Remember Pavlov? He’s the guy that rang the bell then fed the dog. After a few go-rounds, he could ring the bell and the dog would salivate. The dog made a connection between the bell and food. In reality, there is no actual connection between the bell and the food, yet even after many failed attempts where the bell produced no food, the connection remained. My dear readers, the same is true of us. There are lots of connections that we have crafted throughout our lives that in truth have no association, yet our behavior and belief remain. Let’s look a few examples.
Money = Security: Many of us are conditioned with the belief that money is necessary for security. If we have money, we are safe. It feels true that abundant money may help alleviate some concerns in daily life, but the reality is that there are people with large supplies of money that feel very insecure, and people with minimal financial balances who feel perfectly safe.
I’ll be happy when…: Do you practice this one? It’s the forever unattainable happiness that is connected to some life circumstance, event or achievement. “I’ll be happy when I graduate.” “I’ll be happy when I meet that special someone.” “I’ll be happy when I lose 20
pounds.” We connect happiness to external events in anticipation of those events changing our feelings. And it is true that these successes are worthy of celebration and will bring a momentary high. However, the reality is, if you’re not happy now, there’s a good chance you won’t be happy then either. Why? Happiness (real happiness) is not connected to life circumstances. It is connected to how you feel about yourself, your personal power, and your ability to navigate life.
Partner = Completion of Self: Finding a perfect life partner is a goal that many
people share. It is common for people to associate wholeness with the presence of a mate. The truth is that you are whole, and any pieces that you are looking to have completed by a partner will remain void after the initial high of partnership wears off. Let me clarify. Partnership can be wonderful, and if it is something that you wish to have in your life, that’s great. However, if you are seeking a partner to “complete” yourself, you’re asking for trouble. Know your own completeness and look for a partner to enjoy and enhance your life. A partner should be a bonus, not a space filler.
It’s common that we learn of these misaligned connections through trial and error and often through hardship. We typically don’t know the connection exists until it is challenged in some way. You may realize that your definition of who you are requires an overhaul when you lose your job or your partner. You may discover the disconnect between events and happiness when you find yourself feeling low even though the circumstances of your life are good. If often takes experiencing the contrast to
realize that the connection wasn’t true to begin with.
Here comes the coaching part. Awareness is always the first step in any positive change. If you wish to change some of the connections you’ve created, take a good, honest look at where they exist. Next, collect some evidence. Are there times in your life that you were
happy, even though you hadn’t yet achieved some of your goals? Are there other people in your life that have found contentment and joy despite your necessary prerequisites? (Secure without money, whole without partner, happy without circumstance, etc.) Once
you conclude that the connection is invalid, then watch for places in your thinking that it pops up. When you notice it in your thoughts, remind yourself that it was simply conditioned to be there, and replace it with your new truth. Just as the conditioning for the belief took time to build, it will take time un-build. Be gentle with yourself as you learn a new skill and be generous with your self-congratulations as you
experience the positive shift.
Post originally written 5/2010 by Jill Baake.