I had the most rewarding chat with some of my Akimbo alumni colleagues today. We were talking about limiting beliefs, and the things we believe to be true that are holding us back. What a roller coaster.
Beliefs can hold you back. We often forget that these deeply held boundaries, fundamental truths, or concepts of injustice are merely something we choose to believe. It’s really easy to forget how much say we have in the matter.
It aligned well with a book I’m rereading this week. I think I skimmed it the first time. One of those books that you know holds power but when you tuck in the timing isn’t right for the message it serves. As French dramatist and novelist Victor Hugo puts it, “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. The book is essentialism by Greg McKeown.
From what I’ve read so far, it’s about our power to choose where we direct our time and attention. It’s something I’ve been deliberately chasing already by leaving social media and avoiding my phone on nights and weekends. What I hadn’t connected yet, or had forgotten, was how much discretion we have in not just tasks, but in what we choose to believe.
It’s related to imposter syndrome, and to keep name-dropping psychological quirks it’s related to learned helplessness too. It’s easy to default to assuming that our conscious state or identity is fixed, while in reality it is remarkably fluid. Humans, while reluctant to do so, are masters at changing our minds when we want to.
What we allow ourselves to think (and yes, allow, we can stop thoughts in their tracks should we choose to do so) trains our brain to assume that it’s our reality. Our brains have remarkable plasticity and they adapt quickly to whatever state we hold them in.
So what does this mean for our limiting beliefs?
For one, you can toss them out as soon as you discover them. It takes a little intention and the willingness to look honestly at yourself and your beliefs and uncover which ones serve you and which do not. This is hard, and it’s why today’s chat felt so emotionally pokey.
It was prodding the deeper parts of my belief system and the things I construct my identity around. Yikes.
It brings up a note I took watching Joseph Campbells incredible PBS special, The Power of Myth (which you should 100% watch if you can).
“All of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
The thoughts that are running through your brain now and always, the humming of your synapses, is all a meditation. If you choose to let it run, it will just keep on trucking in whatever direction it unconsciously follows–whether good or bad. However, remember you have the incredible power to choose what mental state you remain in.
And if that belief or mental state is holding you back from making the change you seek to make in the world and living a life that fills you with joy and purpose, it’s time to change it.