On Mary Carol’s awesome guest post last week, an unrelated question arose in the comments, the answer to which deserves its own blog post. Today is the day I answer it. Here’s the question:
What does Deliberate Receiving have to say about sensing danger? I’ve felt uncomfortable physically in a small town in Alabama and totally safe in the middle of the night in New York City. Despite the news, I feel as if where I live in Mexico is about the safest place I’ve ever been. Do we trust the intuition that a place or situation could be dangerous? And how do we distinguish between prejudice and intuition?
When we sense danger, how do we know if it’s one of our beliefs going awry, or if our intuition is telling us to get the hell out? When you’re afraid of a black man in a hoodie, how can you tell if it’s prejudice (i.e., ALL black men in hoodies are dangerous) or if this particular man actually means to do you harm? Are you afraid to walk through a neighborhood because of your beliefs about it or because your inner being is warning you not to go there? Should you ignore the fear and push through, or honor it and run away?
Time for some more definitions! Yay!
Let’s start by defining the difference between fear caused by prejudice and intuition.
A sense of danger caused by Prejudice: a false, blanket belief or negative association, which is causing you to see a situation as dangerous, even though it may not be. Example: feeling afraid while walking home in the dark. Seeing people of a certain race or social status as threatening.
A sense of danger caused by Intuition: vibrational feedback that is telling you that the action you’re about to take or the situation you’re in is not in accord with what you want (i.e. the situation is unsafe when what you want is safety).
Never ignore the fear
The thing is, when you’re in the moment of sensing danger, it doesn’t really matter if it’s due to prejudice or intuition. If you’re afraid, get the hell out. Let me explain:
I think we can all agree that if your fear is due to intuition, you should act on it. But what about if it’s prejudice? Wouldn’t acting on that make you a bad person? If you run away from the black man in the hoodie and he turns out to be a really nice guy out for a jog, doesn’t that make you a racist bastard? Well yes, it might. But we’ll get to that later. The truth is, that in that moment, when you’re afraid, you have no way of telling if your fear is due to a belief or actual intuition. And you don’t have time to evaluate it right then and there, because either way, you’re most likely in danger.
If you have a belief that black men in hoodies are dangerous, then guess what you’re likely to create in your reality? That’s right: dangerous black men in hoodies. Never mind that you are surrounded by black men in hoodies all the time who are brilliant and wonderful people, and that the white guy in the suit could totally be a serial killer. Your belief will line you up with what you’re afraid of, even if it has to truck in a dangerous black guy in a hoodie from another town, because yours doesn’t have any. So, even though your belief may make you a racist bastard, that belief will also work hard to prove you right. Intuition or not, get out. You don’t have to run down the street, waving your arms, screaming “Stranger danger! Stranger danger!” Just be aware of your surroundings and get some place where you feel safe.
Work on your prejudices when you’re safe
This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should just accept your fate as a racist bastard or that there’s nothing you can do. There’s just not much you can do in the moment, when you’re scared. There are exceptions to this, of course. For example, you may have set the intention to get over your racism, which brings you together with a black man in a hoodie who, through a series of hilarious circumstances, the story of which I would describe here but for the danger of one of you racist bastards stealing it and selling the movie rights, eventually turns into your best friend. But generally, when you feel like you’re in danger, it’s a good idea to remove yourself from the situation.
But…once you ARE safe again, it’s time to work on your racist bastardism. Bastardy racism? It’s time to work on your prejudice. There. This will take a bit of soul searching. Keep in mind that I’m using a rather blatant and extreme example here, to make a point. Your prejudice could be far more subtle than this. Limiting beliefs come in all shapes and sizes. You may be afraid because it’s after midnight, and you formed a belief as a child that the monsters come out after midnight (remember that beliefs are generally NOT rational.) You may believe that men with mustaches are liars and so you feel that the mustachioed salesman is almost certainly ripping you off. Perhaps you’re afraid of snakes and so the plumber with the snake tattoo (that you didn’t even consciously notice) gives you the creeps. The point is, if you suspect that your reaction was not due to intuition, but rather part of a larger pattern, you’ll want to get to the bottom of it.
Ask yourself some tough questions
Use the following series of questions to determine if your reaction was caused by limiting beliefs or your intuition. You have to be honest with yourself here. No one wants to admit to themselves or anyone else that they’re racist, prejudiced, or judgmental. But if you don’t admit your feelings, you can’t release the beliefs and change your reactions.
What was it about the situation that caused you fear? – Can you isolate the component that caused you to react negatively? Your intuition would never focus on any one element, but simply be a general feeling prompting you to change locations.
Have you ever been afraid in a similar situation? – Can you see a pattern? Do you generally hate going into that neighborhood? When you think of a black guy in a hoodie, do you get anxious (even if you don’t want to?) Don’t deny your feelings out of shame. Get to the bottom of them so that you can release them.
When you think of any of the elements that were present, do you still experience fear? – Again, be honest with yourself. When you think of the salesman’s mustache, do you still get the urge to slap it off his face? A reaction based on intuition would not cause a negative reaction after the fact. There’s no trauma and no trigger. Beliefs have triggers.
If you’ve uncovered a negative belief, keep going:
Can you think of any examples that prove this belief to be “true”? – Look for other examples in your life of how this belief manifested. How many creepy men with mustaches have you met?
Can you think of any examples in your life that prove this belief to be false? – This may take a moment, but don’t give up. You will find at least one example that proves you wrong. You’ll remember that your best friend’s dad, who you adored, had a mustache. Or that the football coach, who was one of the most inspirational people you’d ever met, was a cool black dude who often wore a hoodie. How could you have forgotten that? Here’s an example that completely disproves your limiting belief. How could you have simply dismissed it all these years?
You’ll find what you’re looking for
When you have a strong, negative association, it’s like you’ve placed a filter on your brain. You actively look for examples that prove you right, and automatically dismiss those that disprove what you know to be “true.” So, while you adored your football coach, your mind didn’t place him in the same category as “dangerous black guy in a hoodie”. He was just your coach. The same mechanism is at work when I hear a person in Spain declare that they hate foreigners, for example. When I then point out that, ahem, I’m a foreigner, too, they blink and respond “well, but that’s not the same. You’re not like those other foreigners.” Say what, now? They know me and like me and so therefore their brain, defying all logic, simply places me in another category, even though I’m clearly also a member of the offending and threatening group.
But if you change the filter and begin to look for examples of people (or situations) that meet the offending criteria but who were NOT threatening or mean or creepy or whatever, people who completely disprove your belief, you will also find those. And at this point, faced with ALL the evidence, your brain will have no choice but to reevaluate that belief and declare it bogus. Beliefs tend to be all or nothing, so it’s completely possible to blow a lifetime of negative examples away with one positive one.
Keep focusing on the positive examples
Over the next few days and/or weeks, spend a few minutes each day focusing on that positive example and reinforcing that new view. What you’re doing is integrating that new, higher vibration, making it easier to react from this new, higher place the next time one of your old triggers shows up.
How I overcame my crippling neighborhoodism
To illustrate that this technique works, I’ll give you a personal example from my own life. There’s a neighborhood in Barcelona – the Raval, which I’ve never been particularly fond of, especially at night. Blonde women tend to get yelled at in filthy, disrespectful ways there. At least that’s been my experience. So, every time someone wanted to go to the Raval for dinner (this neighborhood just happens to be chocked full of awesome bars and restaurants), I’d complain about how uncomfortable I would be. I’d focus on the apparent danger while I was getting ready and while in the cab on the way to my destination. And low and behold, I would often manifest situations where the cab, for whatever reason, couldn’t drop me off right at the door and I’d have to walk a ways through this hated barrio. Well, one afternoon, I was walking through the Raval with two friends who also happen to be blonde, when three rather scary looking men started to follow us. They made some threatening noises and when we sped up, so did they. We ended up ducking into a bar and staying there for a couple of hours. I remember I was so scared that I was shaking.
Well, when I got home that night, I decided that enough was enough. I’d clearly created an association with the Raval and danger. I had a lot of friends, even blonde ones, who had never had a problem in that neighborhood and yet here I was manifesting one uncomfortable and even dangerous situation after another. I had to do something before I got myself robbed. So, I sat down and began to list all the positive things about the Raval. I focused on the fact that none of my friends had any issues there, that I had a petite, blonde girlfriend who’d even lived there and had loved it, the fact that I had never really had a basis to be afraid of the neighborhood in the first place (the proof came after the belief was formed), and that I actually rather enjoyed the shops and restaurants in that part of town. At first, it was a bit hard to find reasons to like the Raval, but as I spent more time on it, it got easier. All in all, I spent about 20-30 minutes shifting my energy.
The next time I went to have dinner with friends in the Raval, I spent another 5 minutes in the cab on the way there focusing on my new, higher vibration and reinforcing it a bit. Can you guess what happened? Nothing. Not one cat call. Not one uncomfortable situation. And no feelings of anxiety or fear. I was completely comfortable. It wasn’t that I did a better job of dealing with the ugliness. There was no ugliness to deal with. It was like I was in a different neighborhood, one I’d never noticed before. There was so much community, there were children playing in the streets (yes, at night. It’s Spain, people), and people of all nationalities living together harmoniously. The men standing in groups on the corners were actually discussing football, not having potentially violent arguments. What had seemed like a threatening place was actually full of families, living ordinary lives (ok, yes, also prostitutes, but honestly, they’re not threatening. Not to the women, anyway…). But my filter hadn’t allowed me to see that. It had shown me only the darkest of shadows and matched me up with only the scariest of people (whom you can find anywhere). It wasn’t that those three men hadn’t actually been scary. It was that my belief had continuously created scary situations, and once the belief was gone, so was the scariness. My filter had turned me into a neighborhood-ist bastard. I’m sorry Raval. It shall never happen again. I promise. We cool now, baby. We cool.
So, the next time you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in a situation, or even afraid, or if you react in any way that you don’t like, take the time later, when you’re in a safe place, to evaluate what happened. If you uncover a limiting belief, shift it by focusing on examples in your life that disprove the belief. And then, sit back and watch your world mirror your new vibration.