Picture yourself as a small child. You accidentally drop a glass of milk on the kitchen floor. Glass scatters from one end of the room to the other. Your mother's voice, blending with the destructive sound of shattering glass, hits your ears with the force of of an unrelenting hurricane. The words, "You shouldn't have been walking around with your glass," or "Why are you always dropping things?" or "Get out of the kitchen," mean little in the onslaught of loud noise.
As adults, we realize the words are spoken (or yelled) out of fear. Or they can be motivated by annoyance, frustration or shear anger. And it's perfectly understandable in a busy household; we must, after all, learn how to avoid accidents. However, sometimes we don't fully understand the impact minor incidents have on our belief systems.
Fast forward 20 years or so. Twenty years of accumulating memories of other people's issues, genuine mistakes we've been berated for at home or at school and perceived failures. Try to recall how many times you've beared the brunt of someone else's problems and perhaps blamed yourself. We need to realize that it's of vital importance to re-evaluate our beliefs, especially those we hold about ourselves.
1. The Past Is No Longer Relevant.
Beliefs are mental attitudes we've gathered over time and thought to be true. Most beliefs are dripping with cobwebs and require some serious dusting to discover the real reason for them. Do you think you're incompetent at certain activities because you truly are, or because someone once told you that you were bad at something?
In primary school, I was infatuated with dancing and performed on the weekends. I therefore didn't concentrate too much on sports classes, as I was already fulfilling my athletic needs. Still, I'd give things a go, though I couldn't run fast and was too small to throw a javelin with any more impact than dropping it on my foot.
My sports teacher, at primary school, would always ask me to demonstrate sporting activities in front of the entire class, though everyone knew I'd probably be the worst at it; because I usually was.
My dancer's limbs felt ungraceful doing sports and I was probably trying to look good doing them, rather than practicing correct technique -- not only out of vanity, but simply because dancers are trained to make their bodies look a certain way. The more I was asked to provide the disastrous demonstrations, the worse I became at athletics.
Whether she thought she was teaching me a valuable lesson or not, I walked away from primary school thinking I was woefully bad at athletics and, even now, I wouldn't pick up a shot put if you paid me.
Stupid really, when I've spent most of my life as a professional dancer. But, it goes to show how past events can shape our mindsets for the future. More importantly, it highlights how imperative it is to clear away those cobwebs to create new beliefs about yourself.
2. Your Beliefs Are Not, Actually, Real.
Think about members of extremist religions. Despite the monstrosities that occur due to certain beliefs, the people conducting acts of mass destruction truly do believe they are doing the right thing based on the rules of their affiliation.
Most of us would agree this is a form of insanity. There's no difference however, between this and beliefs that are perceived as less damaging. It's one and the same thing; firmly-held beliefs taking over logical thinking, therefore creating suffering, for absolutely no reason.
At the other end of the spectrum, many absolutely gorgeous women fight a daily battle with themselves in the mirror. For the most part, they do this because they believe they have to look like supermodels, or their mothers were always complaining about being fat because they believed they had to match a certain weight, or their boyfriend believes they should get a boob job to be more of an attractive handbag.
Every time you feel an issue bubble to the surface, write it down and check in with yourself. Why do you believe such a thing? What happened in the past to wire your brain towards believing it? How would your life be better if you didn't believe it?
3. When You've Trashed Your Unnecessary Beliefs, You Can Make Way For Better Ones.
Just like weeding the garden, trashing your old beliefs makes way for new, fresh ones to grow. You may believe you're unattractive, but what's the point of thinking that every day? Trash it and stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself you're beautiful -- because you are.
You may believe you're crap at your job because of a mistake you made yesterday. Trash it. Don't blame yourself and turn it into a belief that you're a failure. Learn from it and move forward with precious, new knowledge.
Progress along the path to a more positive mindset is fast, once you become aware of the old beliefs dictating much of your life. You soon realise that most issues you face result from an unfounded belief, either in yourself, about the world or about others.
Once you realise this, watch out. Curiosity about life will return, open-mindedness will expand your everyday interactions and you may just succeed in every way, beyond your wildest dreams.
And, what could be better than switching dreary, false, negative beliefs for the sparkling ones that dreams are made of?