how and why emotions snowball (plus info about the lefkoe freedom course!)

Morty Lefkoe is a person I respect and admire deeply, who does amazing work in the field of personal development and empowering people.  I want to write about my experience using his methods.

A few decades ago, Morty created the Lefkoe Method, which is a series of processes designed to help people eliminate the beliefs and conditionings that cause fear and other emotional obstacles to happiness and well-being.  I became aware of him in 2011, and that year I used his free videos at recreateyourlife.com to try to eliminate some of my beliefs.  In those videos, the part that impacted me the most was the “Who am I really?” process.  Using that process put me into a very peaceful state of consciousness where I realized that I am something other than the sum of all of my beliefs.  It’s a really powerful tool that I would recommend to anyone.  I also took a  Lefkoe Method training course, where I learned how to facilitate the belief process.

In fall of 2013, I participated in Morty’s 10-week program called the Lefkoe Freedom Course, which was absolutely life-changing for me.  The course involved a LOT of work – but it was totally worth it.  Here’s what happens in the course:

Every day, for 10 weeks, participants are to discover and write down their “occurrings.”  An occurring is a subjective interpretation of an event (at a subconscious level) that one thinks is true.  It’s the meaning given to an event.  Like a belief, an occurring is an unproven and subjective assertion about reality.  Unlike a belief, it’s not necessarily a long-term or recurring one.  It could happen just once and never happen again.  Another word for an occurring could be an assumption.

In the course, Morty told us to write down an occurring we were having once every waking hour, or at least 14 times a day – saying that the key is repetition.  He urged us to set an hourly timer so we wouldn’t forget.  I did so, and those first few weeks, there was rarely a shortage of occurrings for me to write down.  I was creating meaning all day long, as do most people.

The key to the process is understanding that events themselves do not directly cause our emotions.  What does cause the emotion is the meaning we give to events.  It goes in this order:

event happens –> meaning (occurring) is created –> emotion is felt

And sometimes, emotion is not felt.  It depends on if the subjective meaning has any positive/negative stuff in it.

To illustrate the point, I’ll give fake examples.

Example 1.  Event: Bob’s boss calls him into his office.

Meaning Bob gives it: “The boss is going to fire me.”

In this example, Bob had what is called a future projection.  All future projections are occurrings.  He couldn’t know for sure that he was going to be fired, before it happened.  Another example, that takes it further:

Example 2. Event:  Melissa doesn’t receive a text from her friend Ann for a full day, even though Ann said she would text.

Meaning Melissa gives it: “Ann is angry with me.”

Emotion Melissa feels from this meaning: none

In this instance, Melissa has drawn conclusions about why Ann hasn’t texted.  There is no emotion from this particular occurring (because there’s no ‘sting’ in it… more on what I mean by that, later in the blog), but there IS an emotion when this occurring snowballs and causes an occurring beneath the occurring, because the occurring felt like an event itself:

Example 3. Occurring that feels like Event:  Ann is angry with me.

Meaning Melissa gives it:  It’s stupid of her to be angry with me, and she shouldn’t be.

Emotion Melissa feels:  anger

Now we’re getting somewhere!  The meaning of the meaning, which feels like an event itself, produces an emotion.  And all from the fact that the friend didn’t text.  This is how a mind snowballs – from the one false premise that produces more false premises.  “Stupid” and “shouldn’t” are highly charged, subjective words… indicators that a negative emotion, or a judgment of the situation, is present.

It’s important to break down all of these subtleties, because without extracting each individual occurring – all Melissa knows is that she feels angry after Ann doesn’t text, without being able to understand why.  These breakdowns help us understand exactly what is triggering the emotions.

So to dissolve the emotion, Melissa can go back to the original premise – the assumption that Ann is angry with her in the first place – and realize that there might be some other reason that she didn’t text.  (Lost her phone, forgot to text, etc.)  Oftentimes, we can use our emotions to guide us to the occurrings we are having – essentially working backwards to dissolve them.

As the course progressed, we learned more and more ways to notice the meanings we were creating.  We were pulling these meanings from our subconscious and into our conscious minds, which requires pausing and introspecting.  And Morty made sure to guide us in making sure that our events matched our meanings.  14 times a day,  I dissected my thought processes so I could dissolve my negative emotions.  And it worked!

Like any other skill, the key is practice, practice, practice.  And just as important, practice it correctly.  Match events, meanings, and emotions correctly to make it work.

Morty created this course not just to teach this incredibly valuable tool for dissolving negative emotions, but to allow his students to be in a community of growth-oriented people, help each other, and hold each other accountable throughout the course.  Every week during the course he holds a webinar that students can participate in, where he goes over the homework assignments and provides guidance.  Once a week, students are to post 3-5 events/meanings/emotions they had during the week, in the private online forum – along with any issues they have with dissolving meaning and emotions.  During webinars, Morty talks to everyone who is on the call while reviewing their assignments, and gives feedback.  Students are also encouraged to provide feedback on each other’s assignments and help each other with issues they are stuck on.

All in all, I have to say that taking this course was a profound experience.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  A few weeks into the course, because I had practiced so much and done it correctly, I started going through hours at a time where I was creating no meaning at all – it was dissolving itself automatically, before the emotion occurred.  And during those times, my mind was completely peaceful.  It was the happiest I have ever been.

I’m a pianist, and I liken it to the difference between sight-reading a piece (playing it for the first time, having to think about every note deliberately) and having played a piece so many times that my muscles just remember what to do and my subconscious takes over the process.  That’s what it’s like when you practice dissolving meaning enough times that it becomes automatic.  Staying in a positive state of mind become effortless.

Morty promises that at the end of the 10-week mental bootcamp, participants will start automatically dissolving meaning to the point where they no longer have to think about it or do it manually – thereby making life so, so much easier.  He warned that if we stopped early, we’d slip back into our old mental habits.

And he was right!  In my case, during the very last week of the course is when I started getting lazy for some reason I still don’t understand.  I was doing less of the work.  And, I slipped back into my old mental habits, just as he had warned.  Honestly it still kind of haunts me to this day… like what would have happened if I’d have kept going?  Still, my mind was blown during that course because I had no idea I could be that happy.

So, my advice to anyone who is interested in taking the course…. seriously, do the work til the bitter end, if you’re going to do it, and don’t make excuses like I did.  Do it for a couple weeks after the course ends, just to make sure.  Morty also teaches an Advanced Lefkoe Freedom Course, for people who’ve already taken the first one.

Another interesting thing that happened to me during this course is I kept discovering the beliefs I have.  I spent a lot of time writing those beliefs down so I could eliminate them later.  Some of the beliefs went away on their own, just by noticing them.

I distinctly remember this odd occurring I had during the course, while I was out on a walk.

Event:  I see a house with its porch light on.

Occurring:  No one is in the house.

Emotion: none

It was a really subtle one to catch, because there was no emotion involved to help lead me to it.  I realized that I only believed no one was home because when I was growing up, my parents would normally leave the porch light on if they were gone.  I didn’t think that anyone would leave a porch light on while they were home and it was daylight, so I assumed no one was home.

I’m thinking about doing a part 2 of this article, where I’ll talk more about some of the subtle meanings I picked up on while doing the course.  (They’re more interesting than the porch light one… I promise.)

Until next time,

Kate

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

how to make sense of people’s nonsensical behavior

I think about how many times a day we humans look at other people out of context.  Not just the context of that person’s (or group of people’s) particular day, but of their entire life.  Often, we’re experiencing a tiny snippet of this person’s life.  A tiny bit of context.

How do we know exactly why people do things that we don’t like?  Countless events happened that led to the moment(s) of offense.  An infinite number of events.  Their home life.  Their current or past situations.  Their cultural surroundings.  Their childhood (that’s a biggie!).  Their current mindset.  How can we pinpoint what it was that led to that moment?

The labels happen.  That person (or group of people) is stupid.  Dumb.  A jerk.  Too this.  Not enough that.  Their actions are bad, senseless, ridiculous.  Countless labels.  Countless snap judgments.  Confusion that leads to conclusions.

It’s downright painful to think these thoughts, isn’t it?

What if we were to notice, instead, that we are jumping to conclusions?  That we don’t really have enough information to make a definitive statement?  The whole world can make a lot more sense, when examined more closely.

A few suggestions to stop the upset feelings, when people do things we don’t yet understand:

1. Think about the ways in which their brain might work differently than yours.  You could look up science/psychology articles on how brains work, to gain a larger breadth of knowledge.

2. Think about how they were raised differently than you, and how that affects their behavior.

3. Think about how other people have treated this person throughout their life.  Were they always treated extremely well?  (Probably not.)  Did they pick up social cues from others?

4. Think about the more immediate contextual things – such as how they might be feeling that day.

5. Think about what they might be afraid to do or to say.  Maybe they’re afraid of things that you’re not afraid of.

6. If it’s a stranger that you never saw before or again, make up a story in your mind about every major life event and situation that they went through, that led up to that moment.  Make it as plausible as possible, as if writing a non-fiction story.  This is not to find the answer, but to help you practice contextualizing.

7. Think about whether or not it’s reasonable to assume that they were in a desperate situation and couldn’t think of another way to do things.

8. Think about whether or not they have an addiction or compulsion.

9. Think about what their parents might have taught them was right and wrong to do.  I once had someone tell me that they rarely ask people about themselves, because their mom said it was rude to do so.  (I never would have guessed that.)

10. Remember a time when you behaved similarly.  Why were you acting that way at the time?  What was on your mind?  What was happening in your life?

11. Ask them why they did the thing that was offensive to you – not necessarily revealing that you felt offended (unless you feel it helpful to do so).  You could say it pretty casually. “I thought it was interesting that you did such-and-such in this way… I’m curious as to why, because I do it differently.”  The answer might surprise you.

12. Ask them more about their life in general.  Ask how they’re feeling.  Ask about their day.  The more we get to know people, the less likely we are to make assumptions.  Dialogues breed compassion.

13. Imagine, in your mind’s eye, what life might have been like for them when they were a child.  If it feels appropriate, ask about what their parents are like.  (But proceed with caution; it can be a sensitive topic for some.)

14. Think about sociological context.  The pressure they might be feeling from their peers, family, friends, etc. and their desire to belong to the group.

15. What invisible-to-us, physical limitations might this person have?  Poor eyesight, diseases that weaken muscles, chronic fatigue, etc.  There are any number of conditions that could be affecting their body.

16. Think about what the person might be thinking and believing that led them to act this way.  Come up with a list of five different thoughts/beliefs the person might have, that might lead to the behavior.

17. Lastly, when practicing these mental exercises, don’t make any of your new theories a fact in your mind, unless you can verify that it is true.

In the end, you might not get an exact answer, but you will be thinking about the bigger context for all humans, and that’s how empathy (and a much better experience of life) happens.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

do perfection and imperfection exist?

These two concepts can’t exist without each other, unless we take an approach that says either everything is perfect, or everything is imperfect.  To say that some things are perfect assumes that other things are imperfect, and vice versa.

I’m not challenging these concepts in a technical sense, such as perfect intervals in music, or 20/20 eyesight, or scoring with 100% accuracy on a multiple choice test.  I’m talking about in the abstract ways in which we often talk about perfection and imperfection.

Some people say we are all perfect.  Some say we are all imperfect.  Some people say we should embrace our imperfections.  I’m fine with that, but I can’t wrap my head around what any of those sentences mean.  How do we know what’s perfect and what’s imperfect?  How might our lives shift if we stopped using these words in vague and undefinable ways?

I get that when someone says something is perfect, they’re saying they wouldn’t change it at all.  It’s to their liking.  I think that’s okay and a healthy way to think.  I would rather if people not take the concept of imperfection too seriously.  It’s like saying, “I’m going to love this thing, despite the fact that it’s not perfect.”  That presupposes that everything isn’t already exactly as it should be.

You can’t point to imperfection, you can’t touch it, and you can’t see it.  All you can do is imagine it.  It’s just a word.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

big anger means big love

I’ve noticed that when someone is very angry, it means they love something very, very much.

Why?  Because anger is a defense mechanism.  Being the angry person is the same as being the “rescuer” in the drama triangle.  There is something being defended and loved by the angry person.  A value or concept or person or other thing that they love is being threatened, often by another person – the person they are angry with.

One of the hardest things for me in life has been how to deal with anger – my own and others’.  Now, I try to focus on where the love is, in the anger.  What is the thing that I or someone else is valuing and loving?  How is it seemingly being violated?  Focusing on the love helps me focus less on my anger, and it might spur me to take action toward either protecting the thing I love in more useful ways, or dropping a harmful concept that has clouded my thinking.

For instance, I’ve been a vegetarian for several years.  Toward the beginning, I would think thoughts like “Other people are wrong to eat meat.”  And out of love for animals, I kept that painful, angry concept and would judge people.  Except the thought was hurting me.  I later dropped that concept while remaining vegetarian.  I started questioning the concept.  Is it really wrong for other people to eat meat?  My conclusion was: I don’t know and couldn’t possibly know.  A lot of people eat certain meats for health reasons, in fact.  Therefore, I don’t have an opinion on it anymore and no longer judge people for it.

Does this mean I can’t be an activist?  No.  It just means if I were an animal activist/advocate, I could do it from a more loving state of mind.  Anger would just be the signal that I love something, the thing that spurs me to do something about the love that I have.

Brad Yates did a very insightful EFT video on this very topic.

My best advice on the subject of anger would be:  Find where the love is, and work from that.  If someone else is angry at something you did, figure out what concept/value/person/thing was violated.  Ask them, if you’re not sure.  Make amends if you deem it appropriate to do so.  If you’re the angry one, remember what you love that caused the anger.  If it’s only a concept, I invite you to question it, just to make sure that your thinking is clear.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

clarity in communication

I’ve both witnessed and participated in arguments over semantics.  Two people talking about the same thing, but they think they aren’t because they’re using different words for it.  These arguments can go amazingly far, if neither person realizes what is happening.

I think the best thing to do when having a disagreement like this is to ask the other person to reword, clarify, or give more detail to the point they are trying to make.  Especially if they are using adjectives a lot – adjectives are highly subjective parts of speech.  Someone else’s definition might not even be similar to your definition.

To give an example, let’s say that someone tells you that you’re shallow.  What does that mean, exactly?  It could mean many things.  But you’re likely to jump to a conclusion about it, based on other times that people used that word.  Unless you ask any follow-up questions, you might never know what they meant by that.  They might be linking a specific behavior of yours to the idea of shallowness.

I’ve gotten tripped up over semantics just as much as the next person, but I’m more aware of it now than I used to be.  Semantics confusion doesn’t always cause arguments, though it shows up in arguments.  Sometimes, it’s just confusion.

Here’s an example: one of my friends said that he wanted to be living a more authentic life.  I didn’t know what he meant by that, so I asked him to clarify what authentic means to him in that context.  And he said it meant that he wants to be doing more things that are enjoyable to him.

If I already had an idea in my mind of what he meant by authentic, and went with that definition instead of asking for his, the conversation would have gone differently and had some misunderstandings.

The overall point I’m trying to make is that it’s wise to ask people to clarify, especially with certain adjectives, or other highly subjective words.  It’ll save you from jumping to conclusions.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

embracing the many facets of oneself

I think it’s important to love and respect every aspect of myself.

Sometimes I’m talkative; sometimes I’m not.  Sometimes I’m an excite-asaurus; sometimes I’m bored.   Sometimes I want to be the center of attention; sometimes I want to spend a day alone.  Sometime I have deep, meaningful things to say; sometimes I make silly jokes.

The point is, it’s all the same person, and it’s all good.  There’s a song with lyrics I like – it’s called “Two Lovers.”  The lyrics are seemingly about two people, but in the end it’s different aspects of the same person.

One of the biggest struggles in starting this blog has been: well, what voice do I give it?  There are so many sides of me, how do I choose just one?

And the answer is:  I don’t.  I’ll use all of them.  I want to attract people who like my writing in general, who can appreciate the many facets and tones that it takes.

I’ll talk more about the facets of self, and how it relates to our relationships with others, in a later post.

Until next time…

<3 Kate

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

improv is awesome

…for many reasons.  I’ve been taking classes for a few months now, and tonight I was in a student theater performance, as we wrapped up level 2.

The many, many benefits of improv have been written about extensively by other bloggers, but it bears repeating:

  • Great way to expand your social circle
  • It’s a lighthearted activity, full of laughter
  • Requires cooperation, trust, and a “got your back” attitude
  • Just about anyone with a sense of humor can be decent at it, with some practice
  • Encourages thinking on your feet/gut instinct and acting quickly, instead of overanalyzing
  • It’s way creative and way fun
  • Encourages a more open-minded attitude because you can’t reject other people’s ideas

I have loved just about every minute of the classes I’ve taken so far, including the two performances I got to participate in.

And now… sleep awaits.

<3 Kate

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

concept challenge: “Supposed to,” “Should,” and the like.

How many times have you told yourself, or someone else, that they should be doing something in particular, instead of whatever it is they are already doing?  Or that something is supposed to be different than it is?

If you’re anything like me, it’s happened countless times.

But the truth is, whatever you are doing is exactly what you should be doing.  And I mean this in a very real-time sense, not projecting even microseconds into the future.  For example, you are reading this blog at this exact second, and that’s exactly what you should be doing at this moment in time, because that’s exactly what is happening.

“Shouldn’t have” is a concept involving the past, which also assumes rather falsely that things could have happened any differently, which it couldn’t (unless we’re talking multi-verse, a topic I won’t really get into here.  I’m going to focus on this ‘verse that we live in.)

Sometimes, people use “should” as a way of expressing what they want.  That’s all well and good.  “I should get some sleep” = “I want to get some sleep, so bye.”  I’m talking about the kind of “should” that haunts or upsets you in any way.

This is what is, right now, and it’s exactly what should be.  And that does not mean you can’t do anything to change the situation in the future, even microseconds into the future.  Quite the opposite.  The less in denial you are about what is happening at this moment, the more you are able to see possibilities.  The more you can see a course of action that you can take.  Clear thinking often leads to decisive action toward what you want.

So the next time you hear your brain or your mouth saying “should” or “supposed to” in the way I’m talking about, I invite you to just notice it, and ask yourself – “Is that really true?  What am I buying into here?”  And I’ll be doing the same.

Now if you’ll excuse me… I really should get some sleep.

<3 Kate

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The first post!

Hi everybody and welcome to QuestionedMind.com!  My name is Kate, and this is my first blog.  I’m creating this blog as site as part of Scott Dinsmore’s Start-A-Blog Challenge.  He’s offering a chance to attend the 2015 World Domination Summit for free.  How could I turn that down?

And he made it seem so easy to start a blog (and it is, apparently!) that I couldn’t NOT do it.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to start sharing my ideas and experience with personal development – and it would be amazing to build a career in this field.  For now, it’s a blog, and we’ll see where it leads – hopefully to someplace awesome that I can’t even imagine yet.  That’s the beauty of creative endeavors such as this – not knowing exactly how it will turn out.

So, to explain the domain name.  Over and over again, I’ve found that questioning the validity of my own thoughts is instrumental to living a happy, fulfilling life.  The more I inquire, the more skeptical and questioning I am of my own mind, the richer my world becomes, the more perceived options I have, and the less fear I have.  It helps keep me honest, grounded in reality, and in a creative state of mind.

I’m inspired by several inquirers and thinkers, but particularly by Byron Katie.  I’ll be posting about my experience with her method of inquiry (called “The Work”) quite a bit, and also about other people, and their methods, which have helped change my thinking and my life.

Thanks to Scott for inspiring me to do this and providing clear instructions!  More to come tomorrow.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail