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Doubts and limiting beliefs

We all have them. What do you do to counteract yours?


In the past, when I had a problem or issue I needed to deal with, I used to sit and spin and do what I refer to as "lots of mental masturbation." I'd think and overthink, believing it would lead to an "ah-ha" moment and a sense of relief. I'm not sure why I thought that because it rarely worked that way.


I've come to realize that I did this because I spent so much of my formative years using and honing my intellectual self. I recently read this very dense but fascinating book called: "Self-Observation- The Awakening of Conscience. An Owner's Manual." On page 37, I found this:


"...However, due to the culture we were born into, which is not a wisdom culture but a culture of power and money, a material culture, the intellect has been placed upon the highest pedestal and worshipped because it can give me money and power, the two things most valued by my society. Our entire educational system is built upon the worship of the intellect as king; we educate the intellectual center and ignore all of the body's other functions. We do not even recognize inspiration and intuition as real or of any value in the educational process."


This helped me understand why the only skill I had to deal with stuff was to think. I had not cultivated the rest of the aspects of my being human.


After I left my unhappy job but was still really adrift, I found that writing to myself- sort of journaling- helps me sort through and confront my limiting beliefs head-on. Putting down all of my inner arguments on paper, without grammar or sentence structure, just free-writing, allowed me to see my thoughts outside of my own head and view them more objectively. Doing free-writing like this actually calls upon a more subconscious part of our brain. Writing by hand also slows down our monkey mind and allows one thought to come only as quickly as we can jot it down. Through free-writing, I was able to access deeper thoughts and see myself from the perspective of an observer. I could then see how unhealthy or unsavory some of my beliefs were about myself and a situation I was struggling through. I'd find myself trying to convince myself that one belief was true: a harsh, negative, judging and critical voice. But then, another voice would sometimes show up on the page. A softer, more gentle, loving, and compassionate voice would begin defending me and fighting back, saying, "Wait a minute...what?! Are you telling the truth here?" I have a devout allegiance to the truth. When I can see my thoughts and feelings as an outer observer, I am better able to recognize what is fact and what is fiction, and take better care of myself.


Also, getting outside works magical wonders on clearing my head. Sometimes, that's all I need to do to recognize my own doubts as just that- thoughts that I get to decide whether or not I want to believe.


And let's not forget that powerful tool: the deep breath. The more the better but at least five to ten in a row, using square breathing; counting to four on the in-breath, holding for four counts, breathing out for four counts, and then waiting four counts before taking another breath; my experience with this practice (when I can remember to do it!) is that oxygen really is medicinal.


In a nutshell, I am most successful at counteracting limiting beliefs when I show myself extra attention and self-compassion. Writing my thoughts, getting fresh air, or pausing to breathe are ways I can take action to care for myself and be kind to myself, and access the parts of me that are not cognitive or intellectual.


I am then able to literally say to myself, "It's ok. You're ok." And, most important, I believe it.


What helps you when you are plagued by doubt and feelings of "I can't"?

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