Limiting Beliefs

Observation rather than Judgement

On my own personal quest for answers – for solutions to the world’s problems, I am constantly observing. I cannot emphasize enough that they are observations, and that I am trying not to make judgements. Above all, judgements are futile. We can’t do anything about what other people do or think, but we can change our own behaviour and also our responses to other people’s behaviour. It is hard not to judge, and I have fallen foul of it, naturally, on many occasions. I have limiting beliefs. We all do to some extent. It’s the societies and conditions that we grow up in and, in turn, how our egos deal with them.

Limiting beliefs and Judgement

Most education systems teach us that competition is good and that we should accept a “judgement” based on “testing” and examination results or what school or college we attend, as examples. Also, we critique sports personalities. Newspaper headlines either glorify or vilify them based on their most recent performances in order to sell papers. Fashion and gossip magazines make a judgement on how people look, what they wear, and if they have put on a few lbs or not.

We are bombarded by images of how people should look and how we should be. And many of us buy into this. These judgements create fear – not a real fear, but a psychological one. These can be fears of not being good enough, fears of not fitting in, and fears of things we do not understand, among others.

Limiting Beliefs and False Projection

And I have come to a conclusion. Most of us, in a multitude of guises, are clinging to firmly-held beliefs that we rarely – if ever – question. In the coaching profession these are called “limiting beliefs. They are beliefs that are not truly our own, but that we accept as being so. These are projections that we often mistake for our own. It could be a belief passed down through the family. “Our family is better than X family” or “I must get married before I’m Y years old” or “I can’t be a Z, because no-one in my family is”.

Staking Ourselves to a Position

Or it could be a socially or culturally dictated limiting belief. “Having a degree means that someone is more intelligent”, or “We can’t mix with people different to ourselves” or some other nonsense like ” You need that new IPhone to be happy”. Who told you that? Where did you get that belief from? Do YOU really believe that? And from these limiting beliefs we might make an often sub-conscious judgement. No-one is exempt.

It’s not just judgement based on media output, judgement is rife. We see it everyday. Trump supporters condemning Hilary supporters. Vegans vilifying meat-eaters. Anglo-Saxons rebuking Muslims or refugees. And vice versa and so on, and so on. Most of us seem staked to a position. By staking ourselves to a position we immediately create a polar opposite. An enemy. And this way we lock ourselves in. We become prisoners of a belief.

Being Unique and Tapping Into Our Creative Powers

By becoming a prisoner of belief, we cannot see another way or any other options. I observe it in the online “truth” community too . People “falling out” because their belief is not exactly the same. What is this obsession with being “the same” anyhow? Are we driven so much by ego – by fear and insecurity – that we have to cling to something so tightly to make ourselves feel safe and secure? Have we lost control of our hearts? Have we forgotten that diversity is key in the natural order? There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Solutions to the world’s problems will come in many different guises. And it is through each person’s unique contribution – by tapping into our creative powers – that we will overcome the difficulties that we face.

Evolving Past Limiting Beliefs

Have we forgotten who we are? Sometimes it looks like that. Shouldn’t we at least try to remember who we were before society and experience shaped us. No-one is born racist, or bigoted, or angry, or fearful and therefore lacking in creative ability and endless possibilities.  What beliefs are we clinging to that hold us back? When we stake ourselves to a position, perhaps we become too inflexible. We base our perception on one belief or another.

I personally am learning to unstake my “position” so that I can observe in order to better understand and be able to empathize with others.  And also to question my own position, despite my irrational psychological fears. It’s totally acceptable to change your perception based on new information. That is what learning is all about. That is how we evolve, however uncomfortable it may feel at first. Letting go is liberating.

Distortion through the Fear-Based Ego

What I see is that many people are basically in denial. Every belief is, by its very nature,  distorted by our ego. By clinging to the idea that one particular belief is the only solution and the only perspective- we are discounting the billions of other unique possibilities available to us. And this way we often look outside ourselves for our saviours. Whoever that saviour may be. Trump, Socialism, Hilary, Liberalism, Conservative, Labour, Technology, a celebrity, a religious leader.. whoever. We cling to these figures or ideologies like security blankets.

Giving Our Power Away through Limiting Belief

Letting go of our security blankets may seem tough, but we are the answer to our problems. The only place we really can look is to ourselves. And to let go of everything that does not serve us. Why do I say this? Well, partly intuition, partly experience, and also based on observations. How many times do I hear people say “But what can I do?” or “I feel powerless”. Every day. Who told us that? It seems that we have given our power away to create and solve problems with the limiting belief that we have none. It is ego. Which is, at its base – fear. The way to deal with the ego is this: start by looking at your fears. The answer to empowering ourselves is to accept the fears we have, and to make the conscious decision to work on eradicating them

Limiting Beliefs Presenting as Irrational Ego-Driven Fear

It is our idea – through these limiting beliefs – of who we think we are reacting not only to every rational fear (real tangible dangers like averting accidents and preventing harm) but to every irrational fear. Fear of Muslims, fear of LGBT people, fear of being different, fear of not succeeding, fear of  .. well.. you get the idea – anything. These irrational fears present themselves in many forms. And we sometimes create our narrative based on these, if we are not vigilant. So, they can make us sit in judgment of everything, even ourselves. And then, everything we see, every person, every event is staked to this belief or to that belief. This way we limit our capacity and capabilities.

Changing the Narrative

In this way we do not see the world correctly, because we take everything as “true” and choose to believe the story – the narrative – we have created. Here’s a prime example. We may find ourselves contemplating the plight of the world. It can all seem like doom and gloom. Fear kicks in based on the belief that we have no power to affect change. “There is nothing I can do”. “It’s government’s fault” .”I am powerless”. None of these stories we tell ourselves are, of course, true.

Why are we here if not to change the story? What if we re-write it? The story doesn’t have be based on fear. We can switch off the TV and start thinking for ourselves. We can start to look to ourselves for answers. We can start to make small changes that take responsibility for who we are, and how we interact with the world. We can change the ending. Nothing is decided.

Questions to Challenge Our Limiting Beliefs

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to challenge a firmly held belief:

  1. Whose belief is it? Where did you get that belief from?
  2. So, what rule would you be breaking if you challenge that belief?
  3. Where do you think that belief came from?
  4. Who do gave that belief to you?
  5. What was the original purpose behind the belief?
  6. How does that belief apply now? Is it relevant? Is it useful?
  7. If you un-stake your position from this belief, what do you see differently?
  8. If the belief doesn’t apply any more, what are you going to do with this new information?
  9. If the belief still applies and is based on a rational fear, how can you be more flexible?

Empowering Ourselves and Taking Responsibility

Isn’t it time we stopped fighting each other, dropped our fears, and looked to positive changes in our actions to help solve the problems in the world. It’s very easy to direct our attention at the external: people, organisations, or events as the source of our problems. But ultimately we ARE the government. Without us there would be no government. Ultimately we are the corporations since without our custom they simply would not exist.

If we don’t want the world to stay on this disastrous course, we have to divest from actions that collude with it. Stop using plastics, swap to an ethical green bank and take other steps in your personal life to minimize harmful impacts on the earth.  Get involved with community projects that help the vulnerable and don’t support things that put pressure on society. If each of us takes responsibility and we focus on how we can each help, however small,  a new narrative is going to emerge.

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