Are your beliefs keeping you stuck?
Do you ever feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day, smashing the alarm clock in a vain attempt to break the cycle of repeating the same day, the same experiences, the same thoughts, over and over again?
The truth is, we are all living out this recurring dream (or nightmare) in some way, big or small. Whether it’s repeating the same routine, having the same conversations, spending time with the same people, worrying about the same things, or feeling the same below-average levels of happiness or high levels of stress and resentment.
Can you relate?
If you answered yes, I’ve got you. Grab a cup of tea, a piece of paper and a pen and let’s talk about how we free ourselves from the self-created prison of the mind.
Why we believe what we believe
Why are so many of us are stuck in the same repetitive day over and over?
It’s important to understand here that our life experience is directly connected to our thoughts. Constant negative thought such as, “I hate my job” or “I’m overweight”, directly contribute to how life plays out around us. This is because the majority of our decisions and actions are controlled by our subconscious, even if we think we are in control.
This is a preservation mechanism programed in the supercomputer of our brain to prevent overload and allow us to make decisions quickly in the face of danger. We have 7+ million bits of information running through our senses at any given moment and our brain must process that into just five to seven items that we can consciously be aware of at any given time.
This information is also processed according to our beliefs, allowing only the ‘relevant’ information to be retained. For example, let’s say you have a belief that says “I don’t know enough,” or “I don’t have enough experience” (a whopping 70% of us have unconsciously programmed fear of not being good enough) and you’ve diligently been working on a project, putting your heart and soul into it, and your boss or a peer comes by and says “There’s another way of doing this” or “Why did you chose to do it this way?”
In that moment, faster than you can consciously ‘think’ of a response, your unconscious beliefs have kicked in and you’ve made it mean something like “I messed up,” “They’ll fire me,” or “now I’m going to have to start over again.”
But if you have the belief “I’m really good at what I do,” then those same questions would bring up a response like, “Yes that’s another way to think of it, thanks for the feedback” or “I see what you’re saying, however I’ve done it like this intentionally because I’m confident get a better outcome.”
Same event, very different reaction, and all because of beliefs you’re not even aware of.
We operate constantly from unconscious beliefs just like these that dictate our decisions, actions and the meaning we give to everything that happens to us or our around us.
Where do these beliefs come from?
When you were young, before the age of 7, you had no filters, your mind was a sponge and everything you heard and experienced from your parents, family, school, TV, society and the media went in and stayed there. The thoughts you created about yourself as you absorbed the information from those around you became the beliefs that run your life today.
These beliefs are created at a time when our primary objective is to be loved, accepted and cared for, doing whatever is necessary to meet those needs. The beliefs and ultimately the behaviours that are created as a result of our need for love and acceptance become our identity.
The real question is: how do we find these beliefs and change those that are unresourceful? The paradox is that they are already reflected directly back at us via our lives and experiences.
For example, if you are single but long to be in a relationship, you may tell others “There are no good men left.” A belief such as this makes all the “good men” literally invisible to your unconscious mind which is running the show. Even if one is standing right in front of you, your heart is racing, your body is saying “Yes, that’s him” your thoughts will tell you that he’s “too good to be true” or “not my type” or “there’s bound to be something wrong with him” and so you let him walk away. Your beliefs will not allow you see how good he really was, so the self-fulfilling prophecy is maintained.
This happens in every area of our lives. If we desire something but believe the opposite, it’s never going to manifest until we address that belief.
So now that you know where these beliefs came from and how they are stopping you from living your best life, the real question is: what can you DO about them?
1. Go back to the beginning
We truly have the ability to uncover and reprogram our beliefs – so long as we are willing to take an honest life inventory and ask ourselves some really good questions. Two of my favourite questions from the brilliant Tony Robbins are:
Whose love did you crave more, Mum’s or Dad’s?
What did you have to do and who did you need to be to receive their love or attention?
I know this sounds slightly off topic but, in fact, the person you became in order to receive the love and attention you needed is the person you’re still living as today, unless or until you consciously choose to be someone different.
2. Find the underlying beliefs
The answers to the questions above will help to establish your fundamental underlying beliefs. For example, say you craved your Dad’s love more. You always had Mum’s love and attention at home but you wished for more time with Dad. Now, who did you need to be to get his attention? Were you patient and always waiting for him to show interest in you? Were you quiet because he was introverted so you thought you needed to be that way too? Did you know better than to be too excited when he came home, so you pushed away your questions and shut down your excitement, spoke quietly, gave him his space.
Imagine a child that experiences this. What would they begin to believe about themselves and how they needed to behave in order to be loved?
“I need to put a lid on my enthusiasm, energy and voice or people won’t love me.”
“I have to wait patiently to be seen, heard and loved.”
“I have to wait for others to come to me.”
Fast forward 15 to 20 years. This girl grows into a woman that’s always trying to keep her joy and enthusiasm under ‘control’ so not to push people away, especially men. Or she’s someone that helps everyone else first because she needs to wait patiently until it’s her turn, or someone else says it’s her turn. Do you see how this works?
3. Ask yourself if the beliefs are true
Next we can begin to look at our ‘identity’ beliefs, which are some of the strongest beliefs that we have and will defend about ourselves. Our identity beliefs are anything that comes after “I am” — the two most powerful words according to your unconscious mind. I recommend becoming very aware of what comes after those words, because we are who we say we are.
A brilliant example of this is, if you’re a smoker, the belief is “I am a smoker” and your mind will literally tell you anything to keep you smoking even though it’s bad for you. You’ve made smoker part of your identity, it’s become who you are. Allan Carr, in his book, The Easy Way to Quit Smoking, outlines a powerful methodology which is to shift your identity from smoker to non-smoker. Only then will your unconscious mind take care of creating the new habit to support the new identity.
So it’s time for an exercise. Get out your journal and complete the statement “I am …” List as many things as you can until you can’t think of anything else to finish this sentence with. Be sure to include the positive and the negative so that you can be sure to focus on keeping what supports you and shifting what doesn’t or causes you to feel powerless or like a victim.
4. Challenge and reframe beliefs that aren’t serving you
Once you have your list of beliefs, it’s time to challenge them. Ask yourself: are these beliefs true?
Beliefs are mostly assumptions rather that truths, so you can decide. If it is supporting, nurturing, and can help you to grow, you then keep it. If not, let it go. Often, awareness alone is enough to let a limiting belief go. If you want to take it one step further, then ask yourself the question: “If I am not [belief], then I am [new belief].”
An example could be, “if I am NOT a smoker, then I am a non-smoker.” Or “If I am NOT broke, then I am working on building my abundance.”
5. Keep on belief hunting
Once you learn to apply these steps, you can choose any area of your life that you’re struggling in and hunt down the unconscious beliefs that are getting in the way. Then you get to decide what to believe instead.
For example, shifting the old belief “There are no good men left in the world” and instead choosing to believe that “the ideal man is out there looking for me like I am looking for him” And this time, when he turns up, you’ll follow your instincts and believe it!
We have beliefs about everything in our lives and our current results and experiences are because of what we choose to believe is true about ourselves, the people around us, money, relationships, career and on and on.
So if you want to escape Groundhog day and live your ideal life every single day instead, then it’s time to get conscious, go belief hunting and reprogram that super computer between your ears!