We all have shadow beliefs, most of them unhealthy. A shadow belief is one that we’re unaware of and frequently impacts our behavior and world view. For this reason, I feel it is important for us to identify our shadow beliefs so that we can deal with them so that they do not unduly color our perspective in counterproductive ways.
Identifying the belief is only the first step in dealing with it. We tend to carry these beliefs like rose- or grey-colored glasses, preventing us from having a clear and unbiased view of events. My belief as many of you know has to do with deprivation – an underlying belief that I won’t get what I need. Therefore, I tend to collect and save the things that I feel are essential to my well-being (including Post-Its. Don’t ask me to explain that). Emotionally it means that I tend to view disrespect or disregard as a hot button issue, whether warranted or not.
During my recent XXth birthday party, my friends and family set out to blast holes in my deprivation belief system. Boy did they ever. I floated on a cloud for several days. My chest felt lighter and my heart more open. I’ve been wondering what the long term effects are, and a week later, I feel like I’m interfacing with the world in a new way.
Instead of being in the habit of noticing deprivation, I’m noticing abundance as a baseline. It’s not that I haven’t noticed abundance before. It’s just been less natural to me than noticing deprivation.
Here are the places I’ve been seeing abundance:
- The basics – We totally take clean air, water and our beautiful earth for granted. These are not available to everyone. Some areas are in draught, polluted, or devastated due to weather, war or neglect. In the past I might’ve noticed how the weather was too humid or the weeds in my garden instead of the flowers, clear sky and squirrels.
- Our lifestyle – We take our homes, pets, running water, communications, electricity, safe communities, infrastructure and transportation, health care, insurance, affluence, education, and availability of food, goods and services, whenever and wherever we want them also for granted. These are really luxuries and we should treat them as such. In the past I might’ve just complained about the traffic, slow internet speed, the absence of a convenient coffee shop, or the price of the pair of shoes I wanted instead of realizing that our comfort is so intrinsic to our expectations, we don’t even notice how fortunate we are any more.
- Our loved ones – Life is precious and so is time with our loved ones. We squander that time by letting days go by without showing or telling others that we love them, by not making the most of the time we have together, or by fighting or bickering. Celebrate the people you love. We don’t know how much time we have together. In the past I might’ve been spending too much time being critical or upset about what others should be doing or saying instead of finding ways to show them that I love and value them.
- Our access to opportunity – You want to be a doctor? An entrepreneur? A musician? You only need to just go do it, read about it, file an application, set up a website or whatever. In some places, many activities are taboo for certain groups, or the resources are not there to even get started. In the past I might’ve worried about how I was being unappreciated at work instead of being grateful I’m employed at all, not to mention in a job that is interesting, impactful and challenging.
- Our communities – So much good is happening everywhere by some really incredible, kind, talented and generous people. However, we often measure others against a very specific yardstick that would happen to make only one person look really good: ourself. In the past I might’ve felt better than others to make up for my own insecurities instead of seeing the best side of them and valuing all they have to bring to the table.
Now imagine how one might feel each day with an abundance vs. deprivation mindset. Which one are you? What do you notice and how does it make you feel? Keeping in mind that what we notice is mostly habit, what habits can you change to improve your perspective and well-being?