How to identify and overcome a lifeshock — even if it’s as small as a teabag
What is a “lifeshock” and how can understanding lifeshocks help you?
A lifeshock is a moment in time that impacts you intensely, and which changes your mind, usually for the worse, about Life, God, humanity, and your destiny.
All your behaviors and relationships afterwards are affected, usually badly.
Usually “death” is the first example of lifeshock we think of.
The moment I heard the news that my brother had passed away, when we were both just teenagers, was a time I’ll never forget. I was in a hotel room in Paris, and I got a phone call from my mother back in Minnesota. That moment, when my mom said the words …
You probably have those moments, too, that you could freeze-frame and see in vivid detail.
When we have lifeshocks, they cascade and cause us to create a whole waterfall of beliefs.
Since my brother died when he was only a teenager, from something the doctors could never identify, then for the rest of my life I could easily believe things such as:
Life is not safe.
God is unjust.
I must act now if I want to do things, because life could be taken away from me at any moment. Even if rushing into things will cause me big trouble.
My family will never get over this. My family is broken.
I must be strong, I mustn’t show my feelings. Nobody will understand me, ever.
While some of these beliefs are possibly and partially true, they are also possibly false.
And yet they guided my actions for decades, without my ever stopping to question them.
Can you see how a belief such as “Life is not safe” might lead me to either hide myself in my house or go out and have reckless adventures, since — who cares? — I was going to die anyway? (In case we are just meeting for the first time, I took the second path of “reckless adventure” rather than hiding in my house).
The teacher and coach Sophie Sabbage has written a whole book called Lifeshocks and How to Love Them, which I can recommend to you.
There is a very good transformational weekend program called More to Life which deals with lifeshocks in a deep, face-to-face way, but I’ll still do my best in this newsletter to give you my definition, and show you the ways to get through a lifeshock and attain the gift waiting for you on the other side.
Let’s take a smaller lifeshock, one that seems so tiny I might not even have noticed it, unless I had been trained to pick up my lifeshock symptoms and do the “clearing process,” designed by K. Bradford Brown and Roy Whitten, now taught in the More To Life weekend course. (You can find out more at www.moretolife.org)
I was sitting in a restaurant, worried because the company I was working for seemed to be going under. I had been paid the day before, but I wasn’t sure I’d get paid again, and so it was time for me to look for a new job.
As I usually do in restaurants, I ordered plain rooibos tea, no milk.
When the waiter brought the cup, I noticed that the brand was not the usual Freshpak teabag but rather a sealed foil envelope of Twinings.
Here are the symptoms of a lifeshock, for me:
My emotions rise. My heartrate goes up. I feel like crying, I feel a bit insane for a moment. I want to flee. I go into fight-or-flight. I usually swear (in my head, not out loud). I make an abrupt gesture, like slamming my hand on my knee or on the table. I shake my head from side to side, to try to “get rid” of the panic.
These symptoms come even before I rationally recognize that a lifeshock has occurred; they just happen. No rhyme or reason.
Then, the beliefs start to pour in, faster than I can think:
I’ll never get another job.
I’ll run out of money by the end of the month.
In this economy, everybody I know is out of work or struggling.
Everyone hates their jobs. I’ll never find something I like.
I’ll eat rice and bread for weeks on end until I fall ill again.
I’ll never be able to keep a roof over my head.
I should run away, move to another country.
This place is a disaster. But so is my home country. There’s nowhere to go.
All this, from a TEABAG?
When I saw the Twinings teabag in the sealed envelope instead of the loose Freshpak teabag, I knew I’d be paying about R28 for the cup of hot water, instead of about R18. Ten rands difference, for “nothing” but a brand, and I was livid.
But I wasn’t really mad at the restaurant, was I? I made the teabag the lens through which I saw the world.
OK, now for the process and the remedy.
Write down the lifeshock as clearly as you can:
LIFESHOCK: I was served Twinings tea, which was ten rands more expensive than the Freshpak tea I expected.
List out just the feelings that arose:
FEELINGS: fear, anxiety, rage, despair
Now list out as many beliefs about myself, life, the world, and God as you can. This is called Mindtalk.
I’ll never make it.
I am a one-trick pony.
Nobody will pay me.
There are no jobs.
Now, here’s the interesting step. Go back and write TRUE or FALSE next to each of those belief statements. For every FALSE one, correct it into a possibly true statement. This is called Verification.
I’ll never make it. FALSE I’ve made it this far. I am guided.
I am a one-trick pony. FALSE I have many skills.
Nobody will pay me. FALSE I can earn money in many ways.
There are no jobs. FALSE I see people working all around me.
The next step is to decide what is the bottom line truth about the situation. Get to the heart of the matter.
TRUTH: I am a loved child of God, and I can provide for myself and my family.
This Clearing Process has proven itself invaluable to me over the years. Sometimes I would wander around cross, slamming doors and binge-watching youtube, until I scrolled backwards through my personal tape to find a lifeshock that I hadn’t cleared yet.
Once cleared, a lifeshock usually doesn’t come back. Other ones will crop up, and they may even trigger the same beliefs, such as, “I am a mess,” or “We are all going to Hell in a handbasket.”
That’s ok, just keep clearing them.
The gift on the other side of the lifeshock is the truth that you find there.
It might be hard to locate, but it’s there. Underneath all the illusions and fears, you are loved. #YouAreGuided.
To your full recovery from your lifeshocks and to your discovery of your eternal truths!