When my daughter Tara was young, she came home from school one day and told me that her teacher taught the class about Dr. Martin Luther King. She then added that her teacher said he was now an angel in heaven looking down on everyone. I tried to explain that he was a good man and I’m sure he is in heaven but probably unaware of what is happening to people on earth. Tara was adamant however because it HAD to be true because her teacher said so and she is the teacher.
We all do it. We all take some advice or piece of information that was taught to us and believe it without testing or researching it because of how we feel about that person. One of the hardest things to let go of is a belief we have learned from our parents or our teachers growing up. Even when we have learned that it is not true, we want to hold on to it because our parents or teachers or someone whom we respected believed it. Some beliefs are so embedded in us that it is hard to relinquish them.
When I was growing up, my parents taught me that the important thing in life was to get a good education that would lead to a good paying job. It didn’t matter if the job wasn’t exactly something I was wild about because what was important was the money. I had lots of ideas of what career choice could make me happy, most of which were creative. When I mentioned these to my parents, they would turn each down for the reason that, ‘That job wouldn’t pay well.’ Don’t get me wrong, I know my parents were only being loving and giving what they felt was good advice. It was probably the belief system they themselves were raised on by their loving parents and it worked for them. At least they seemed happy and though not rich, they were comfortable.
The first few jobs I had were small (except the role of mother of course) some I liked and some I loved. I then got a chance to work in a role that paid good money and then another one and I nearly had an emotional breakdown. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was doing someone else’s job and this was not for me but couldn’t relinquish the mindset that money was important. I stayed in that job pushing myself to keep going until I was so far gone that I needed to quit altogether. Mentally, I can still say what is important is doing what our spirit loves but the old fears and doubts still come to re-surface whispering…”What about the money?”
The problem with letting go of a negative or limiting belief is that sometimes we are not consciously aware we have them. In order to let go of them you have to first recognize them for what they are.
Here are some common limiting beliefs:
• Once you have a baby, you never re-gain your figure
• I’m not pretty enough
• I’m not smart enough
• It runs in the family so I’m bound to get it
• I have no time
• I have no talent
• I’m not good enough
• Once you are a mom you lose all sex appeal
• I never win at anything
• Bad things always happen to me
• I don’t have enough money
• I never went to college/university
• I’m too old
• Once you grow up, the fun ends
• Once you get married, the sex ends
• I don’t deserve to have good things happen to me
Another reason that is so hard to let go of a limiting belief is that we sometimes identify with the belief. I tried to learn soccer when I was a teen and my dad said to me, ‘You are not sports inclined.’ On the surface, I must admit that did appear to be true. However, I did practice a little and got a bit better. I never got good because I believed that I wasn’t sports inclined therefore I was born this way-another limiting belief. I now identified with the belief of not being born ‘sports inclined’. Yes, there are many who seem to have natural ability but if we feel it in our being and feel we love something, then we owe it to ourselves to give it a good try. After that, we may find it isn’t really for us after all or we may find we have a gift. We lose nothing by trying. At worse, if it wasn’t for us then we now know and we can go on to try something else.
One thing I have learned from my children is that they are often tempted to give up something they are doing when they see someone else doing it better. It is the strange belief that if you aren’t going to be the best at something, then it is not worth doing. I don’t know where they picked this up from but if you have this belief recognize it for what it is….illogical.
How do we let go of belief systems that don’t work for us but are deeply embedded?
First recognize it and then analyze it. How did the belief come to you? Can you give examples that proove that the belief is a lie? For instance, do you know of someone who was able to live to their full potentiality despite the fact they never went to college or were old or had no money etc? How about proofs in your own life? Have you had people confirm that they see talent in you or think you are attractive? Can you think of examples in your life where you just shined and people were drawn to you or something you accomplished when you managed to push down your negative belief?
Next release the feeling that you are betraying the person who taught you the belief if you stop believing it. We are all human beings who make mistakes and who are often misguided by others. The person who taught you may have been taught by someone else. Silently bless them and thank them for any good things they did teach you and then let go of the limiting belief.
There may be a change you want to make but which can affect your family for instance a career change which results in a lower paid job but you are the main bread-winner. Talk to your family. See how they feel. They may have noticed you haven’t been happy and are willing to make some life-style changes. Don’t just assume they will not be happy—another belief that can hinder you from making a difference. (Although likewise-don’t assume they will be. Talk to your family!)
Sometimes, we need to take small steps in order to make some changes. Small changes are better than none at all and can often lead to bliss. Again recognize what is holding you back. Try taking a step back and look at what beliefs are hindering you with your spiritual eyes (or intuition) and then name it (such as the belief of I am not good enough) and tell yourself firmly that it is not true and release it.
Incidentally, Tara adored that teacher who taught her about Martin Luther king. She also appreciated and enjoyed learning about him. When her teacher said he was now an angel it may (or may not) have been true but it wasn’t a belief that in any way hindered Tara from finding fulfillment in life. I only chose that story as an example of how we latch unto beliefs when we are children and make them our own. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King JR, ‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’