Befriend your Beliefs

We all have beliefs. They help us make sense of things that happen in a world that’s far beyond our comprehension. You might consider beliefs a human coping mechanism to keep us in a game where we don’t remember how things work or why we even thought we wanted to play this game.

Our beliefs are the stories we come up with to give us a bit of security in a confounding situation. Comforting fact: As we grow in consciousness, we also grow in our ability to understand more elements of the game. And as we gain greater understanding, we begin to realize that some of our beliefs actually are untrue.

Our beliefs can be surprising…

Sometimes it is surprising—and a relief—to discover a belief that has been hanging out in your unconscious for years. That was the case for me a while back when I discovered a deeply-held belief that women should not show they’re smarter than the men around them. Whaaat!!? How did that get there? 

As I thought about it, I realized it was the prevailing cultural attitude when I was growing up in the 1950s. I am pretty sure I’m not the only little girl who took that on as one of the rules of the game and subconsciously played accordingly, all the while thinking we were liberated.

This discovery came as a total surprise. I had no idea I was holding that belief. And yet, it had a profound effect on my attitudes and behaviours, prompting me to downplay my abilities in subtle ways. Flying under the radar was one of them.

Beliefs can be surprisingly powerful…

Not all beliefs are unconscious, though. You might be aware of a belief and confidently live accordingly for years. Then one day you learn that it does not hold true. That can be disconcerting, to say the least. This happened to my husband at a Christmas dinner long ago. 

His parents had traveled two thousand miles to visit and we wanted to make the meal extra-special by serving all their traditional foods. Husband said Brussels sprouts were a favourite, always on the Christmas table. I’d never cooked sprouts because I knew he didn’t like them, so I got out the Joy of Cooking, found instructions, and bought two baskets of lovely fresh sprouts with the holiday shopping.

On the day, I was in the kitchen carefully cross-cutting the stems so they would cook evenly, when mom-in-law walked in. She looked at the good-sized pot of sprouts and said, “You don’t need to cook many for us.” Really?!

Turns out neither she nor dad-in-law actually liked them. When I asked why she always served them at Christmas, she said, “Because I thought it was good for the boys to learn to eat them.”

I thought it was funny. Husband was not amused. Something he had believed all his life had been definitively disproved. He felt as if the rug has been pulled out from under him. I didn’t expect that. It was just a vegetable, after all. That’s when i learned that beliefs are about more than facts.

Many things can come up for us when we have been dis-illusioned. We may feel betrayed. Duped. Made a fool of. Our security is disrupted. We aren’t sure what to trust any more. It will be different, depending on the person and the illusion. But there is an emotional component to be aware of whenever beliefs are challenged.

Maturing as conscious humans…

It is a confronting moment for most of us… to come to an awareness that something we thought was true actually is not. Revisiting and reconsidering our beliefs is part of the maturation process. 

It helps to recognize how beliefs become part of our psyche to begin with.

When you arrived in this body, there was a lot to figure out, starting with how to operate the body parts and do all the required functions—moving the appendages to navigate around physical space, getting nourishment into your body, expressing what you needed in ways they could understand. And then the more subtle, really tricky challenge—navigating the expectations, customs, and strange practices of the culture you had landed in.

Psychologists say that children are like sponges in the first seven years,  picking up all kinds of information from their environment. And we also know that the human mind is adept at filling in the blanks and jumping to conclusions when the incoming information is unclear or incomplete. It is no wonder that we have all adopted various beliefs as fact. They helped us make sense of our world at a level we could understand.

Beliefs aren’t meant to be held forever…

As we move through life, it’s useful to remember that beliefs aren’t necessarily true, but they did serve a purpose when we adopted them, often at a young and impressionable age.

However, things change. We change.

We’ll navigate more easily through the game of human life if we are open to the possibility that our beliefs may not be true. That there may be another explanation for what we were experiencing if we view the situation from a more expansive perspective.

Awareness is the starting point…

Beliefs shape our behaviours, so you can find clues by observing yourself in action. If something you do doesn’t sit well with you, here’s a potent exploratory question: What must I believe in order to have acted that way?

Recognize your outdated beliefs…

Once you’ve identified a belief, see if you can understand what purpose it served in the beginning. That will help you decided if you wish to continue holding it or not. If not, thank it for its years of service, and let it go.

Then move on…

Look for a new perspective, one that will serve you better in your current state of greater awareness.

And hold your newly-formed belief lightly in case you outgrow it in the future.

Bibliography

Well worth the time…

What would it take?

So… I‘ve declared 2024 as my chance to show what I’m made of, to live without flinching, and to remember why I wanted to come here in the first place. This represents a big change for someone who has found a good deal of security in flying under the radar for many years.

Now what?!

How do I move ahead in the face of this paradox?

The first thing is to recognize that everything in our lives is influenced by inner and outer energies. That’s the vantage point of my perspective. This isn’t a surprise; it’s a fact of physics. And it means I’ll start by learning a bit about those energies to become clear on two things:

  1. What will I be navigating though?
  2. How can I manage my own energy as gracefully as possible?

Cosmic energy has a major influence on us, whether we are aware of it or not.  Since this is the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to get the lay of the energetic landscape.

From the perspective of cosmic energy, 2024 has signs of being another turbulent year. But there’s a fundamental difference in the energy. It’s going to be tricky—turbulent but with a nuance that has implications for all of us. Chinese astrology identifies 2024 as the year of the wood dragon. Dragon energy is fiery, and wood fuels fire. So, as you might imagine, the intensity of what we do will be magnified.

Looking at our inner energy, from a mythological perspective, the dragon is a powerful fiery force which is distractive when disconnected from consciousness. And yet fire combined with consciousness results in illumination and wisdom. 

The bottom line is that fire consumes or illuminates, depending on whether or not it is coupled with consciousness. And given the fiery cosmic condition, it’s doubly important that we consciously direct our energy this year. Living by default will not serve us well.

Back to navigating change…

Here’s a basic energy principle I learned from Deepak Chopra many years ago.

Energy flows where attention goes.

In practice, this means that when I concern myself with what I consider wrong with me or the world, I’m feeding those very things I want to change or get rid of, and entrenching them even more. And I will have spent a lot of valuable energy doing so.

Squandering my energy in this way is bound to leave me unhappy, with little energy left for moving toward what I do want.

To be clear, I’m not saying I should ignore the reality of how things are. Awareness is the first step toward change. It is what we do with that awareness that makes the difference.

So if I know trying hard can’t work, what will I do instead?

Since attention activates energy for something to happen, the sensible thing is to direct my attention toward how I’d like things to be, instead of focusing on what I dislike and don’t want. Simple. Not always easy. Takes conscious effort.

The question becomes…

What is it I want?

Or, the better question might be: What do I really want? I’m fortunate to have my survival needs well supplied, and that has left me room to explore how I can contribute to the well-being of life on this planet.

I’ve always had a sense of purpose, a deep knowing that I’m here—here at this particular time—for a reason. So what I really want rests on that foundation.

In this coming year, I want to consciously explore what is true from my perspective, and then articulate it. My posts will be a step in that direction. This approach has arisen from deepening my inner connection through a variety of means. It’s a process of unfolding, and I’ll share more as we go along.

Where to start?

Simply put—start where we’re at. Since I’m moving resolutely into not-yet-known territory—in which I’m likely to encounter a lot of conditions that are different and new—I’m thinking an exploratory attitude will take me a long way. And I do know that nothing is changed until the possibility of it is seen. I’ll start by exploring possibilities.

How to do it?

I ask myself questions. I imagine possibilities and test them by feeling how my body responds. Does it feel light or heavy? Contracted or expanded? Sometimes I feel as if my heart is smiling when I land on a constructive idea. And once I recall doubling over with a feeling of nausea while considering a job that was not aligned with where I needed to go.

If you’re feeling the stirring of the dragon but not sure where you want to put your attention, it’s time fo a bit of an inner adventure. A good way to start an exploration is to wonder what you might want. Here’s a playful approach from author Teresa van Bryce to help you engage your imagination and explore possibilities.

And that might be all it would take for you to put change in motion.

Bibliography

Life After…

We’re all getting restless, I notice.

Aching to get back to normal after six weeks of carefully following some pretty restrictive rules.

But…

Do we really want to go back? I wonder if it makes any sense to return to doing the very things that created systems so fragile they failed us at the time we needed them most?

Continue reading

Be curious. Ask questions.

Curiosity is the antidote to being stuck in that awful place when you know what to do and can’t make it happen. You are stuck, and might be inclined to beat yourself up about that. Instead, get curious about what is going on that’s keeping you stuck.

It might be that you’re not hurting enough yet to want to make the effort to get unstuck. You might be afraid of losing something when making lasting changes. There are a lot of gains we get from doing things as we’ve always done them, or doing what we know we shouldn’t be doing. Or you might feel you “should” do something, but part of you is resisting.

Whatever the case, this is an invitation to find out what’s really underlying your resistance to making a change. Being more self-aware and understanding ourselves is our superpower…when we use it.

Get curious on your own behalf.

Continue reading

Change your mindset, change the game.

Beliefs can be changed

The psychological and physiological effects of anything in our lives can be influenced by our mindset. That means what you think can change your body’s response.

For example, if you think stress is bad for you, your body will respond accordingly. Continue reading

Looking for connections…

Book in Vegas

My book is travelling again thanks to Nollind and Teresa, who recently left it in this lovely library at the Las Vegas RV Resort. Over the next few months, they’ll release several more copies of Conscious Spending, Conscious Life “into the wild” under the BookCrossing program.

BookCrossing puts books into public places with an invitation Continue reading

Courage to change

Laurana with Julie-001

I recently met a young woman who is buying nothing for a year. Julie Phillips (photo) was giving a talk about how this came to be (serendipity, like many of life’s most remarkable moments) and about her experiences during the first six weeks of being propelled into a #DIYLife.

Julie Phillips is certainly not the first person to spend less money and do more for herself,
but I was struck by several defining aspects of her story: Continue reading