I am seven years old. My teacher is a close-to-retirement, old-school, conservative, and punitive woman. My dad drives me to school in the mornings. He often runs late, and we get in the car just when school starts or has already started.
I try to combat this by waking up extra early in the mornings and be ready for school a long time before we must leave to arrive on time. I have asked my dad so many times to make sure that we are on time, but still, it is very common for us to leave home too late.
On my own, I must knock on the door to the classroom on these mornings, knowing what awaits me – public shaming. I will be told to stand in front of the class. Exposed and vulnerable, I will have to listen to my teacher talk down to me about being late and what sort of person I am because of this. She will also speak directly to the class about me without including me, as if to create a group energy of them, the virtuous ones, versus me, the despicable one. I am seven years old.
I am eight years old. I love drawing and painting. In class today, the teacher asks us to use water colours to paint trees. I paint the canopy of my trees like green fluffy balls. My teacher walks in the aisles between the desks and gives a comment here and there. When she comes up to my desk, she pauses. She does not look pleased. She takes my painting and holds it up for the whole class to see.
With a loud, condescending voice she asks everyone to stop what they are doing and instead focus on what I have painted – trees with green fluffy balls as canopies.
My teacher says – Who would paint a tree like this, without any branches? Is this how we paint trees everyone? Everyone shakes their heads.
I am asked to add branches to my trees and when I do, I can’t mix the green paint in the same shade as the canopies. The whole painting looks like a clumsy mess.
My teacher hangs all the paintings on the classroom wall. The teacher’s pet, Gabrielle, has painted her trees with green fluffy balls as canopy. I stare at her painting for the rest of the day and feel like my breath is stuck in my throat. I avoid looking at mine, so messy and clumsy. I am eight years old.
I am nine years old. The whole extended family and family friends are coming over to celebrate my first Holy Communion. I adore the clothes I have been given for the day and it feels like a special day for me! I feel so excited. Everyone arrives and the adults begin chatting and catching up. Nobody talks to me or looks at me. I walk through what seems like a sea of adults and feel totally invisible. I feel so sad and disappointed and go up to my room to get away from the situation. My mum quickly comes up to get me, she is angry at me for leaving the celebrations and forces me to get back to the gathering. I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I am nine years old.
Just like you, I had many different and varied experiences growing up. There were a lot of positive and wonderful things happening to and for me. And then there were the events that impacted me in more negative ways.
I wanted to share how in those true examples you just read, I unconsciously took on beliefs about life, myself, and others. In these cases, the beliefs went something like this –
I am helpless. No one listens to me. It doesn’t matter what I do, I will still be in trouble. I am different to the others. I am alone. I don’t feel safe. To be seen is devastating. There is something wrong with me and everyone knows it.
I get singled out. I can’t draw or paint. I am useless. Everyone thinks I am useless. To be seen is not safe. Life is not fair. People are out to get me. Others are more worthy than me.
I don’t belong. I am not seen. I don’t matter. My feelings don’t matter.
And so on. If you look back at events that happened in your childhood, you will also find defining moments where you made unconscious conclusions about yourself, others, and the world. Everyone has done this.
Some conclusions were positive, and they probably served you well in life. Some were made when you felt scared and threatened, like I did in the examples above. Even though this internal reasoning made sense at the time, these faulty beliefs became cemented in our psyches. We believe it is who we are, even when we become adults.
My conclusions from the events above became internalised and spoke to me what seemed like the truth –
Don’t put yourself in situations where you are seen, Keep things to yourself, Don’t trust others,
Who do you think you are, You don’t belong so don’t bother, Don’t put your work out there,
Don’t try, What’s the point, Whatever you do don’t put yourself out there
And so on.
Depending on your own personality, you might have chosen to deal with unjust or frightening situations by being extra nice to a parent or a teacher, by avoiding drawing or singing or by attempting to control situations that, as a child, you felt you had to oversee to survive. You might have taken on a superior or an inferior persona, all in the name of feeling safe within yourself, with others and in life.
These internal voices can wreak havoc in our lives. They stop us from living our lives fully and from being who we truly are. The voices have become automatic and we don’t question them, believing they speak the truth.
But the real truth is that these voices are based on events in the past that we internalized when we were young and vulnerable. The voices are not authentic responses to what is happening to us in the present moment, which is after all, where we now live.
In the 90’s I arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia. The town was full of alternative people who wanted to break through limiting patterns and old ways of thinking. I don’t know how many personal growth workshops I attended those years!
We did everything to break through the patterns. We yelled NOOOOO to each other to claim our boundaries. We screamed madly into pillows while banging our fists on the floor. We ripped our clothes off to show that we could do what we wanted. We cried in front of large groups of people who didn’t judge us. We spoke our truths in circles and meditated for days in a row.
In one workshop retreat we laughed deep belly laughs for hours every day for a week, then cried our eyes out for hours the next week. Then we sat in silence for a week.
It was an organic and genuine quest for transformation and higher consciousness and the whole town seemed set to take part. I am so glad I was there. It was wild and expansive and so freeing!
Did I break through old patterns? You bet I did! And still, after all that intensity, decades later I still found myself in the same spot in many areas of my life. I had a niggling feeling there was something that stopped me that I couldn’t put my finger on.
Last year I was asked to participate in a 6-week Mental Fitness training intensive called Positive Intelligence. Feeling a bit tired of workshops and personal growth, I hesitated but then decided to give it a go because of the vision of the teacher, Shirzad Chamine. His vision? To enable every human to build mental fitness so that they can fulfill their true potential for happiness and contribution.
Personal growth is a work in progress and I know there are many layers left of my unconscious beliefs – but the highlight for me in the training was when I spotted a particularly nasty inner voice – so loud and ruthless I was surprised I hadn’t noticed it for being what it was – a complete and utter lie. And this lie had consistently stopped me from showing myself as I am – my whole life.
I feel I have come to the root of a belief that sat hidden, deep within my psyche. The part I sensed was there but could not put my finger on. Now I can hear that voice loud and clear!
Through the training, I have simple but such practical, effective tools to move from the survival part of my brain, where the nasty, limiting voices hang out, to the middle Prefrontal Cortex. There I find myself in the present moment, free from the past and able to take action, based on an abundant and positive mindset. The sabotaging voices don’t go away but they weaken in their intensity and I have learned how to move away from the loop of those ruthless voices!
The training was life changing for me and I decided to train as a Certified Positive Intelligence Coach. Shirzad Chamine’s vision and purpose is to contribute to a world where humans live from that abundant and positive mindset and are freed from the limiting beliefs that hold most of us back. What a wonderful world that would be! I wholeheartedly share Shirzad’s vision.
Shirzad has identified 9 main Saboteurs that we internalise – if you want to find out who the main Saboteurs are that run your life you can click here and do a free assessment. (You will need to provide your email address. You will receive follow up emails from Positive Intelligence for a few weeks, all related to the Saboteurs and how they operate. If you don’t want to receive those follow up mails, you can unsubscribe once you have received your results.)
As part of my certification, I need to take a certain amount of people through this training intensive. It is done via an app and a weekly group meeting with me. If you are interested to take part in this, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you more information. This program can be anything from life changing, thought provoking or serve as a potent catalyst to change or improve all areas of your life. You can live anywhere in the world to attend.
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2 thoughts on “Living more fully in the Present”
I love the photos of young Eva and what a touching story of your innocence and how you internalised that you were in the wrong.
I’m loving the positive intelligence course and after two weeks can feel a shift in the brain and am glad to be able to spot the lies of the saboteurs.
Yes our young little ones internalized so much crap from the outside world – and it was never true! So glad you love the training and soooo good to see the changes in you! No more believing the lies!