The dictionary defines “belief” as acceptance of and conviction in the truth. But what if the belief you hold about who you are is based on faulty assumptions or outright lies?
Consider that your personal beliefs are colored by layers of experiences, perceptions, attitudes, and desires … meaning that your beliefs are based your personal interpretation of reality.
If it is your belief that you are limited or lacking in some way, regardless of any proof you may have to the contrary, that belief becomes your truth and you will behave in a way that validates your perception of reality. Makes you think doesn’t it?
Reality is always kinder that the stories we tell ourselves about it. ~Bryan Katie
To understand how a faulty belief can potentially take on a life of its own let’s use the example that you’ve been hurt in a relationship and this has caused you to develop a belief in the form of an internal narrative (story) about how all men/women are the same, and you become suspicious of anyone who falls within the guidelines of your belief. This could not only prevent you from forming meaningful relationships in the future, it may well cause you to attract into your life the very people who will validate your belief!
And, make no mistake; if you are human, you are creating internal narratives to validate your beliefs – positive as well as negative, consciously and, far more often than not, subconsciously.
Changing Faulty Beliefs
It may seem obvious to state that the first step to begin changing faulty or limiting beliefs is to identify them, but the challenge is that some of these beliefs may have been held for so long they’ve become firmly established as your reality.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
- I’m not good enough.
- Why get my hopes up just to fail – again?!
- I don’t have the right equipment or experience (enough money, education, connections, etc.)
- I’m not lucky – I have never been lucky.
- I’m too busy just surviving to think about dreams and goals.
- I’m too tall (short, thin, fat, old, young, etc.)
The danger is that we often chalk these faulty stories up to common sense to save us from thrusting ourselves out onto a one-way limb in a misguided effort to achieve unrealistic dreams. Then we wonder why we can never seem to get ahead!
Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe? ~Scott Turow
If you really want to get to the heart of the matter you have to be willing to invest some time exploring your fears, regrets and how you honestly see yourself.
- What is your greatest regret in life so far?
- What is your biggest fear?
- What one thing do you want most to change about your life?
- What (or who) do you think stands between you and happiness?
- What are your core values?
- Are you happy with yourself?
- Beyond the titles other people give you (wife, mother, sister/brother, friend, etc.) who are you?
- What is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
- If you could be someone else for one day, who would you be and why?
- What one thing has fear stopped you from doing?
- How would you describe your future in three words?
If you will take the time to thoughtfully answer these questions you’ll begin to see patterns that will lead you to areas that need attention.
Please keep in mind that everyone harbors faulty or limiting beliefs from time to time. But the longer you live with them, the harder it will be to change … and when your thinking has been scaled back over time as a result of these limiting beliefs, and you suddenly try to think about things like changing your life for the better, you may well find yourself up against some pretty gritty resistance.
The only way to break free is to change those negative beliefs to positive ones. No matter how well you plan, or how much energy you put into achieving a goal, as long as it is your internal belief that you don’t have what it takes to accomplish something, you will be fighting an uphill battle … a battle waged against your own beliefs about who you are.
The secret to moving ahead in life is not that complicated – change limiting beliefs into empowering ones. If you are able to do that successfully, there is no doubt you will be a far happier, confident and successful person. ~Author Unknown
Rewriting Your Stories
To change a faulty belief to one that is empowering you first need to come to terms with what it is costing you to hang on to that negative belief. How has it adversely affected you, physically, financially and emotionally? The point is to connect a very real sense of pain to remaining vested in this belief as your reality.
Once you are emotionally vested in changing your belief then you can begin to create a new narrative, one that is more positive and aligns with the results you want to achieve. For those who following my writing, you won’t be surprised that I recommend keeping a journal for this process because there is power in converting thoughts to words on paper and being able to revisit them regularly – but words must be turned into action.
Once you have formed a new belief to replace the old one, you need to begin changing your behavior to mirror the positive story, and that will take time. But look for and celebrate small results. If you stick with it in time your new belief will become your reality.
In closing, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the blessing and the curse of a blog post is that at best it can provide an overview of how to go about changing a behavior. Sadly, sometimes our narratives are formed around the negative or harmful influence of others, particularly from childhood. When this is the case it may be that the best gift you can give to yourself is to seek professional assistance to once and for all rid yourself of these harmful limiting beliefs.
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.