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Do You Determine your Beliefs, or do Your Beliefs Determine You? (part three)

Do You Determine your Beliefs, or do Your Beliefs Determine You? (part three)

Do You Determine Your Beliefs or Do Your Beliefs Determine You?

    G’day Kids. So this study on beliefs has turned into something of an epic. Let’s look at a snapshot of what we’ve covered so far in parts one and two

    1. We’re all largely driven, motivated, limited, empowered and controlled by our beliefs; this can be both good and bad.

    2. We have positive, negative and incidental beliefs.

    3. Beliefs typically form over a long period of time. From the day we are born that computer on top of our shoulders is being programmed.

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    4. They often develop with no real effort, input or awareness on our part. We rarely make conscious decisions about them; they take root in spite of us.

    5. They are the result of our influences and our experiences.

    6. We know that in certain situations and circumstances (home, work, clubs, church, politics), there exists a level of pressure to align our beliefs and thinking with the majority in order to be accepted, valued and respected as part of that group.

    7. Having different beliefs to the majority (in your immediate world), or changing your beliefs won’t always be well received. In fact, it will often be resisted and strongly discouraged.

    8. Quite often we adopt the beliefs of others. We grow into the thinking of our parents, teachers, preachers, bosses. We don’t explore or discover our own truth, we simply make theirs.. ours.

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    9. I like the idea of being part of a group where identical beliefs and consensual thinking is not a pre-requisite for membership. Or acceptance. Or respect. That kind of group appeals to me.

    10. We should re-examine, question and test our beliefs to determine whether they empower us or limit us.

    11. Just because you’ve believed something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s right; it just means you’ve believed it for a long time!

    12. We have an emotional attachment to some beliefs and the thought of letting go of them scares the crap out of us. But sometimes it’s in the letting go that we have our eyes opened.

    13. In an effort to align our beliefs, thinking and behaviour with the group, we often lose US. We lose our own identity and individuality, waste our potential and live a life of frustration, compromise and under-achievement. We don’t become the best US we can, we become what is expected of us; we succumb to the enormity of conformity.

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    So the smart plan would be to keep the positive beliefs and lose the bad ones.

    The time to consider change is when we realise that a particular belief is having some kind of negative impact on our life; our potential, our productivity, our relationships, our possibilities, our career, our family, our physical, mental and emotional health. Changing beliefs is easier said that done, keeping in mind that we are emotional beings who have been thinking, doing and believing a certain way for a very long time. The good news is that change is very possible if we’re serious about the process and we’re prepared to do the work.

    So how do we change our beliefs?

    1. De-emotionalise the process. The greater the level of emotional investment we have in a certain belief, the more likely we are to be irrational, defensive and even protective of that belief, no matter how much of a negative it has been in our life. The challenge comes in being brave enough to open our mind and expand our thinking to the possibility that some of our long-held beliefs may be wr..wr…wr…ong! Scary I know. Deep breaths, you’ll be okay. A good question to ask ourselves is “what do I believe?”, but the better question is “why do I believe that?” When we discover the ‘why’ then we will find it easier to change the ‘what’.

    2. Do what scares you. Of course we need to wrap some logic and common sense around this piece of advice; I’m not suggesting we throw ourselves of a cliff because we’re scared of heights! But working through challenges that force us to confront and deal with our fears is one of the most effective ways to change the way we think, believe, behave and produce in our world.

    Most of our limiting beliefs are about US (what we can, can’t, should, shouldn’t do, be, create, achieve), so when we confront, rather than avoid the things that scare us, we typically experience an instant shift in our thinking. When you do something that you believed wasn’t possible for you (running a marathon, holding a snake, completing some study, standing up for yourself, speaking in public), not only do you experience a shift in your thinking about that particular achievement, but you also start to question other self-imposed limitations. “Wow, if I can do that, what else can I do?” When people run their first marathon, the biggest shift is usually in their psychology not their physiology. It’s like they open a door to a world of possibilities. That potential (to do amazing) was always there but it took an experience (facing and overcoming a fear) to open that mental and emotional door which had been locked shut for far too long.

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    3. Hang out with different people. Hang out with negative, paranoid, miserable, fearful, excuse-making, under-achievers… and pretty soon you’ll be just like them! Who we hang out with doesn’t determine who we become but it sure does influence us. As much as possible, spend time with people who you admire, respect and trust; people who will empower you, not handicap you.

    4. Expose yourself to different environments, cultures, ideas, thinking. Some of us have lived in our little boxes for so long that we think the world starts and finishes at our doorstep. Spend time talking to people you would normally avoid or people you might consider yourself to have nothing in common with. They will teach you something. Travel, explore, see different things, do different things. Occasionally expose yourself to things that are ‘not you’. Consciously and proactively set yourself to learn new things.

    I recently had a conversation with someone who was being very critical of a particular religious group that exists here in Australia (and many other countries). When I asked him which parts of their theology, philosophy and doctrine he disagreed with, he looked at me blankly. The truth was he that he was criticising something that he knew nothing about. He’d never read any of their religious texts, never had a (meaningful) conversation with anyone of that faith, never been to a service and never even considered that the group he was criticising could possibly teach him anything or be a ‘viable’ (for want of a better term) religious option. After a little probing, I learned that he had simply adopted his ignorant, arrogant beliefs from his equally uneducated, opinionated and intolerant father.

    5. Think for yourself. Stop trying to fit in, and start being you. Don’t be a sheep. Question the way you think, behave and believe right now. Explore where those beliefs came from and identify them as a positive or negative in your life. Don’t adopt someone else’s beliefs because you like that person, make those beliefs your own when you’ve questioned them, explored them, tested them and discovered them to be true.

    6. Work hard to over-ride your default setting. Sometimes there’s a tendency for us to feel (yep, it’s an emotional thing) that our old, destructive beliefs are somehow more real than the new ones we’re trying to install into our hard-drive. Yes, it’s only a feeling but it can become a reality when we let it happen. If you’re like most people then you will have regular battles between emotional you – the one with the unhealthy emotional attachment to those old beliefs, behaviours and habits – and logical you – the one who understands what you can do and become and is prepared to do what’s necessary.

    Replacing your old destructive beliefs with new empowering ones will be an on-going (life-long) process. This means being more aware and conscious of your beliefs and how they impact on you in the moment. Right now. Not in theory but in practice. Sometimes that will mean consciously over-riding an urge to conform to a pre-existing belief (way of thinking, doing, being, reacting, communicating), in order to create better results in your world. And as always, in order to create different, you need to do different.

    Ciao x

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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