Since I was a teenager I have told myself the following story: “I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life.”
In my blog, The Struggle Is Real, I talked about how there isn’t a day that I don’t struggle with my inner Judge. She’s constantly reminding me that I should not be my “real self” because if I show any emotion other than happy, no one will like me. I’ve been working on how to notice her and have a relationship with her in a lot of aspects in my life – from friends and family to my corporate career and to even running my own business. At this point, I would say that we have a decent relationship when it comes to those parts of my life. But, when it comes to being in a romantic relationship, I’m just getting started to understanding her.
How do these stories become beliefs?
As human beings, we use stories to make sense of the world around us. We tell ourselves stories all day long about what’s happening in our lives, about other people and about ourselves. These stories are simply a narrative we create based on an experience we’ve had or our perspective of the world around us. It’s like an interpretation of the facts as we see them – these stories are not false or true, but just our “view” of the situations around us.
Some stories can be harmless and short-lived. For example, you may smile at a stranger as you walk by on the street and the person doesn’t smile back. You may think, “Huh, they must be having a bad day.” You don’t know this to be true or false, but you assume it and create that story in your mind. Someone else may have the same interaction, but think, “Wow, that person is a jerk.” In either case, this story may not really impact you as you continue about your day – it’s just a story that quickly comes in and goes out.
However, some stories can turn into limiting beliefs that become hard-wired into our thinking patterns. My story of being alone for the rest of my life was created when I was young and couldn’t express my true feelings. As a teenager I already believed that showing my true emotions would result in not being loved by my family. So when I started to show interest in the opposite sex, and my teenage emotions were high and romantic feelings were not returned, my belief that I wasn’t good enough to be loved was reinforced.
And since I really didn’t understand this pattern at such a young age, this belief was continually reinforced through my 20s and 30s. Rejection made me feel so vulnerable and exposed that I didn’t want to like anyone, but when I inevitably developed feelings for someone and was rejected, my story became a true belief.
There is a Chinese Proverb that says, “Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”
The things that we believe actually can turn into our character and become our destiny. Let’s break down my story as an example.
First, we take in energy – Prana – into the five senses. Energy comes into our body and our psyche and from there we have a thought. The energy I receive is “rejection” (for lack of a better way to explain it) and then think “I’m not lovable.” The more I think that, the more I tend to believe it. And once I have this belief, I’m going to start saying words to friends and family like, “I’m going to be single forever” or “of course that guy doesn’t like me”, and the story I believe of being alone for the rest of my life is now out for all to hear. Then I start to act on these things because I believe this thought to be true. I shut down from meeting new people and I don’t tell friends that I’m available – I start to act like I’m not available so I don’t have to deal with rejection again. And then these actions start to become habits – I never make plans with new people, I only hang out with people I know, I resort to what’s comfortable and I shut myself off from potentially meeting someone new who could be a possible love interest. I become someone who isn’t available for a romantic relationship and therefore, I don’t find one. My habits of shutting down become my character which in turn becomes my destiny.
Finding the crack in the belief.
First, being aware that this is a story is key. Instead of getting caught up in the thoughts and beliefs of my story, I can pause and ask myself “What story am I believing right now?” Taking this pause is crucial to get clarity of our stories. It creates a little space for us to investigate our thoughts so that we can find a little freedom from the constant chatter. Once you’ve taken a step back and witnessed the story, you can ask, “Is this belief true? Is it really true?” For a story like mine, this is tricky. I REALLY believe this story, so asking this usually results in a yes answer. But, when I asked my teacher Jonathan Foust what to do with my yes answer, he then asked me, “If this belief is so true that I would nail you to the wall as a result, would you still believe it to be true….”. Well, no. That’s extreme. I don’t think it’s that true! AH HA! So there’s a little crack in my story that I might be able to shed some light into.
Once there is a crack in the belief, you can ask, “When I believe this thought, what does this feel like on the inside?”. We can get curious about it and really investigate how this thought feels in our body. Sometimes just asking “how old do I feel” may bring up something that hasn’t been discovered yet. And then finally, you can ask, “Who am I without this thought?” which can be full of information to combat your false beliefs.
Byron Katie says anywhere there’s anxiety, there’s fear. And anywhere there’s fear, there is something you are believing. And when you can ask yourself who you are without that belief, it may just be a glimpse or it may open up tons of possibilities you haven’t thought or experienced before.
As I start to dive into this aspect of my life and my beliefs around romantic relationships, this particular technique works really well for me. It allows me the space I need to stop this pattern and potentially rewrite my own destiny.
If you have a limiting belief and want to dig in to what’s behind it, let’s talk. I would love to help you dig in and support you on your own personal journey to rewriting your destiny. Schedule your free breakthrough call with me by going to thepathtoserenity.com/apply.