In a physical garden, you need to test the soil to ensure the chemical balance is right for
what you wish to produce. Indeed, you can buy all manner of kits and products to determine the integrity of what you’ve got in that physical garden of yours. Your mental garden
also requires specific elements for harmonious balance; the problem is you can’t buy them
(although we often try)-you gotta make this mix yourself. Just as in a real garden, where you
have to dig nice and deep to see what kind of soil you’ve got down there, so, too, will you have
to be willing to test your mental soil, which consists of the totality of your beliefs. Only when
you understand the fullness (or lack thereof) of your own beliefs can you plant anything and
expect it to grow. Only by testing the contents of what’s hidden in your brain can you determine what fertilizer you’ll need for a bumper crop of a full and harmonious lifestyle.
Before we begin, I’m going to tell you straight up: this isn’t easy. We have so many thoughts
zooming around in our heads at any given time it can be hard to follow a single thread,
especially if your subconscious mind wishes to pull that fast bait-and-switch. I think this
thought about my past-whoops! I’m having tuna tonight. Wait. Where did that come from?
Your subconscious mind will volley the strange and bizarre to center court just to keep you
off-guard and away from ferreting out the boogie-bird that resides in the recesses of your
deepest troubles. Then, too, it might be that rabbit … therefore, a concerted effort on your part

is required if you truly want to accomplish the good riddance of your woes and create better
days ahead.
Let’s take a few general examples to help you on your way. First, meet Marissa: age twentyseven; career okay; health general; attractive (she’s got great eyes and knockout legs)-and
she has a history of broken romances that would prove enough fodder for at least two fulltime romance writers (without the happy endings). She goes to the gym and buys expensive
makeup. Yet the love fairy has completely forgotten Marissa exists. For the purposes of this
example, the main question we are always going to ask is: what did your parents say to you
about love, relationships, and marriage when you were growing up? Or what did your primary
caregiver say to you about these things, and what comments did they always make when the
subject arose? Here is Marissa’s reply:
“My father died when I was ten. My mother constantly talked about how he abandoned
us. She would say, ‘Good men never live long,’ or ‘There aren’t any good men around like your
dad.’ Even her offhand comments were negative when discussing any male (family or friends)
in almost any situation, from politics to spirituality, let alone a serious relationship. To her, the
day my dad passed away, all good men abandoned the planet and ascended into heaven-the
biblical rapture, only for males. I’ve said repeatedly to myself that her beliefs are her own, but
now, thinking about it, I realize that I absorbed those very same beliefs subconsciously and
have been sabotaging my own relationships. You know, this is my life, not hers! My mother
was not a bad parent-she treated me extremely well and loved me very much-but I realize
now that I’ve been living her fears.”
Let’s move on to Harvey, fifty years old, general health with a few nasty bouts of this or
that over the years, particularly during a financial crisis, a product of the Great Depression
babies. “I grew up listening to how my grandfather and grandmother lost everything except
their home during the Depression; about how my father was ignored and treated badly by
his siblings; about how rotten the government is and how they (politicians) hurt and cheat
people. How our family name screams that we’ll always be lower middle class-that there was
:10 bright and glorious future for people like us. You know, come to think of it, I never heard
L:-clling nice-nothing about love, or caring, or sticking up for each other. Just the same old
=.l? In fact, my father is eighty-nine, and I’m still listening to the same garbage. He doesn’t
_ -ingle story (and he has a ton) that doesn’t end on a depressive note. A Yank with a
broken pickup, a dead dog, and a deceased wife. You know, I was doing really well for a while,
and then I let my father move in with us. I just realized that the moment that happened, his
beliefs brought our whole family down and kept us trapped for twenty-five years because we
subconsciously believed his repeated negative comments about life and personal finances. As a
parent, we treated him with respect and didn’t argue. Don’t get me wrong, the man had golden
credit and still does to this day, yet I allowed his acid thoughts to almost completely destroy
my career. I expected what he predicted about how I would be treated, and that’s exactly what
I got. They aren’t my beliefs anymore!”
Julia, age thirty, has repeated health problems. Married, one child. Both she and her husband are overweight. Both have a terrific sense of humor. “My grandmother raised me. She
was all about God smiting the sinner, especially when it came to health problems of congregational members-always said God made you sick to teach you a lesson, even for the
most minor infraction. We used to make jokes about God doing overtime in our parish, and
how with Him around, who needed the devil to blame your troubles on? Growing up, I truly
thought she was just being loony. She was skinny as a rail and always this side of sickly, trying
every wacky cure by a compendium of snake oil salesmen; but, you know, now I’m wondering
how much of her insecurity, terror, and fear I absorbed as a kid, because she repeatedly told
me that I was lazy, and that God made lazy people fat as they grew older as a punishment for
not doing a hard day’s work. I’m a writer by trade, working at a desk for a newspaper, and even
though I work long hours, my job isn’t physically exhausting. Like, I’m not out in the fields
or anything, and I’m not up at dawn canning, baking bread, or washing laundry by
hand. I suddenly realized I’ve been living her terror and fear. Not anymore!”
In these three examples, we followed the issue to the source, and it wasn’t
easy for Marissa, Harvey, or Julia to go back there. They had to sit and
think about the question for a while, and in one case (Harvey) it took him
several days to work through all the negative programming he heard as a
child. Every time he thought of another comment his father used to make
(and evidently still does), his mind would flip to something else-from what
time he needed to pick up his son to trouble with a new insurance company
dropping the insurance on his house. The light finally dawned on Harvey when
he drove his father to a doctor’s appointment and once again sat through the
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same string of worldly complaints. Finally, light bulb: Harvey deftly switched the subject and
from then on endeavored to keep changing the subject every time his father began to work
through the same verbal scenario and depressive soap-opera yarns. Harvey also discovered
that some of his father’s newer negative ideas were actually coming from a klatch of seniors
that had lunch at the same establishment as Harvey’s father (all Depression-era babies). Then
Harvey started looking at the unsolicited mail his father was receiving, shocked to discover
that many of the advertisements were targeting Depression-era mentality seniors, focusing on
their fear to solicit money and sell products. Harvey made the comment, “What you create in
your mind, you bring into your life. Sadly, my father is living proof”
Granted, going back in time and dragging original fears out into the light of day isn’t going
to solve all your problems. However, now that you know where the negative programming
may have come from, you can adjust how you think and in what you choose to believe, as well
as reprogram what you are saying to (and around) your own kids (should you have any). With
your conscious and subconscious minds now in agreement, there is nothing you can’t accomplish. Take this exercise further and pay close attention to what you are listening to on the
news, what you are reading, even the conversations you hear at work. Weed out what you don’t
believe and let the boogie-birds stay where they belong. With a fresh look at the universe, all
you have to do is …
Believe!