#Want more choices in life? Here’s how to figure it out.
Why do you believe what you believe? Do you know where those beliefs came from? Did you actually choose to hold that belief?
Interestingly, the answers to these questions for most of us are:
• I don’t know. • Not really. • No.
The reality is most of our beliefs are handed to us and ingrained through life experiences, teaching, training, religion and a host of other avenues. Generally, we simply adopt beliefs without thinking about how they may or may not actually serve us as an individual.
Our inherited and adopted beliefs take control of our thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions. Simply put, not being aware of our beliefs robs us of the option to CHOOSE.
In the forward of their new book, The Pragmatist’s Guide to Life, Simone and Malcolm Collins describe this dilemma perfectly:
“We live life as a sticky ball rolling down a sidewalk, picking up a hodgepodge of stuff that just happens to be in our path. It is natural to try to convince ourselves that this hodgepodge is ‘who we really are.’ We tell ourselves this lie because thinking is hard, and society doesn’t give us a good framework for structuring our beliefs about ourselves and the world.”
It’s not often that we question our beliefs, and yet to do so is critical—or else you may actually get what you believe! Why might that be bad?
Here’s another way to look at that:
What you think, you believe.
What you believe is how you behave.
How you behave gets you what you believe.
It is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you think your boss doesn’t like you, you believe it. Then you behave as if he doesn’t like you. And he senses this, and treats you like he doesn’t like you. Voila! It came true.
This works in the positive sense too.
If you think your boss DOES like you, you believe it. You behave as if your boss likes you. He senses this and treats you like he likes you. Voila! It came true.
Which scenario do you want to come true? This is not a trick question.
You actually have power and choice in what does come true for you.
The difficulty lies in actually becoming aware of our beliefs. Most of them are sub-conscious, driving our behavior, our reactions, without our really noticing.
In order to become aware of our beliefs, we need to start paying attention to one simple thing: Shoulding.
• Notice Shoulding - Begin to notice how many times you say something like “I should…” or “S/He should…” or “They shouldn’t…” Just notice for now.
• Ask Why - Once you begin to see how many times you Should, pick one or two situations to dive into further. Ask yourself Why? Why should you do this? Why should you behave in this way? Or whatever other Why is appropriate to the situation.
• Find the Belief - What is the Belief behind the Should? For example:
I should help clean the kitchen after dinner at a friend’s house.
I believe that a guest should always pitch in and help to show appreciation.
• Make a Choice – Does this belief serve you? Help you live the life you want? If so, keep it. If not, choose to replace it with something that does serve you and help you live the life you want.
By noticing your shoulding and becoming aware of your beliefs, you are on the path to consciously and deliberately choosing who you want to be, how you want to show up and what you choose to believe.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat instead of being a passenger just along for the ride. Put your subconscious beliefs in the backseat where they belong.