Several days ago I had a meltdown. I was driving with my wife Shelly and made a couple of suggestions to her. We were having our annual Valentine’s Day party in a few days and we needed to make sure we had someone to help us park cars and we had to ask the neighbors if we could park some of them on their property. (We live on a hill and there aren’t a lot of parking spaces up here.) So I reminded her to make sure she handled these two items soon, because last year they had been left to the last minute and we didn’t reach all our neighbors when we called at the last minute.
She got annoyed and started to tell me all the things she had to do to and asked why didn’t I handle these two items. (She decorates the house, does the shopping, and makes all the desserts for about 50 people.) I said that I would do whatever she asked me to do. But she got annoyed that I hadn’t volunteered to do these two things and felt that I had been making her wrong for not handling these items yet.
As can happen in these situations, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, it was only a few minutes before we were in a big argument. I felt Shelly was attacking me without good reason and I got really upset. It was a total meltdown: I felt unsafe around Shelly, I was afraid to talk to her because I thought she might use whatever I said against me, I felt that she had no compassion for me, I didn’t trust her, I felt withdrawn, and my chest actually hurt.
I’m usually able to change how the world occurs for me. I can identify the meaning I’m giving my current circumstances and change it, so that the way the world occurs for me changes. And when the way the world occurs for me changes, my thoughts, feelings and actions change also. (See my blog posts that describe what I mean by “occurring”: https://mortylefkoe.com/121509; https://mortylefkoe.com/122209; https://mortylefkoe.com/122909. )
Because I couldn’t identify how the situation was occurring to me and because the feeling was so intense, I had the sense that my reaction was due to more than merely the way the situation was occurring to me. But whatever the source of the upset, there was nothing I could do to stop it at the moment.
(Earlier in my life when I was in a similar situations, I was upset. This time I was aware I was having an upset. Big difference! In other words, as a result of having used the Who Am I Really? Process many times I could distinguish my Self from myself, and “I” (the creator) could almost watch “myself” (the creation) being upset. So on some level I wasn’t totally taken over by the intense feelings, but, on the other hand, I couldn’t make them stop. (See my two blog posts on how to do this: https://www.mortylefkoe.com/how-to-eliminate-upsets-and-suffering-from-your-life-part-1/ and https://www.mortylefkoe.com/042709/.)
The next day as I thought about my feelings (I still had most of the same feelings as the night before, but much less intense) I remembered something I had read in a book by Daniel Siegel, The Developing Mind.
He distinguishes between two types of memory: “implicit” and “explicit.” Implicit memory is usually formed during the first year and a half of life, and does not required conscious processing (which is impossible at that age). When having an implicit memory later in life we experience it fully, as if the experience is happening at that moment, and we do not realize that it is a memory.
Explicit memory requires conscious awareness at the time of the event and usually is recalled in context, in other words, we remember an experience at a particular time, at a specific place, with specific people, etc. With this type of memory we are conscious that our current experience really is a memory from the past.
It is not important to understand all the implications of the two types of memory as long as you understand that with explicit memory we usually know that the experience we are having in the present is a memory from the past, as distinct from an implicit memory where the experience of the past feels as if it is happening right now.
So back to my meltdown. When I was unable to find any meaning I was giving the situation with Shelly that could explain my severe reaction, I suspected that conditioning was involved and that I was recalling an implicit memory: Something she did was stimulating me to recall a memory of being upset, withdrawn, and not feeling safe from my childhood. If that was true I could use the Lefkoe Stimulus Process (LStP) to de-condition the conditioning.
(If you’ve used any of our DVD packages you’ve used the LStP to de-conditioning stimuli that cause negative feelings, such as fear caused by rejection or not meeting the expectations of others, or anger caused by being told what to do. I wrote in detail about this process in a blog post, https://www.mortylefkoe.com/how-to-eliminate-some-of-your-negative-emotions%E2%80%A6-for-good/.)
Here is what I finally figured out had caused the meltdown. As an infant my mom frequently got angry and yelled at me, and I had no idea why. As an infant I must have felt unsafe and upset, and withdrew. That happened many times. (I don’t have a direct memory of these events, but I was told things by relatives and I remember my mom from later in life, so it is very real to me that this actually happened to me.)
So today whenever I feel unjustly attacked, childhood memories of feeling unsafe get pulled up. And when that happens, it feels like my overwhelming feeling state is a new feeling produced in response to the current events, when in reality I am remembering an old feeling that had been produced under similar circumstances as a child.
After using the LStP on this conditioning, feeling unjustly attacked has been de-conditioned and no longer has the power to produce the same reaction.
I’ve told you this story for several reasons, the main one being that there is always a explanation for the unpleasant mental states that all of us find ourselves in from time to time. And there is a way out of them: Either eliminate the beliefs that cause them, de-condition the stimuli that cause them, or change how the world is occurring for you at the moment. You are not doomed to having to live with negative thoughts and feelings. Your birthright is joy and it is attainable by all of us.
If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to htp://www.recreateyourlife.com/free where you can eliminate one limiting belief free.
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