I was approached once by a woman who had a difficult time finding happiness. Her dilemma was that she found fault in herself and in others which gave rise to feelings of non-acceptance. She was in conflicted because although she had a desire to experience life in harmony the standards by which she measured others and herself were never met. As I listened, I noted there was a battle going on inside. On one hand, she had an ideal view of how people should act and behave, on the other when those standards were not met she became judgmental about herself and others.
The battle raged for years causing three divorces, a bad relationship with her children, and a device split with her sister. She felt that she had hurt others with unkind and that the conflict was beginning to take a toll on her. Based on the symptoms she described, the initial stages of stress and anxiety were starting to manifest.
Sadly I explained to her that because the problem had persisted for over a decade, it would be best to seek help from a licensed practitioner. I told her that my knowledge is limited and I would be able to help her. I gently explained that I specialized in helping people reach their potential and that although most people who buy our programs have some mental imperfections, they are mild in form. "When you think about it, every human being that has been born has to some degree psychological quirks. We all do. If we didn't, we would be God. From that perspective we all need help." I told her.
The lady insisted I gave some advice to help her mainly if it was from the Bible. Her anguish and pain were enough for me to relinquish. I told her that I saw a conflict between what she had consciously and deeply put in her mind and the natural needs of all human beings which is to love, be loved, and to live in harmony.
She revealed that her sense of a pious life came from the teachings of her pastor. She saw him as an authority figure that could guide her to a better life. The strict rules she applied to herself, and others originated from listening services with the same undertones. The conflict began when she consciously chose to uphold standards regardless of who it might hurt. She thought that by doing so she was honoring God and therefore the pain was justified. At first, she intellectually supported the thought of losing loved ones because upholding her religious beliefs were more important.
The problem began to worsen when even she couldn't follow the strict belief system. Spoken about the situation as a mental punishment that generated a lot of stress and anxiety.
In the quietest and gentlest voice I could muster, I replied, "No one is perfect." Then for the next ten minutes, I explained to her that the Bible teaches that we should all strive for perfection but through love and forgiveness which is embodied in the person of Jesus. It is through love and forgiveness that we become more like God who blesses even those who don't love Him. (Matthew 5:45)
The message of love and forgiveness is so paramount that Jesus even taught that we should love our enemies and by perfecting our personality with this instruction we would be more like God. (Matthew 5:48)
By now the lady had a new look on her face. I could tell that what I share was beginning to sink in. So I continued and expressed to her that by imposing strict rules on her life and the life of others she sets up unrealistic standards that would cause to stress. I reiterated that no one will ever be perfect and the best to approach life was to love and accept others exactly as they are, the principle should be applied to her as well.
I saw her demeanor soften a little more. She inquisitively asked, "How do I do that?" I shared with her that there are two common ways to overcome habitual mental patterns. The first is to explore any thought, feeling, or emotion connected to the pattern during a time of relaxation, once it's identified a person can release it through visualization. It might take a few tries, but I encouraged her to be persistent. Then it's necessary to replace the old pattern with a new thought like, "God loves all people, and so do I" or "God loves all people through me." At this stage, I told her, that it's crucial to see herself loving others. I told her to go the extra mile and start loving people she might have hurt. I told her to practice this step for herself as well. God's love and forgiveness are always present, and it was time to give up the austere personality.
I could see a sense of relief in her eyes, and a smile was beginning to appear. Then she asked, "What's the second way?" I went on to explain that because people have different personalities some people do not need to relive the past to live in a new way. Sometimes it's helpful, some it isn't. A person may only need to start thinking in a new way. Thinking in a new way retrains the subconscious and therefore changes reactionary thought, the kind of thought that gets most people in trouble.
She interrupted me with a mild touch on my forearm. I could tell she was concerned about something. I asked, "What's wrong?" She proceeded to tell me that she could do everything I explained and that it was basically what she to adopt the teachings of her pastor. As I spoke, she apparently realized that she would have to mend many relationships. The thought that frightened her the most was rejection. If her friends and family didn't forgive her, it would be painful.
Then she began to counsel herself by saying, "Then I'll just keep loving them and being good to them." "maybe one day they'll realize that I really changed. If they're not willing to forgive and let go, then I'll pray for them everyday, and this will give me peace. The only problem is they won't have peace because they need to love and forgive." "You got it," I answered.
I assured her that if she spoke from the heart with sincere remorse very few people will turn down her plea for reconciliation.
I'm happy to report that no one turned her down. To my surprise, she took what she learned to a higher level. In her email she related that to make sure that she got the approval of all, she visualized her worst behavior while apologizing. She said the technique helped her to find the words she needed.
The mind is a powerful tool that is at our disposal to be used in any way. You can reason your way into the tortuous pit of despair or a heaven of love, joy, and peace. It doesn't take much to change. Your brain takes orders from the invisible thought life of your mind. The brain is impersonal, has no will of its own, and executes with absolute diligence what you cultivate in it.
Let your mind relive something you know was wrong for you to do, and like magic, your brain will help you apologize with the perfect words.
The valuable lesson we can learn is that no one is perfect and that we can sometimes adopt harmful thinking. It's essential that we maintain enough presence of mind to notice any deviation from God's universal love which serves as beacon during troubled times.
If we foster an unhealthy mentality, we can harbor feelings of resentment and bitterness which causes fights, disputes, and eventually isolation. If not addressed this sort of mentality can make a person sour and angry toward the world while stunting one's personal growth.
We have the power to change. Because conscious thought affects the subconscious, we can consider conscious thought the master of the subconscious. From conscious thought flows the decision to change and new thought which feeds the inner recesses of the subconscious, once a new pattern is in place and regularly rehearsed a miraculous change will happen.
I've personally witnessed the change in someone's demeanor when a new realization sets in. It's as if a new person emerges with faith, belief, and power. They think and act like a new person and go on to live a happy, healthy life.
The transformation of personality is nothing new. Once the apostle Paul commented, "but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward." (Philippians 3:13) When the decision to change is made, we must not look back to past errors again. We must move forward with a new attitude if we want to change.
In the book of Romans Paul also instructs that we should never resurrect the old self, but instead to live as new in Christ embodied in God's love. (Romans 6:6-14) Sound advice if you ask me.