Very often, when I'm facilitating someone on a belief such as, "I am afraid," I'll ask, "How do you treat fear when you believe this thought?" The client typically says, "Wow, I never thought of asking myself that," and they find that they have been treating concepts the way they treat the people in their lives when they attach to concepts: with loathing, perhaps, or with avoidance.
If you are doing inquiry with underlying beliefs from a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet—or, if you are writing about a universal belief, or about yourself—you may find yourself with more concepts to write about than characters. I invite you to treat each concept you question as a character in your story. Doing this can help you to deepen your realizations about your emotional life.
For instance, if you believe, "I shouldn't get angry," you may discover, as you answer question three, that you treat yourself harshly when you get angry, and that you treat others with distance; you wouldn't want them to see you as angry if you don't want to see yourself that way. So how do you treat anger itself when you believe that you shouldn't get angry?
Do you negate anger? Ignore it? Deny it in yourself? Dismiss it by saying it's really something else? Fear it? See it as the devil? Avoid or criticize angry people?
"There's not enough time." How do you treat time when you believe this thought? As a precious commodity (which means, in addition to valuing it, you could be fearful of losing it, or of not having enough of it)? As an enemy that withholds itself from you? Do you treat it with neediness? With avoidance?
"Nobody loves me." How do you treat love when you believe this thought? As something you lack, something that can be attracted or bought, something foreign? Do you resent love when you believe this thought, just as one might resent someone who doesn't love you?
"My body shouldn't hurt." How do you treat pain when you believe this thought?
"Dave smokes too much." How do you treat smoking when you hold this belief?
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Good one! How do you treat fear when you think this thought? If your answer is, "I treat it fearfully," what does that look like in your life and relationships?
Find some other concepts on worksheets you have worked through. See what else you can learn about yourself when you ask yourself, "How do I treat _____ ?"
©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.