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Time to Challenge Your Beliefs

Time to Challenge Your Beliefs

“It ain’t what a man don’t know that hurts him
. . . it’s what he knows that just ain’t so.”
~ FRANK HUBBARD ~

Some people think that they have no chance of ever living the kind of life they want. Maybe someone in their past told them that they would never make anything of themselves. Children are very impressionable. They easily believe whatever they’re told, especially by parents and others in authority. So they go on living with this message. Something in their heads keeps telling them that it’s not worth making much effort, because they’ll never succeed. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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As we near the end of another year, it’s a good time to stop and ask yourself whether what you have always believed about yourself is true. Was it ever more than an opinion picked up from others? Has it become a self-fulfilling prophecy in your life? Most self-beliefs are true only as long as people believe that they are. The minute you tell yourself that you don’t have to be limited by them any more, you’ll discover that you can do, or become, something different. That belief will be true instead. Try it.

Inherited and mistaken beliefs like these have power over you simply because you treat them as the truth. Any belief is no more than a thought or opinion that you’ve come to treat as automatically correct. In reality, none of them has any greater likelihood of being right than any of your other thoughts. Yet once we give them the label “belief,” we convince ourselves they’re different and must not be questioned. Whether they’re our own beliefs, or ones we’ve accepted from others, or the commonly-held beliefs of the society in which we live, they aren’t necessarily true—even if that’s how we’ve come to treat them.

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Don’t fall prey either to the idea that something must be true because that’s what lots of people believe. However many share a belief, it’s not the slightest bit more or less likely to be true as a result. The number of believers has no bearing on how correct it is. There was a time when just about everyone believed—indeed, knew for an obvious fact—that the world is flat and the sun went around it every day. Guess what? That didn’t make them right.

Question your beliefs constantly. It’s so tempting to take comfort in beliefs when life is difficult and the future is uncertain. Beliefs help you feel stable. You’ll feel uneasy about recognizing that the ideas you trust could be false; but, if you’re thinking clearly, you’ll see that a true belief will always stand up to the closest scrutiny. It’s the false, outdated beliefs that won’t— and they must be moved out of your way. It is always worth asking yourself, “Is this true? How do I know that it is true? Is it still to be trusted?” Unexamined beliefs are no better than fairy tales: sometimes pretty, sometimes comforting, often funny, and invariably based on what you want to be true, not what is.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life. His new book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

    , is now available at all good bookstores.
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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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