Growing up you may have kept a treasure box; a box where special things were kept: a shell from that beach vacation, a ticket stub from the first ball game your dad took you to, a picture of your best childhood friend? In short, any number of things that brought back happy memories. On the other hand, you may have a box of another kind, immaterial but just as real, acknowledged or suppressed, and often unconscious; a box deep in your heart that is opened just to put things into, then tightly sealed again. That is the more important box, the one where deep hurts, disappointments and negative beliefs are kept.
While looking within is often the hardest phase of healing, it is crucial. I am not talking about a cursory review of oneself at the mind level, but rather a process of opening that inner box, looking deep inside our hearts and becoming emotionally honest and transparent with ourselves. We must allow ourselves to feel and find the root causes of the hurt and negative beliefs we have so carefully sealed from our consciousness. As I help parents and kids reach this place, it is amazing to see how unaware they often are regarding the pools of pain they are carrying within as well as the negative beliefs they have adopted.
When I ask them on the surface if they are okay with themselves, the answer is normally yes, but as we dig through a long list of questions about their lives, unresolved hurts and deeply held negative beliefs begin to surface. Identifying the sealed-off hurts within our hearts and the negative beliefs is essential to healing that brings with it internal contentment, peace and joy.
I often find that people have only two or three deeply heartfelt positive beliefs about themselves yet between eight and fourteen negative beliefs.
Negative things I hear:
- I am wrong
- There is something wrong with me
- I am bad
- I am a failure
- I am not smart
- I am stupid
- I am unlovable
- I am and never will be good enough
- I am a lousy friend
- I am ugly
- I am not likable
- I have no value
This list could go on and on with many other negatives shared by those I have helped begin to look within.
Positive things I hear:
- I am loyal
- I am honest
- I am smart
- I am forgiving
The interesting thing about the positive and negative lists people create is that the positive are character traits while the negatives are feelings they have felt so often they have come to believe they are facts and are true. It’s a truism that a lie told loud enough and long enough is soon believed to be true. Sometimes these lies are ones we tell ourselves and, thus, we believe them true. They are not.
It’s important, also, to remember that Satan is called “the father of lies” while God is the God of Truth. The Holy Spirit is also called “the Spirit of Truth”, so when we begin the process uncovering what is “really real” about our past we have divine resources to call on to help us. God can give insight, comfort, healing and strength to move forward.
When we open the box to our heart’s hurts and let the emotions and feelings rise to the surface we begin the healing/grieving process and bring to light many unconscious feelings and beliefs.
I found in my own life that I had no idea why I was defensive and closed to others’ input. When I honestly opened my heart, it became clear. I was so negative about myself deep inside that I could not take any more and shut down my heart. I locked out anyone who had anything constructive to say because their input just confirmed there was something wrong with me and it hurt too much.
Finally Time for Action?
If you believe you have locked the box to your own heart, having stuffed in hurts and negative feelings about yourself, find someone to share this with who will understand and support you. Then open the box and let out your pain. When my counselor helped me open mine, it led to such deep sobbing that I could not drive and had to pull over to the side of the highway. It may begin in another place for you, but tears are a normal part of the healing process.
Once your box is open you can begin to discern your internal beliefs, both positive and negative. Sit quietly and allow your feelings to surface and write down those that become clear. Then if you find yourself feeling like a failure as you go through the day, put failure on your negative list. If you find you are loyal to your friends and spouse, put loyal on the positive side of the list. You will create a complete positive and negative belief list as you continue your journey to healing. Then as you begin to transform those negative feelings about yourself, freeing yourself to be happy with yourself, it will be far easier to be happy with your family.
Becoming emotionally transparent with ourselves is not easy, yet good news is it is so freeing. Allow yourself to move through the pain rather than saying that’s enough and shutting your heart once more.
Join us next week as we continue the healing the heart process with the blog topic, grieving. Go forward through the process, letting your heart grieve so that it heals.
If you missed the previous Healing the Heart blog post, visit Healing Our Heart – A Trip Worth Taking.