Buzzwords & Beliefs Part 3


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Artwork by my friend Chris’s talented daughter


Lizzie Skurnick has some words that fit today’s blog.

Worigins: Source of a mysterious anxiety

Paralassist: Freezing up when help is required.

Lizzie made me grin, explaining that Marta overcame paralassist when “She found that having a large umbrella gave her a big mouth.”

That Should Be a Word is increasing my mental plasticity by the day J I even invented my own new word.

In-tension: While intending to live in accordance with one’s higher values, a glitch is encountered. “Rosie believed the Proverb that a soft word turns away wrath, but she found herself shrieking at her student’s obnoxious mother during the parent-teacher meeting.”

How do you feel about the list you made last week? Did some values feel a mile off, and others make you wanna high-five yourself? You might find that some things on your list are shoulds but not actually your core values. You might end up tossing those out or connecting with them down the road. Don’t cross them off your list yet. First, let’s look at limiting beliefs. Sometimes, a good solid value is blocked by a Limiting Belief.

A limiting belief keeps us from doing what we mean to do, from being who we intend to be. It’s something that feels true but freezes us up or drives us to act in ways that aren’t good for us. Limiting beliefs have power, because they’re based on a survival program that’s built into our brains. We were created with the ability to interpret events and draw conclusions. If Bob is a caveman and a bear tries to eat him, Bob decides bears are dangerous and stays alive. However, if Megan leaves one abusive relationship for another, Megan might decide love is not for her. She might have lessons to learn about being and choosing the right mate, but her conclusion prevents her from trying.

It feels like weakness to admit we have limiting beliefs. It feels like an insult to our intelligence to question things we’re sure about. Would it help to know that the strongest beliefs holding you back were formed between the ages of 0 and 20? Were you always right in those days? Growing up is about climbing and falling, pushing boundaries and getting shoved back. It’s about trying new things when you have no prior experience with them and sometimes doing them poorly, repeatedly. It’s about dealing with other people, experimenting with ways to get attention and hoping the attention will be positive.

It’s life—from birth to 1 year, we’re adored by family and strangers. After that, we play ping pong between praise and punishment, and we internalize some limiting beliefs about ourselves and others.

Last week, we recorded action statements that depict us living in ways that make us feel great. I asked you to review those statements each day and make notes about when you lived out those values, and when you didn’t. We feel happiest when our values and actions align, and we feel conflicted, tense or disappointed when they don’t. Don’t get down on yourself; grab your list.

Locate one episode in your week when your actions or reactions contradicted one of the values on your list.

For example, Mark holds a value of working with excellence. A week into his new job, he was called upon to present an idea to the team. Unable to focus, he procrastinated and finally called in sick. He spent the day miserable, submitting resumes online.

What belief might his actions reflect? If Mark believed he lacked the knowledge to prepare an adequate presentation, he could have asked for help. Perhaps he believes something like, “I can’t speak in front of people,” or “I’ll never be accepted by my coworkers.”

I’ll share my own conflict experience.

“Value – I feel fearlessly: I am not afraid to feel emotion, and I have the power to examine my feelings without letting them rule my actions.”

The other day, I wrestled with myself all morning. I was having a tough time writing about something I really wanted to say, something which flowed from my value of reconciling human understanding with God’s perspective. I was up and down for hours. I munched randomly, did pushups to avoid munching, checked Facebook compulsively, and finally took a nap. Feelings of failure overpowered me, and I recognized a belief that nobody wants to hear what I have to say anyway. Accusingly, the critic in my head said, “How can you be a writer if it takes you all day to write 500 words nobody wants to read, ya poser?”

Well, okay, the voice in my head didn’t sound Canadian and call me a poser. That would have made me laugh, and laughing at irrational accusations is a step toward power.

When a limiting belief grabs the wheel, it is our right to question it. Is writing something I enjoy doing? Yes. Would I do it, even if I were writing for only myself and God? Absolutely—check out my huge stack of journals. Are other people allowed to have their own interests? Is it possible that they might be interested in only one thing I say, or in nothing I say? Yep and yep. Will that stop me from writing? Nah, I enjoy it too much. Is there a possibility that I might never support myself through writing? Yep. Is that something I can control? Only partially. I can control my actions, but not the interests of other people. If writing is not a career, will I stop writing? Unlikely.

I took a nap to reboot. Then I got back up and back to it. I’ll say it again:

We have the power and the right to question the belief behind the wheel.

It helps if we hone our questioning skills and have a healthy tactic for regaining control. Take a walk, a nap, call a sensible friend, then take charge.

What beliefs do you have, which override your values? Your conflicts and questions may be different than mine, but you can use the same method I use. Just say ABCD. Don’t skip the steps—your brain might jump from “bad” to “good,” but your heart moves more slowly. Walking through the questions will build your sense of power and your awareness of the error in that limiting belief.

Articulate—Describe the difficult situation or event. What happened? What did you want to do? What did you do? What were your feelings?

Belief – Ask questions until you get down to the beliefs which caused your response. People and situations outside of us do not cause our responses. They may trigger something that is already inside of us, based on a presumption we have already made. Corner that presumption.

Challenge those beliefs—Question the conclusions you’ve drawn and pose alternates. In today’s example, Mark might recognize that prejudging his coworkers and quitting his job will block his success more than fumbling a presentation.

Determine new driving beliefs—In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus gives us a lesson in how our spirits and minds work. He describes us as a house, and explains that when an impure spirit is cast out but the house remains empty, the spirit will come back and bring friends. Today, I used the example of a car. If we challenge and remove a limiting belief, we must put a good one behind the wheel. Otherwise, that old belief will just keep climbing into the empty seat.

I’ll use my writing crisis as an example. The answers to all my challenge questions came down to this: I control my actions but not the response of others. Neither response nor lack thereof will keep me from writing, because I enjoy the process. Therefore, a more effective belief is that I am a writer who encounters challenges, takes breaks and continues to write. In addition, I am motivated to publish my writing by the belief that keeping it to myself prevents any possibility of my dream career.

I’ll see you next week for the final step in this process. Meanwhile, if you’re brave, post a belief you kicked out and its new, more effective replacement.

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