What if you suddenly discovered that you have been creating every problem that you experience in your life?
What if you found out that every problem, setback, upset, issue, speed bump, calamity, disaster (and the list goes on) that you have ever experienced was not caused by anyone or anything outside of yourself, but instead, was created by your own brain because it was trying to get something from it?
Well that just might be the case.
Breakthroughs in neuroscience have found that early in childhood, our brain separates into two main neural networks called the intrinsic and the extrinsic networks. This is caused in part by learning language, and the effects of this division cause more than just a little unhappiness in our experience of life – they actually create every problem that we ever experience.
The easiest way to understand these two networks is to see them as two big boxes in our brain: one where our brain files all the thoughts that our brain labels as being part of “me” and the other box is where your brain puts all the thoughts of everything that it labels as “not me”. In my book “Grow Happy” I call these two networks the “I Box” and the “Other Box” because it’s an easy way to understand these two networks.
When this separation happens in our brains during the time we start learning to talk, our concept of who we are (our I Box) gets cut off from the rest of our brain – literally. That part of our brain, the part we experience as “us”, no longer has complete access to the rest of our brain and the free flowing of energy through it that was there before this separation happened.
We then have the experience that suddenly something is missing. We can remember having access to our whole brain and the free flowing of energy through it, but we don’t have the ability to understand why we don’t feel that energy now; we just experience it as no longer being there.
The closest words that most of us have to describe this experience, is the feeling of lost love. We suddenly feel like we were feeling an abundance of never ending love before this separation happened and now we suddenly don’t feel it anymore.
Because our experience is now divided into the two categories of “I” and “Other” (me and everything else), and what we think of as “me” is not experiencing the feeling of love that we used to feel, our “I Box” assumes that the feeling of love must be out there somewhere in the “Other Box”. So our “I Box” sets out to get back that lost love from somewhere out there in the “Other Box” – from somewhere other than what we think of as “us”.
The “I Box” doesn’t realize that it’s very existence IS what has created the separation of our brain and thus the feeling of a lack of love.
As we attempt to get this lost love feeling back from our surrounding environment, from our parents, siblings, other people and things, we run into resistance. We find that it is less than easy to do, sometimes down right impossible!
As we get older, our “I Box” settles on about three main strategies that it uses to try to get this lost love feeling back from the other box. The three strategies our “I Box” settles on are based on the reactions of other people to our early attempts; we settle on the strategies that seamed to work the best. For example, if we had a parent that was distant, being entertaining might have worked to get their attention. If we had a parent that was overwhelmed a lot, then being helpful may have been a way that worked for us to get attention. I call these strategies our “I Box” strategies, and each person has their own combination of them.
Regardless of how successful our “I Box” is at getting attention or stuff from our immediate environment, all of us experience the underlying truth that none of this really works to get what we really want – that experience of unconditional, always available love that we once experienced before our brain was divided. As soon as we get what we think will allow us access to this feeling, the “I Box” begins to worry about loosing it.
Every “I Box” carries the underlying fear that maybe it (the “I Box”) is not worthy of the love that it seeks. The “I Box” assumes that if it can just use it’s I Box strategies enough, then this could prove that it (the “I Box”) is worthy of love. I call this the “I Box” Assumption. For example, if your I Box strategy is: “I help others”, then your I Box assumption for that strategy is: “If I help others enough, then that will prove I am worthy of love”.
As adults, the “normal” human spends most of their time pursuing situations, things, reactions from others, etc., all in an attempt to prove that their “I Box” is worthy of the love that it unconsciously remembers having access to before their brain was divided into the “I Box” and the “Other Box”.
Anytime that our I Box strategy doesn’t look like it is working, the “I Box” labels that situation as a “problem”. In fact, that’s really all a problem is: A problem is any circumstance where it appears to the “I Box” that it’s I Box strategy is not working.
What your “I Box” is really afraid of when you are experiencing a “problem” is that the circumstance might prove once and for all that what your brain has labeled as you (your “I Box”) is not worthy of the love that it has been seeking your whole life. That’s why problems can feel like such a desperate matter. For the “I Box” it truly is a matter of life or death.
The good news here is that once we understand that our “I Box” itself is the ONLY thing that is separating us from the feeling of unconditional, always available love that we have been seeking, then we automatically have available to us a new solution that can change our experience forever.
Instead of constantly trying to change situations, or continually trying to avoid the situations that might threaten our “I Box”, we can now use our “problems” as helpers in discovering and letting go of our brain’s limitations that have been creating the problems in the first place.
The following four steps can help us to move from a problem to the feeling of unconditional love in a matter of minutes. As we strengthen this new neural pathway (it is literally a new connection we make inside our brain that takes us from the experience of a problem to the solution) , we can more easily notice the problem itself changing because our brain no longer has a reason to keep creating it.
Step 1) Define the problem. Write down your answer the following question:
“What is the problem?”
Step 2) Discover your three I Box strategies: Write down your answers to the following question:
“As you think back over your entire life, what three ways have you most often chosen to interact with people and your surroundings?” Some examples are:
“I show others the right way”, “I help others”, “I attract positive attention from others”, “I am different from others”, “I understand others”, “I am loyal to others”, “I experience more and better other”, “I have power over others”, “I separate myself from others”.
Come up with the best words for you.
Step 3) Discover your I Box assumptions for each of your I Box strategies. Write down your answers to the following questions:
For each of your three I Box strategies, write them into the following sentence format by filling in the strategy:
“If (your I Box strategy)_____________________ enough, then that will prove that I am worthy of love.”
For example, if your I Box strategy is “I help others”, the sentence will read:
“If I help others enough, then that will prove that I am worthy of love.”
Step 4) Discover how your brain has created the problem.
Fill in the blanks to the following question:
“How is my “I Box” attempting to use (the problem) ______________________ to prove I am worthy of love by (the one I Box strategy being used here) ____________________?”
Look through each of your three I Box strategies to discover which one of them has created this particular problem.
For example, if it was “I help others”, then the above sentence will read:
““How is my “I Box” attempting to use (whatever your problem is) to prove I am worthy of love by helping others?”
Step 5) Let go of the assumption and let the opposite energy in.
Ask yourself: “What would it feel like to know I am worthy of all the love in the universe whether I (the one I Box strategy being used here) ______________ or not?”
For example, if your I Box strategy is “I help others”, then the sentence would read:
“What would it feel like to know I am worthy of all the love in the universe whether I help others or not?”
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings flood through your body.
In going through these 5 steps we are discovering the exact neural connection that has separated us from the experience of love in this situation, we are letting this connection go and we have begun to create a new neural pathway that allows us access to the feelings we want to have now. This can happen in a matter of minutes, and you might find that you will be able to feel differently now in other similar situations that come up. We have let go of the assumption (which is a physical connection in our brain) which was causing the problem to happen in the first place!