Beliefs can really limit and trap you into redundant thinking and can keep you stuck where you only see a world of restriction.
Every moment we have millions of pieces of information coming at us. We manage to process about 7 chunks of this information.
Our conscious minds could not conceivably take in all the information that is going on around us. We would be in continual overload if we had to pay constant attention to everything all the time.
An example is that right now you may have a jug boiling, the air conditioner going, a lawn mower next door, traffic driving passed, a bird chirping, a dog barking, you are sitting with the feeling of the seat under your legs and on it goes…
If you were paying attention to all that useless stuff all the time, you would have no space left to focus on what actually matters and can help you. You would not be able to exist if we did not have the capacity to leave irrelevant stuff out. It would be overload.
Our mind uses our beliefs as one of the major filters to cope with our world. As you grow beyond the age of 7 the EGO is born and is very present within us. You will hear all the mind chatter about self esteem, self confidence and much more. You begin to use your beliefs as a survival tool to help you make sense of the world, to know what is important and what is not. You use it to filter in and out to manage your fears, to keep you safe, to make sense of the world.
Beliefs determine to some extent what we actually will pay attention to. We will tend to focus on, notice and pull into our awareness anything that confirms a belief about ourselves or the world around us.
A belief is a convenient assumption; it is made up. This is why we can have two children growing up in the same household and believe totally different things; they live their life in a totally different way.
How do you create your beliefs? You create them from your experiences, what you are told and what you see. They are also created through what you hear through family and friends, society and through the mass media. You then put together your beliefs and gather evidence to support the information that you have gathered unconsciously.
Since many of our beliefs came from when we were just over 7 (when the EGO is born) then we carry them with us. Some of these beliefs really help us through life; others limit us. They can limit the possibilities of what is out there and what we experience.
The truly awesome thing is that you can change your beliefs.
When I started working on my mindset and learnt about beliefs I thought ‘well, I don’t have anything that is not true’. This in itself is not true.
I found that I had beliefs that did not serve me like: People are untrustworthy, I am not the creative type, I am not very good at numbers, I am not an ideas person, I suck in social situations, people are disappointing, I never know what to say, I do not like being centre of attention, money is hard to come by, I do not belong anywhere, I am not very interesting, I am not the maternal type, the world is a scary place.
How do you think these beliefs served me? They didn’t! They came true!
I lived in pain from these beliefs where I thought I could never achieve what I dreamed of. I wanted my own business but was held back by these beliefs with things like I am not creative, I am not very interesting, life is meant to be serious. I wanted adventure, but I used beliefs like I do not deserve to have fun, or I do not know how to have fun as an excuse not to. I wanted to raise my child with so much love but my belief that I was not maternal, meant I gave up on that dream and allowed my ex-husband to do it.
My beliefs trapped and limited me.
A lot of the time we are not even conscious of our beliefs and how they are driving the way we live our life. We must bring them into our consciousness to assess whether they are serving us or not.
Here are some limiting beliefs. Circle any that might apply to you:
I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, it’s not OK to make mistakes, I have to be perfect
I am not wanted, I am not needed, I am not lovable, I am not loved for myself, I don’t love myself
I am of no value, I have to put other people’s needs before my own, my needs are not important
I am not safe, People are out to get me, it’s not OK to be comfortable in the world, it is never OK to be vulnerable
I have to be in control or things go wrong or don’t happen, I will not be taken care of, you can’t depend on anyone for anything
Other people can control me, I have to obey to be loved, I am not free, I do not have choice, I have to do what other people want
I cannot get my needs met, I can’t receive, things don’t come to me easily, no-one can understand me
My presence doesn’t matter, I am not allowed to assert myself
I cannot connect, I am alone in the world, love is an illusion
When I learnt about bringing my beliefs into my consciousness, I could address these beliefs that limited me, find out where they stemmed from and then make new beliefs - it blew my world apart.
I made up new beliefs that served me, because as I said beliefs are made up so why not make up ones that assist you in life, not hold you back.
The first step to changing your beliefs is to start asking yourself some questions. When you get the answers, reflect whether that belief is serving you. If it is, great, if it is not, make up a new belief that serves you.
Any beliefs not serving you, write on a bit of paper, screw them up and throw them away. Write new beliefs down that will serve you and post on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, in the car, anywhere you will see at least a couple of times a day.
We are also shaped by events that occur in our lives. Our choices and who we are can come from a specific moment in time that happened and the meaning we gave that moment.
They are called defining moments.
I remember being in a maths class, I was struggling with an equation and there was a relief teacher talking to us about it. He made me stand up in front of the class to give the answer, I could not respond so he ridiculed me. I was already struggling with self-confidence and was a highly shy introvert. From this event, my self-worth went down and I made the moment mean that I was hopeless at maths and numbers and I got psychological blocks when standing up in front of groups of people.
I kept those limitations for a long time, so long that it had come second nature for me to say to people, I’m no good at maths, I can’t do numbers in my head, I don’t perform well in front of groups. I now know that is not true. I am actually quite good at maths, not like English, which I adore, however now I am satisfied with my maths understanding and ability. I am also confident that I have the answers and can contribute to group situations.
What you make a moment mean can determine the choices you make. You can make it mean positive and empowering things or negative meanings that disempower you. The choice is there of what you make a moment or an event mean.
When you recall an event, it is never entirely accurate, as it will depend on your filters. The feelings that event gave you will still be with you though. If an event caused great distress, sorrow or joy, ecstasy, we will be able to recall that because we can associate into the event. The power is in the disassociation - to distance yourself from the situation and be outside the event.
Imagine if we unpack these events to really recall what they were about and what meaning we gave to them to see what they are costing us in our lives. My particular event above meant I struggled in economics and qualitative statistics at university, I did not apply for jobs that were based around numbers, I restricted myself.
To unpack the event, I gave it a different meaning. I chose to think the teacher had my best intention in mind and did not realise the pain he had caused me. I chose to think that he might have thought that this was an appropriate response to the situation and that he was doing the best that he could. By doing this I gave myself back the power and took the power away from the teacher in that moment.
If you look at how an event is limiting you, then you can turn it around. You can make it mean something else, as adults you can look at the event or moment through different eyes. You have the power to do this. You have the choice to deescalate defining moments and give them new meaning.