Nov 12, 2013

Habits, Beliefs, Thoughts, and Other Things That Hold You Back

I have the privilege of observing people in my practice, at their work, and in life, in general.  I naturally listen to people’s words and watch their actions because that’s what I’m trained to do.  I daily listen to stories about how people’s childhood continues to affect their lives today.  I also have the unique opportunity to observe my 5-year-old son (Yes, I have a son that’s only 5) from the perspective of how he learns, behaves, and adapts to the world around him.  I would like for you to fully consider the following stories about him and then think about how these relate to your beliefs, habits, thoughts and other things that hold you back in life.

When my son goes to daycare, he has the choice to take something from home for lunch or to eat what they provide.  He elects to take the same thing from home every day.  When he watches movies, he has a select few that he watches, in spite of having probably close to 100 movies to choose from.  He would watch the same movie 3 times per day, if he was allowed to.  Of course, I was curious about how he decides to eat and watch the same things over and over, so here’s a glimpse into his reasoning.  In the limited types of food that he was willing to take to school, there used to be yogurt (the kind in the squeeze tube) and mandarin oranges.  In the words I’ve used, you can already tell he no longer takes either.  Here’s how he decided not to take them; one time while eating the yogurt he got some on his clothes and had to clean it off.  The mandarin oranges come in a cup, along with juice, and he spilled the juice on himself and had to change his clothes.  What this told me is that he has generalized the idea that yogurt and mandarin oranges mean making a mess, even though both of these were only one-time events.  The behavior of consistently eating the same things and watching the same movies tells me that he has already experienced pain with change.  And, I know a significant event in his short life that contributed to that belief.

So, if a 5-year-old is already expressing limiting beliefs, thoughts, and habits, what does this mean for those of us that have decades more of life experiences?  Are we ever in big trouble!  Now, the big difference between a 5-year-old and those that are at least 8-years-old is that there is a part of the brain that hasn’t developed yet to understand that people have thoughts that are different than theirs.  Right now, my son believes his way of thinking is the only way of thinking that exists.

What can you do to make changes in your life so that you realize your full potential?  That’s a great question that, to fully answer, would take more than the length of a blog post should be.  First and foremost, though, is to challenge your current belief system.  Ask yourself:

  •  How did I get the beliefs that I hold?
  • Do my beliefs reflect reality?  In other words, are they true?
  • If they were true when you first got the beliefs, are they true in the current context of my life?
  • Have I generalized any beliefs that were applicable in one area of life to many, maybe all, areas of life?

This is a good starting point.  I will add at this point that if you find a long-held belief to be no longer true, be sure to intentionally replace it with a belief that reflects your current context.  Otherwise, your mind will be looking for meaning and may settle for whatever happens to fill the void and be no better off.  What else can you do?

Please feel free to contact me with questions you may have on getting rid of limiting habits, beliefs, thoughts and other things that are holding you back in your life.  I’m excited to be of help!

Creating life in forward motion,

Dr. Edward Lewellen