Some years ago I led a workshop entitled Creative Relationships in which I used a roll of nickels to illustrate how our core beliefs are the primary cause of unhappy lives and create conflict in our relationships with others. I called these core beliefs our “bent nickel beliefs”.
To illustrate this concept I would give one group the task of stacking their roll of nickels as high as they could without it falling. The higher the stack of nickels, the more it represented a “happy and successful life”. The second group would be given the same task but this group was required to put a slightly bent nickel at the base of their stack.
Of course, the first group always achieved a very tall stack of nickels, but the second group could never get their stack over a few nickels high before it would topple over onto the table. Members of this second group would begin getting annoyed and irritated that their stack of nickels repeatedly represented an unhappy, unsuccessful life. They quickly became frustrated and it was not uncommon for some people in this second group to simply quit or walk away.
Then in a role playing manner, I would compare the two groups by complimenting the first group on how successful they were in creating a happy life. I would give each member a silver star. Then I would tell the second group that in real life others would now be telling them that they were:
- not as smart,
- basically flawed….that there was something basically wrong with them,
- clearly lazy,
- not motivated or trying hard enough,
- obviously losers.
I would stop the exercise and ask the two groups what the obvious moral of the lesson was in this experience. They always “got it”. It made sense to them.
No matter how hard a person tries, no matter how many attempts they make, it is virtually impossible to build a successful and happy life when you have a bent nickel core belief residing at the base of your thinking.
They could see that success and happiness in life has very little to do with one’s effort or determination.
They could see that when you have a bent nickel belief at the base of your life, the harder you try to create a successful life the more discouraged, frustrated, and angry you will become……..and the more your self-esteem will suffer.
They could see that when our bent nickel beliefs cause us to become exhausted and discouraged, when they cause us to be sufficiently overwhelmed with life, quitting can actually be a healthy choice. We can only struggle for so long before we become depressed.
They could see why so many people are frustrated and unhappy with life.
I would then take back all the silver stars, and give everyone a gold star. They had just learned one of life’s most important lessons.
Unhappiness, frustration, lack of success, discouragement, and depression have virtually nothing to do with who you are as a person. They simply alert you to the fact that you probably have one or more bent nickel beliefs at the base of your life.
Bottom line…..happiness and success require deep self-awareness not just hard work. Until you identify your bent nickel beliefs, hard work, determination, and effort
will only leave you unhappy and frustrated……..at best.
Part 2…..Learning to identify our bent nickel core beliefs will be covered in the next Stonyhill Nugget.
Dick Rauscher ©