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Home / Articles / Columnists / From The Heart /  Competency
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Friday, June 3,2011


By Alan Cohen  

Competency Hypnosis

While presenting a seminar in Japan, I asked for a volunteer to tell the group why he or she deserved to have good things. A woman named Sachi rose and explained in English that she is bilingual and bicultural. Sachi had spent years living in America and had just returned to Japan. Sachi shared her “deserving” list in English, and then began to translate for the group members who spoke only Japanese. After a few sentences, Sachi stopped speaking and a pained look overtook her face. “That’s weird,” she commented. “In English I can easily explain why I deserve the things I want. In Japanese I feel ashamed and I can’t find the words.”

Sachi’s predicament represents not just the difference between cultures, but between two contradictory mindsets we all live in. One mindset is big-thinking, visionary, and deserving. The other is small, apologetic, unworthy, and prone to guilt and shame. When you are in the deserving mindset you know you can do it all and you can have it all. When you are in the worthless/useless mindset you feel like a nothing and a nobody. Each mindset feels real when you are in it. The question is, which reality are you speaking from? Who is home today?

This disparity take son monumental implications when you consider the power of multiple personalities. Psychologists have documented contradictory manifestations in the lives of people who experience multiple personalities . One of the personalities is allergic to oranges and breaks out in severe physically observable hives if that person eats an orange. When that person is in a different personality, she can eat a dozen oranges without any adverse symptoms. Who is the person really? Do oranges cause hives, or is the belief in hives more powerful than oranges?

Many people experience a related issue called fraud guilt¸ the unspoken belief, “If you knew the truth about me, you would realize that I am a phony and you wouldn’t want me or love me.” The odd thing about fraud guilt is that most people have it, even if they are experts and huge successes in their field. When a group of Hollywood movie studio CEO’s was asked, “What do you most fear?” the most common answer was, “I am afraid that people will find out that I don’t really know what I am doing.” Ironically, these executives were extremely successful, turning out multimillion-dollar grossing blockbusters.

Still, many of them felt like frauds.

A Course in Miracles tells us that all defenses do what they defend against. So the voice that tells you that you are a fraud is the fraud. The answer to the voice of fraud guilt is to simply keep on doing what you are doing as if you deserve to be doing it. Just do it anyway. “The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.”

In all of my years working with people who experience fraud guilt, I have never met one person who is truly a fraud. People who are frauds generally do not stop to consider if they are fraudulent. Usually they are unconscious about their lack of integrity, or they rationalize it, and fraud guilt does not bother them. Only people of integrity worry about being a fraud. Yet the integrity that they demonstrate by asking the question is also the answer to the question.

Fraud guilt is not inherent in the human psyche. It is entirely learned. Another name for fraud guilt is “competency hypnosis.” I like this term because it indicates that a spell has been cast over you by people who were also hypnotized to believe in their smallness. A religion told you that you were a sinner before you were even born. A parent or teacher told you that you were stupid and incompetent. An elder sibling told you that you were ugly or annoying. At a young age you believed them, but you never stopped to question if they were correct.

Yet the time comes in every life when you begin to question the reality that was taught to you. If you are reading these words, that time has likely come for you. You and I have been told a few things about reality that are true, and a lot of things that are false. Now your job and mine is to figure out what is real and then live from that awareness. Tom Stoppard said, “It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong!” The next time you start to feel small, stupid, ugly, wrong, or incompetent, ask yourself, “Who is home right now?” Have I stepped into a hypnotized reality of emptiness, error, and evil, or by contrast can I claim a reality of wholeness, well-being, competence, and love? You can break the spell of smallness by consciously focusing on wholeness. Keep remembering why you are loveable, beautiful, and deserving. That will be easier to remember than your adopted dark identity because those noble attributes are your true nature. Over time you will become more comfortable in your worthiness than your smallness. Then, when someone asks you why you deserve to have what your heart desires, you will be able state your claim with dignity, clarity, and confidence.


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