Exploring our own underlying assumptions and beliefs can unlock self-limiting patterns of action that limit our freedom to create the life we want.
Tomorrow marks Independence Day. S'more supplies purchased, organic nitrate-free turkey brats sit in the fridge, and the sparkler pack awaits my family for tomorrow's dusk. I'm ready. Yet, the combination of my birthday next month and lots of conversations with my husband about what do we want for our future has prompted me to be a bit more reflective. Please don't misunderstand, I am grateful for our country and the freedoms of the Constitution. But how independent can a married couple with two kids, a dog, a mortgage, and aging parents be anyway? Perhaps, the sparkler is nothing but a fun distraction to something else often unseen, yet powerful.
The Underlying Current in the River of Life
I teach the book Huck Finn, and one of the important conversations we have is actually about freedom. Even though Huck escapes his abusive father, Pap, and "civilized" society, he slowly gives back his freedom, in part to protect his friend, the runaway slave Jim; but really, this is due to the damaging underlying beliefs that he never even examines.
These invisible forces, like a river current, pull his life automatically in a direction, working against the other conscious choices he makes.
Huck believes he is stupid and that people like his know-it-all friend Tom Sawyer have all the answers. Huck believes he is no good because he wasn't "brought up right," though all examined evidence points to Huck possessing a practical and empathetic wisdom.
Likewise, unexamined beliefs and old patterns can sabotage our own efforts to achieve the goals we set in our own lives-- heck, even determine what goals we decide to set in our lives.
Jim, even though a freed slave all along, doesn't realize he is free. And because no one treats him as such, and Huck, Jim, and Tom stick to old patterns, Jim remains enslaved. Actually, everyone does. Enslavement to subconscious patterns of thinking prevent Huck from actually being a true friend to Jim--Huck's primary goal-- and cause Tom to nearly die in pursuit of his own naive, pointless, and selfish adventure.
Enslavement to subconscious patterns of thinking prevent Huck from actually being a true friend to Jim--Huck's primary goal-- and cause Tom to nearly die in pursuit of his own naive, pointless, and selfish adventure.
Examine and Recreate New Currents that Propel Us Forward
So this week I'm going to make a list of underlying beliefs that are at play in the important areas of my own life. (See Lifebook, for a full process of self-examination).
1. Health and Fitness
6. Love and Relationships
11.Quality of Life
For examples, in the area of Health and Fitness, my current limiting beliefs:
1. My fitness will decline in the next decade. That's just how it is when you get older.
2. Cooking from scratch is time consuming and difficult to maintain when I am busy.
3. A healthy snack after the kids go to bed is a fine way to treat myself after a long day.
In another category, Emotional, I also have other limiting beliefs:
1. I am just an emotional person, and so I feel emotions quickly and strongly. I can't help it if I yell.
2. I'm a type A person, and so I like things done now. I don't have patience, because I'm a "do-er."