How did yesterday’s exploration of the real YOU go? Yesterday on the blog, we chatted all about taking the first baby steps to love and appreciate yourself genuinely. We explored what authenticity truly means to you, and what it might look like, to live as the best version of yourself.
Secondly, we also identified the stories that hold us back from loving ourselves, and how to overcome them.
Today we are further exploring the concept of these stories, called Limiting Beliefs, and how you can develop the skill to distance yourself from these thoughts.
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the subconscious stories that are continually running rampant in our heads. They often show up, disguised as fear or anger or shame. What is most damaging, however, is that we listen to our limiting beliefs, because we often believe them to be the truth.
Long ago when you were a child, your brain observed the world. You listened to the adults in your environment and picked up shitty “rules” that allowed your mind to cope with everything around it.
Think about it; you believed your parents when they said a fat dude was going to break into your house and eat your cookies and leave you presents. Like, wtf parents?!
So of course, we listened to our mothers look at themselves in the mirror and complain that they were “too fat and ugly,” we associate being overweight with feelings of shame or not being pretty enough or lovable enough. We observed our fathers come home from work, exhausted from trying to make money for the family, who then had no time or energy for the kids and we reasoned, money is evil because only workaholics or greedy people get it.
These limiting beliefs are just thoughts from our childhood that we have never analyzed or challenged as adults. So they have grown and festered and shaped how we perceive our current reality.
Some examples of the common limiting beliefs that I have:
- I am not worthy of love unless I am achieving something
- I am not a funny person
- I don’t make friends easily
- I must sacrifice and work hard to be worthy of success
- I must be perfect for other people to like me
Can you think of rules, or beliefs, that have held you back in your current life?
Tell Your Ego To Shut The Hell Up
When people think of ego, they think of arrogance or supremacy. But really, without going too Freud on ya, our egos are even more straightforward than that.
Yes, you have an ego. We all do. Your ego is that voice that you listen to in your head. You know the one, right? It yammers on and on constantly, filling your head with all sorts of “me” talk.
Perhaps, up until this moment, your ego has been driving the ship.
I love to think of my ego, in the same way, that Michael Singer portrays it in his novel “The Untethered Soul.” His definition of the ego is the voice that speaks to you inside your head. The dangers of listening to this voice, however, is that your ego started developing when you were a small child. It started taking in the influence from your parents and your environment and coming up with “rules” or an “identity” to be able to categorize the situation that you grew up in logistically. We create these rules as young as 3 or 4 years of age.
And yet your subconsciousness has not developed enough to analyze whether these “rules” are truly serving you or not. Thus, these “rules” become the only way in which you perceive the world.
Your ego, in essence, is that voice inside of you, that is operating on software from when you were just a child.
We are in a habit of listening to our egos.
In fact, we barely even know it’s there, because our ego – that voice inside of our heads – seems to be “me.”
I will challenge you then, to recognize that the ego voice within you, is not actually YOU. It is not who you honestly are. It is not your soul. Your ego is a wounded little child, nothing more. So to escape the pattern of listening to your ego (which is the voice that keeps you in pain, or suffering, or judgment, or “me, me, me,” state) you must first realize that you are not your thoughts.
Ruminate in that for a second. You are not your thoughts. You are something more. Something pure. Something that cannot be hindered by the fear or the shames of your past (hey, that’s your ego speakin’ darlin’!)
So to take the first steps in healing all of those pains that you’ve kept locked away in your heart, you must first recognize that the habitual thoughts that continuously remind you of your hurts are not you, it’s your ego. And your ego can be rewired. You can relearn the lessons in your life that have shaped your experience thus far.
So how do I do this? How do I rewire my thoughts?
Pay Attention To Your Emotions
Your emotions are a wonderful indicator of how you are currently thinking. Most of us believe that our feelings are in response to our environment. Someone buys us a Starbucks, and we are happy. We get in a fight with our husband, and we are angry. But our emotions can be triggered by how and where we are directing our thoughts. So to reverse engineer this, we can change the way we feel, to improve our ideas.
How do we change our emotions?
There are two techniques that we can use, to change the way we feel:
Gratitude, of course, is the big white whale of the personal development world. It’s the most sought after, most praised. How many times are we truly grateful for not just the good things, but the crappy stuff as well?
If you can find gratitude – honest and sincere appreciation – for all of the shitty things in your life, you can finally be in control of your destiny. It’s easy to say thanks for all the good stuff. But when you are in your darkest of days, and the world seems against you, this is when gratitude is most needed.
And like so many other things in life, gratitude is a habit.
For me, it looks like writing all the things I am grateful for, in my journal before I go to sleep at night. Sometimes, I will meditate on three things I am thankful for, in the morning as well. It doesn’t have to take long or be particularly hard. You aren’t building a rocket here. You can make it as easy and as simple as you want.
“I am grateful for my dog. I am grateful for my bed. I am grateful that I just got fired from my job and on the way home, I got a flat tire. Now I finally have the time to devote to my real passion: sewing.”
Whatever it is, take the time to honestly feel grateful, even if you can only think of one thing, and that one thing kinda sucks. Be grateful regardless. If you are stomping your feet or rolling your eyes here, know that it’s only you that is keeping yourself in this sucky phase of life. You might feel silly sitting there, writing about how you’re grateful to be sitting on a pile of ants, but dammit, be thankful, and somewhere down the road, life will start to work for you, instead of against you.
Change Your Physiology
Physiology simply put, is the physical state of your body. I use physiology to prime my body and thus my brain, to expect and experience only the good things in life.
Let’s look at your body’s physical state when you feel like complete garbage. Your shoulders are pulled up to your ears. Your body is tense and rigid like your mother-in-law. Your face feels haggard. Maybe you even feel tired and heavy.
On the opposite side when you are feeling kick-ass, you are radiant and energetic. You can’t help but smile. You go through the motions of your day with efficiency and grace, hardly sweating the small stuff that goes wrong. You laugh more. You get along with others better. You just feel damn good.
These are examples of your body functioning differently based on your mood. So if you want to change the way you feel, you can physically change your body, and your emotions will follow suit.
Here’s my trick. When I feel like shit, and I can’t seem to turn things around, I change my physiology.
Step One: Start by closing your eyes.
To keep from being overwhelmed, I start working with my body from my head and then travel down to my toes. First, I concentrated on how my face would feel if I was in a beautiful state. How would I be smiling? What does it feel like to laugh? Would my eyes relax, and my forehead let go of the tension? Would I feel a sense of energy radiating from myself if I was feeling genuinely inspired and joyous?
Step Two: I concentrate on my shoulders.
I physically release them and imagine all the waves of tension melting away from my body. I pull my shoulders muscles down my back and let each bone in my spine relax. I move my neck in slow, intentional circles, experiencing the sense of weightlessness as the stress dissolves.
Step Three: I move my attention to my core and my back.
And like before, I imagine would my body would feel like, if I was experiencing extreme joy. My heart rate would feel bouncy and energetic! My core muscles might even be a bit sore from laughing so hard. I feel positive energy, radiating from my chest, pouring out into the world and those around me, as we lift each other.
Step Four: I let that energy travel down my legs, into my toes, going into the earth and back up again.
I feel grounded in this present moment, here and now. I experience the energy in my legs as if they want to jump up or run or move freely.
Step 5: Overview
And then, when I can physically feel my body responding to this exercise, I allow myself to open my eyes, and experience the direct changes in my body. Without fail, I feel lighter and freer, as if I am empowered. As if, nothing can stop me or inhibit me, because the happiness that I am experiencing is my own. The joy is mine. The freedom and sense of peace at this very moment is mine. And nothing and no one can ever take away what I have created for myself in this life.
This action is the power of your mind at work. You can change your physiology and thus, the way you feel and experience your present-day life. You get to choose how you spend your life, is what I am saying.
Decide right now, to spend it in joy. Practice this and make it a habit, whenever you start to feel like fear or shame or stress is taking root in your life. To change your life, you must first change how to spend your days.
This decision is your first step!
Let’s Sum This Up
Today is all about rewriting new “rules” for yourself, to replace your limiting beliefs with a truth that is empowering to change your life.
Remember, to truly identify your life’s purpose; you must learn to recognize your limiting beliefs, check your ego, and change your physiology! These three takeaways from today will indeed kick your ass into gear, to start changing your life as you put these into daily practice!
- Make a list of everything that’s been holding you back in your life
- Look for any themes in your answers. Can you find the limiting beliefs that you have been keeping? Write them down.
- Once you’ve made a list of your limiting beliefs, rewrite them, so that they say the exact opposite of your old way of thinking. These are going to be your new rules to move forward. Example
- Old Limiting Belief: I cannot be loved unless I am achieving something
- New Rule: I am lovable, and worthy of love, regardless of my successes or failure
- Use these new rules as mantras, to repeat to yourself every time you feel an old limiting belief creeping back into your thoughts