Instant Gratification: How Your Ego Sabotages Change
The expectation of instant gratification isn’t always easy to recognize. I was talking with a client and he mentioned that the process of changing beliefs was too hard. I asked to look into the voice of that thought and see what else it was saying to him. He said it was telling him the process was too slow. It doesn’t want this to be a process with steps or any practices.
This is where instant gratification comes in.
That voice wants immediate results. I noticed the shift in emphasis from “being too hard” to “being too slow”. This kind of morphing is common to watch as we investigate false beliefs. I inquired further. I asked him to ask that voice why not? Why do you want immediate results? The voice within him said, “Because I am in pain and I want the pain to stop.”
The deep sabotage here was that voice that so desperately wanted the pain to stop was also willing to give up on any effort because it was too hard and results too slow. The belief behind wanting immediate results was intertwined with avoiding any activity that didn’t gain immediate success. I liken it to a young child trying to learn something new. They try it until they make their first mistake, and then they get upset with themselves because they aren’t doing it perfect. They conclude: “I’m not getting it. I can’t do it.” This isn’t working is the immediate assessment and they walk away. We are conflicted human beings in these states of emotion and attitude and our chance at personal change is sabotaged when we believe these thoughts in our head.
How to overcome instant gratification
We may have spent years unconsciously developing automated patterns of self-rejection, judgment, negative thoughts, and fearful beliefs. We need to understand that it will take effort over time to change the neural pathways that our mind and nervous system has developed. That might seem sensible to our intellect, but our Ego has a conflicting understanding and agenda. Why would we think that we could learn to identify emotional belief patterns and disentangle ourselves from them in a day? Easy, because sometimes there is a hurt little child inside us that is in pain and that is what it wants. We might have advanced degrees, have our house paid off, and done all sorts of adult things, but when it comes to our emotions, we might still be doing some of the same patterns we developed in childhood. Like riding a bike, we do those destructive emotional patterns as naturally as we balance on two wheels simply because we haven’t taken the time to unlearn them. The embarrassment at fumbling over our 6th grade book report in front of the class, can continue to haunt us with public speaking fears as an adult. Not only do they not go away, they usually become stronger as patterns reinforce in the unconscious if left alone.
Our little kid fears and hurts often come with little kid avoidance and compensating strategies. We developed work around strategies early on to avoid addressing the false beliefs and emotion at the source of the problem. With no guidance, training and practice dealing with our emotions as a child we do whatever comes to mind that works. Afraid of being rejected by a girl? – then don’t ask her out and there is no chance of being rejected. This grows until we don’t feel secure asking anyone out. Unable to feel accepting of yourself when you don’t succeed? – then become obsessed with achievement and proving to others how smart and successful you are. Left unattended we become so competitive we don’t’ have healthy relationships with our partner or community. Don’t feel comfortable feeling certain emotions? – then stuff yourself with food, or over-exercising or over-achieving in order to avoid those emotions.
Addressing Emotional Patterns
These compensating strategies come from a childlike beliefs because we were children when we developed them. Even as adults, when we work to address these issues of emotion that same side of our personality wants to come out and dictate how to go about change. It a childlike way it complains that “things aren’t working” or, “this is too hard.” When we address early emotional patterns (the ones causing us pain in our adult lives) we often run into a web of childlike beliefs, strategies, and other emotions. The sabotaging part of ourselves is an inner child working to stay committed to the strategies it developed at 5 and 10 years old. It is clinging to them even in adulthood, even if they are no longer working. We become like that child that is in pain and wants immediate results. But that childlike attitude/personality can’t solve the dynamic. If it could, it would have by now.
How Real Change Happens
As long as the hurt inner child of the Ego is directing the process of healing it will fail. For real change to happen we have to approach our emotions and beliefs in a way that is new to us, one that we haven’t tried before. A new approach also has to address these hurt feelings, voices of resistance so they don’t sabotage progress. It is proven that the approaches in the past haven’t worked because the issues are still there. A new approach will take time because it will require us to learn something new. A new way will require to first learn that our old approaches didn’t work and to detach from the childlike personality that clings to them. This new way will require a new perspective and patience. These new perspectives are learned.
How to Practice Not Giving In
You will also have to learn not to give into that inner child that is having a temper tantrum of emotional pain. Sometimes it will take practice just to notice the number of ways you give in. For instance, you have to notice that when you have thoughts like: “this is too hard”, and “this is taking too long. You have to notice that it is the hurtful emotions of a child part of our mind talking. It can take some time before we see this, and we need to be in a different perspective than this hurt child before we even have a chance to see it differently. It will take you more than a day to build this perspective. As you do, you will realize that it “wasn’t too hard”. It just appeared that way from the not so far away perspective of a hurt child part of our mind.
For practical ways to address negative thoughts, beliefs, and emotional reactions, start with the Free Trial Sessions of the Self Mastery Course.
About Gary van Warmerdam
My passion is teaching others how to change negative thoughts, emotions, emotional reactions and behaviors. Pathway to Happiness offers you a deeper and well proven process with practical exercises that will shift your thinking, emotions and behaviors permanently at the core.