If you have just started reading my blog, welcome and thank you for taking the time to click onto my site. I recommend you read the posts backwards, from the oldest to the newest, to get the full benefit of them. The first one is here.
In my post “Lesson 1 – Living Inside Out”, I listed seven things that helped me to do just that. The first one was about facing your past and forgiving it.
Today I would like to skip straight to number four, examining your beliefs and re-writing them. Why? Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want. Ha! No, actually it’s because I feel that completing this step is vital to help you drill down to the person you really are, rather than the person that everyone else wants you to be.
I also know with every fibre of my being, that completing this step is a stepping stone to start creating a life that you know you should have. Without it, you are simply relieving old patterns and behaviours that no longer serve you.
So you can say your affirmations, do a 21 day challenge on changing your habits, read all the self-help paraphernalia you can get your hands on, but unless you start to face the person you are on the inside nothing much will really change. I know this because I experienced it first hand.
Okay so are you with me? Good. First, lets look at the definition of a belief.
According to the Oxford Dictionary it is “an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof”.
It can be a religious conviction. Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion. It’s trust, faith or confidence in someone or something.
It’s what drives people to do, say or follow certain things. It can be the cause of much love, heartache and extreme emotion (depending on how firmly held the beliefs are).
It is the very driver of life. It can drive people to create amazing and beautiful things. It can also drive them to destroy and inflict pain.
You get the idea. But here’s the thing.
It’s not real. Not in the physical sense anyway. You can’t see it, touch it, feel it, or smell it. You can only witness (and feel the effects of) the result of it.
A belief is something tucked away so deep inside of you that sometimes you aren’t even aware that it exists. Until something happens to re-enforce it or to threaten its very existence, beliefs stick until they become part of our habitual being.
A belief is the cause of our very behaviour, our reasoning and our actions.
A lot of our core beliefs have come childhood and our youth. Picked up from our family, from society, from our very environment.
Yet we are not born with them.
So why am I banging on about what a belief is. It’s because I want you to see that if it has been picked up in some way, it can also be dropped. Especially if it no longer serves you.
Louise Hay says in her book “Heal your Life” that some beliefs served us very well in childhood like “Don’t talk to strangers”. There was a time and place for that. But as an adult, if you continue to hold this belief, you may never make true friends, or seize opportunities, or learn anything new. Because you still hold on to a belief that no longer serves you.
How do you know if a belief still serves you or not?
If you say it out loud and you feel calm, safe, happy, lifted in some way; it serves you.
If you say it out loud and you feel weird, robotic, sad, tired, fearful even; it’s no longer serving you.
“It’s not that simple!” you say. Well, yes, it is. It really is. Don’t ever underestimate how important your feelings are in guiding you through life.
It’s not about how the belief makes everyone else feel. It’s absolutely about how the belief makes you feel. I cannot emphasise this enough.
Many moons ago a belief was formed because it served someone in some way. It made them feel good. But it doesn’t make you feel good. Yet you continue to hold it and live by it because you are fearful that if you don’t, a) your parents/grand-parents/teacher will be angry, or b) you might lose your friends, or c) people may laugh at you, or d) something bad might happen to you.
I’m here to tell you that I thought all of these things (and more) yet none of them happened when I started to question and then change some of my beliefs.
When I started to change, my world did too. That is what I want you to understand. Don’t fear other people’s reaction. It makes not the blindest bit of difference to your world. Only how you feel makes your world.
So, be bold, its time to step onto that stone.
Write them down.
First find some time when you can be on your own and not disturbed.
Get something to write with and to write on. I prefer traditional pen and paper, but use your phone, tablet, computer, whatever. As long as you feel good writing with it, then use that.
Head up the page however you want. I used “Thoughts and beliefs to be removed and released” because I already knew that I was carrying beliefs that no longer worked. But name this what you want because it has to be personal to you.
Now write down every single belief that you hold. Start with your childhood if that’s easier or work backwards from what you believe now.
It may take a while to get started but you will be amazed at how much you list down. Even if its sounds bizarre, just write it down.
I ended up with four and a half sides of an A5 note-book and I was writing in really tiny writing.
Once you have written down your beliefs, say them out loud and notice how it makes you feel. Don’t worry if you struggle with this at first, it can be difficult to say out loud something you have lived by your whole life and never questioned.
Put a star next to the ones that make you feel weird, down, deflated in some way. Try not to rationalise them here. For once, listen to your feeling.
Here are some of the beliefs I wrote that made me feel this way:
“I have a large nose so I am not attractive”
“Being on your period is dirty”
“If you don’t fast on a certain day or do certain puja’s (prayer ritual) at a certain time, something bad will happen to you / you won’t get what you want / God will punish you”
“As an Indian girl I was successful once married, not before”
“When something good happens, something bad will always follow it”
Some are just downright bizarre, like “Don’t cut your nails after dark, bad things will happen”. I mean if you can’t see what you are doing, and maybe back in the days before electricity, this was sound advice. But now? Come on! Yet I still believed it and followed it.
A lot of my beliefs stemmed from childhood and cultural norms. Things I had grown up with and automatically absorbed without question. Can you relate to this?
Now at the end of your list, take a different pen/colour (one that appeals to you), and write the following (a variation of a quote from Louise Hay):
“I NO LONGER CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN OLD LIMITATIONS AND LACK.
I KNOW I AM PERFECT, WHOLE AND COMPLETE AS THE DAY I WAS BORN.
I NOW CHOOSE TO SEE MYSELF AS THIS – WHOLE, PERFECT AND COMPLETE.”
Read it out loud, a few times if you want to. I know it sounds achingly new-agey, but just go with it.
Do you see what you have done? You have just (probably for the first time in your life) acknowledged what drives your very behaviour and put a shining torch on what no longer works for you.
By making the bold statement at the end, you are subconsciously accepting that you will no longer be confined by the old beliefs and instead return closer to your natural state of being.
I remember completing this exercise one night after a particularly stressful day with my baby. I completed the quote at the end and slammed the book shut, frustrated that I didn’t immediately experience the same relief that I had when I was forgiving my past.
I re-read it a couple of times that week, scoffed at a few of the beliefs I had written down, and then quickly dismissed it.
But something had really changed inside me. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but then I realised that I was automatically starting to notice certain behaviours or thinking patterns of mine that would stem from a belief I had written down.
It was the oddest thing. My mind wanted to fall back into the same patterns but I would feel an unfamiliar tug to not go down that road again. I would catch myself mid-thought and question why I was thinking something.
I then came to realise that by doing this exercise I had exposed everything I believed in and therefore altered the power that any one belief had over me. It was extremely subtle at first but the realisation of what I had done hit me full on a few days later.
I am now working through a process of re-writing my beliefs every time one comes up that doesn’t make me feel so good, through a mixture of affirmations, gratitude journals and Reiki. This is something I will share with you as this blog progresses, but in the mean time try out this exercise (and continue with the forgiveness ones).
Nothing I have written above is new. It has all been said, written, and practised in many different ways, by many different people over thousands and thousands of years. I am just writing it in a way that has worked for me and given you a practical exercise so you can see the effects for yourself.
This lesson really started to change the way I thought about and therefore lived my life. It was a stepping stone to transforming the person I once was.
There was nothing wrong with that person apart from she was living a tiny percentage of her true self and wasn’t very happy about it.
If that sounds a bit like you, then please just try out the exercise and see where it takes you.
Wishing you well, always.
(Feature photo by Tania Arora @taniaarora).