.com.)

Our occurrings cause most of our feelings

The third idea I want to clarify is: “Reality can’t cause feelings.” Reality/events are unable to make you feel anything because they have no inherent meaning. The primary source of your feelings is the meaning you give to events.

For example: If you don’t get something you want and you give it the meaning: I can’t get what I want and I never will—you probably will get upset. If you give the same event the meaning: I haven’t gotten what I want yet, so what do I have to do to get it?—you probably will feel challenged and excited. The meaning we give events is the primary source of our feelings. Thus, dissolving your occurrings enables you to simultaneously dissolve negative feelings, such as anxiety, anger, and upset.

In other words, beliefs are a primary determinant of our occurrings, and our occurrings cause most of our feelings.

For example, imagine that your boss walks in your room and says to you: “Is the project complete yet?” That is the reality, what actually happened. That might occur to you as she is dissatisfied with me, or my job is in jeopardy, or I never do anything right. That occurring, in turn, might have you feel anxious or possibly even angry.

I needed to eliminate a lot of beliefs (and some conditionings) to get rid of my depression, my neediness, my need for the approval of others, and a bunch of other problems. But I still had some occurrings daily that caused little upsets. I’ve written about these in earlier blog posts. When I stopped giving meaning to events most of the time, these minor upsets stopped.

Because getting rid of beliefs and occurrings are two totally different processes, it is possible for you to dissolve your moment-by-moment occurrings without having to eliminate any beliefs.

This week’s exercise

For the next three days ask yourself what meaning you must have given what just happened for you to be acting the way you just did. If you don’t do something you intended to do, what meaning did you give the event that could have prevented you from acting? An example might be: Not making a call or starting a project and noticing that the meaning you gave was: I can’t do this, I won’t do it well, or I‘ll probably fail. Can you see how those meanings would have inhibited your taking action? If you do this consistently for three days it will become very real to you how your “occurrings” determine your behavior.

At the same time see if you can identify the beliefs that are responsible for the specific meanings you are giving events. Notice the difference between the beliefs and the occurrings.

Please comment on this post and write your results from the exercise.

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