What Limiting Beliefs Are Holding You Back?
It’s no surprise that each of us possesses a unique belief system. This serves as our creed by which we live, driving our thoughts and decisions, often directing what we do, where we do it, and who we do it with. For many years I just accepted my belief system as the total truth. I never questioned these individual thoughts – instead I just assumed them to be the absolute pillars required to guide me through life.
However, as I grew older and realized that certain things didn’t “sit as well” with me as they had in the past, I started to question why I had those unsettling feelings. Then a good friend gave me a book on this exact topic. Intrigued, I readily dove in, reading it cover to cover. I learned that the beliefs that we have cover so many areas - our philosophical views on religion, spirituality, finances, sexuality, and politics. But they don’t just dictate the “big stuff,” these beliefs also impact our personal habits and so much more, influencing our thoughts regarding food, exercise, shopping, body piercings, and tattoos, just to name a few.
Let’s just say that the author’s words opened my eyes and made me take a step back to really look at the beliefs I’d blindly accepted. Did all of these principles still hold true for me? If not, then why not?
Through a series of exercises, the book guides you to list your major beliefs and then examine where and how each philosophy came into place. Did you learn it as a child? Was it taught to you in school? Had situations with friends formed this thought? Then, you are instructed to ponder each statement and decide whether or not this view is still something that you agree with. When I did this, many of beliefs still resonated and continue to remain fundamental in my daily life. Yet some, while they served me well in the past, were ready to be released. Perhaps prior experiences altered these beliefs, shifting me toward something new. Regardless, whether this gained knowledge guided me to tweak a belief a bit or do a complete 180-degree turn, let’s just say that it was an awakening process to write down my beliefs and then evaluate whether or not I still owned them.
But examining my belief system didn’t end when I finished the book. It’s something that I try to revisit from time to time, especially when I’m feeling unsettled. This past month I thought long and hard about one of my beliefs – something that I’ve never really questioned in the past – what I should do to prepare for Christmas.
First, let me be clear – I enjoy the chaos and creativity of getting ready for Christmas – it’s not something that I do begrudgingly. I’ve always taken my list pre-Christmas activities seriously, mapping out when each task would occur with anticipation of everything coming together beautifully before the 25th. Decorating took two days and the tree required an evening to trim it (together with my husband and Old Fashions). Plus, I always ensured that I filled the planters with fresh greens and hung wreaths inside and out. But the biggest “to do’s” were the gift lists, the shopping, and the wrapping. When that was done, I’d bake chocolate chip cookies, cut outs, meringue kisses, and Aunt Mary’s chocolate cake. I never looked at any of this as chores, instead I whole-heartedly loved each activity.
However, this year, our life is very different. We know that our Christmases past cannot be recreated. My dad and Scott’s mom are no longer with us, and this leaves our hearts heavy. Plus, we’ve moved, and our new house – while we love it – is much smaller, and so many of my cherished decorations will no longer work. This year decorating took two hours, not two days. Let’s just say Christmas 2019 feels strange, out of sorts, and unsettling in some ways.
So, in light of the changes, we decided to do something new – the four of us and my mom are going to Bend, Oregon for Christmas. As I plan for this new experience, I’ve noticed that while a part of me is excited, another is struggling with the loss of traditions, what always was, and who will not be there. In essence, I am examining my belief about how Christmas should look versus how it actually might.
As I thought about what constitutes Christmas, I eventually realized that it is possible to make adaptations, continue with certain meaningful traditions, and leave others behind to form something totally new. While we will be at a loss without my dad and my mother-in-law with us this year, we will still be together, and I’ve come to understand that sharing Christmas with one another and remembering why are celebrate – Christ’s birth – is what’s important… the trimmings, favorite foods, and treasured tree ornaments are lovely, but they do not define Christmas. I needed to stop and examine my belief about what Christmas means then release some of what that I thought critical in order to see that it is exactly what Cindy Lou’s mother says in The Grinch That Stole Christmas…
Lou Lou Who: I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.
So, this December take some time to write down your foundational beliefs and ask whether or not they still apply to who you are today. Many may, but some might have transformed over the years. Recognizing these shifts allows us to better understand our actions, feelings, and behaviors. We are ever evolving spirits having a human experience. If our beliefs never change during our lifetime, are we learning the lessons we are here to encounter?