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Editing your own story.

Slaying what weighs you down.

Have you ever stopped to think, I mean really stopped, and purposefully devoted some time to earnestly think about what weighs you down in life?


We are all made up of stories. Stories we tell ourselves about who we are that can prevent us from pursuing our goals and desires, and hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be. These stories, also known as limiting beliefs, are deeply held assumptions about ourselves, others and/or the world at large and have the tendency to weigh us down in life. Limiting beliefs, co-exist in our mind alongside our supporting beliefs, which, conversely, are those motivating and encouraging assumptions that help us move forward in life. We hold the ambivalence of both sets of assumptions in our minds, ones that serves us well, others not so much. So, why do we even have these limiting beliefs that weigh us down? Where did they come from? How can we identify them? And can we get rid of them, since they do not seem beneficial?


Why


Let’s start by understanding why we even have these assumptions to begin with.


Our brain’s main function is to keep us alive at all costs, ensuring we humans survive as a species at large. One way it does this is by acting like a prediction machine, taking in vast amounts of information from our environment and sorting out, interpreting and predicting, what could be a threat to our existence versus what is safe. Our brain is also an energy-expensive organ, meaning it expends a lot of energy to function, for which it has had to evolve energy-conserving efficiencies. Limiting beliefs are exactly that: shortcuts/strategies our brain relies upon to conserve energy, and even though they are caused by a number of different reasons, they all stem from the same place: the brain’s impetus to protect us from experiencing pain in the future.


Where


Now that we know that limiting beliefs intend to serve an evolutionary function, let’s understand where they come from.


Most of our limiting beliefs, most certainly the deeply-rooted ones, are formed during our childhood as a response to family and childhood experiences. As children, our experiences lead us to make certain assumptions that help us process our reality as best we can. However, because this occurs at a time where we have yet to develop both the mental and emotional maturity necessary to cope with life, we end up deciding these assumptions are facts, and as such, they become rooted in our subconscious as thoughts and opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth. Examples of these could be:

Limiting Belief

Possible Root Cause

I am not smart

A teacher’s off-the-cuff comment in 3rd grade

I am a picky eater

A parent’s frustrated body language while worried that a child doesn’t eat enough

I’m too sensitive

Being criticized for expressing certain emotions

I am not a good parent

Having a difficult childhood relationship with parents

Money is hard to come by

Having experienced family financial hardship as a child

Here it’s important to take a pause, and give credit where credit is due. The assumptions we form as children do in fact serve a critical purpose at that time in life, as they do help us get through our experiences as youngsters. The problem relies in that once we have left childhood behind, these assumptions do not just shed away automatically, remember they root themselves in our subconscious becoming facts, therefore what happens is that we carry them throughout our lives, right into adulthood, where now they no longer serve the important role they did back when we were younger, and instead they become burdens, obstacles; they become limiting beliefs.


How to identify


Since limiting beliefs become rooted in our subconscious, becoming facts that are true to us, it is not always easy to identify them. One strategy that can be used to identify a limiting belief is by relying on our mind-body connection. Limiting beliefs do not feel good emotionally. Trust your gut instinct. When a thought/belief feels off, painful, uncomfortable and misaligned with what you wish in life, it could be an indicator that the core belief is of limiting nature.


Another strategy is working with a therapist and/or life coach. Working with a professional who has the knowledge to support you in identifying, and working through your limiting beliefs is important since, at times, these beliefs can be emotionally triggering.


To me, identifying and understanding where limiting beliefs come from is a very interesting exercise of metacognition – that is the awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes. But it does not clarify if or how I can get rid of them. So, can we get rid of these stories we tell ourselves and that we believe in so deeply? And if so, how can we change this?


How to change


This is where my latest guest speaker Kristen Ancker brought in the magic, as she explained that yes, we absolutely can change these limiting beliefs, and the “how” to do so is through our very own and innate “power of decision”.


Kristen first introduced us to the Pyscho-cybernetic loop, depicted below:


The Psycho-cybernetic Loop



She explained that our beliefs, whether limiting or supportive, create our thoughts. Our thoughts dictate our feelings. Our feelings motivate our actions. And finally, our actions produce our results.


The “power of decision” meaning the power to choose, which is an inherent human capability, comes to play right at the very beginning of the Pyscho-cybernetic loop. While we might not always know how to change our beliefs, we do know how to make decisions. If we look at beliefs as decisions, then by deliberately “deciding” to change a limiting belief, for a supporting one, we can automatically set off the chain of events towards more favorable results. In other words, we have the power to change our results, by changing our beliefs.


Using the example of limiting beliefs I used above, here’s are some samples on how to change these beliefs:

Limiting Belief

New Supporting Belief (self-compassion)

I am not smart

I AM smart

I am a picky eater

I am discerning of what foods I truly enjoy!

I’m too sensitive

I am in touch with my feelings and have a strong mind-body connection

I am not a good parent

I am a better parent by choosing not to repeat my family patterns

Money is hard to come by

I am capable of producing money. My childhood financial hardships do not define my ability to earn money

Another important aspect spoke about is how visualization, in this case imagining -in detail- the change we wish to make in our beliefs, helps prime our brain to selectively pay attention to that that can help us reach our goals. I helps our brain


Lastly, she presented us with two valuable resources to work on the process of changing our core beliefs. One is the Wheel of Life, which is an exercise that helps us assess our level of satisfaction in the different areas of our lives, bringing visual saliency to those areas where we perhaps need to work on a bit more, in order to reach a holistically balanced life. The other resource is the Decision Matrix, which is a tool that allows you to list your limiting beliefs, pair them with a new belief that you have decided to substitute them with, and write down evidence that supports the new belief, helping cement the change in our brain.


There was so much valuable information shared that evening, Kristen is a world of wisdom and was so kind to share it with all of us, for which I am very grateful.


If you are interested in diving into this empowering journey of self-reflection and self-care, I am excited to announce that Kristen will be holding a month-long Woman’s Empowerment and Accountability Group starting April 21, 2022. The details are attached below, and you can also find information, as well as contact her directly, on her website @ www.kristenancker.com


To finalize, my wish is that we continue the journey of growing each day a little more, harnessing our own power of decision to slay our limiting beliefs and with that, allow ourselves to reach our full potential.


With intent,


Juad


Women's Empowerment and Accountability Group Intro
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For more on Kristen Ancker's work visit her website @ http://www.kristenancker.com/

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