Holding Beliefs Lightly

I’m really having to shift my belief system in order to keep moving toward what I need for this personal growth journey. Here are a few examples:

“If it’s meant to happen, it will happen easily”

Well, maybe. And maybe there’s something that doesn’t feel easy, but is exactly what I need to do to jump the tracks of the grain of the old pattern. It doesn’t look or feel easy, but it feels RIGHT; I just don’t know it until I’m in it, right there in the moment, or perhaps sometime after.

Ex: every time I travel to train, I feel, on the nervous system level, freaked out…by the preparation, airport security, the leaving home base, the orienting and navigating, driving a strange care, the time zone and culture differences, the training venue conditions. And then I adjust, and I come away with something amazing. But I think this keeps being true because I am drawn to certain experiences over others, and a deeper part of me is choosing these things from some intelligence that whispers “do this!”, rather than, “this would be good for your career/image/business”. It just so happens to wind up benefitting the latter, as well, anyway.

“I will always be limited by this ________, and in these particular ways: _________.”

If I let myself become attached to this limitation as a part of the way I know myself, aka “identification”, then I self select to make this true, reinforcing it over time. Or, I can challenge it, and keep holding it lightly because it may not always hold true. When that discovery is made, there is suddenly space, and new possibilities can arise in that space.

Ex: I want to hold lightly the idea that I will always have the environmental sensitivities that require diet restriction and trying to manage my environment. My teacher put it this way: “can you hold a space for the possibility that the inherent health in you is bigger than the harmful thing in the environment?”

“It has to make sense in order to do it.”

It’s amazing how many people, including myself, have fallen in to the optimizing trap, and especially optimization by money measures. I can’t even list the number of things I have done despite the clear indication that it wasn’t “necessary”  or made sense (cents?) by the measuring stick of dollars, and that have turned out to be invaluable in the end. For awhile I think I was bought into the idea that life was all about accumulating as big a pile of money as you can. I no longer think it trumps everything in decision making, and I feel resistant to quantifying my life this way.

Further, there’s the often neglected heart and gut when we make decisions from the head only, and insist everything be “rational”. If we counted our other innards as equally valuable sources of information, then all of our decisions could be considered pretty rational.

Ex: I rationalized ditching the idea of certain professional trainings that I wanted to do because of expense and thinking I was too tired. I think I may actually have been tired because I wasn’t getting enough of these sustaining experiences. Becoming a counselor when I did wasn’t rational, come to think of it. Nor was the Somatic Experiencing training which transformed my life.

“I have to do it myself.”

It depends. Some things I have to do myself, and other things I can only do with support. I learned to try to always do it myself because of relational patterns that conditioned me to hide my needs, emotions, and vulnerabilities to prevent people from backing away. It never really worked anyway, because it leaked out in ways that people saw anyway. A lot of them backed away, but a few stayed. The really good ones stay.

Ex: I can ask my husband for help. He can’t always help, but I can ask. I didn’t hide my state today at the training, and I received unbelievably marvelous and nourishing support, with not a hint of shaming. Which makes it easier (hopefully) to do again.

“Something is wrong with me because I feel bad, or ______ is happening.”

Often patterns that seem unworkable or persistent have to do with a nervous system imprint from something we thought we got over or can’t even remember because it happened so young such as: unbelievably enough, birth circumstances. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Think of all the things that can and do go wrong: separated from mom too soon or for too long, stressed out or depressed or hostile gestation environment, born early or late or not at all (c-section), or feet first, or cord cut too soon. These very first impressions of life on the young nervous system matter and can significantly shape our ongoing life experiences until the disruptions are addressed. I’ve not found any type or quantity of mantras or self help books or management strategies that worked as well for shifting patterns as Somatic Experiencing (SE) or biodynamic cranial sacral therapy (BCST).

Ex: at another recent event volunteering with many supportive colleagues, I attempted to hide my state (heavy, and tired) at first, because I was worried it would be deemed unacceptable. Instead it turned out that everyone was fine with it, and that made it easier for me to hold it and do my job with more ease.

“I have to be alone to get okay.”

This is a biggie. My particular history has made it difficult to connect, despite wanting it badly, and often being exhausted by social contact or unable to fully feel it. Continued work on heart, and relational and birth stuff is shifting this for me. It is a gradual and delicate process, full of fits and starts. SE really started to shift this for me, but BCST is deepening and making inroads to change in the very early patterns that nothing else had ever helped much before. Same for some of my clients, as well.

Ex: it never would have worked today to go it alone. Or maybe it would have taken a long time. I had to have a specific kind of support for my nervous system to shift. Hiding out would have turned down the volume knob a bit, but likely would not have shifted me into the kind of ease I got from the right kind of support.

So how do we start to shift beliefs and figure out what’s true?

I don’t really know. Maybe it’s divine intervention. Maybe it’s the spark of something inside that gets ignited at birth, or by some life event. Or a combo. Or maybe we come to this life with a plan. I can look back and see a 5 year old little girl trying to figure out the meaning of life and struggling to get out of bed in the morning, and having moments when she would look out the window and the stillness would pop in and she would try with all her might to make it stay. A struggle that led to reading, and wondering and asking questions even when it was ridiculed, and then a 20 year old who realized she had been taught to see the world as a hostile and dangerous place, and then to meditation, and awakening, and career plot twists and Somatic Experiencing, and now BSCT. The signals from the guide within get clearer and clearer, and easier to follow as the layers of trauma/conditioning/ego get peeled away.

What’s true is also always changing. That’s why the inner guide is so important. I used to think some things aren’t included in this rule, but I’m less and less able to say that now.

Can you hear it? All you have to do is start listening. And maybe also want to hear what it says. It’s there – the small still voice. Just start to be quiet, bit by bit, and it will lead the way.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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3 Responses to Holding Beliefs Lightly

  1. Peter Skrade says:

    “So how do we start to shift beliefs and figure out what’s true?”–I just enjoyed a meditation of yours which emphasized how when one has a very positive meditation experience, one may choose to ‘chase’ the euphoric felt experience, even asking yourself, (Cynthia), or another teacher, “How can I get that back?” Well, can it help to notice the openness we had, and which must have aided the experience’ coming into awareness, and notice the element of not having expectation, including our awareness at the time, (as a novice to meditation), that the experience could turn out to be a drag? Could it, alternatively, help to think of a kid on Christmas morning, in turns elated or deeply dispapointed by what turns out to be in the wrapped packages as he or she opens them? In response to that meditation’s emphasis on being able to receive ALL experience, I think of how Alice Miller always emphasizes how a child experiences his or her emotional world, (which, significantly, she always emphasizes is more powerful than any adult can really relate to), as a child has yet to cultivate any capacity to deny, disown, or distance him or herself from experience and feeling. I think also of how Nathaniel Branden says that when we reach a point where we look back on our lives, we want to be able to say, “I was LIVING!” And, I think of the Iggy Pop song lyric, “I have always paid whatever the price to be true to this heart of mine…”

  2. Peter Skrade says:

    Emmylou Harris has a song, and her lyrics really speak to what you say in the meditation video of yours on Youtube I am watching where you say, “We forget, that even if ll of our ‘stuff’ goes, ‘Poof!’ that we are still who we are…”

    Here are Emmylou’s opening lyrics for her song, “All That You Have is Your Soul”:

    “All That You Have is Your Soul”

    (Emmylou Harris)

    Oh, my mama told me…
    Because, she said she learned the hard way,
    And, she said she wanted to spare the children…
    She said, “Don’t give or sell your soul away, ‘cuz,
    All that you have
    Is your soul….”


  3. Peter Skrade says:

    “My big beef with American culture is this: It would make someone like me a star just because I am pretty. Everyone in America wants to be so beautiful, or so handsome, or so capable, or so powerful, or so wealthy that happiness can become a permanent guarantee for them, and then there’s just no doing anything about it..”–Marlon Brando

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