By Mike Phillips
(Reprinted by request)
Gary believed he would never get what he really wanted. In essence, he saw a recurring relationship between telling people what he wanted and not having it. The more he wanted something, the less chance it would come his way. So he reasoned the opposite would also be true: If he didn’t tell people what he wanted, then he might get it. As confusing as that logic is, it had interesting effects on him. He would never reveal his deep desires to his friends. He never told his wife what he wanted. But when he didn’t get what he wanted, he adopted an angry passive-aggressive shell which alienated people in his life. He also struggled with several behaviors related to passive-aggressive anger.
This entire game he was playing in his mind is actually a lie. First, there is no correlation between expressing our desire for something and not getting it. Most people who receive what they want or achieve what they want begin by identifying what they want. For Gary to believe that he only gets what he doesn’t want is wayward thinking. It also affects the people who work with him and live in the same house.
For instance, if he wanted a promotion at work, he would never mention it to anyone. Instead, he tried to put the thought of promotion out of his head. He refused to accept compliments on his work. This had the effect of hurting or confusing well meaning people at work. Eventually, the pressure of wanting the promotion so badly would overwhelm him and he would mention it to someone in desperation. But the despair made it come out the wrong way to the wrong person at the wrong time. Of course, he wouldn’t get promoted and then would be hurt. This reinforced his belief that he would never get what he wanted in life if he told anyone. As he looked at his life, he believed he would never get what he really wanted if he expressed that need. As we looked at in the last article, this caused him to keep running into people who would deny him joy and accomplishment. He kept running laps on that same emotional track.
At home, Gary would have expectations of his wife but never expressed any of them. When she did not fulfill those unspoken expectations, he would act hurt and withdraw from her. This made her anxious, and she would tell him how worried she was about their marriage. As a result, he was convinced the marriage would never work and eventually she would leave him. After years of living with Gary and his lie-based thinking, she eventually gave up and divorced him.
How did he stop? There really are two simple rules to getting over this type of thinking. First, Gary needed to challenge the very root of his beliefs. I explained to him that if a person believes, for instance, they have a sign on them that says “Please lie to me”, they actually behave as if people are destined to lie to them. They believe everyone is out to deceive them. Because God is committed to each of us living in Truth, God makes sure that person keeps running into liars until the sign is gone.
It is difficult to challenge the roots of beliefs, because we have often lost sight of where they started. This is where God can help. As we get hurt by another person in life, we must spend moments of reflection. “How does this feel?” “What do you believe when you are feeling this?” Let yourself feel the pain and be overcome by the false belief. Then follow your heart to the source of when you started to feel this way. Your heart knows when you began to believe this.
Gary did this one day. He followed the belief to a birthday party when he was seven. They told him to blow out his candles and to make a wish. He did as he was told and he wished for a new bike. So he told everyone about it. His mother told him that wishes didn’t work if you tell everyone. During that season of Gary’s life, his parents were going through divorce and he had prayed every night for them to stay together. When they divorced anyways it was a shock to him. Why hadn’t his prayers worked? He concluded inside that his parents got a divorce because he wished it wasn’t so. He also didn’t get the bike, so in that moment, it all seemed to make sense.
What is the second step to ridding oneself of this false belief? Ask God to show you the truth. God is the God of Truth, and he can show us what is real and what is not. Gary asked God to show him the reality of that painful season of his life. God revealed his parents’ divorce had nothing to do with his wanting them to stay together. God also showed him he never got the bike because he never told anyone he wanted a bike before that day. He had laid unfair expectations on his mother who was coping with being a single parent.
If you have a sign on you…that is, if people keep treating you in the same harmful way….follow these two steps.
1. Follow the belief to it source.
2. Ask God to show you the truth.
As you do that, watch that sign get ripped to pieces. And then you won’t have to keep running the same laps over and over with people.