What stories or beliefs are you holding on to?
Raise your hand if any of this sounds familiar:
I must be “good” to be loved.
Pain and suffering are unacceptable and mean I have failed at something.
If I am not in control, everything will fall apart.
If I do not stay in this relationship, I will be alone forever.
My physical appearance is a direct reflection of my worth.
That, dear one, is the all-too-familiar voice of your inner-critic, and she is a direct product of social, cultural, and familial conditioning.
But no matter how pervasive her perspective might be now, she doesn’t have to run the show forever.
In fact, one of the most magical components of the life-changing magic of shutting up and sitting is transforming that externally defined voice of your inner-critic into your biggest fan.
Did you know studies have shown that the people who have a strong capacity for love and belonging are the people who think that they deserve it? I mean, how cool is that? Just by thinking you deserve something, you increase your capacity to obtain it—in this case, to experience love. (It also works with shoes… I’ve tried.)
At some point, if you have been doing the work of mindfulness long enough, you will start to awaken to the realization that you are not the person your past conditioning has created. In fact, you never were! The pure, unconditioned essence of you that was birthed into this world is the real you—and she is the person you deserve to bring forth in all her glorious fullness.
That old narrative that says you’re not “XYZ” enough?
You’re done with that.
But conditioned narratives and limiting beliefs can be sticky. There is a reason they can have so much power over how you live your life—and why it can take a whole lot of work and practice to free yourself from their grip, release yourself from their limitations, and rewrite your truth once and for all.
You cannot just “self-help book” your way there, without implementing the teachings you learn. That will just make you a smart person with dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You also cannot feel your way there through the “power of positive thinking”. (Aka: Pollyanna mind.) By doing that, you’re just tricking yourself into ignoring the undercurrent of emotion that is roiling beneath the surface of your life—and eventually, it will rise up. And you cannot just behave your way there—firstly because that’s exhausting and secondly, because the conscious mind is only in control of so much. Instead, you must learn something new entirely, replacing the conditioned narratives that inform your thinking, feeling, and behaving with new, more authentic ones.
Next time you find the voice of your inner-critic taking over, or your past conditioning directing you towards a misaligned or inauthentic decision, try these five steps to free yourself from outdated narratives and limiting beliefs:
1. Say to yourself: “I am not that person now.”
Remember: Chances are you were not that person EVER. You’re just holding on to old conditioning that was never a reflection of your deepest authenticity in the first place.
2. Begin the cognitive work of understanding your default attitudes about particular people, things, situations, and even yourself.
In other words, you must become your own existential detective. What beliefs, attitudes, and perspective do you hold about the world that are not rooted in your own experience, inner-wisdom, or love-based vision? If you find yourself repeating a belief or engaging in a repeated behavior without knowing why, chances are it was merely conditioned into you.
3. Listen to people whom you normally would not listen to.
Try opening yourself up to stories, narratives, and perspectives that don’t necessarily align with yours. You do not have to jump on every bandwagon that crosses your path, of course. But by listening to a vast array of diverse perspectives and beliefs, you will start to uncover what authentically resonates with you on a soul-level, and what is merely noise you have been over-exposed to throughout your life.
4. Favor the expanded awareness you get from engaging with new narratives.
Once you uncover what has been conditioned within you, versus what is truly the authentic voice of your soul, you must start uploading new—more self-aligned, authentic—programming into your mind. If you listen to political radio on the way to work every morning and arrive to the office angry and defeated, that is not serving anybody (lease of all, YOU!) Consider playing a peaceful soundscape, a meditation, or your favorite dance music instead. Prioritize a higher-level awareness for yourself, no matter what is going on around you.
5. Take the path of least resistance.
Identifying and rewriting lifelong conditioning—much of which probably began in childhood—is one of the most challenging things you can ask of yourself and your mind. After all, there are literal neural pathways paved into your brain that have been conditioned over years, and maybe even decades. There is no reason to make this work any harder on yourself than it already is. Start small, with a belief or behavior that isn’t necessarily rooted in trauma or shame, for example, and be kind with yourself (and those around you, who might still be holding on to limiting, conditioned beliefs and are uncomfortable with the changes you are making.) Judging yourself for what was merely taught to you when you were too young or inexperienced to know better doesn’t serve you or your authentic unfolding.
While it’s not easy to sit and connect with silence and stillness, finding the gaps between all the thoughts bouncing around in your mind, it can be done, and it will serve your highest and greatest expression of self. Identifying old narratives and replacing them with new ones to create new habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving is not as complicated as we make it out to be.
The key is to begin with mindfulness.
Want to learn more? There’s a book for that! Click here to take the first step towards greater awakening, awareness, self-love and personal transformation.
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