Transformational Counseling, Alcoholism Treatment and Drug Addiction Treatment Part II- By Harry Henshaw, Ed. D., LMHC
September 16, 2004 -- One of the fundamental distinctions of Transformational Counseling is that our thoughts are very important, if not the most important component of what it is to be a human being. We tend to believe that the external world, or what we commonly believe to be reality, is that which is truly important. As a result of such a belief, we are constantly engaged in trying to change something in the external world, constantly believing that this type of activity will bring us true happiness and contentment in our life.
Within Transformational Counseling, it is our thoughts or thinking that is of immense importance to us and our process of living. It is our thoughts and thinking patterns that literally shape or determine our feelings, behavior, experiences and reality. More specifically, it is our thoughts that we have about ourselves that tends to create or shape our experiences that forms the background of our life and our sense of reality. It is from the thoughts that we initially create about ourselves that we subsequently develop into a belief about who we think we are, our self-image, of how we define our very being and it is from this belief that we live our life. A belief is merely a thought that we think is true or real that expresses some sense of ontology.
Inside the conversation of Transformational Counseling it is also important to understand that we are truly responsible for the thoughts that we have, including and especially those that we have about ourselves. We literally invent or create all of our thoughts and with them our feelings and behaviors. To truly understand our responsibility in how we actually create our experiences is to get how we create or invent all of our thoughts about ourselves and with it our sense of reality.
Reality itself has no meaning outside of what we give it.
We are, as human beings, meaning making machines, beings that wrap meaning around everything in our life, including and most importantly about ourselves. Being responsible for our thoughts, getting it that we create them, is completely different from the experience of guilt or blame. It is not that we are to blame for our experiences but merely that we do create what we think about ourselves, who we think we are, how we feel about ourselves and how the world appears to us. Getting the distinction between responsibility and blame or guilt can be very much of a breakthrough for the recovering client.
What we tend to think about ourselves has at its core what can be referred to as our self-limiting belief. The self-limiting belief is a thought that we have about who we think we are, that defines our identity at its core, a belief that was developed between the ages of three to six approximately. During this time frame in our journey through life something happened, an event took place and it is from that event that we developed or created a thought or belief about ourselves. The original event is not so much of importance as the fact that we created a belief about ourselves, a belief that has actually limited us in life. The self-limiting belief is a sense of inadequacy, an idea or thought that something is wrong with us, that something is broken. Once this self-limiting belief is created or invented we tend to live our lives as if it were true. Our self-limiting belief is a fundamental, core belief that we have about ourselves, about who we think we are, that creates our feelings about ourselves, affects our behavior and determines our experiences.
Our self-limiting belief affects our behavior in that we are constantly trying to fix it. For example, if ones self-limiting belief is that the individual is "not enough", that person will constantly try to be "enough", constantly be doing things to compensate for what or who they think they are. While an individual is constantly attempting to fix it, the self-limiting belief is also in the process of fulfilling upon itself, of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, of causing the person to be "not enough."
Given the fact that ones self-limiting belief is hidden from their view, we are not aware of its existence or its affect on us, of its influence or impact on our life. Even though it is not true, not real, we believe it to be so and as a result the self-limiting belief is that which keeps us stuck, keeps us living in the past, prevents us from living a life that we love and living it powerfully. Our self-limiting belief is in a very real sense our personal affirmation, an affirmation that is embedded in our "self talk", an affirmation that determines how we tend to feel about ourselves, an affirmation that guides and determines our behavior in life, that defines our very way of being and of how we appear to the world. Knowledge of the self-limiting belief is a real missing for the recovering client as it is for those who attempt to treat them.
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