Beliefs are passed on by our families, teachers and society. But things we were taught often turn out to be false. This is a common phenomenon, and can be difficult to deal with when it happens.
For some, it is minor, like finding out Santa Claus is a myth. For others, it can be something much more serious, like being led to believe that certain people are dangerous or inferior based on their skin color, religion or sexual orientation.
Being led to believe something false can affect the way we treat others, make decisions, and view ourselves. It can be difficult to accept that we were wrong, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained.
One example is the belief that success is determined by one’s intelligence and hard work alone. While these qualities are certainly important, the reality is that success is often influenced by social connections, economic status and luck.
Another example is the belief that mental illness is a sign of weakness or personal failing. This can lead to feeling ashamed and unwilling to seek help, when in reality mental illness is just like any other medical condition that requires treatment.
It is up to us to be open-minded and willing to question our assumptions, in order to become better informed and more compassionate human beings. Working with a life coach can help.
Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck, has some suggestions for overcoming limiting beliefs:
Ask Yourself, “What if I am Wrong?”
Generally, limiting beliefs lose their power as soon as we consider that they may not be true.
Adopt the ability to question your beliefs and find alternative possibilities. Challenge yourself to imagine a world where your assumptions are incorrect.
Ask Yourself, “How is this Belief Serving Me?”
We like to imagine ourselves as victims of limiting beliefs, but the truth is, we adopt beliefs because they serve us in some way.
Generally, we hold onto limiting beliefs to protect ourselves from struggle and failure, or because they make us feel special, self-righteous or that we deserve special attention.
Figure out how your belief is serving you and ask yourself if it’s really worth it or not.
Create Alternative Beliefs
Come up with ways in which you may be wrong. Sure, maybe the average person isn’t attracted to someone your height, but you’re not trying to date the average person, you’re trying to date someone special. And someone special is going to find you attractive just the way you are.
Get in the habit of questioning your beliefs (steps 1 and 2 above) and trying out new ones. Sometimes it helps to write them down. Write your assumption, and then come up with 4-5 possible alternatives.
With practice, you’ll start to notice the thousands of tiny little decisions you make daily based on limiting beliefs.
Test Your Alternatives to See if they Might be True
The final step is to try out alternative beliefs to see if they “work.”
Treat them like trying on a new pair of jeans, adding a new ingredient to a recipe or taking a car for a test drive.
Until we’re willing to actually see if alternative beliefs play out in the real world, we can’t be certain what is true and what is not.
In many ways, we can be our own worst enemies. We are confined by our own perceptions.
Challenge your understanding. Talk to someone who has different beliefs than you. Ask a counselor or minister for help.
There is always room for growth.
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