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Larry said at the start of a Skype session with me, “You’ve helped me get rid of a bunch of self-esteem beliefs and I feel much better, but I still can’t seem to move forward on the things that are most important in my life.”
I replied, “If some things in your life are improving, then beliefs clearly are being eliminated. Now we need to find the additional beliefs that are causing your continuing resistance.”
In that session he eliminated a few more relevant beliefs, such as, what happens in my life is outside my control, I’m deeply flawed, and I don’t work.
At our next session Larry seemed puzzled. “Every time we eliminate beliefs I feel better, but the problem doesn’t seem to go away. Moreover, the words of the beliefs we’ve worked on don’t seem true, but something about them does feel true.”
When you’ve eliminated all the beliefs you can think of that could explain a given problem and when the beliefs that have been eliminated somehow still feel true, the problem is probably being caused by a conditioned “sense.”
A sense is not a cognitive statement like a belief; it exists as a feeling. If you try to communicate to someone what that sense feels like, you might use colors (like dark), physical sensations (like heavy), metaphors (like I’m being stopped by a wall), short phrases (like can’t move forward), etc. You can have a sense of many things, but the most common three senses are of yourself, of people, and of life.
Larry’s sense of self
I decided to check Larry’s sense of self to see if that explained why his resistance to taking action was still there after eliminating all the beliefs we could find. When I asked him to close his eyes and get in touch with his sense of self—and then describe it with whatever words came closest to what he was feeling—here’s what he said: “total mismatch for life; not really functional enough for life; out of control; overwhelmed; the world seems totally uncontrollable; things coming at me all around; I don’t have the computing power to cope with the world; and I have no capability to react adequately.”
What is a sense?
Your sense of yourself feels like who you really are; it feels like you were born this way; this feeling is you. A sense of people feels like who people really are; people are inherently this way; they always were and always will be this way. And a sense of life feels like the way life really is; life is always this way, no matter what.
These three senses can be positive or negative. If they are positive, leave them alone. If they are negative and adversely affecting your life, de-condition them with the process I provide at the end of this post. (See also an earlier post that discussed the Lefkoe Sense Process, https://www.mortylefkoe.com/rid-negative-senses/)
Where do these senses come from?
Our senses are the result of conditioning specific feelings, as I’ll explain below. But where do the feelings come from?
In order for us to be able to experience a feeling, there must be an event stimulating the feeling. But that is not sufficient. Except for stimuli that are explicit threats to our physical survival, like the experience of drowning, stimuli themselves do not have inherent meaning for adults. The meaning adults give to events is what triggers emotions. On the other hand, certain events can have inherent meaning for children.
Because young children realize their survival depends on adults, especially their parents, being yelled at or punished inherently means to them they are not loved, which means they might be abandoned, which means they could die. Obviously similar events (such as being yelled at by a spouse, friend or boss) don’t have the same inherent meaning for adults.
If we experience similar meanings repeatedly, obviously we will have the same feelings over and over. We forget the feelings were caused by external events (interactions with our parents) and conclude: If I feel this way about myself most of the time, my feelings must be true; they must be who I really am.
An example of this would be criticism or punishment from mom and dad that you (as a child) automatically interpret to mean: Mom and dad are unhappy with me; I’m not pleasing mom and dad; I seem to be incapable of doing what I’m supposed to do; etc. Those meanings, in turn, might make you feel about yourself: heavy; dark; stuck; overwhelmed; powerless; etc. If you felt that way often enough as a child, you would get conditioned to experience yourself that way any time you looked inside for a sense of who you were, as I just explained.
Problems are caused by beliefs AND senses
To summarize: Most behavioral and emotional problems, such as procrastination and a fear of taking action, are caused primarily by beliefs. When the beliefs are gone, the problem usually is also. Sometimes, however, when all the relevant beliefs have been eliminated, the problem still remains. In such a situation the source of the remaining problem likely is a conditioned sense. If that is the case, use the following process to decondition the relevant sense (of self, of people, or of life).
Steps of the Lefkoe Sense Process (LSenseP)
To be used to eliminate a negative emotional “sense” of oneself. To be used ONLY after all the relevant self-esteem beliefs have been eliminated.
1. Close your eyes, look inside, and find your sense of yourself. Don’t worry about putting words on the sense. Your experience might be in the form of pictures, images, feelings, or vague thoughts. Just try to experience it as fully as you can right now.
Client’s description of sense: ______________________.
2. What are the events when you were a young child that first caused______________________?[Describe the sense using client’s exact words]
3. Is it real to you that your current sense of yourself was caused by these events you just mentioned? [The answer should be, yes.] NOTE: even though usually events have no inherent meaning for adults, they do for children who are dependent on their parents (or other adults) for their very survival. Thus behaviors, tones of voice, expressions, etc. have an inherent meaning for children.
4. Is it real to you that the only reason that__________________________ is[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] your sense of yourself today is that as a child you never distinguished between you and the specific circumstances outside of you that really caused the _____________________?[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] In other words, can you see that the ___________________________ was never[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] inherent in you—it was never who you really are? [The answer should be, yes.]
4. To make this distinction real, if earlier in life the circumstances that originally caused the ________________________________had been different, if _______________________[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] [State the opposite of what actually happened]
had happened instead, would you have had the ________________________then?[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] [The answer should be, no.] If you didn’t have it then, would you have it now? [The answer should be, no.]
5. Do you still experience yourself as ______________________________?[Describe the sense using client’s exact words] [The answer should be, no.]
Note: Sometimes the entire sense will be gone at the end of the process. If only some aspects of the sense have been eliminated, do the process again with whatever words describing the sense still feel true to the client and look for a different source. Sometimes this has to be done four or five times to de-condition all the aspects of the sense.
copyright © 1997-2012 Morty Lefkoe
This week’s exercise
Close your eyes and take a minute to get in touch with your sense of yourself. You are not looking for beliefs you have about yourself. You are looking for feelings. … When you are in touch with that feeling, describe it as best you can. You might use colors, shapes, metaphors, short phrases, etc. There might be as many as ten different attributes of the feeling. Write them all down.
Then use the Lefkoe Sense Process to de-condition all the negative aspects of your sense of yourself. You will be amazed at the remarkable shift in your experience of yourself.
Please comment on this post and write your results from the exercise.
Your comments and questions increase the value we all receive. I read them all and respond to as many as I can.
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If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to http://www.recreateyourlife.com/free where you can eliminate one negative belief free.
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Copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe
Marty, thanks for the article. I will try your system. Can I call you and can you help me?
This is some pretty powerful work. I am writing on behalf of my significant other, whom, it has come out recently in therapy, has a very deeply embedded, very negative sense of self (while I seem to have both a very strong and positive sense of self and will, but do struggle with vulnerability issues).
When you put those two issues together, we end up stuck more often than I’d like to admit.
I worry that my own personal strength coupled with vulnerability issues are keeping him from growing and overcoming his negative sense of self.
To help contextualize this, here is a simple example: While trying to budget recently, he forgets constantly to track his spending, and therefore, the numbers don’t balance at the end of the month. I express frustration (because I’ve asked multiple times for him to track spending), and he interprets this frustration as he “isn’t good enough” or “is a failure” or “can’t do anything right.” While I understand the easy answer is for me to attend to his feelings in a nurturing way, I find myself held back by my own inability to be vulnerable (I wouldn’t want to express to him that I “need” him to care about the finances and to help me because I can’t do it on my own without his contribution. And if I finally forced myself to say it, it wouldn’t come out in a gentle tone, but rather, an exasperated one).
Couples issues aside, I’m wondering if I’m essentially causing and/or contributing to his negative sense of self. Would he be better off healing without me?
No, you are not causing or contributing to his negative sense of self and you are not hindering his healing.
His negative sense of self is the result of beliefs formed earlier in life and he can unlearn them in sessions with our Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitates. Nothing you do or don’t do will prevent him from doing that.
For more information and to make an appointment, please call us at (415) 506-4472.
So THAT’s why. Thank you very much for this process, it was hopefully the last puzzle piece in changing the burden of the past. I had eliminated many beliefs, but this feeling of being “flawed” on some level never went away. Now it lifted to some extent, so I keep practicing. Thanks again so much. Best regards, Joseann
I have been through Who you really are and some of your other teachings but I must say that after having done this process one time I feel great.
I will repeat this process as many times as it takes to rid myself of the negative, gut wrenching feelings that I have lived with most of my life.
There always seemed to be this inner turmoil that I could not put my finger on so thanks for this one.
Happy Monday, Morty!
I know I haven’t been digging around here much yet, so maybe this is addressed elsewhere, but…
Why do you say so emphatically:
“To be used to eliminate a negative emotional “sense” of oneself. To be used ONLY after all the relevant self-esteem beliefs have been eliminated.” ?
If one or more ‘negative senses’ (of Self, of People or of Life) is at the real-deep core of my problems, why not fix that crack in the foundation before fixing the cracks in the walls??
In most cases our problems are caused by beliefs and disappear when the beliefs are eliminated. If the problem still remains after the relevant beliefs are eliminated, then the Lefkoe Sense Process can be used.
Is it possible that a person could have some buried feelings that prevent them from changing a belief? I seem to be stuck on “What other people think of me” despite going through the Lefkoe process. I know that my self worth doesn’t change no matter what others think of me, yet I still feel the need for other’s approval, and I have no idea why. It’s almost like I am preventing myself from accepting it as the truth.
I’m not sure what you mean when you say you went though the Lefkoe Process.
The problem you describe is the result of several beliefs, including I’m not good enough, I’m not important, and what makes me good enough and important is having other think well of me.
Did you eliminate all three of those beliefs?
If you did, then there might be a couple additional beliefs involved and the only way to know what they are is for you to have a session with a certified Lefkoe Method facilitator. For information about that please call us at (415) 506-4472.
I’d like to complete this process – and I have a very easy time closing my eyes and seeing / feeling my sense of self, but when it comes to step two, I just can’t seem to think of anything that many have caused these feelings in my childhood. How can I get around this?
Amazing! For years I sensed that the entire wrold is against me. I sensed that my job was to prevent an unfriendly wrold from hurting me. Now it’s gone. Thank you morty!
I guess that sense was formed, as you say, because I had never distinguished between external circumstances and myself. Also, I’m sure that beliefs such as ” I’m alone in the wrold ” , ” I’m not good enough ” and ” I’m not welcomed anywhere ” have created the feelings that ultimately turned into a negative sense about myself and the wrold
Thank you so much Morty, the information you give is always priceless. :-)
After doing the natural confidence program, and really having a 180° change in every part of my life, I’ve been in a negative belief elimination spree. Do you think ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ is a negative money belief, or is it a positive belief?
Congratulations on creating a 180 degree change in every part of your life.
Even though I use the words, there really is no such thing as a positive or negative belief.
There are only beliefs that produce what you judge as positive or negative results in your life.
Does this belief benefit you or harm you?
Hey Morty thanks for answering
It is not very clear for me if it will benefit or harm me,.. in a way having the habit of not being wasteful, is certainly very good money wise (this is the positive outlook i have on the belief)
On the other hand being a penny hoarder and maybe acting a little cheap is something that really puts you in a scarcity mindset.
I still don’t know what to do with it, i will keep looking for opinions a while longer and take the decision
I just purchased Natural Confidence and am slowly working through it. I have strong beliefs about being unlovable, such as “I am unlovable” and “No one will ever love me.” I noticed that they are not a part of Natural Confidence. Can I use the above exercise on the sense of feeling unlovable to get rid of it?
Yes, if you are able to use the steps of the Lefkoe Belief Process, as I use them for other beliefs, to change the words and eliminate your own beliefs, do it.
We also have a course where you can learn how to use the Lefkoe Belief process. You can learn more at http://lefkoeuniversity.com.
I have eliminated all beliefs but still no change as per your example, I did the first part which was powerful and hit the sense of self but yet again as I have no memories got stuck on the rest. Thank you
I can’t tell from your post why you are having difficulties.
Please call me at (415) 506-4472 and let me see if I can help.
I just did this work .
I think it is what I was looking for a long time. I hope this “bad” sense of me is really gone.
Thank you Morty
Marty, this is a really great process. I found immediately value in it.
I get the sense that this has been something missing with Lefkoe Belief Processes and it really adds even more value.
Wow. Yes, I had this sense for a long time that I was flawed and whatever I did was going to turn out badly. I’ve just done the exercise twice and lost some of that already. Even more surprising was that the second I time I mentally rushed back into my body as I remembered my mum pinning me against the wall and realised: If this had never happened i would never have felt this way. So powerful. Thanks.
I lost my mum when I was 5 years old. Your statement on how as a child we totally depend on our parents for survival totally make sense to me and it already helps me better undertand some of my feeling and will help me move forwards.