What Is Your Doom?
I am doomed. Yes, thatís right... doomed. Doomed to hurt other peopleís feelings, demean and belittle them. And I fully accept that as my fate. Paradoxical? For sure, and thatís what this article is about. A paradoxical, yet powerful intervention that has an almost magical feel to it. I say almost, because it certainly isnít something that just magically happens. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It takes guts, perseverance and downright hard work to accept something you have been fighting off most of your lifeóoften without even knowing you were fighting it. At least not consciously!
In my previous article (The Spider at the Gate of Happiness, Summer, 2006) I spoke of destroying the box, and that it is easier said than done. Iím sure
most of you can agree with me on that. The thing about most boxes is that, though invisible, in our minds they feel so real that we donít even question the reality of it. We just know itís true. Even if it holds us back from everything that we would love to achieve in life. Even if it holds us back from completely unleashing the true artist that is residing within us, therefore not living the purpose of our existence. I too have been living in one of those boxes and for me the time has come to destroy it once and for all.
The idea of living inside of a box, reminded me of this novel I had to read for one of my courses back at University. It is the story of a prisoner in a Soviet prison camp, which is titled ďOne Day in the Life of Ivan DenisovichĒ by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. At one point, the writer speaks of the so-called ďSotsgorodokĒ. The Sotsgorodok is a bare field where a new building was to be built. If you were sent there to work on the building during the cold, barren days of winter, youíd be knee-deep in snow and almost freezing to death. The first thing you would have to do is to start digging holes, knocking in fence posts and stringing barbed wire around them. Imagine that, the first thing youíd do is building a fence to keep you from running away. That was the purpose of the fence. Then, after ensuring youíd stay put, there was only one thing left to do: start building. Work hard and try to keep yourself from freezing to death.
From the time that we are born, ideas and beliefs brought forth by family and society have formed and shaped us into the persons that we are today. Thatís because we essentially learn by modelling the people closest to us. We mimic them and through it we adopt their model of the world as our own. If we are lucky, a lot of the thought patterns will be supporting and valuing of self. Unfortunately, thatís not always the case, and the beliefs that we take in might be viewed as the symbolical fence around our Sotsgorodok, holding us back from our true desires in life. They feel like the truth, donít they? Like something that is not just a feeling anymore, but something that we know is true. Or worse, it becomes who we are. Even though inside it is cold, lonely and hard work, there is just no way of challenging what feels like the ultimate truth. And the only thing left to do is to start building our own house within the boundaries of the fences.
The irony is that on some level we might feel we are trapped inside our own Sotsgorodok, yet we fiercely try to deny that we feel like that. We try to deny that the fence of limiting beliefs has been put into place at some point in our lives. And this denial keeps us locked in, like the fence posts that keeps the fence in its place.
You might want to reflect on this for a moment. The part of us that we feel is our essential truth, that which we feel we are ďdoomedĒ to, we work hard to ignore it. We will start compensating, trying to cancel out our beliefs about it and pretending we donít have them. We might turn away from anger or aggression, fight our own fear, softness and weakness. The thing we feel doomed to becomes a taboo in our lives. Once itís a taboo, it locks us in.
When I was a little girl, sometimes my brother and I would get into little fights. Like good siblings are supposed to. My brother would sometimes hurt me unintentionally (though thatís still under debate!), and upon seeing my reaction, he would start to apologise. I was in pain, so rather than accepting his apologies, IĎd get angry. In turn, that would make him angry; I was supposed to forgive him! The end result being that I would feel guilty and try to make things better. Thankfully, we have grown out of the sibling rivalry and are great friends now. However, my strategy for dealing with (the prospect of) someone feeling hurt or misunderstood by me, has proven to be a little more tenacious.
Since I feel it is holding me back from achieving some of the things I want in life, I decided to do something about it. A few months ago, I went to Amsterdam for a coaching session with Wassili Zafiris. At one point during the coach conversation, I told him about my fear of expressing my opinion to people who are very close to me. What does that mean to you, expressing your opinion, he asked? Well, it means that I devalue the opinion of the other person. And that means that I am essentially depriving them of love. So there I was, in a terrible bind. How can I possibly stick up for myself, if that means I take away love from someone else? I would hurt someone, belittle and demean them. My solution has always been to be limitless in loving, caring and supporting the other person. I could keep that up for a very long time, but eventually it would wear me down. And then Iíd start to feel stuck, frustrated and powerless. Yet often that was not enough for me to really stick up for myself.
After explaining all this to Wassili, he turned on the magic. He said: ďSo, you are doomed to hurt other people?Ē Are you kidding? Iím not doomed to hurt other people! In fact, I am extremely good at avoiding that! You see, I always make sure the other person feels loved! And again, Wassili says: ďSo you are doomed to hurt other people?Ē And then it clicked. Oh, so thatís what you mean. Yes, I guess if you say it like that, I do feel like thatís the truth. I truly feel as if I am doomed to hurt others. And Iíve been working so hard to fight it off. As if that was the only way to change it.
This was the first time that I ever vocalised this belief. Itís a very special kind of belief, isnít it?! One I try to deny through my actions, yet no matter how hard I worked, I still believed it to be true. So in effect, I am doomed.
While acknowledging having the belief is a revelation in itself, it doesnít help me destroy the fence that I built for myself. More work had to be done. I was asked to think of some small thing that I donít like, but which I still find easy to accept. Something like hitting traffic, or a rainy day when you expect it to be sunny. For me it is getting a speeding ticket. I donít like them, but hey, what can you do? Wassili guided me to enter into a strong state of acceptance. I imagined opening my mailbox and seeing one of those white envelopes with a purple rim. By the time Iím entering the elevator I shrug my shoulders, shake my head and smile at my own stupidity of speeding and getting caught. Once I had fully entered into that state, he invited me to look through the eyes of acceptance to the idea that I am doomed to hurt other people. I am doomed. I donít like it, I wish I had been blessed with another fate, but it simply isnít so. Accept it.
Since our natural instinct is to fight against it, accepting feels very unnatural. At the same time, the moment you really claim it as your own, it feels liberating. Wassili told me that he was inspired to create this exercise by Victor Franklís ďManís Search for MeaningĒ. In it he explains that people can only find true meaning in their lives once they accept reality for what it is. This is especially the case for prisoners in concentration camp life, but also very true for those of us who are living in an imaginary Sotsgorodosk. The last question that Wassili asked is very essential in this process. He asked me which meaning of life revealed itself to me after having accepted my fate.
Unconditional love and compassion for myself and others unfolds itself, from which inner wisdom arises to bring me inner peace. Thatís when I can guide others to find their magic, through which they can unleash the artist within themselves. People will turn to me for wisdom. Time slows done and at the same time I feel a lot of energy and initiative. It felt as if I entered a twilight zone, totally reborn, energy surging through my veins and I got completely focused on what I want most out of life.
So now I have shared with you my story, it leaves me with only these questions: What do you feel doomed to? And are you ready to truly and fully accept that as your fate? Are you curious which meaning of life reveals itself to you, so you can start living it?
Hall, Michael, The Matrix Model: The Seven Matrices of Neuro-Semantics, Neuro-Semantic Publications, 2002
Hall, Michael, Meta-Coaching, Volume 1: For Higher Levels of Success and Transformation, Neuro-Semantic Publications, 2005
Hall, Michael, Meta-Coaching, Volume II: Coaching Conversations for Transformational Change, Neuro-Semantic Publications, 2005
Femke Stuut is an internationally certified NLP trainer and meta-coach (neuro-semantics). She has an extensive background in international business and specializes in organizational change as well as personal and professional leadership. She is founder of "Completely You - The human quality headquarters" in the Netherlands. Her vision is to facilitate in connecting people with their core so they can live the purpose of their existence. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo Courtesy of dreamstime.
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