Change Through Repetition

How do we change an ingrained pattern, belief, fear?

Whenever I think of this subject, the experience that comes to mind is my mask clearing scuba diving experience. When you’re learning to dive, one of the tasks you have to complete is taking off your mask below the water, putting it back on, and clearing it of water. All while you keep breathing through your mouth through the diving regulator, obviously.

Me, as soon as I felt water near my nose, something in my body automatically sent a signal to stop breathing. And this was fine in 3 metres of water, I could swim up to the surface and breath. But I knew if i didn’t pin this down, and I’m in deeper water, it could cost my life. I was even thinking whether diving is for me, since this fear seemed quite real and big to overcome at a point.

Something within though really wanted to overcome it and get my qualification, and most of all be super comfortable in the water when I’m deep. It’s not unknown to lose a mask while diving and have to continue without it. Hence the need for completion of this task to finish the course.

I knew many people had this fear and overcame it too, so that started to make me see that it’s not real, and that it’s possible.

So at last, I was under water and without the instructor asking me to do so, I just took off the mask and continued breathing, put it back on and cleared it of water.

Wow, what a relief, getting over that block!!

Then I realised that my thought that “now it’s over! I’m good to go”  wasn’t totally true. This is where it really sunk in that to change a belief ingrained in me for years, I had to repeat it over and over till the new program takes over.

So that’s what I did.

But I also realised another belief, or way of being, I had ingrained in me – I get confident quite quickly, which leads me to be careless. So I didn’t practice it as often as possible – which would have meant every dive, even twice if possible. After a while I just thought I got it. And it hadn’t been enough to re-write the program.

After not diving for a while, the fear came up again. It’s still different now, I know I will get in the sea and do it, and manage, because I did it before. But i’ll over-think it anyway.

Take driving a motorbike – I was scared to start learning at 25 years of age, but I got on and tried, and persisted almost daily, till it became second nature. Now whenever I spend months not riding my bike, I just get on it and I continue where I left off, no fear butts in. The program had been re-written.

I’m using practical, physical examples here, cause that’s how I understand my emotional limitations.

I know, that to change a belief that has been in me for ages, I have to repeat a new practice, a new belief, as often as possible.

I don’t even know how I picked some of them up at times, and it’s not important to know really, more important to see that at this moment they are not serving me!

Emotional beliefs are things like the fear of expressing my needs, just in case they are rejected. Or the fear to go for what I want in any area of my life. I’ve done it many times, but I’ve neglected it many others in between, so I don’t feel the program has been totally overwritten yet. It’s certainly easier to do it, but I now know that repetition would make that come naturally, without having to think about it.

And it seems the beliefs that are hardest to change are those tied to our core beliefs of unworthiness, where we might feel rejected. So those are the ones we have to be more persistent about.

You have a difficulty being totally honest about your needs with a partner or a close friend? It can be the simple need for space, or for more touch. Do it as often as the opportunity comes up in the beginning. And let go of the outcome.

A block comes up whenever you talk to your mum or dad? Overcome it every time you can, say things you wouldn’t say.

If it’s something you want to overcome that is. Maybe it’s fine for you not to.

Me, personally, I like to overcome anything that is not allowing me to be free to express myself as I am, without impeding on anybody else’s freedom that is. (That’s another subject).

All this is true for kicking an addiction too, whatever an addiction means to you. I had to NOT take drugs for a long time before I woke up and forgot that I even used them, which was a big relief when it happened. Then it actually becomes a choice. I overwrote the program by overcoming the ingrained bodily addiction with the strong will of my mind, day after day.

My body said I need it, my mind told my body that I am greater than that, till the body gave up and started responding to a new mind.

And emotions and beliefs are the same, we are addicted to them like a drug.

So we have to keep recognising our craving to fall into them, and override them with our powerful mind.

So the main lessons I get from this process is:

  1. Notice when a fear, an emotion, an addiction, is limiting me.
  2. Keep in mind what my life will be like without this fear, what the benefit will be.
  3. Notice that it’s unrealistic by reasoning that if other people live without it or have overcome it, or any other kind of reasoning that helps you see that it is a mind construct.
  4. Do it once, and then do it as much as possible in the beginning, till the program is overwritten with a new program.
  5. Let go of the outcome. Thinking of the outcome is what keeps us from practicing our new way of being in the first place. Will I get what I want, will it work, will I be accepted? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are rewriting the program. And, in my experience, the fact that I overcame my limitations has always benefited me more than how other people saw me. That stops mattering!

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