A simple 5-step process to replacing limiting beliefs that can be applied on a collective and individual level
Our limiting beliefs can sometimes hold us back from utilizing our full potential. The problem is that we are often not aware of them. On a collective scale, we also tell ourselves many disempowering stories that no longer serve us. Too often, we fail to notice them until they manifest themselves as larger societal issues.
There are a few steps involved in replacing our negative beliefs with more empowering ones on an individual level. We can use the same steps to upgrade our thoughts and actions on a collective level as well.
BRINGING OUR PAIN TO THE SURFACE
If we want to bring a new story to life, we must first recognize what isn’t working about the old one. This recognition can come about in two ways:
We become more conscious of the beliefs we hold and how they are affecting our behaviors and actions.
We are shown the results of those beliefs through “negative” events in our lives.
Once we recognize that we hold a belief that holds us back from a higher vision for ourselves or humanity, we often inquire where this belief came from. Let’s look at how most of our beliefs arise.
SEEING PAST OUR CONDITIONING
“We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social environment. We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.” — Alan Watts
From the time we are born until about age 7, we spend most of our time in alpha and theta brainwaves cycles. We are information sponges at that time. Since our processing and analytical abilities aren’t fully honed yet, we do not choose what information to retain and what information to disregard. By default, therefore, our perceptions of the world get downloaded into our subconscious which controls most of our behavior.
The map of our lives starts to take shape long before we can consciously decide on our desired destination.
By the time we grow up, we may know how to operate in the world on a practical level. But we also carry other people’s beliefs about the nature of life, its possibilities, and our role in it. This in itself is neither bad nor good. Only we know whether those beliefs resonate through looking at our own experience of life.
Our parents have been imprinted with instructions for life just as we have — and so have their parents. Difficulties arise when our communities and societies hold onto beliefs that lead to dysfunctional behaviors. Behaviors that are not necessarily right or wrong but that just do not take us to where we say we want to go. If we want to live in a world of loving, compassionate, and empowered people — do our beliefs and cultural stories reflect such a world?
It does not do us any good to be resentful of our culture’s story or our upbringing. We can instead see the beauty in the opportunity to become part of the change.
REPLACING DISEMPOWERING BELIEFS WITH EMPOWERING ONES
This 5 step process to replacing disempowering beliefs with empowering ones can be used for individuals as well as for larger social structures.
Identify a belief that doesn’t serve you We know, for example, that the belief that one person, group, or nation is better than another does not serve us. It does not move us closer to a brighter vision of humanity.
Explore how you came to that belief The belief that any individual or group is better than another comes from our inability to see ourselves as part of a larger whole. At the root of the belief is a fear for our own physical survival. If we believe that we are only our bodies and that others can harm us, we will be in defense mode and thus more likely to use our words or actions to try to defend our sense of self rather than cooperating. One by one, once we understand that we are all part of a larger system, we give up the need to be right and learn that cooperation is much more valuable than competition.
Create a new story that will serve you better How do we want our new human story to look? Who would we have to become in order to transform our story? Who are the role models we can look up to who have achieved what we inspire to demonstrate in our lives?
Bridge the gap between your intention and your actions Once we can envision how we want the new story of our lives or our society to look, we must think about the steps that will take us to the desired destination. How will we have to change our daily thoughts and intentions in order to change our actions? What are the positive traits we must exhibit in order to override the negative ones? What kind of seeds must we start planting in order to bear the right fruit?
Act from the feeling you want to experience — BE the change If we want to experience more compassion, understanding, and acceptance, we must act from those states of being. As we express these inner qualities, we become an embodiment of them. We thus inspire others to act from a more empowering quality of being. One by one, as we choose to act from a space of the heart, we become the change we wish to see in the world.
As we move towards our new stories of humanity, we notice new opportunities to respond to life differently. We start closing the gap between our intended actions and the current state of affairs.
Once we embody the traits we want to see more of in the world, those states of being start becoming a part of us. We upgrade our neural connections and elevate our mindsets. The more often we act from our heart’s intentions, the easier it becomes to do so again next time as the memory of acting from that feeling is activated in the brain.
The first step always begins with our minds. As we expand our perceptions and tell ourselves new stories, we become more attuned to new possibilities that we couldn’t have imagined before. From those new possibilities, we can then take new actions. One by one, we can shift the stories we tell ourselves about life and thus keep elevating the story of humanity to the next level as we take actions from a new space — a space of empowerment, compassion, and kindness.