If I asked you to name your top three favourite movies, I bet you would be able to tell me about them straight away. The characters, the story line, the emotions that come up for you watching the film, where you first saw the film and who you were with. Memorable movies have a place in our hearts, and when we talk about why we love those particular movies so much, we re-experience watching the film for the first time. We may experience a sense of euphoria filling us up, lightness, hope and a sense of joy.
How we store information through our senses
We store information through our senses and just talking about what is remembered from the movie will re-trigger how you have stored that movie in sensory terms. You may remember what you saw vividly, what you heard with clarity and your favourite lines from the film, what you felt experientially watching it.
As an example, you may remember how you felt watching a love story where the hero and heroine have a happy ending or perhaps one partner dies. Or you remember a comedy that made you split your sides and cry with laughter, or an action film that got the heart racing and the blood pumping through your body or, perhaps a horror film that scared you and kept you awake at night.
In the same way, every time you replay your own personal movies, be aware that the thoughts, feelings and emotions you have, are all on replay and you may experience emotions that are fearful or terrifying. As well as remembering the movies that make you happy, your mind stores all of your life’s experiences as if they were films, you have a storehouse of information within you that you will recall consciously and unconsciously.
The meaning we place on our experiences
Many years ago I studied NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy which was created by Richard Bandler and John Grindler. Studying NLP helped me understand the way the mind works, how we store and retrieve information and how we communicate.
The mind is amazing, it’s a storehouse of information that we filter through, judging new experiences through an old lens. We distort, delete and generalise experiences based on what’s happened in previous ‘movies’. We often predict how something will end even when we have no evidence, we just go back to an old movie that’s similar in some way to the new experience and evaluate it through comparison with the record we already have.
Our past experiences influence how we react to others and the world around us
We often get things totally confused and what is actually happening may not even be recognised, as we have jumped back into default mode where we are basing current experiences that compare to similar ones that we have experienced in the past.
Our past experiences influence how we react to others and the world at large and also determine how we act and behave. An external event will be experienced through our senses and before we make an internal representation of the event we filter the event. We literally go inside that storehouse of information deleting, distorting and generalising the information through our five senses.
Our storehouse of sensory information
- Visual (what we see outwardly, including how someone may look at us)
- Auditory (what we hear, including sounds, the words that we hear and the way words are spoken by others including tone and pitch)
- Kinaesthetic (what we feel internally inside our bodies or externally via touch, including the texture of something and level of pressure felt physically)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste
Deletion: When we delete information, we may be paying attention only to certain aspects of a situation and delete other aspects overlooking, ignoring and omitting sensory information coming into us. We delete in this way as there is so much information coming into us, that if we didn’t delete we would experience too much sensory stimulation (information overload).
Distortion: It’s easy to misrepresent reality. What is actually happening in an experience can be distorted and we can perceive things incorrectly. We distort, creating imaginary futures often in a negative way.
Generalisation: We can make up and form our beliefs based solely on one or two experiences. We absorb information and make assumptions about what the information means, comparing it to the information that we have already stored. Sometimes our assumptions are incorrect.
Use these questions to reveal what you may be distorting, generalising and deleting as you process information
- What aspects of your relationships to you delete? E.g. perhaps your partner takes out the rubbish and mows the lawn but does not say they love you or take you for meals, deleting what someone does do for you which may to them be a loving action can put pressure on a relationship if what they are doing isn’t recognised. Spend some time noticing what others already do for you and you might be surprised and how much they do, do
- How do you distort information that you are receiving in your relationship? E.g. your husband/wife wants to go on a stag or hen weekend with friends, do you immediately think they are going to be unfaithful to you?
- When do you generalise negatively about love and relationships? E.g. men/women are all the same, everyone will let you down, no one is worth it etc
My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me or defeated me, it has only strengthened me – Steve Maraboli
What do you say when you talk to yourself?
You may have noticed that you have a voice inside your head that sometimes whispers very gently to you words of encouragement, acknowledgement and praise, words of comfort, care and understanding. Words of support and tenderness though, more often than not, the second you have your back turned that voice may bellow, cagoule, ridicule and remind you of your faults , your inadequacies and may nag you at times, seldom coming up for air.
I like to call my voices ‘The Voice of Doom’ and ‘The Voice of Love’. Do you have names for yours?
That negative inner voice may criticise you, judge you, compare you and tell you you’re not good enough, worthy enough, capable enough or strong enough. Worse than that, it may even call you names or swear at you. It may keep you tied to the belief that you’re not lovable, that relationships cause pain and opening your heart to love is too risky.
Your voice is with you morning, noon and night, it can turn on the charm or pull the rug out from under your feet until you have a word with it and rein it in. That voice is with you at every stage of your life, every decision you make, every crossroads you face, every choice and every venture is dictated by that voice. Everyone has an internal voice, an endless stream of chatter a narrator talking you through your waking moments and through your dreams as well!
Confronting and questioning the voice of doom
Name your own voices and identify them as characters, the voices you may in fact know, they may be the voice of your parents, teachers, people you have lost contact with or a combination of internalised voices merging together, these voices are in fact just thoughts.
Creative Practical Exercise (15 minutes)
Draw your voices (your versions of the voice of doom and the voice of love) in a journal or on pieces of paper.
Find a way to record the voices as characters perhaps sketching them or you may like to make a collage of how the voices look.
It’s been interesting in my work to see my clients drawing their characters, changing the voices of the characters in their heads and also naming and shaming the voice of doom.
There is a stark contract between the voice of love and the voice of doom, one often an ugly scribble, a monster or a mess. The voice of love gentle, flowing and beautiful.
Adding humour to the problem
That critical inner voice doesn’t have the same impact when you turn it into a cartoon voice, speed up or slow down the voice. It’s very cathartic to get a grip on the voices and realise that you control them, they don’t control you. Adding humour to the voice of doom changes the impact it has on you.
The voice of doom you may be familiar with as it’s often the louder of the two voices in your head. It’s the voice that holds you back, the voice that takes you down and holds you tight in the grip of fear. It has a detective like persona that will only look for and gather together all the negatives it can about why love and relationships are ill fated, impossible, too risky, and too scary. This voice will do little to encourage you to be open to the love, hope, joy and connection which having a positive relationship can bring.
The purpose of the critical voice
You may have found your voice of doom likes keeping you in your comfort zone where everything is safe and familiar; it shelters you from perceived threats, from the risk of harm, from danger, it is on the lookout, constantly gathering information to support the negative beliefs that you hold about yourself, other people and the world around you.
The voice of doom actually has a positive intention and what’s beneath its harshness is a form of protection and tries to keep you safe from perceived risks to your survival.
Your internal dialogue was formed as part of your life experience from childhood to today. Every voice you have ever heard will become part of your own inner landscape and contribute to how you talk to yourself in moments of joy and moments of stress.
Knowing that the negative voice is really there to try and protect you gives a different meaning to it. As adults we can reflect on whether or not we listen to that voice or simply thank it for trying to watch out for us and then make our decisions based on the facts of a situation.
‘’We were born with love, fear is something we learn’’ Marianne Williamson
The voice of love
The voice of love comes from deep within, from the very heart of you, from your intuition or what some may call higher wisdom (or gut feeling) from the very core of your being, the voice that was part of you when you were born, open to love, open to receiving, open to joy and possibility.
Taking back your power
Once you start to listen to this voice you have the potential to transform your life. You will be looking through the eyes of love, filtering for opportunity and open to receiving love. You will move to a place where anything seems possible and you welcome the unknown whatever it brings. We can never quantify everything, sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith, find our wings and fly
The job of the voice of love is to keep you true to who you really are, to allow the essence of who you are to flow through, it’s there to guide you towards happiness and love if you will stop and listen.
The voice of love may have been waiting in the wings for decades waiting to be heard. Allow it to step forward, to welcome it with open arms, listen to it and trust and respect that this voice needs some air space too.
Breathe life into the voice of love
Listening to this voice, connecting with it at times of indecision, will serve you well. Ask yourself ‘’what would love do here?’’ and then let the voice of love (your inner voice) express itself. This is the voice of your inner power, the truth of who you are.
The voice of love can be compared to a gentle voice perhaps caring for and speaking with a two year old, calming and soothing them, being patient, loving and forgiving.
Now that you understand more about your negative internal voice and its intention you can decide if it’s time to stop listening to the voice of doom, because there is another way – to listen only to the voice of love.
Read through the following questions. Begin to which voice you pay attention to the most, notice how your emotions change based on which voice you listen to:
- What voice have you been paying more attention to – the voice of doom or the voice of love?
- Does one or the other voice get louder when you’re with certain people or in a certain place?
- Think about the tone of voice and what it says, who does this remind you of?
- What type of things do your voices say the most often to you?
- How has listening to the voice of doom affected you and your life to date?
- What opportunities have you missed out on by listening to the voice of doom?
- What would you have to give up to hear the voice of love?
- What can you put in place today to be sure that you listen more to the voice of love and less to the voice of doom?
- How can listening to the voice of love improve your life, love and relationships?
Todays blog is taken from Find YOU, Find LOVE my first book in a series of books about love and relationships. If you would like to read Find YOU, Find LOVE it’s available on amazon http://goo.gl/crnvoZ or you may wish to attend a one day workshop that teaches you The Spotlight Process, a unique technique that I have developed to help you to get to the heart of your love and relationship problems. The next workshop is on November 15th and bookable via this link http://goo.gl/aMlZQY