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I can’t think of a single thing that can make as profound a difference in your life as being able to dissolve your “occurrings”—the meaning you unconsciously and automatically give events, which you think are The Truth.
Our “occurrings” are
- the source of most of our negative emotions, which means they are the source of most of our suffering;
- they are the vehicle through which our beliefs determine our behavior and feelings;
- they are the source of most disagreements and arguments between people; and
- they are one of the biggest barriers to being able to successfully resolve problems in our life.
There is nothing else you can do—regardless of how much you pay or how much time it takes—that will improve the quality of your life as much. In this post I will explain why and provide some tips on how you can quickly dissolve your occurrings.
Although I’ve written on this topic before, this will be the best overall summary of what occurrings are, where they come from, what determines the content of a given occurring, why occurrings are a problem and how to dissolve occurrings.
What is an occurring?
Here are a few examples:
- Reality: My co-worker is asking me to find some information for him instead of doing it himself.
Occurring: He doesn’t respect my time.
- Reality: It is the last day of my vacation and I get an e-mail from my co-worker asking me to do some work.
Occurring: She is inconsiderate of me.
- Reality: I’m supposed to study with a friend of mine today and he’s not calling me.
Occurring: He doesn’t want to study with me.
- Reality: My friend cancelled on me.
Occurring: He doesn’t value my time or our friendship.
What’s important to get here is that occurrings seem as if they are a part of reality; they seem as real as what is actually happening in the world. That’s what gives them their power: We react to them as if they are The Truth when in fact they are meanings that exist only in our minds.
Where do our occurrings come from?
Occurrings are meanings that we unconsciously and automatically assign to events that have no inherent meaning.
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they served the evolutionary purpose of giving us immediate “information” about our surroundings to protect our lives. When a second could be the difference between escaping a wild animal or being killed, and when we didn’t have a fully developed frontal cortex that would enable us to think rationally, our occurrings (and the emotions that they give rise to) gave us instantaneous feedback so we could take immediate action.
And to make sure we heeded the occurring, nature made occurrings seem like an aspect of reality, not a separate meaning in our mind.
Today even though we almost always have at least a few seconds to think about the situations we are facing before action is required, our mind continues to provide us with unconsciously-created meaning.
What determines our occurrings?
Why do we give an event one meaning and not another? There are several sources of our occurrings, the main one being our beliefs. Our moods and physical condition are also important factors.
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 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 an event in reality, 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. Nothing I do is good enough. I am inadequate.
Although beliefs are the main source of our occurrings, it is possible to dissolve occurrings without knowing which beliefs caused them. Also, you do not need to eliminate any beliefs before dissolving your occurrings. On the other hand, if you have similar occurrings in similar situations repeatedly (such as new projects always occurring to you as: I can’t do this), then the way to stop the repeated occurrings is to eliminate the beliefs that lead to them.
Why are our occurrings a problem?
There are at least three ways that our occurrings create problems in our lives:
First, because events have no inherent meaning, they cannot cause us to feel anything. So most negative feelings like anxiety, anger, and upset are the result of our occurrings, not meaningless events. Moreover, when we are overcome with frequent negative feelings we experience suffering.
Second, these negative feelings can make it difficult to think clearly about the events underlying the occurring that caused the feelings. When action needs to be taken (see the four examples above where action needs to be taken with the co-worker or friend), being angry at the people involved or afraid of the situation makes it much more difficult to determine the most effective course of action.
Third, it is difficult to resolve situations effectively if we are confusing the actual situations with a meaning that does not really exist in the world. Look at the four examples I gave earlier and notice that it would be more difficult to communicate with the co-worker or friend if you thought the meaning you had given the event was The Truth. When you dissolve the occurring and are focused only on the event itself, it is a lot easier to find an effective resolution to the event.
How to dissolve occurrings
The technique for dissolving occurrings in seconds is quite simple: Make a clear distinction between the actual event in reality and the meaning/occurring that exists only in your mind. When it is fully real to you that the occurring is not the inherent meaning of the event, that it is a separate phenomenon that you made up, it will dissolve. Why? Because an occurring by definition is a meaning that seems like part of reality. As soon as you distinguish it as meaning and not part of reality, it is no longer an occurring.
If there were only one message I could communicate to everyone in the world, it would be what I’ve written this week in this blog post. Unfortunately knowing all I’ve explained here about occurrings will not change anything in your life. Dissolving them one by one as they show up will transform the quality of your life. What are you waiting for?
(To read some of my other posts on this topic where I go into more detail on specific aspects of occurring, type “occurring” into the search box to the right)
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copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe
Is there not an extra layer to this?
There is the “raw experience” – and then a thought (and felt sense) that constitutes the “occurring” which arises from the activation of the “belief” by the raw experience.
The extra bit is, that over time it seems as though the raw experiences themselves occur less frequently once one has dissolved the beliefs. As if letting the occurring go, and thereby letting the belief go, also affects the experiences that seem to arise for us.
Thanks for the article. I agree with this occurring phenomenon in a certain way. You have been explain the difference between reality (An event in which you have proof it happened) and an occurring (A thought you have based on that reality event).
But what if that thought is a sign of your human instinct and experience in combination with human knowledge and your Emotional Intelligence?
Reality: Your boss gives you a compliment about your job.
Occurring: This feels great, he probably likes me, however I a. Aware that he also said it to motivate me since I’m his employee. I should not be to happy about this compliment and keep acting normal since he might expect I feel even more motivated now, or that he thinks now that I think that the boss likes me.
What I’m explaining here is a thought of a person that likes to think some steps in front of any situation. You might think that this is too much of an over analyzing process but its our brain that does it in les than two seconds.
My point here is: The way you explained occurring, it almost seems like a bad thing to do and avoid as much as possible. But maybe you should explain the difference between occurring and human instinct which might need the occurring thoughts to even come to some conclusions and make you a better person.
Student from the Amsterdam University.
Feeling both positive and negative is a result of the occurrings. Whatever the motivation behind the boss’s comment the meaning is still in our head, even if the boss really did want us to infer that meaning. The idea is to not become a slave to the meanings we give to events. Events have no inherent meaning and once we become accustomed to not inferring the meanings from events our life is more likely to become peaceful. This is my opinion.
Amazing process I shared this info with my nearest and dearest. I Am happy to come across THIS specific article today it was really helpful.
I also like the process of elimination of beliefs
It will greatly enhance my like and the other relationship issues I have thanks Morty!!!!
If all my sufferings lead me to you, it’s all worth it
HI, Françoise have translated your post in french (with your permisssion)
Françoise a traduit votre article en français
Have a good day !
I’m with Alex; I loved taking the Occurring Course and learning to use a set of tools that has exponentially expanded my world. I rarely allow myself to get involved in arguments and I’ve become far less judgemental of people. In fact, the more I unconsciously apply the LOP, the happier I become. Some days, when occurrings creep in, I tell myself, “I choose.” and this generally kicks the occurring out the door. It has also increased my love for others even those I would not choose to hang around; they are on a journey and so am I.
Love and Light to all on their Journey,
PS Take the Occurring Course; it is one of the best ways to spend your money because it keeps on giving!
This is excellent and I am fortunate to have taken the Occurring Course.
Thanks, Morty! This is a terrific post. Helps me get rid of my own occurrings as well as use it with my clients. Your discovery of the occurrings, in my book, is the key adjunct to the Beliefs Process and the two together are dy-no-mite!
Morty, I love your posts. I grow so much from them. Thank you, keep up this very important work.
I enjoyed the post. What I believe is important here for me, is the concept, rather than specific causality. When I understand the concept of “occurings”, and “beliefs”, it is much easier for me to rearrange my “subjective” reality….and that’s all I really have to work with :).
Could you say that “occuring” is the same as assumptions? When we make assumptions we also give unconsciously and automatically meanings to events, which we think are The Truth and we then react to our assumptions emotionally.
If you form a meaning unconsciously and automatically, I call that an occurring. If you form a meaning consciously and realize that you can’t be sure that you are correct and that you need to check it out, I call that a conscious assumption.
They are totally different no matter what you call them.
I understand ur concept of Reality and Occurring and also understand the negative effect that it has on people. In fact I am such a positive person that I am accused by me friends of being too positive about the world.
However, one questions comes to my mind with ur theory – i.e. what if the Occuring actually is the truth – it is not always correct to assume that the the bare fact is the only truth existing – in fact I come from India, which at the moment has become so corrupt in mind and soul that more often than not, the occurrings as described by you are also the truths.
For eg – my boss speaks rudely to me.
My occuring – he does not like me.
In most cases that the boss does not like the subordinate is the truth too.
So in such scenarios ignoring the occuring might deepen the problem rather than resolving it.
How does one deal with life in such a situation.
How about starting with the second statement instead of the first.
1. Boss speaks rudely.
2. My boss does not like me
If you started with #2 as the event, then the occuring could be 1. Becuase my boss does not like me, I’m afraid I will lose my job
2. I am not good at my job. I’m a terrible employee
3. I will not be getting that promotion after all
etc etc etc
That might help. I’ve found it helps me a lot when the answer to the first occuring is actually true. But then I start again with * that* truth and what I’m think it means.
I’d say in most cases it is too complex for that simple belief statement. Even if the boss doesn’t “like” a emp, what is “like”? By whose measure? And what makes the person set those perimeters of “like”?
All judgments are based on comparison materials which are memory clusters. Most memory clusters of the average person are badly infected by misperception at the time. Melting the present occurring means to unravel all of that damage. If there is a clear truth it is too difficult to sum up in one belief statement and a book might not contain the nuances of it. Better just to let reality be as we have the most joyous outlook. But in looking for the “truth”, looking for the “actual” meaning, we are better off anyhow when we are clear of occurring for then we can form a meaning cognitively without it being automatic (which is what an occurring is).
I agree that our automatic placing of meaning on events and circumstances that flow into our lives at all times, is the cause for our experience of discomfort or comfort. This placing of meaning or “occurring” is nearly as automatic and under our conscious perception as our heartbeat. Probably even more than our breathing.
Although it is true, I think to tell someone that their meaning (occurring) is only figment of their imagination and not reality doesn’t register with most folks. Its like saying, “see that big dog looking at you and growling….the fear you are feeling from your occurring is not reality.” HUH?
It helps me to ask the question: “what other meanings are possible?” and then I remember that my brain is designed as a defensive mechanism so it always automatically spews out the most negative potential meaning. That helps me to BELIEVE that my current perception is not the ONLY perception (or perceived reality) and it at least puts doubt into the thinking process that helps to dull or lessen my discomfort and gives me the time for self-talk toward a better meaning.