We are all brilliant through our own unique talents and gifts, but along our journeys, we were taught that we should be just like everyone else. So because of our basic instinct to fit in, we deny ourselves our own brilliance.
When we were kids we knew we were smart, but uncomfortable experiences drove that feeling from our minds and bodies. Maybe we weren’t as smart as our older siblings, so we got put down a lot; or maybe our parents didn’t understand what positive reinforcement was and inadvertently taught us their self-denying behaviours.
I remember dissecting how I learned to call myself stupid. But beforehand I want to point out that patterns learned through uncomfortable experiences are part of our learning process of living. Further, I want to emphasize that I am lucky to have wonderful and rich relationships with all my family and I thank them for adding to my learning process. So, in terms of dissecting my patterns of calling myself “stupid”, first, there were the many memories of my older sister looking down on me and saying “you’re just so stupid”, before I could really talk! Then there were the mornings she would softly and gently tell me the same, until I woke up screaming “No, I’m not!” And then, there was my dad. He often used to say he had “shit for brains”. What is a child supposed to learn from that? I learned to tell myself “You’re as dumb as a doornail”. Not that I really knew what that meant; it just somehow stuck.
I recalled that over time the feeling generated by the thought that I was “stupid” grew into anger. I went from saying “I’m stupid” in my head to saying it aloud when no one was around, and becoming so frustrated I would bang my hand on my head. By that time, I was in my late teens. Then one day, while I was doing school work, I decided to use the wall next to me. A few months later, I somehow had a moment of clarity and questioned what was really going on in me. As a result, I did something people rarely do, I went to seek help.
The day I was diagnosed with a reading disorder, during my first semester of University, I sat myself down and decided enough was enough. I didn’t like someone telling me that my brain didn’t work like others, or that it could never be fixed, and, also, it would get worse with time! I was determined to prove them wrong and I would start by stop calling myself “stupid” and banging my head. As my decision to improve my brain solidified, I could feel my desire to change grow in intensity.
Not too long thereafter, I vividly remember working on a term paper at the computer and not being able to type a single word without a mistake. The anger accumulated in me and just as I was about to go into my old pattern, I stopped and remembered my promise, and my intense desire to change came to the forefront. Not knowing what to do, I asked out loud to the empty room “What do I do instead”? Then something miraculous happened. I became the watcher. As the anger ran through me, I sat completely still being totally aware of my entire body. I didn’t move or react; I just let the feeling pass. After a few moments the emotion ran its course and it was over.
The anger generated from the thought that I was stupid came back twice after that day, but not with the same intensity. Within a semester I’d begun to forget how badly I had treated myself. Some time later, I managed to talk to my dad about unlearning how to call myself stupid, and within a short time, he too changed the way he thought about himself.
It took me over a decade and much reading, to understand what happened that day I decided with intense desire to stop calling myself stupid. I have come to realize how important the desire to change is in order to actuate change in one’s life. It seems, the more intense the feeling the greater the shift. I have never been able to replicate the same intensity of desire again, but thankfully, even just a trickle of a desire to change something in me facilitates release. So almost every day I let go of one thing that I no longer feel the need to live with.
Another key aspect of that experience is the role of the witness or watcher. I have come to realize that being in the stance of the watcher requires practice. As a result, I started meditating several years ago to strengthen my ability to be mindful. Mindfulness is a state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Mindfulness gives you such a sense of the present moment that behind all that is going on, you feel at peace. Further, as a Love Energetics practitioner, I get to meditate often, which has substantially increased my mindfulness.
As mentioned above, repeating learned patterns and behaviours is not bad or good; it is just part of our learning process of living. Almost everything was learned from someone else, also acting unconsciously. My sister learned to call me stupid from our mother, who herself went through many uncomfortable experiences in her youth. My dad learned to call himself stupid from his father. I remember walking with grandpa in his garden one day, when he stopped by a wasp’s nest and picked up a stick to so he could break it off. I turned around and went back up the hill asking him if he really wanted to do that. He replied he had done it many times before, so I watched from a distance. Sure enough, he came running up the hill, chased by wasps and cursing at his stupidity. He used the wrong length of stick, he claimed; which I knew to be true because they kept the giant, long wasps stick up near the house. As grandpa cursed, I recognized the words he used from what my dad said and the intensity of his anger from my past. I smiled, I now have no desire to react to my “mistakes” like that.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from that behavior, is that self-denial is just a pattern we have picked up as children. If you recognize a pattern that doesn’t serve any good in your life, you can let go whatever you desire.