Today I want to talk to you about beliefs. As a basic definition, a belief is a thought we keep on thinking. It is something that we’ve thought about so many times that it feels like a fact.
Beliefs are taught to us and reinforced over time from our experiences. They are told to us by our families, communities, religion, friends, schools, cultures, countries, and workplaces.
In some cases, we love our beliefs. They are what we would fight for. For example, I believe healthy families love each other unconditionally. I would fight to keep and reinforce that belief. It’s hard for me to believe that not everyone agrees.
In other cases, our beliefs are not as loved or useful. For example, I have a learned belief that unless I have completed all of the work on my list, I don’t deserve to relax. I’ve thought that so many times that It has become a belief. It doesn’t help me, because it causes me to feel guilty about downtime, and it causes me to overwork.
Just like a bad habit, it’s worth it to notice when those kinds of beliefs exist. If you can learn to see them and get curious about them, then you can decide to question and then change the ones you don’t like. The first step involves knowing.
I’m not here to tell you to change your beliefs. Your beliefs are yours to keep and treasure. I am here to tell you it’s really worth your time to discover your beliefs and decide with intention which ones you want and which ones you don’t.
In my experience coaching people about their work, I have heard a lot of beliefs that are worth questioning. They are preventing many of us from achieving our goals and living joyfully. Let’s take a look at some I hear most often.
- “I’m just not a technical person.”
- “I can never keep up with everything on my list.”
- “I have always been a little slow to learn something new.”
- “If I want to get to the next level, I have to work many extra hours.”
- “If I want to earn a lot of money, I must compromise on what’s important to me.”
- “I’m just not good at doing [the thing].”
- “I’m not a good communicator.”
- “There isn’t enough time in the day to complete all the work.”
- “This is all so overwhelming.”
- “I’m not the kind of person that can let that go.”
- “I could never change that about my personality.”
- “I’m not being negative. I’m just telling the truth. “
- “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself. “
- “I try to plan, but then everything blows up, and I have to change my plans. “
- “I could never be one of those “executive types”.”
- “That will never work. We’ve tried it before.”
What do you believe about yourself in the context of your work? Take a minute and think about this. What have you said about yourself to other people? Grab a blank piece of paper and write down as many thoughts as you can. Fill a page. Including the good and the not-so-good beliefs. With this exercise, you are trying to notice your habits. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to finish…….
How are you feeling when you look at the list you just wrote down? If you’re feeling terrific about some of your beliefs – that’s fantastic. Most of us that do this exercise don’t feel amazing about all of them, though. When we look at the beliefs we’ve allowed our habitual brains to think, many of us are surprised at how negative they are. (It’s just because we are human)
Just a warning: You may disagree with me on this next point. What you just experienced is a beautiful thing. It’s wonderful because now you recognize that beliefs are optional, and when you see what thoughts your mind is offering, you can use that information to decide what you want to do next, and things can start to change for you.
Remember, your thoughts are optional, and a belief is just a thought you keep thinking.
Take a look at one of the beliefs on the list above. Let’s pick it apart. What is the fact? Could you consider another option?
Belief: “I’m not a good communicator”.
The fact is: You are a human being that says words.
Consider: What do you WANT to believe about that? Do you want to believe that your words are valuable, important, worth hearing, understandable, and clear? If your current thought is “I’m not a good communicator,” and you don’t like that belief, you’ll have to dig a little deep and find a way to change that habitual thought.
Getting there: You can’t just jump to thinking an affirmation like “I’m an amazing communicator” because your brain won’t believe it, and it will argue with you. You have to bridge your way there, and it takes some time. Look for evidence to the contrary: “When did I communicate well?”. Get curious about your future and practice thinking, “I am willing to consider that I could be a good communicator someday.” Whatever new thought you pick, make sure it’s a step towards your goal and that you believe it. Practice thinking the new thought for a while (weeks), and then take another step. “I’m practicing becoming a good communicator,” and “I’m learning about good communication.” Keep going.
Get curious. Why do you currently believe what you believe? What do you want to keep? What do you want to let go of?
No self-judgment my friend. Just be curious and notice your very human brain that is 100% lovable and worthy. What beliefs does it have? What beliefs do you want to build? Pick one and work on it.
The coaching I do helps people see their beliefs and pick them apart. If you want help with this, please reach out. You won’t regret it.
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