bRK43Pamela2I just overheard a man at the cafe table next to me joyfully saying he’s been married for a year. I mean a year is not a huge amount of time but as I heard that I tuned in to a snarky belief that’s always playing in the background: Happily ever after does not exist. The message in my childhood was that if someone looks really happy then you don’t know them well enough. That goes for an individual, a couple, a family. Anyone who seems to have it all, what you’re seeing must be a façade. Of course it’s true that people are complex but still a rather bleak outlook. And yet, that belief has been playing in my subconscious all this time.

Rather than rose colored glasses, I was taught to see through smoke colored glasses. Be skeptical, don’t trust, don’t open up. Besides, if you’re happy– well then you’ve got a lot to lose. Why risk all that?

What happens when reality challenges our deep seated beliefs?
And which comes first:

  • an external reality that changes our internal beliefs or
  • intentional, deliberate work to shift internal beliefs resulting in change on the outside?

I think the answer is both: change happens internally and externally. The key to lasting change is for shifts occur gradually enough to allow for integration. Positivity has to be given a strong enough foothold for it to move in and kick out the demons. One demon at a time.

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
— The Talmud

At the moment in spite of chaos in the world, I’m being showered with blessings: love, work, community, spirit, health, creativity. Pretty much every area of my life. It’s hard to contain my joy. From this vantage everything sparkles. None of this would have been possible five or ten years ago. Until my beliefs shifted there wouldn’t have been room for true abundance. I had to let those muscles develop. I had to practice happiness. Even now as my reality shifts, I am still reconciling persistent subconscious doubt: is this even possible? This can’t be real. Surely it won’t last.

Hearing the voice of doubt, I breathe and remember that the path of healing is not a direct, linear progression. One thing I know from having done dietary cleanses: when you start filing up with healthy food all the toxins come to the surface. Those first days of eating purely can feel lousy not because of what you’re eating but because of what’s been lying dormant in your gut. So too with change, as we start to take in positive change the shadow side will surface. The demons are resistant to change and will dig in their heels.

Reflecting on the shifts in my life, I attribute change to the Hakomi concept of the missing experience. Missing experience refers to something that we lacked in our childhood, such as attention or patience or boundaries. Based on this lack we organize around getting the unmet desire filled– sometimes in effective, sometimes in less than effective ways.

In a therapeutic context when you get some of what you’ve been craving a deep sigh occurs. The body and psyche are allowed a sort of completion. It is then that deeply held core beliefs are inclined to shift. Another possibility arises. Suddenly, there’s more freedom.

Now I notice when a missing experience gets met in my life. Ah, that’s what I was craving and it feels so good to get it! I can feel it when I’m getting attention in ways that I’ve always wanted. The vigilant parts of me get to soften and energy gets freed up for other things.

With practice the feedback loop increases. I’m more able to see abundance because my internal beliefs have shifted. The positive voices are stronger in the face of doubt. The internal and external spiral upwards together.

In summary:

  • Healing is not linear or predictable
  • As the gold comes in the gunk comes up
  • Making change gradually allows for integration
  • Each success instills more hope for the potential for future change

Happily Ever After might be possible after all.