Sherlock Holmes and The Builder

07 Feb 2012

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you discovered you were doing something you hoped you never would? Like turning into your mother? (Ouch!)

This week, I had one of those moments when I was talking with my lovely mentor, Alexandra Watson. We were talking about what gets in the way of women’s happiness. (In case you’re wondering, it’s that pesky compulsion we have to put our own happiness last. No surprise there, then.)

Now, Alex has a wonderful talent for simplifying things. She doesn’t do emotional complexity.

There’s still a part of me that can “motor boat” (named after the “but but but but BUT” noise an engine makes when it starts). The wasband was a great believer in complexity, in every area of his miserable little life. “It’s difficult”, and “It’s complicated” were his mantras – which made him NOT a lot of fun to be around.

Difficulties and complications paralyse you. Which is why any emotional abuser worth his salt will use them. (The subtext works beautifully, too: “You’re too stupid even to see the difficulties and complications I see.”)

Feeling bad is never pleasant. Perhaps that explains, in part, the habit we have of explaining everything that makes us feel bad. Since we’ve been taught we aren’t entitled to our feelings, we always have to justify them. So, we don’t say: “I feel bad today because my partner has behaved like a pig, and I really don’t like being around that kind of behavior.” What we say is : “I feel terrible today. My partner said X to me because of Y. It’s not my fault Y happened, and I did try to explain that, but he wasn’t listening, and that came on top of all this other stuff and…”

And there you are, stuck on the hamster wheel of misery, whizzing around at top speed.

Alexandra Watson suggests that we women can learn from Sherlock Holmes. Investigate all our beliefs and feelings. Take nothing for granted. Dig deep, until you discover something new in yourself.

Suppose instead you drilled down to simplicity, by asking yourself some good questions like:

· Why is he really saying this?
· What is the bad feeling tell me?
· Is this nearly as important as he is making out?
· Do I have to take this nonsense seriously just because he said it?
· Do I need to make this a huge problem for me?
· What do I need to do to enjoy a better quality feeling?
· What makes me think I can’t?
· Is that true?
· Is it true for everyone, or just me?
· If it’s only me, does it have to be true? Or could I change it?

Having asked the questions, you want to answer them thoughtfully; preferably in writing or, at least, out loud, so you get to listen to your own self-talk. (Hint: it rarely sounds nearly as persuasive when you take it outside the hothouse of your own head.)

When you do that, most likely you’ll discover that you don’t actually believe the beliefs that cause you so much pain.

Can you not believe your own beliefs? Yes, absolutely. It’s quite possible to hold two conflicting beliefs at the same time, like: “I’m worthless”, and “I’ve got a lot to offer”. One of those beliefs stinks. The other is accurate. Chances are, neither sits that comfortably with you. But when you start asking yourself good questions, you’ll discover that the intense negativity is not who you truly are. (Go Sherlock.)

I didn’t get that sinking feeling from communing with my inner Sherlock. He’s been with me for some time now, and I really appreciate him. (But not to the point of having a pipe and a deer-stalker hat.)

My sinking feeling came from the revelation of my inner builder.

When things are bad, and we feel bad, what do we do? We start constructing internal walls of bad feelings, and bad experiences. We build them high, and build them fast. We draw on past negative experiences and beliefs as our foundation. Before we know it, we’re stuck behind those walls, unable to see over the top of them. We’re just so good at the process: “This happened (1 brick). It’s happened to me so many times before. (A row of bricks.) “Bad things always happen to me.” (Several rows of bricks) “And it’s so tough, because…. and this bad thing happened, too.” (Several more rows of bricks.)

When that happens, all you show to the world is the view of yourself for which, at least in the UK, builders are best known!

That is not who you are.

You are so much more than that.

If you don’t know who you truly are, I understand it makes it very hard for you to treat yourself – and get others to treat you – like you matter. What do you think that is costing you in terms of your health, well being, happiness – and even, success? If that sounds like you, then you really need to Quick Start your Self-Belief and make 2012 your Time For Happiness.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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