Have you heard the joke about the man at his psychiatrist’s office who said, “I just don’t understand, Doctor. I’ve been seeing you for over a year, and I still have these butterflies all over me.” The psychiatrist replies, “Well, for heaven’s sake, don’t brush them off on me!”
All of us (me, too!) have beliefs that are not in alignment with reality. It may not be butterflies, but the signs are there: disappointment, frustration, betrayal, panic or narcissism, to name a few emotional indicators. We also carry messages that we have internalized about ourselves or the world that may not be true. The big misconceptions many of us carry are “I’m better than…;” “I must be (or must not be) seen as…”; “I am less than…”; and “I deserve…”
When we believe in these lies, we set ourselves up for separation from others, and for not having our needs met. I’ll explain how, but first I want to point out that carrying these beliefs does not make us bad or deserving of retribution. We got these messages from somewhere, from family, or kids at school, or elsewhere. It does not matter where it came from. The fact is that each of us holds certain misbeliefs that were ‘installed’ on us, and we internalized them by making them our own. If your older brother constantly called you an idiot every time you were unsuccessful at something you tried, you may at some point start hearing your brother’s voice in your head when you failed at some attempt, even if he is not around. You believe you are an idiot, and try to live your life on top of this distress. You may find yourself failing continuously because of the lie you believe in. This is ‘internalized oppression’. It came from outside you, but whoever installed it on you is not the one to make you change your internalized belief. You are responsible for recognizing a disconnect between Reality and your beliefs. Your emotions are often a good indicator of that. So are the truth-tellers in your life, who tell you like it is. Natural consequences are possibly our greatest teacher. At bottom, it is up to you to do the work to own the misbelief as your own, see the impact it has had on yourself and others, and let it go, replacing it with a belief that is closer to reality than the one you let go.
What we are ready to work on in our internal life becomes apparent to us through natural consequences, our feelings, and the feedback we get from others. Having a alliance with a life coach can help you to get rid of the busted maps you have been navigating life with, and replace them with better ones that will satisfy your needs. From experience as both a life coach, and from being coached myself, I know that the coaching partnership can be a very potent antidote to dysfunctional beliefs. So I recommend checking out life coaching to help you have more fulfillment.
I’ve discussed so far how misalignment of beliefs can cause dysfunction and misery in your life. So how does alignment of beliefs with reality satisfy your needs? A good metaphor can be found in rocket science: NASA wants to put a device on the surface of Mars. To be successful, a detailed and very accurate map of reality must be known: the positions of the planets, distances, rotations, the mass of the rocket assembly and the thrust of each rocket, literally thousands of details have to be known and the relationship of each to one another must be understood. Here we have some hard and fast physical laws, Newtonian physics, that guides the engineers. Any significant deviation from these natural laws, like miscalculating the mass of the rocket by 2%, could have disastrous results and the need of landing the device on Mars would not be met.
The world of human needs is not so different than the world of physics. If I believe an internal ‘law’ that I am selfish and unlovable, how likely am I to attract people to be my close friends? If I believe I deserve to go faster than anyone else on the freeway, my speeding and weaving through lanes might work for a while, but my need for human connection will not benefit, and eventually I’m going to get stopped and cited for a big fine. If I believe I have something of great value to give to the world, something, too, will come of that, and Reality will provide me the feedback I need to give that gift in the way that the world is ready to accept.
Some key points on aligning your beliefs with reality:
- Learn to recognize the signs of believing a lie: disappointment, frustration, anger, withdrawal and resistance from not having your needs met.
- Inquire “What is my need that is not being met?”.
- Rather than ask “why” your need is not met, ask yourself, “What is the belief I hold in conflict with my need?”
- Get curious. Try on different beliefs and find one that fits you better. Start with the exact opposite belief, and try others that you can come up with.
- Decide what belief you most resonate with.
- Make a list of actions that you can do using this new belief. Some things you will say “Yes” to, and an equal or greater number of things you say “No” to.
- Pick the action items that you will commit to.
- Start implementing your new actions and belief. Make yourself accountable.
All of this is made easier, faster and more permanent with a certified Life Coach. Find one for you at www.minnesotacoaches.org.