Very often in the middle of a session with a client I have a realization and then think: I’ll bet my readers would find this interesting. So, here’s what happened during a session last week.

A client was trying to eliminate the belief, The way to survive is to be numb. He told me that the source of his belief was the fact that when he was a kid his mom spanked him if he exhibited strong positive or negative feelings. In other words, if he was too exuberant or if he cried or if he got angry, he got spanked. So he concluded early on that the way to survive is to quiet himself down inside and not allow himself to feel or express any strong emotion.

But after finding the source of the belief he suddenly got stuck. This client had had no difficulty in eliminating other beliefs earlier in the session, but all of a sudden he seemed to be having real problems eliminating this one.

At some point the client said: “If I let go of this belief then I’ll have to experience my emotions, and that is too scary.”

In other words, this client had beliefs and conditionings that had him be afraid of strong emotions, especially anger. Such beliefs and conditionings included: Anger is dangerous. Experiencing my feelings is dangerous. Fear associated with experiencing my feelings.

His “survival strategy” to deal with this fear was to go numb, after which he concluded, The way to survive is to be numb. By going numb (unconscious), he didn’t have to feel strong emotions, which he felt were so threatening (because every time he expressed strong emotions as a child it felt as if his mother was withdrawing her love).

What he started to feel in the middle of eliminating this belief was, if I let go of this belief, I will start to feel strong emotions and that is dangerous.

My mistake

First of all, I had made a mistake in not having him eliminate all the beliefs and conditionings that caused the fear of strong feelings before helping him to eliminate this survival strategy belief. He had eliminated a few of them, but we should have eliminated all of them. Generally you should eliminate all the beliefs underlying a survival strategy belief before attempting to eliminate the survival strategy belief. If we had done that, he would no longer have been afraid of strong emotions and he wouldn’t have been afraid to let go of this belief.

Eliminating beliefs provides choice, not required behavior

But apart from this error on my part, what I realized was he didn’t understand that eliminating a belief would not cause him to act in a certain way, it would only give him a choice. He wouldn’t have to express strong feelings, but he would be able to if he chose to.

In other words, eliminating beliefs opens up possibilities for us—it gives us a choice—but does not require any specific action.

Let me explain. Many people have the belief, What makes me good enough or important is taking care of others. That belief will have you frequently put others first and not do what you should do to take care of yourself. Because you have concluded that your self-esteem is dependent on taking care of others, you do that out of need, not out of choice. When this belief is eliminated, you are not prevented from taking care of others, you just have a choice about doing it. You can do it when you wish and not do it when it isn’t appropriate. Getting rid of the belief gives you a choice, it does not require any specific behavior on your part.

Ultimately, one of the most desirable things to possess in life is choice. To have choice in what we do and think and feel is a goal we all have. Beliefs and conditionings can often prevent choice because they frequently dictate specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Get rid of the beliefs and conditionings and you’ve reduced the “shoulds” and increased the possibilities in your life.

If you’ve noticed increased possibilities in your life as a result of eliminating beliefs and conditionings, please share your experience with other readers below.

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copyright © 2011 Morty Lefkoe