What I Believe Makes Me Who I Am
All too often, we are our own worst enemy. We block our road to success, happiness and ‘freedom’ with our thoughts about ourselves. In a very real way we use our thoughts to beat ourselves up, knock ourselves down, and create our own little ‘hell on earth’ where we suffer pain and internal conflict. But why and how do we accomplish this self-defeating exercise?
Our thoughts about ourselves are harmless unless we believe them. A thought is merely words that alone cannot cause us to suffer; but when we compound a thought with belief that it is true, we create blocks.
None of this would be a problem if all our thoughts were positive, but that is simply not the case for most of us. How often have you uttered these or similar statements?:
“I’ve been overweight since I was little kid, so I’m always going to be overweight.”
“I’m not going to concern myself with that guy. Guys who look like that wouldn’t be interested in me.”
“You can’t get ahead in life if you didn’t go to college.”
“I am just not qualified enough to take on this work assignment.”
So what is a block? A block is anything that impedes your forward movement in life whether it’s external, such as money or time, or internal like your beliefs and attitude about you and the rest of the world. Usually what is seen as an external block is a reflection of internal beliefs that have a hold on us.
The above statements present different types of internal blocks. Generally, there are four types of internal blocks that result from our thoughts about ourselves:
Limiting beliefs: More often than not, we accept what we hear as truth, especially negative statements. It may come from someone we respect, a parent, a designated authority, a book or even the media. We take what is said, personalize it, and apply it to our belief about who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing.
Negative assumptions feel very real because they are based on something that happened in our past that we are convinced will happen again. In other words, it is a past event that you bring to your present time. A good example of an assumption is the second statement above. How possible is it this person was turned down once before by a guy with similar looks? When you apply negative assumptions, the result is you assume because it happened once, you will be turned down again.
Assumptions are very debilitating because you believe you already know the outcome. It leads to you limiting your possibilities.
Negative interpretations: Many of us believe we know exactly why a person is acting in a certain way or the reason why a particular event unfolded as it did. We believe we know the reason because our interpretation of what is going on is the most likely reason to us and therefore seems the most logical explanation. However, in actuality, our interpretation is just one possibility among many that may exist. Using the third statement above, what if you interpret that not going to college is the reason you don’t have money? While that could be a reason, when you make interpretations you decide that is the only true reason. That can lead to certain actions such as not looking at your spending habits or your level of commitment to a job.
Fear that you are not good enough: That is the little voice in your head, your inner critic, who keeps saying “you can’t do this…you are not good enough.” This inner critic tells you not to try, never to take a risk, to take the road already traveled, and to compromise your life by playing it safe.
The message we get from our inner critic feels like a real warning that we are not good enough to be a success or to maintain it, even if we do achieve a goal.
There is a distinct commonality shared among all the blocks and it is that when we subscribe to a limiting belief, a negative assumption or interpretation or fear, they are not based on fact. Instead they are rooted in falsehoods that we have come to believe are facts about who we are and how our lives play out.
It is very useful for us to understand each of these blocks. Once we know what is getting in our way, then we’ve become aware. Once we have achieved awareness, then it is a matter of choice about whether or not we take the next step to overcome those blocks and redesign our world.
Our thoughts take hold of us because we fail to challenge their validity. It is that simple. Most of us think we are who we are but we never stop to ask how true that thought is.
By not challenging the truthfulness of a block that has a hold on us, we are limiting our potential and ultimately, our success.
There are many ways to challenge our beliefs, but the best way to start is by being inquisitive:
Is it true?
How true do you believe that is?
Where did you get that idea?
Just because that happened in the past, why must it happen again?
What’s another way to look at that?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react or what happens when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without that thought?
It is impossible for us to control our thinking (have you ever tried not to think?) and it is just as difficult to not be limiting, assuming and fearful in our thoughts. That is okay, it’s natural, because we are creatures whose emotional thoughts are very much an integral part of our makeup. In many ways such thoughts separate us from the other creatures on earth. This being the case, our objective shouldn’t be to rid ourselves of these thoughts; it can be to meet them with understanding and then learn to let them go.