As a life coach, one of the things I present to people are beliefs. This word is related to religion for most people, but in life coaching, it simply means “what you consider to be true”. For example, you may have a belief that anybody taking their clothes off during a soccer game must be nuts. They might dispute this belief, but you still think it’s true.
The thing with beliefs is that we make decisions based on them. So you might expect people to confirm their beliefs and validate them before using them to decide what to do, especially in matters of importance. Well, as scary as this may seem, they don’t. Oh, and neither do you.
You see, our beliefs are very dear to us, so we protect them. They are dear to us because they make our world more predictable and understandable and thus safer. So when we were born, we hurried up and absorbed beliefs from our environment – from our parents, from TV, from school and pretty much everywhere else – and, in many cases, we absorbed beliefs that have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with what our parents thought, but that was fine for us, because we didn’t know any better.
So far, what I’ve described is natural and happens to everyone. What happens next is that our beliefs determine our behavior and therefore the results we get. If we were told as kids “You’re no good at sports”, we stay away from sports, and then we put on weight. If we were told as kids “Wow, you do math so easily”, we do more math, so we become even better at it, until we become accountants.
Yet, as we grow up, most of us get a feeling that life could be better. There’s got to be more to life than working 8-6 (anyone still remember 9-5?), facing a computer all day long and trying to have a life during weekends and annual leave. So we read books on change and we go to seminars and we listen to audio programs and some of us even see a life coach (they’re the ones that get the best results, by the way), and we do our best to change.
So here’s a great exercise for you, which you can do as often as you like, whenever you have some time to yourself.
- Find a quiet spot (sorry, all my “do it yourself” tips start with this bit)
- Take a few deep, long breathes
- On a piece of paper, write down the question “What kind of a person am I?”
- As fast as you can, without picking up the pen from the paper, write down as many answers as you can. If you get stuck, scribble. Keep at it for 3 minutes
- Each of the statements you have written is a belief. For each belief
- Ask yourself “Is this helping me to think of myself like this?”
- If your answer is “no”, find exceptions to the statement, i.e. examples of when it is not true
- Ask yourself “What would be a better (more empowering) way to think of myself?”
- Write an alternative statement and feel its power
If you need some help sorting out your beliefs, seek the help of a life coach. This is what life coaches do for a living and you’ll be happy you did.