What is the story you believe in? How would you define your past, present and future? Have you ever questioned the way you see yourself and your life?
I touched the topic of limiting beliefs in my previous post. Now I want to write more about it because I think becoming aware of limiting beliefs it is one of the most important learnings in life. During my mindfulness journey I have given a lot of thought around this topic and want to share it here with you.
First, let me ask you a question. If someone asked you to tell about yourself, what would you say? In what manner would you describe your personality, your past, present or future? How do you see your life? Stop for a while and really think, what is your story. What is the story you are telling to yourself and others? You can even write these things down to make this even more concrete.
I’ll give you an example of things I would have written down 2 years ago: “I am Mari and I haven’t yet graduated from the university because I have a stressful work and I don’t find the time or energy to finish my studies. It is pretty challenging to combine work and studies and I don’t know will I ever even graduate. I don’t find my job very meaningful but at the moment I have no other options. It is a “dream” job in paper, so I should be grateful.”
“I am not a creative person at all, that is why I am working in supply chain instead of marketing or something which would require that creativity. Having a steady and safe job in order to minimize all possible financial risks is what I want. I have some dreams but I know how difficult and risky it is to really make those happen, so I am ok with what I have now. I am not that good at dealing with difficult emotions because I am temperamental, have always been since I was a child. What makes me happy is when the closest people around me are happy.”
What are limiting beliefs?
After reading the above story from the past, what comes to your mind? For me this sounds like a totally different person from what I am now. Of course we all learn and change over time, but it requires deep self-reflection and awareness to switch mindset and make real changes in life. The point why I shared my story is to show you how many limiting beliefs there are that I wasn’t even aware back then. But I can see them all now. With this post I want to help you see your limiting beliefs as well.
The truth is, our beliefs are everything. How we see and talk about ourselves is extremely important and has a strong impact on our lives. To put it simple, we live the life we believe in and we are the person we believe we are.
Majority of limiting beliefs are things that have followed us since we were kids. The people who raised us had their perspectives and opinions about what kind of person we are, what is our personality or what kind of difficulties we have. And as a child, we take those beliefs as the truth without questioning them.
We also might have learnt already long ago that life is not supposed to be easy or fun. That we all need to first go to school and then find a good, steady job in order to be safe and afford life. Also we might have been told that life requires a lot of sacrifices, that things do not come easily and we always need to work and work some more even if we didn’t really like it.
So based on all those different “truths” – in other words: subjective beliefs – we have built our own story around ourselves and our lives. That story is somewhere so deep within us that we are not even aware of it. We define ourselves and our lives based on the beliefs that we have learnt over time. The story has become a part of our unconscious mind, and this is exactly the reason why people rarely change. Because the unconscious is never questioned or explored. We can live our lives based on these familiar beliefs, but what if there was something else?
And I want to point out that this is not to blame anyone. This is only to visualize how our beliefs have been built. We all have a certain way to see life and that is how it works. But questioning what we have learnt and believed our whole lives is something that can lead to positive change or great opportunities in your life. Especially if you feel that you are stuck or unhappy with your life.
Becoming aware of limiting beliefs
Now you know that your identity is strongly built based on your beliefs about yourself, your life and the world. Your brain comes up with a story about yourself that might have nothing to do with what you truly are. How to become aware of those beliefs? Mindfulness and meditation are good tools to raise awareness. You can also start to ask some questions about yourself and your life. Take one belief at a time – it can be for example a personality trait of yours or where do you see yourself in 2 years etc. – and start to ask the following questions:
- Have I always believed this way?
- Is it my own belief or has someone else’s opinion or the environment had an impact?
- Why do I believe this way? Does it make me feel safe?
- Do I act and behave based on this belief? If yes, how?
- Do I define my life based on this belief? If yes, how?
- Am I suffering because of this belief?
- Do I want to believe this way in the future as well?
These questions can help you not only become aware of your beliefs but to question them as being the ultimate truth. For example, if you have always thought that you are a very shy person and cannot change, this belief is limiting yourself from being something else you might want to be. You don’t need to be that shy person if you don’t want to. So why limiting yourself and your life? Wouldn’t it be much better to let go of all limitations and release all your potential out to the world?
Creating new beliefs
Once you have written down answers for the above questions about some of your beliefs, take a deeper look at them. Do you see a certain pattern or tone in them? Do you feel that you are a victim of your circumstances? Are you explaining your behavior based on those beliefs? Are you limiting yourself to live the life you truly want because of these beliefs?
If you reply yes to any of the above questions, it is time to make a decision. Do you want to keep defining your life like you have done until now? Or do you want to let go of those harmful beliefs and stop limiting yourself and your life? This is fully your choice. You have the power to change and create some new beliefs that support the person you want to be and the life you want to live. It can be scary to stop believing in something you have always believed. But change requires exploring the unknown and scary.
My mindfulness journey has led me to make the decision to stop limiting myself. With this post I hope to inspire you to do the same. To show you how much my new beliefs have impacted my life, I want to share how my story sounds like today:
“I am grateful about every day. My life is going into the right direction, doing at least one thing that makes me feel good every day. I am enough and I don’t need to prove it to anyone else. Making mistakes is ok. I take care of myself. I use my free time to do and learn more about the things I am passionate about. My values guide my every day life. Being fully myself does good to the people around me as well. I have found the creativity in me that have always been there, but what I have been hiding it for a long time. I am using my full potential to do my own thing without fearing or thinking what others might think about me. Listening my inner self guides me to the right direction every day. I trust life.”
What is your story? Share it in the comment section below!