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7 Common but Unhelpful Conditioned Beliefs and How You Can Change Them

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Most of what limits us as people are personal beliefs based on past experiences, or unconscious conditioning that we have been programmed with or picked up during our education or development. The people I look up to and respect the most are those who have managed to unlearn what society has taught them by way of conditioning and have created their own lives in line with what works for them.

They still operate from a space of personal integrity and caring towards others and they can see the limitations in unquestioningly following what society has taught them. They have learned to listen to and follow their own internal guidance and values, create successful habits and win at life.

Some common beliefs that I’ve noticed trip up my clients and students are as follows:

1. Expecting anything from others, life and the world

“If it is to be, it is up to me” is my motto. That’s not to say I don’t collaborate with others, contribute and receive from them, but I am the driving force in my Universe. I know when others do something for me, an opportunity comes my way or something great happens. It’s always my legwork that’s created that association, opening or sense of gratitude or invitation and it’s something to be deeply grateful for and not to take for granted.

TIP: Look for inspiration that resonates for you and act from that space

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. Functioning from thinking at the exclusion of our intuition

Many of us have learned to mistrust our instincts instead of acknowledging what feels right deep down in our gut (which may offer seem counter to what we think about a situation). The term ‘stinking thinking’ exists for a reason. If logical thinking alone worked for running our lives, none of us would have problems. Instead, combine logic with your inner awareness and appropriate action to become unstoppable.

TIP: How can you begin to listen to that powerful voice inside, starting today?

3. Pushing aside our soul whispers because they seem too hard

How often have you ignored a constant urge to do something new/different because you couldn’t quite fathom why that was a good choice, because it felt messy or risky or just didn’t fit with what you have decided is best for you right now?

Staying stuck and perhaps miserable is safer and may seem easier than hacking a track that no one’s ever taken before, but the cost of ignoring our knowing seems to grow over time in terms of stagnation, regret and always wondering.

TIP: What if being truly you and following what excites you most is the only thing you’re supposed to do?

4. Not realizing that feelings are based on conditioning

We tend to associate particular emotions with how we think about certain events/outcomes because of past negative experiences or due to conditioning, even when it’s not actually true for us. When we are in our truth, our thoughts are of such a positive/freeing nature that not much can throw us off centre.

TIP: What is the underlying belief in a current difficult situation that you haven’t acknowledged? How can you change your beliefs about that person/situation to give you a different outcome?

5. Having Expectations of others based on their ‘Role’

People often expect family members/partners/friends or colleagues to behave in accordance with the values and behaviours that they have assigned to those roles. For example “Family must love me”, or “colleagues must be supportive”. In an ideal world these things are always true, but more often than not, our belief just hinders our ability to deal with the reality in this individual situation. People are only capable of being who they are and acting from that space regardless of their role in our lives.

TIP: Always assume who others are based on their behaviour not their relationship to you.

“Fall seven times and stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

6. Expecting others to have the same values/capabilities as us

People always show us who they are. Some of the most stuck clients I see, are those who repeatedly ignore who someone else is based on who they want the other person to be. People will always be who they are and do what works for them, regardless of your preferences. It’s good to understand why we are invested in someone being that way and to provide ourselves with that thing, instead of seeking it through others.  

TIP: When you see people for who they are instead of who you would like them to be life gets exponentially easier and you will have so much energy for you.

7. Thinking that the personal development journey is too hard

Realizing we have a lot of work to do is no reason not to start. A year from now, 12 months will have passed whether or not you have grown and developed the way you know you can. Personal growth can be tough, however can you live with staying the way you are now and depriving yourself of the opportunity to reach your greatness? Who are you to play small and not share your potential with the world?

I get it, you might put all that work in and it might be for nothing, but it’s extremely doubtful if you are able to be honest with yourself, devote a bit of time to the journey and follow some great mentors that you are the one person this stuff won’t work for.

TIP: Who do you want to look back and say you were able to have been in this lifetime? Now start doing what it takes to be that person.

Identifying and recognizing unhelpful conditioning and beliefs and changing them in a way that works for you is valuable process to master. It takes courage to look beyond we have been conditioned to believe, seek our truth and live according to that and the rewards are phenomenal.

What are some limiting beliefs that are holding you back? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Rose Aitken is a Global Empowerment Coach and Facilitator of Change living in Nelson, New Zealand. Rose loves working in that zone where psychology, science and spirituality intersect to create rapid and profound breakthroughs for her clients. You can apply to work with Rose here or download her free e-book here. When not at work Rose is travelling and attending personal development classes, hiking in the hills or hanging out with friends.

Life

7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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Life

Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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Life

The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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