Because many emotions are caused by beliefs, getting rid of the relevant beliefs can frequently eradicate negative emotions. For example, the belief that “Dogs are dangerous” will result in an emotion of fear when confronting a dog. The belief “People can’t be trusted” will result in a feeling of suspicion around people. When the beliefs are eliminated, the emotions usually will be also. There are, however, emotions in adults that appear to be caused by something in addition to beliefs. Getting rid of beliefs is not enough.
Let me explain the source of these negative emotions, such as fear and anger, and what you need to do to stop them from occurring.
During the first few years after I developed the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) to eliminate limiting beliefs, clients were able to make radical changes in their behavior by eliminating the beliefs that caused the behavior. Frequently, there also were meaningful emotional changes. We started noticing, however, that sometimes a client would continue to have a trace of a specific emotion such as anger or fear, even after eliminating all the beliefs we could find that seemed to be relevant. We usually assumed that there was another belief we hadn’t yet discovered, but eventually would.
Eventually we realized that, although some emotions are the direct result of beliefs, many are the result of conditioning in addition to beliefs. When that is the case, the LBP will not eliminate the conditioning. (You do, however, have to use the LBP to eliminate any relevant beliefs before de-conditioning can be effective in stopping the negative emotion. If you haven’t yet experienced eliminating a belief with the LBP, go to http://www.recreateyourlife.com to try it free.)
A few years ago I developed a process I call the Lefkoe Stimulus Process (LStP). It is specifically designed to eliminate the emotions that are caused by conditioned stimuli. It is simpler to use than the basic LBP and usually takes only five minutes to completely eliminate the stimuli for such emotions as fear, anxiety, anger and guilt.
How Associations Early In Life Cause Negative Emotions Later In Life
Very often we are plagued by repeated negative feelings in our life, such as fear, anger, guilt, anxiety, and sadness. We experience these feelings every time specific events or circumstances occur, such as anxiety whenever we make a mistake or someone gets angry at us, or anger whenever we are asked to do something. In many cases the events that stimulate the feeling in us do not produce the same feeling in others, and vice versa. Why does an event that is not inherently fearful produce fear (or some other emotion) in some people and not in others?
Let me explain: The classic example of this situation was an experiment a physiologist named Pavlov conducted with dogs. When presented with food, the dogs salivated. Then a bell was rung just prior to presenting the dogs with food. After numerous presentations of the food with the bell, the bell was rung and no food was delivered. The dogs salivated anyway, because they had associated the bell with the food. In other words, a neutral stimulus that normally would not produce a response does so because it gets associated with a stimulus that does produce a response. In other words, the neutral stimulus gets conditioned.
Here’s an example I use with my clients that will make the process of conditioning very clear. Imagine that I handed you an ice cream cone with one hand and made a fist with my other hand and drew it back as if to hit you. What would you probably feel? … Some level of anxiety if you thought you might get hit. Now imagine that the next few times someone handed you an ice cream cone, the same thing happened and you felt anxious each time.
What do you think you would feel the next time you were handed an ice cream cone, even if there was no menacing fist? … Probably anxious. And yet it’s clear that ice cream cones are not inherently scary. If this next time there was no fist, only ice cream, why would you feel anxious? Because the ice cream cone got conditioned to produce fear. The ice cream just happened to be there every time you got scared by the fist.
The principle is that anything that occurs repeatedly (or even once if the incident is traumatic enough) at the same time that something else is causing an emotion will itself get conditioned to produce the same emotion.
That’s how making mistakes, being criticized, not meeting expectations, being rejected, and a host of other situations that are not inherently scary get conditioned to produce anxiety (or some other emotion, such as anger). This process is also the primary cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Here is a real life example: Consider one of my clients who experienced fear whenever he was asked to do something. I asked him when did he first experience fear associated with being asked to do something? He told me that when he was a child his father frequently got angry and yelled at him whenever he didn’t do what his father demanded of him. When my client reviewed the original cause of his feeling of fear, he discovered that the fear was not inherent in being asked to do something.
What caused the fear was the meaning he unconsciously attributed to his father’s threatening behavior that usually occurred when he was asked to do something: The person he depended on for his very survival seemed to be withdrawing his love. No love, no care; no care, no survival. That perception—that his survival was at stake—is what caused the fear. Being told to do things just happened to occur at the same time as something else that constantly caused fear.
Whatever is going on when you experience fear due to your parents’ anger (because their anger is an implied threat to your survival) gets conditioned to produce the same fear. The stimulus today—making mistakes, being criticized, not living up to expectations, etc.—is not, itself, scary.
How The Lefkoe Stimulus Process Works
The Lefkoe Stimulus Process works by assisting you to make a distinction between the original real cause of the emotion and the events that just happened to be occurring at the time. Once that distinction is made, the conditioning is extinguished. It’s as if you could say to Pavlov’s dogs: “Hey dogs, you can’t eat the bell. It just happened to be ringing whenever you got food.” If the dogs could understand that distinction they would no longer salivate at the sound of the bell. But while dogs can’t make that distinction, humans can. And when they do, de-conditioning occurs. Using the Lefkoe Stimulus Process and the LBP you can easily get rid of the anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions that plague you.
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