Understanding Your Core Issue

by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D

August 19, 2020

A note to readers: While Dr. Tharp’s content is timeless, this article is from our newsletter archive and may contain outdated information, missing links or images.

Part One: Van Shares His Story

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After many years of doing coaching work with people, studying human psychology and behavior, as well as doing much work on my own self-exploration, I long ago concluded that everyone has a core issue inside of them—one issue that rules the subconscious more so than any other.  Because people are so afraid of that one core issue popping up, they tend to hide it deep within themselves.  Most hope it never surfaces and will do anything to keep from experiencing it. So it goes unresolved and continues to run thoughts, emotions, and actions from deep within ourselves.

It’s important for each of us to remember we are not our emotions.  Instead, our emotions are energy flowing through us.  And what you resist tends to persist, even if it is buried deep inside. 

I’ve been busy this summer doing a new kind of self-exploration that has led me on an extraordinary journey in dealing with my very core issue. This has been a powerful experience for me, and I’d like to share some of it with you. 

So let’s jump right into a little of Van’s early childhood history.

Childhood History

Six months after I was born, my father left for the Philippines.  He was involved in reconstruction after the war, but I was too young to understand that.  All I knew was that suddenly, I didn’t have a father.  My mother told me that I was so upset that I wouldn’t eat and it took a lot of work on their part to get food into me.

As I gradually got over my father leaving, my grandfather became my father figure.  When I was two years old, my father returned.  Then my family moved to Japan—without my grandfather.  Thus, I was now losing my grandfather.  And for most of my childhood, I always thought of my Grandfather’s house as my home.

In Japan, I became particularly close to a Japanese housekeeper that we called Mitzi.  She was like a mother to me and to this date one of my treasures is a picture of Mitzi and I together.

But at five years old, I left Japan and I never saw Mitzi again.  It felt like my heart broke.  Gratefully, I went on to have my core family with me for the rest of my childhood.  Nevertheless, I think the psychological damage from the losses was done at that point. 

I don’t have any charge on any of these individual happenings because I’ve done many, many years of clearing work on my issues neutralizing them. However, my one core issue was still there, even after all the work I’d done.

Let me share another thing that happened.  My mother died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 85.  She’d lived a good life and I was at peace with her. I was actually happy that she had made her transition and could now join the rest of our family (my father died in 1977 and my sister died in 1988).  What I didn’t expect was a reaction that I had going through my mother’s things.

What I found among my mother’s things was a letter from Mitzi’s husband, written in 1958, trying so desperately to reach us.  When I read that letter, I became about as emotional as I can ever remember being.  It was my mother’s funeral, but I was crying over Mitzi.

Mitzi had eventually married a U.S. soldier and moved to the U.S.  My family was living in England, so we never saw her.  But my understanding is that my sister said something to upset her that caused a rift between our families.  Furthermore, I’d been told that Mitzi had died a few years later of a brain tumor before my family returned from England. 

So what does all this have to do with my core issue?  Well, my core issue has been a very deep sense of loneliness and emptiness inside.  I’ve only felt it a few times, but when it came up it was so bad that I never wanted to feel it again.  In fact, I tend to believe that my whole life has been about doing whatever was necessary not to feel that feeling.  I wouldn’t get too close to people because they might leave me, and I’d distract myself with work or escape activities. I’ve always felt like that emptiness was around someplace that I had to hide from it.

And Then Something Happened!

In June, I was in Florida doing a preparation course for my Oneness course in Fiji.  We were doing an exercise on strengthening your inner guidance.  We were asked to imagine the qualities we wanted our inner guidance to have so that our relationship would become very, very strong and wonderful and we were given blessings to help us produce that. I decided that I wanted an internal guidance that was very, very joyful.  

We were doing an exercise in which we concentrated on the qualities we wanted, asking the universe to give them to us.  And while we were doing that we were getting “hands on” oneness blessings.  I had three of them.  The first two felt very masculine, strong, and comforting.  But that wasn’t what I was looking for.  However, the third blessing given transferred a very gentle feminine energy into me.  And when I felt it, an immense joy came over me.  And suddenly, the word “Mitzi” came into my heart.

That evening, I felt this utter sense of completeness inside of me.  And I knew that it was now part of me and that I could never feel that dreaded sense of emptiness again.  I realized that feeling of emptiness was just an illusion.  It was just a feeling that I identified with and resisted.  Now, I have a new feeling of being whole and complete inside of myself, like I will never have to look outside myself again for that sense of fulfillment.  That feeling is within me and it is always available.

At that point I felt very, very happy. And my internal guidance (which feels like it is Mitzi) says that this is only the beginning of something much more magnificent to come.

Next week I’ll share an amazing twist in this story.  My memories of Mitzi triggered an amazing series of events, and I look forward to sharing more with you.

Understanding Your Core Issue

Part Two: An Amazing Twist to Van’s Story

Last week I discussed my personal core issue of loneliness. As I said, everyone has a core issue inside of them; one issue that rules the subconscious more so than any other. I believe that most people have something similar to what I described with respect to core issues. In fact, A Course in Miracles says it is part of the human condition, part of the way we’ve created ourselves. However, we will learn this week that these core issues are merely beliefs that limit us, and I will show you first hand how getting rid of my core issue opened me up to a miracle. 

We basically all feel a deep sense of loneliness, emptiness, lack of wholeness, or something similar because we feel separated from God. Some people want to connect with a soul mate to feel complete, while others want the whole world to love them and approve of them to feel complete.

It’s this feeling of lack that is the basis for self-sabotage because it makes you think that you are much less than you are – that you are not worthwhile and that you cannot have abundance or success or joy or happiness. But that is only because you identify with the thoughts and feelings that pass through you that we call the ego.

Let me quote from A Course in Miracles:

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This “fearful” question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Text, page 424.

But your thoughts, beliefs, feelings and subpersonalities are only you acting from what Eckhart Tolle calls object consciousness because you think you are them. And if that’s who you believe you are, then you’ll create a very limited world to live in and have your life experiences. But there is another way:

For on the voice you choose to hear, and on the sights you choose to see, depends entirely your whole belief in what you are. Text, page 425.

It’s interesting because I had been exposed to all of this material by the time I became a full time trading coach in 1986. However, I was still working on accepting concepts such as “I create everything that happens to me.” That was very hard for me to accept initially. When I’d read passages like the one above that I just quoted from A Course in Miracles, it made no sense at all. But that’s because I had not experienced it. I had not lived it.

I am NOT my thoughts and feelings. Instead, I am the awareness of my thoughts and feelings. It totally makes sense to me now because I have had an experience of the wholeness that comes from that realization. That realization is a part of me now, but I also realize I have a long way to go.

Several years ago, I could never have written these types of articles that I’ve written on my experience. First, I hadn’t had the experiences. But most importantly, I’d have been too concerned about your reactions to everything I’ve said.

However, I certainly know that I’m not your thoughts and reactions, just as I also know that I’m not my reactions to your thoughts and reactions and also that you are not those thoughts and reactions. My point is to help you realize that. When you do so you will have no limits to as what you can be, do, or have — as a trader, as an investor, or as a human being.

Amazing Outcome

Remember the amazing twist I mentioned in last week’s article? After experiencing such a feeling of peace while working on my issues in Florida and remembering my experience with Mitzi, I had a strong urge to look at that letter from Mitzi’s husband again. I had not read it in many years. I had kept it in a family tree album. I pulled it out and reread it after all these years. This time, it seemed like a different letter when I read it and all the emotion was gone. I learned that Mitzi was just a nickname. Her full name was spelled out in the letter as well as her name after she married the American. It also mentioned her daughter, Diana, who was born in 1958.

I’d remembered her daughter and years ago had the urge to look her up. I didn’t because I assumed that it might be sad for both of us because we both probably would just have very distant memories of Mitzi – whom we both considered a mother. 

However, this time the Mitzi voice, which had become my internal guidance, said, “Look her up.” So I did. You can find almost anyone on the internet these days and I paid $2.95 for a people search. I got her name, address and phone number. But that report also had something else that blew me away. It had a list of Diana’s relatives and one of the relatives listed was Mitzi’s full married name, who it said was 80 years old. I immediately did another search and came up with her phone number and address. Mitzi is still alive!! The information about how she had died from a brain tumor wasn’t what happened. She did have a brain tumor but she did not die from it. She is alive and well, living on the west coast. 

I contacted her immediately and Mitzi was as excited to hear from me as I was to hear her voice. So as far as I’m concerned, I have a Mom who is still alive, which is a tremendous blessing. I arranged to visit with her upon my return from Fiji a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful reunion. 

I have much more to say about this and hope to share more with you later. 

I can’t imagine a much bigger miracle than finding out that a person I believed had passed away is still alive, and that I would have the opportunity to meet with her again after more than 50+ years apart. — Van Tharp

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