Eliminating Self-Limiting Beliefs

What self-limiting beliefs do you have that are seriously holding you back? You may have minor ones, like “I don’t look good in orange,” or “I don’t enjoy jazz.” Likely they are not impeding your ability to live your best life unless, in this case, you’re married to a jazz musician.

I am sensing a self-limiting belief that circles around my professional capacity: I can do this, but not that. It’s a sense of doubt/respect for my limits, rather than a sense of incompetence in general. But even that statement sounds like a rationalization. Laaamme.

I tell others, and often myself, to not limit your concept of what you can do and who you can be. We should not place constraints around our potential, because we can exceed even our own wildest expectations. We don’t want to venture into the grandiose necessarily either; perhaps just maintain a sense of openness to what is possible. No more, “I can’t do that,” “I don’t like that,” “That’s not for me.” Instead, try: “Hm,” “Interesting,” or “Maybe.”

Right now, I wish to intentionally shatter my self-limiting beliefs. They’re mostly on the small end now, but my theory is that if I start with small beliefs I can then tackle the larger ones. My most recent success has to do with my belief that I can’t run/don’t enjoy running. I am now running and enjoying it (it’s very early folks; don’t get excited). I love how I can see progress almost each time I run. I can run faster or longer with each workout! Though I do not have any race or marathon goals, I’m also trying to be open to the idea that I may want to do that someday. After all, I used to say I’d never go back to school.

Next I want to tackle the thing that scares me the most, ie singing or doing comedy. I think I will sign up for something this spring. They both scare the pants off me. To balance, I also wish to sign up for a class doing something I’ve always wanted to try: martial arts. I’m taking tai chi now and I’m loving it! I don’t know (another limiting belief) if I can balance all these new endeavors with the other things on my to do list this spring but I’d like to try! I have a feeling that sense of empowerment will bleed into the other areas of my life.  Join me and let’s see what happens together.

My View on Perception

I can already tell that my master’s program in Applied Positive Pscyhology (MAPP) has changed me because when I returned to work yesterday after the five day onsite immersion, I felt like I was an alien entering a somewhat familiar but strange environment.   In five amazing days, my perspective has shifted and I am now different.

I’m having difficulty identifying the one MAPP experience has caused this shift.  Rather, I would say that it has been a series of realizations ranging from “Aha” to “Omygod!!!!” moments, both of which has occurred on a regular basis during the onsite but also beginning with the pre-immersion assignments.  They are so frequent, in fact, that I’ve started keeping a separate list entitled “Mindblowing Moments.”  These moments ranged from academic to personal.  One huge realization on the personal level was that I most definitely am in the right place.  I need no reassurance to know this.  The time, effort and expense will be worth every bit of this fantastic ride that I am on.

That being said, the academic concept that will resonate with me the most after all that we’ve learned in five days is Chandra Sripada’s theory about perception.  There are twelve levels between our retina and brain, and each level manipulates/interprets the information from the level below.  The top communicates more avidly with the bottom, telling it what to expect and believe.

This theory resonates with what I know about the relative nature of reality (it’s not just a cliché anymore) but also with the assertion in Haidt’s  Happiness Hypothesis that we make decisions based on our gut feelings, then justify it with rationalization.  This is consistent also with Paul Bloom’s notions of essentialism which serves to help us  categorize things and people in our world into good/bad categories:  a sort of mental shorthand.  In short, as Bloom states, belief drives perception.  Now there’s a scientific explanation.  The relativism of our beliefs shapes our present and future, as well as our past as we reinterpret our memories each time we revisit them.

I don’t know about you, but when an idea goes from cliché to scientifically affirmed, it takes on a whole new dimension.  How does knowing that our beliefs color a vast and enormous portion of our perception change how we interact with the world?   I guess I’m about to find out.