Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
- Joseph Campbell
So how do you change your beliefs? This is tricky. But not impossible.
First of all, you would need to realise that your beliefs are the basis of your reality. It is an aware and brave person that can admit to this. There's still small numbers of us, but it's growing. Give yourself a pat on the back!
Beliefs are borne out of early childhood experience. They connect to feelings of self-worth, our place in the world and our fundamental fears. Their root cause stems from either love or fear. All beliefs are.
For example, if as a child you felt you were ignored in favour of your prettier sister, you start to form the belief that the world only pays attention to and rewards outer physical beauty. The fundamental fear is "if I'm not pretty no one will love me".
So how would this play out in the adult? You start to excessively diet to get as close to the impossible norm of thinness that mass media would have you believe. You empty out your bank account acquiring the latest clothes, shoes, bags and makeup to keep up with the trends. At the extreme end, you regularly have Botox injection and fillers to keep the glow of youth. And when that doesn't work anymore, you decide to go under the knife. You tell yourself "I have healthy self esteem. I look great. People love me." All good affirmations, but it's all propped up by an underlying fear, that a lack of love is always lurking around the edges of your reality. It’s a belief that ultimately will not serve you.
You are what you hold within you. You are your beliefs and the thoughts borne out of those beliefs. They are neither good or bad. In fact, we take on these beliefs because at some level we agreed to them. Perhaps we took them on to help us navigate the ways of the world. Or there was a lesson to be learned.
But you don’t need to hold on to beliefs that have overstayed their welcome. Remember what I said earlier about everything having no in-built meaning except for the meaning we give it? It is this meaning that we personally experience. If you change the meaning, you change the belief and the experience.
So how do you do it? It is a process of getting to know yourself and then unknowing that belief you want to change. There are many methods to choose, but here’s what worked for me.
- Get to know your inner dialogue. Bring your awareness to the voice in your head that’s constantly running a commentary on your day, how it reacts to situations, how it reacts to certain people, how it reacts to interruptions and how it normally behaves when there’s no stimulus.
- Pay attention to the language of your inner dialogue. Is it happy? Is it self-defeating? Is it sad? Is it loud? What words does it use? Bring your awareness to the words you frequently hear it say. Do you verbally use those words? Write them down and say them aloud. How do you feel?
- Now when you think of the belief you want to change, what thoughts, words, sentences appear in your head? Are there any images that accompany the words? Best write them down, too. In fact, a journal would be handy.
- When you reflect on the thoughts, words and sentences that you’ve written about your belief, feel where in your body do you notice the tension. That tension is where the old belief has attached itself in your body. Note down where it is.
- Start to become aware of the words and thoughts that you want removed from your inner dialogue. Replace them with other words. Get in the habit of checking yourself every moment you can.
- Now write down a positive affirmation, one that you’ll use to replace the old belief. Write the affirmation in the manner that it will neutralise the meaning of the old belief and empower you. For the example above, the new affirmation would be “I am love. I accept myself the way I am. I am loveable on all sides, inside and outside.”
- Now say this affirmation out loud or in your mind. But when you state it, and this is key, breath into and place your hand on that part of your body you previously felt tension. Keep repeating the affirmation and keep breathing into that part of your body. You’ll notice the tension start to dissolve.
- Repeat Step 7 as often as possible. Daily as part of a routine is good.
- When you feel the time is right, test the old belief. Say it to yourself. Does it still hold the same meaning? Or has it lost its hold? If the tension is no longer in the body, then you’ve changed it. Hooray!
The process above can take some time…days, weeks, months depending on the belief. There may even be more than one belief you need to smash. If you’re committed to it, allow yourself the time it takes to peel off the layers of your being. The rewards of getting to know yourself better are boundless. The sky is the limit. And pretty soon you’ll be starting the job of your dreams.