By Cat Gina Cole
This begins with an exercise.
The first thing I would like to do for you to notice how you are feeling. Notice your mood, are you comfortable in the chair, how do you feel about others around you if there are any. Now if you will, stand up and shake it off! Yep, just shake. Now I would like you to stand and introduce yourself to the person close to you and hug them. If you are alone Stand in front of mirror, introduce yourself to yourself and hug yourself.
Did your mood change? Did you notice a change in your body or feel less tension? This is how we begin to live a life of peace, by tearing down tension, anger, hostility and fear.
There are a number of ways we can go about peaceful living, when I teach this, I begin with nine questions.
1. What are your beliefs about God?
2. What are your beliefs about yourself?
3. Do you believe in more than one God?
4. What are your beliefs about others?
5. What are your beliefs about spirituality?
6. What are your beliefs about the universe?
7. What are your beliefs about magic?
8. What are your beliefs about meditation?
9. Spiritually what would you call yourself and why?
I Begin with these questions because it is my belief that one needs to really know themselves to find peace and a spirituality that really fits them, the real them! So often you see folks trying on Spiritual roles like shoes and the spiritual role does not fit well and it ends in dissatisfaction.
I further believe that if one truly knows themselves, then chooses a spirituality to fit the real them, rather than picking a spirituality and trying to change themselves to fit it, one gets a match that will actually bring peace and fulfillment to their life.
So let us take the question What are your beliefs about God? Think on that a moment. Now where did you get those beliefs? Where did those ideas come from? Were you aware you can get beliefs that are not your own? And how does that happen?
Through social and self-conditioning. Many of us are going through life with beliefs and attitudes that no longer serve who we are today. When we explore ourselves deeply, we may discover our beliefs about money do not accurately reflect how we truly feel about money now. But rather, that those beliefs came from a past experience or person. These are things we are still acting on rather than moving on from it to find something that really works for us. To move on to something different requires us to give ourselves permission to change old patterns. Just because a parent or other authority told us something does not mean we have to carry it for our whole lives. But we often do even though it is no longer effective. We keep trying to make old stuff work when it is no longer working and wondering why we cannot succeed.
This happens because what we think comes out in our actions, in our body, and in our voice, and when it comes out it affects others too. Like the exercise we just did, when you first sat down, you felt different than you did when you were done hugging. It changed your thinking, which changed how your body felt. Everything we say and do affects ourselves and others, like ripples in a pond. When we put out, “I am angry!” or even a subtle “ I am uncomfortable” it creates a physical reaction we project. Our body gets tension somewhere. When our body gets tension, our mind/mood gets tense too. Then the ego flares up and perpetuates thinking that can lead to hostility. It gets interpreted in our brains into things like “I don’t like you, you make me uncomfortable, or being judgmental, thinking of others as stupid or as not understanding and more. Rather we say it out loud or not it still has the same effect on our body and minds, we still become frustrated and uncomfortable. If our bodies are uncomfortable, we tend to react even more strongly. It becomes a cycle and breeds hostility and as we know when tension and stress build up in the body it can lead to illness and pain. Then when we are in illness and pain, we are even shorter with folks. Which demonstrates how our thoughts can affect us and others.
The cause of this type of reaction, is what we tell ourselves, that inner dialog” geez what a dummy I am! “ that was stupid!” and so on. These kinds of thoughts come to us from our experiences. They are not really ours! They come from outside influences, and we carry them with us. These self-tapes come from what we have heard from others, or what others have led us to believe. It goes through our ears and senses and as we take it in our subconscious picks it up, then the ego repeats it back to us when stimulated by another similar experience.
Keeping these now useless things with us does not allow room for the good stuff to get in and stick around. This is often the reason why when we try to change, we fail. Which then starts more self-tapes like, “See that didn’t work what is the use of trying?” And so on. This is how we condition ourselves and how these self-tapes now have become beliefs. These self-imposed beliefs then show up in our actions in the form of holding ourselves back because or having a lack of confidence.
A skill I used to stop these tapes is called pivoting. It is pretty much what it sounds like. You pivot away from unwanted thoughts, beliefs or actions. Think of anything non-harmful instead, even if it is only for a moment. It can be, “Nice weather”, or look at the color of that dog, anything that is somewhat pleasant. It can be anything that catches your eye in the moment or a pleasant memory. What we are doing in scientific terms is re-wiring our synapses.
The reason it is so hard to accomplish change is because our synapses when they fire are used to going to the same place they are conditioned too. It takes effort to change that and help your synapses find a better place to connect to. This is a process; it takes time and effort. It is work and it will not happen right away. During this process you may even feel like you are faking it. This feeling can derail your efforts if you allow the old self tapes to creep in. The truth is you are faking it, you do not really feel like looking at the color of a dog, or a lady’s dress, or saying something nice or walking away. But if you do it anyway that is what re-wires the synapses and begins to bring positive change. Pivoting can work on many habits, and some are harder than others.
Sometimes we need to wait till other things are settled, like, housing, jobs or relationships or health to begin this process, we have to set the stage so to speak. Awareness is our biggest asset in this work. It takes being aware of our emotions as they arise. With each of these tapes and beliefs, is an emotion, and beneath that is a deeper feeling driving it. On the surface we may be mad. But we have to ask why we are mad? Did someone scare us? Did someone remind us of an unpleasant event? Did someone take something away from us? Why do we get mad or frustrated?
On the surface it can be for many reasons, but it is actually the ego that makes us mad or frustrated. The ego reacts when we feel diminished in any way. If we realize that and think of that when we are mad, which is using awareness, then an amazing thing happens! We begin to choose how we want to feel and react. We are no longer letting our emotions have control. This leaves room for the most important thing. The ability to validate and nurture ourselves. If you wait for another to validate or nurture you, you will wait quite a while and often will be disappointed. No one can give you what you need like you can. Your emotions are yours to deal with and learn from. They are not for another to take care of.
When we get to the place where we are looking at why we are feeling and reacting a certain way, we can then give ourselves new self-tapes. We can now say to ourselves, “that was in the past it is okay to leave it there, we do not have to deal with that here and now. We can tell ourselves this person is not responsible for making me feel this way”. These kinds of self- tapes are self-validating and self-nurturing. The more we do this another great thing happens! We begin to have confidence. We begin to experience positive moments that we may not have had before. We begin to experience joy and gratitude. This is the beginning of having peace in our lives. When we do this our bodies feel better and so on go the ripples.
Next comes Honest communication. When we pivot and look at what we are feeling and why. We then with awareness realize it is our ego and sel-tapes from the past that have us feeling afraid, diminished or vulnerable. We now get the opportunity to self-nourish and validate by communicating those things appropriately to ourselves. We get to say, in adult terms, No. With no explanation, with no guilt, no fear of reprisal by others.
Others may say something, but when we are practicing self-validation, their opinions no longer have the impact they once did. Our parents, our schools, our officials, all tell us as we are growing up it is not okay to say no. They tell us that we must be super parents, We must make so much money in order to be like everyone else to fit in.
I am here to tell you, you can say no even to those things. Once we know who we really are, and how we really want to live, we can empower ourselves and break free from such conditioning. There are other skills, and the subjects are pretty deep. This is just a taste of what is actually a 16 week course. But what I want you to go away with is that the exploration of who you really are is well worth it. It is rewarding and empowering and when we think and choose, rather than react to old thinking, we are choosing inner peace which will then spread peace to everyone around us. Many blessings to you all.
Cat Gina Cole is a Herditary Witch and author of Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft (Llewellyn, 2022). She is the founder of The Coven of the Rising Phoenix and Staff Coordinator for “Green Egg Magazine.” You can reach her at www.catginacole.com.