I have been thinking about change and the idea of turning over a new leaf. It is really quite poetic.
Change happens whether there is focus upon it or not as this is the way of things. But the intentional act of looking at something from a different perspective can have the feeling of transformation and illumination. Turning over a new leaf has a voluntary aspect to it. It is the action connected to changing perspectives or paradigm shifting.
This works equally as well when considering the need to change a belief – turning over a (be)-lief so that you are shifting your perspective allows you to change the lens of your internal vision in the same way you zoom in or out on a subject with a camera, focusing and refocusing.
In Gestalt therapy turning over a belief is also used to see what is under the belief – what is the etiology of the belief.
This idea is a great one for assisting you to determine how to shift your perspective. When you understand what idea or experience is the beginning form of the belief and you understand the function of the belief then you can determine if the belief still fits into your overall core value system or if you need a more functional belief.
Beliefs are the things that guide you. They are based on your core values. Some beliefs are a misconnection of core value and action. These are the beliefs that need to be investigated and understood at a deeper level.
How you know you are acting from a belief that doesn’t serve the purpose you think is through recognition of our feelings. You have to identify what you are getting out of the belief and the action.
To identify which beliefs may be not serving you, look for how you feel in certain circumstances. If you are feeling anxious or a sense of urgency – and the anxiety and urgency seem out of proportion to the situation – then you are probably acting under a belief that is not benefitting you.
Many beliefs keep you tied to others in a way that uses your energy to maintain the connection. And the actions you take to maintain that habit can be automatic and unconscious, or unthinking not mindful.
As an example: A person who believes she is unlovable, (belief) will over-give (action) to another in order to make up for her insecurity and low self-esteem. She is cementing the other’s reliance on her because she feels the relationship is not balanced without this extra action. However, this creates a lack of balance in how the energy flows between herself and others. She may feel taken for granted or not recognized. She may at times feel unhappy about how she is unable to focus her energy onto herself, can’t create success in her own life, or can’t get out of difficult relationships. Yet in attempts to shift her energy she will define it as necessary until she reviews the underlying belief – because she is acting from this underlying belief.
In order for a person to change her actions she must first shift her perceptions of truth or reality.
She must change the world within to change the world outside.
In the example above she must discover her truly lovable self and then from that space interact. This discovery would come less from some deep understanding of why and more from an alignment with what she observes. She would observe that she is connected, and others do care for her, and that it is through her overextension of herself that relationships breakdown. This allows her to simply shift her action to be more in balance and then her relationships would be more in balance.
The only time this equation doesn’t work is when the other person expects the overextension. If a person chooses to overextend but knows that is what she is doing then she is acting from a balanced and mindful state that allows her to be living more healthfully. It is when a person is taking actions unconsciously, in habit, from a misunderstood belief that lack of health occurs.
The action of making a change for the better, of Turning over a new leaf, requires the mindful action of reviewing and turning over the belief underneath the undesirable or difficult action, mindful paradigm shifting.
Your actions and thinkings are linked and together define how you see the world and how you act in the world.
If the world seems bleak or you are in a habit of acting in a way that does not serve you, doesn’t bring you joy, and you want to change, first look to the underlying beliefs that guide your behavior.
A simple technique is to get two pieces of paper and cut these into the shape of two large leaves.
On the top of the first leaf write the feelings that are bothering you, the habits you feel are destructive or not healthy that you want to change. Then turn over that first leaf and write what beliefs drive those habits. These will be deep inner feelings about yourself and your self in relationship. Issues of lovability, survival, fear, and loss are strong motivators for actions.
On top of the second leaf – the new leaf – write down changed actions – how you want to act in the world. Then turn over the second leaf and write down the opposite belief of the information on the first leaf ( so if you had written I am unlovable then here you would write I am lovable). The simple action of righting the belief will give you greater strength to change your behavior.
With this task you have created a path to change, turn over a new leaf and begin to live in a way that is more in-line with your true self. To further solidify this path you can write down a set of actions you are going to take to realign your actions with your true beliefs.
In the example above, she would discuss her feelings of overextension and being taken for granted with her friends and family. She would define different ways to both be helpful and identify what is too much. Then she would have to catch herself when she was acting habitually or automatically, rather than mindfully, to overextend. This would take some adjustment. In time her inner sense of balance and self-confidence would grow and she would feel more connected to the people around her.
Effective change happens when beliefs and actions are in balance. It is an act of mindfulness, with a focus on congruency and balance.
I see a pile of new leaves blowing in the wind. The seeds of change.
See you tomorrow.