We need to examine the spells that hypnotize us and break them when they hinder us. Spells are words, deeds and judgements that go unquestioned, undigested and unchallenged. It could be a friend saying your relationship won’t work or your mind telling you that you will never find success. They fuse with our unconscious mind and are the root cause of some of our heaviest life patterns. The hard work of becoming conscious and the willingness to self-reflect are the only ways to escape the domination of this treacherous magic that weaves itself into the fabric of our souls.
When we blame parents or politicians, we are powerless in the face of a spell. We need to face our history and patterning with an open mind and heart and be willing to reframe our future. As a child, we had few choices, but as adults we have to find our way into responsibility, understanding, acceptance and a willingness to move on.
We are so keen to categorize. We rarely realize that labelling someone means adding an extra layer of weight on top of whatever struggle is going on inside them. Labels are not useless – used with the right intention they do not have to cast spells but by creating a box to fit something in, and shutting someone in that box, there is little room for ever getting free.
Exercise: Identify and break your spells
What are the stories that you believe about yourself that cause your discomfort and distress? What are the recurring themes in the challenges that you encounter?
Write down five of these stories. Choose the ones that have the most charge for you, those you respond to with strong emotion or avoidance. Write down the times you’ve made decisions influenced by these negative beliefs and any way you can see they have made your life more difficult.
What might you have done differently?
Once you have listed everything, choose a different set of beliefs for each challenge. Imagine you are a film director. You are creating a heroic character, a true warrior, and what he understands is that life is not a series of blessings and curses, but a series of challenges. It is our own labels that impact us and act like kryptonite, weakening our self-belief and our capacity to fully live.
For example, if you believe your partner doesn’t love you, and therefore see yourself in a loveless relationship, notice the ways in which they show their appreciation and their love. Keep a keen eye out for that which you ignore and fail to value.
If you believe that your work is unsatisfying, make a list of the things that are essential in order for you to live a fulfilled work life, and then examine what it’s possible for you to change. Allow yourself to ruthlessly look the issues straight in the eye, and decide whether you need to start searching for a different place to use your skills.
If you believe your sex life is inadequate, and you have a partner, dare to have an honest conversation with them about what’s working and what you feel needs to change.
Break the spell of same-old, same-old. Make a pledge with yourself to let in your new set of beliefs, and make them a practice. Consider what support you need in order to do that.
Practice consciousness around your judgements. Every time you make a judgement about something, be vigilant. Ask yourself whether that judgement is accurate or not. Be willing to loosen your tight grip on that belief.
Maybe you tell yourself you’re stupid. Intelligence manifests in many different ways. Your IQ may not be in the Mensa range, but you may have a highly sensitive, intuitive knowing. Notice the people who you see as intelligent and recognize that they too have gaps in their wisdom. Our sense of wellbeing is a barometer as to whether our beliefs are serving us. We know a spell has been broken when there is a release of energy and a sense of relief and happiness around a particular scenario. Sometimes we may need to remove ourselves from unhealthy situations in the recognition that the essence of who we are doesn’t match the environment we’ve created. Each lifetime has many incarnations, and as we go through our experiences, we get to rewrite the script.
Malcolm Stern is a Psychotherapist with more than 30 years of experience. He is the Co- Director and Co-founder of Alternatives at St James’s Piccadilly and runs groups internationally. He co-presented the Channel 4 series on relationships Made for Each Other in 2003 and 2004. His third book “Slay your Dragons with Compassion - "ten ways to thrive even when it feels impossible” is published by Watkins on September 29th and is priced £12.99.