Kathy wants to start a business. She has had a great idea in the back of her mind for years and believes that, given the right opportunity, she can make it work. Laurie wants to go back to school. She has been passionate about becoming a nurse, but lacks the training. Jonathan desires to improve his marriage. He highly values his relationship with his wife but is discouraged with the way they communicate. All three want to make important changes in their lives. They have dreams, and they want to move towards achieving them. But all three are being held back by something.
Have you ever had a burning ache to do something but not followed through on that desire? Have you given up on making changes in places of your life that leave you unfulfilled or discouraged? If you have, welcome to the human race! You are in good company.
The way we think can create insurmountable obstacles or open up unlimited possibilities in our attempts to live the lives we desire. The good news is that we CAN change our thought processes from the belief systems that seem to hold us captive, into those that give wings to our hopes and dreams.
We are all affected by circumstances. The events of our lives, especially our early lives, often shape our thinking. How we think about those events can sometimes limit our success in relationships, career, and physical and emotional health. Our trust may be badly damaged so we create “skills” to avoid intimacy and vulnerability. We might have difficulty with confidence so we second guess ourselves constantly. We may have been rejected so we are chronically evaluating whether people agree with us or not. We can become ruled by fear and live only a shadow of the life we know we were meant to have.
“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” –Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins, a leader in personal and professional training, believes that, “It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” What do you mean, my BELIEF about an event, you may ask. Let’s say you were beat up as a kid in school. More than once. The class bully marked you with a bull’s eye and she hit her target with amazing consistency. You were hurt, not only physically, but emotionally each time you got cornered and punched out. The other kids watched, some laughing. No one came to your defense.
Now, you find yourself in a work situation where the “office bully” puts you down in front of fellow workers. No one stands up for you. Seemingly without thinking, you duck and run…just like you did in the fifth grade. Maybe you don’t get up and walk away. But you go into hiding inside.
What happened in that split second between the realization that you were being treated badly and when you created the emotional barricade between yourself and your coworkers?
You thought. You are probably not aware of what you thought, but you thought. Maybe it went something like this: “I’m the target for bullies and no one is going to stick up for me because I am weak and deserve to be rejected.” Or perhaps: “I know I’m not a bad person but no one is going to really understand me for who I am, so why bother even trying?”
When we experience traumatic events as children, and even sometimes as adults, we create beliefs around our interpretation of those events. Those beliefs serve to inform our choices as we encounter new situations. We have had that “thought” so often by the time we are 30 that we don’t even notice it anymore. It seems more like a knee-jerk response. But if we slow it down long enough to become aware of our process, we will find it like an ancient fossil in the mountain of our unconscious beliefs. Our brain has so deeply worn the neuro-pathway of that thought that it happens in lightening speed, leaving us to sometimes think that we have no option in our response. But, dear one, the exciting thing is that we do!!
We are daily faced with great opportunities disguised as impossible situations.
Often we may find ourselves feeling powerless to change our reaction to things. The only option we see is the old one, but that one is no longer working. That can seem like an impossible situation. But I have good news! It is really a great opportunity! The situation is providing us with a chance to become aware of our patterned response, find the belief underlying that response, and CHOOSE to either continue with that belief, or find a new, more appropriate one. We have power!
The past need not determine your future. It influences your beliefs and expectations, but these can be changed. It isn’t easy, you say? Well, no, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. I will be honest with you: It will take work. It will even possibly involve pain. But when the pain to stay the same becomes greater than the pain to change, you will be ready to take the plunge.
Patrick Williams, founder of the Institute for Life Coach Training, says that updating our belief systems requires a paradigm shift. A new way of seeing the world. He is right. And that is sometimes no minor task. But when we become aware of the patterns that are holding us back from what we REALLY want in life, we may then become willing to look at how a particular belief is impacting our life and relationships. As we become aware of its influence upon us, we can decide how much power to continue to give it over our lives. It is here that we can choose to look the truth in the face so that it will no longer control us.