“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain.
Happy New Year to all! I hope you’ve had a great holiday and got to spend it with loves ones. Moreover, I hope you got to enjoy some downtime, away from the hustle bustle, away from stress and away from overload.
In the past weeks, we have discussed the vision that we have for ourselves and our future, and about aligning that vision with some goals and actions. This will be our decade!
Underlying our goals and actions is something that influences us on a daily basis: our beliefs. Beliefs about ourselves, beliefs about the world, beliefs about other people. The belief system about ourselves consists of what we believe we can and can’t do, about who we are, about our behaviours – basically who we are in our very core. What this is so important? Because my dear friend, our belief system is what in the end will determine whether we will succeed or not.
You see, your brain is a funny thing. Your brain wants you to be right, because if you are right it means it has a good way of navigating through uncertainty and maintaining security. So if in your very core you believe you actually can’t achieve a goal (i.e. I think I really want to write a novel, but actually I don’t believe I can) your brain will do its utmost best to make sure that you end up being right. And there is the great paradox of what we want and what we believe we can.
Do you now see why uncovering these beliefs is so important? Beliefs create your thoughts, and your thoughts create your world and your perception of it.
Now that we know how important our beliefs are, we need to get about the business of figuring them out. Mind you, this is not always an easy task, nor is it one with a deadline. Some beliefs you may uncover quite fast, whilst others will take a lifetime to uncover and change. They may change with the seasons of life, and disappear and come back. No stress baby. Our life is a journey. We don’t need to have all the answers right now, the only thing we need to do is commit te growth.
The first attitude you will need to develop is curiosity. Be curious about who you are, and be curious about the things that you know you believe, and those things that you haven’t yet figured out you believe. I general, I advocate curiosity in life as it suggests an open mind – which is really the foundation for any growth.
I don’t mean becoming your own best friend here (but preferably, yes, you are your own best friend). What I mean is take a step back and look at yourself as though you were a close friend. We are often very good at analysing others (in a good way!), but not so much in ourselves. What may a good friend say about you and your beliefs? Taking a step back allows for us to look at ourselves a bit more objectively and it becomes easier to pinpoint the stuff that we can get uncomfortable with, because it’s not us, it’s a good friend whom we want to help!
It is very helpful to observe. When you feel a certain way about a certain subject, take a step back again and observe it. That’s how I learned that I actually believed that everyone who makes a lot of money must have doen something to cheat people out of their money, i.e. rich people are evil, ie. money is evil. Not a very healthy belief, I can tell you that. So try raising your awareness, and observing on a day-to-day basis what this says about your beliefs. Get out a journal, do this for a week (or a lifetime ;)) and look back and analyse. What doe certain thoughts say about your beliefs?
Question and connect
Now that you have uncovered some of your beliefs, start questioning and connecting. Where may you have learned this belief? Maybe your parents? Teachers? Peers? Has anyone said something to you that may have triggered this belief? Mind you, this part is not intended to place blame – it is intended to get to know yourself. Because once you know where a belief comes from, is when you can start actively changing it. Let’s say that a teacher has said to you that you are not a good learner when you were 8. Would you consider that reasonable now that you are grown up? Can you really determine someones ability as a learner at the age of 8? Bring some reasonability to the table, and you will most likely see that the source of your belief is biased.
As with habits, it is useful not to erase the belief but to change it. For me, in the money case, that meant objectively observing whether rich people are evil. I found our that I didn’t think Oprah is evil. Nor many others. My belief was caused by my dad, who was just never able to hang on to any money and advocated that those could had somehow gotten it by taking it from him. Now I see mor objectively, and see that he failed to take resonsibility. So I am in the process of changing it. Whenever I find myself leaning towards my old belief, I take a moment, observe it, let it go and tell myself: this is not true. Sometimes I’ll meditate on it. I think that brining awareness to your beliefs is the most important step in change.
I would love to hear from you! How have your beliefs influenced in your past? Which beliefs do you find are you hanging on to, even though they have proven no to be healthy in the past?