Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny." - Mahatma Gandhi
Last week I did a little Spring cleaning and got started on cleaning out the old, crappy beliefs in my "mental closet."
(Read last week's blog and more about beliefs here.)
Much like our clothes closets, our mental closet gets filled with beliefs and ideas that no longer fit us or are out of style. These beliefs can do more than put us on a worst-dressed list; they can hold us back. They may feel comfortable, like a worn-in sweatshirt, but they are silently self-sabotaging us.
Fun metaphors aside, this is serious stuff. Allow me to geek out for moment.
There is a portion of our brain, the Reticular Activating System, whose main job is to scan for opportunities that will enable you to accomplish anything you focus on. Really. It's "The Secret"demystified.
The Reticular Activating system will only allow you to be aware of those things that are consistent with what you believe to be true at the time." (Read more about my favorite part of the brain here.)
Which means, when we have limiting beliefs, this part of our brain thinks they are true and scans to find opportunities to match them. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The good news? We can retrain our brain. This is exciting stuff! (Read a little more about the RAS and retraining your brain for success here.)
So, let's clean those suckers out and set ourselves up for successful self-fulfilling prophecies.
7 Tips for Cleaning Out Unwanted Beliefs
1. Empty it out
First, we need to find the beliefs getting in our way. We can't get rid of, or change, what we can't see. Simply being aware is the first step.
Start with an area of your life, a "closet", you'd like to clean out. For example, relationships, money, career, fitness, etc.
Once you've opened the closet door, it's time to pull everything out to sort through. So, grab a pen and paper or open up a new document on your computer and brain dump every belief or idea you have surrounding this topic.
Dump it all out, the good and bad. Try not to censor or judge yourself.
2. Fashion Show
Now we have the contents of our mental closet in a big pile ready to try on. Go back to the list you just wrote and, line by line, try your beliefs on for size. Circle any belief that doesn't fit.
If you're unsure, ask yourself:
- Is this is a belief that helps me?
- Is this a belief that empowers me?
- Is this a belief that gets me closer to the life I want to live?
3. Find the loose threads
All of the circled beliefs are the ones we’re cleaning out.
Let's get rid of them one at a time.
Pick one of your circled beliefs to start with. We're going to check in and see where we're telling ourselves a story.
What's the story you tell yourself with this belief?
What are the facts and what's the made up story? There are usually very few facts that support our limiting beliefs.
4. The purge
Next, we're going to take a look at how this belief will affect us if we don't dump it.
Write down all the ways keeping this belief will hold you back if you don't get rid of it. How does this belief stop you? How does this belief keep you stuck? How does this belief limit you?
5. Let's go Shopping
Hopefully, by now, you've tried this belief on, looked in the mirror and decided it's out of style and time to toss it in the do-not-keep pile.
This means you have some empty space in your mental closet.
It's shopping time! Think of a new belief you would like to take the place of the belief that is getting trashed. If you're stuck, think about what the opposite of your old belief is.
6. No buyer's remorse
Write this new belief down.
Time to justify your new purchase. List all the arguments for your new belief. What are some examples that support your new belief?
Bonus points: how will adopting this new belief help you?
7. Strut your stuff
Finally, pick one small step you can take to "wear" this new belief with confidence. What is an action someone with this belief would take?
You can repeat this process with all the items in your "closet" you want to get rid of.
Beliefs can be sneaky, so once in a while, even though we've tossed one in the discard pile, it will rear it's ugly, out-of-style head. This is normal. But, once you've tried on a belief that doesn't fit anymore, you'll know as soon as you put it back on. And, you'll have a brand-new belief hanging up, ready to replace it.
Thanks for doing a little Spring cleaning with me!
I'd love to hear from you! What beliefs are you getting rid of?