Peeling back the layers

We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

We see it through layers of stuff. Stuff like beliefs, fears, memories, opinions, ideas about what we think will make us happy.

Those layers pile on top of each other and bury our core self. You know, the core you that was there when you a little kid, dancing around in your underwear, not giving a rip how you looked in your underwear or that you had no rhythm or what anyone in the world thought.

The core is still there; it’s always there…it’s just buried under your layers.

The layers—beliefs and opinions and such—are like glasses you might wear. You can’t help but see everything through the glasses that are firmly planted on your face. After a while you forget you’re wearing glasses at all.

Until it rains and you get some raindrops on your lenses. Out of nowhere you’re reminded there’s a filter there. Something artificial is distorting your view.

How do you peel back the layers so you can reach the core?

I’d like to share my practice for peeling back the layers. I teach this practice to all of my clients.

It often starts with a very vague, un-pin-pointable feeling of ick. That feeling is a crystal clear indication that I’m filtering the world through a bunch of stuff that’s not serving me.

So I write down every thought that’s running through my mind. Every one I can catch and nail down, anyway. (It gets easier as you go.)

It’s a brain dump of everything that’s running through my head. This is important: you have to get it OUT, as in write it down. You can’t just mentally run through the thoughts because as they keep swirling around in your mind they pick up steam. Only when you get them out on paper do they loosen their grip on you.

I then look through the list of painful beliefs with an open mind.

I look for thoughts that may not be 100% true. That usually includes all of them. With an open mind and no attachment, I try to find evidence for how each of my painful beliefs might not be true. I try to see how my ego might have invented the belief or jumped to conclusions.

And then, on a really good day, I come up with things I can think instead. Replacement thoughts. Like this morning, I decided to replace “I’m not doing enough in my business” with “I made up the rules for ‘enough’ and actually, I’m doing pretty well”. I find evidence to support my replacement thought, such as all the stuff I did last week.

I also decided to replace “I have way too much to do” with “I’ll do as much as I can and the world will not fall apart. None of these tasks are as important as my ego is telling me they are.”  That thought feels really good.

And with that, I peel back a layer or two or three and I’m closer to my core. I may not be dancing in my underwear yet, but I’m closer. I believe fewer stories. And there are moments I’m fully aware of the glasses at the end of my nose.

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