August 10, 2016
Reason #5: It provides a way to let go of self-limiting beliefs (Part One)
Where do our beliefs come from?
In a neurological sense, researchers are finding that our beliefs are formed in two ways. The first relates to our survival, anything that triggers our amygdala has the potential to form a belief instantly—these beliefs are generally all or nothing.
The second way that beliefs are formed is through repeated exposure to the same ideas over a long term; in this process the brain is literally being wired synapse by synapse to accept one message over another. This is largely an unconscious part of our socialization as kids. These beliefs—large or small—are extremely difficult to change because they are formed incrementally over time.
It’s like when we are talking quietly with a friend at the café and, as the tables fill up little by little, the noise of the room rises too, until suddenly everyone is shouting…but no one really notices.
That’s how most beliefs form: gradually. And, like in the café, these beliefs become the loudest voices in the room of our head.
It can be easy to live our whole lives never questioning our core understanding of ourselves, our abilities, and our potential.
Most of us, over time, have been instructed to focus on our deficiencies instead of our strengths—this forms a specific belief about who we are. When we do this, we focus primarily on the negative, and, of course, find the negative. And, when we spend more time finding and focusing on defects—as opposed to assets—we, understandably, form beliefs about ourselves that feel true, but are, in fact, only a fraction of the whole story.
If this is the only mode that we know to operate in, we will continue to do so forever. A strengths focus can interrupt this and remind us that we have choices and opportunities to grow and evolve and change.
Awareness is, as always, the beginning of this process and when we challenge our long held views and investigate where they came from, we open ourselves up to deeper layers of self and who we can become.
Action: This can be difficult, but enlightening, and it’s not meant to sway anyone from their views, but rather to provide a model for interrogating a part of the innerworld that we each keep. So, try this a few times: Jot down a quick list of your beliefs on social and political issues. Find the item that you feel most strongly about (capital punishment, fluoride in the water, tax loopholes, prayer in school, etc.) and spend 15 mins researching the other side’s arguments, trying to hold their position in your mind objectively. If this process triggers emotion, that’s natural. As you investigate, ask yourself, “How did this become a social issue in the first place and how did I arrive at my current stance?” Trace it back. What connections do you make during this process? How can this exercise actually strengthen positions?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.
Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com
His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.