Orange Soda and Limiting Beliefs
I usually don’t drink pop (for the US readers: that’s Canuck for soda, unless you’re from the mid-west and then you got it the first time around). So, as I was saying, I usually don’t drink soda, but on the weekend I decided to splurge. I went to the local health food store and got a few cans of orange soda.
I went back home, made myself a healthy snack, and treated myself to one of those cans, which I had put in the fridge to chill. Imagine my surprise when I opened the can and pouring it into my glass (ew, who drinks soda straight from a can, anyway?), out came a clear bubbly liquid. Ok, the soda tasted just fine, but the lack of the expected colour component just didn’t do it for me. I tried closing my eyes, imagining that unnaturally bright orange hue I was craving (the one that stains the corner of your mouth, you know the one), but it was too late. It didn’t meet my expectations, and without those satisfying carcinogens it just wasn’t the same. Never underestimate the suggestive powers of the little things.
Why should you care about my orange soda debacle? Well, because today I’d like to talk about how beliefs shape expectations, and expectations shape results. Beliefs, much like my silly (I’d even say, childish) expectation on the “perfect orange soda” are shaped by similar experiences that came before. I wasn’t just drinking that soda, but I was subconsciously comparing it to all analogous satisfying experience of quenching my thirst with the bright orange beverage.
Which brings me to my second point, beliefs are neither logical nor naturally occurring. Any rational person, one that had never seen that obscene shade of orange associated to any food product, let alone a drink, would naturally surmise on colour alone that that beverage couldn’t possibly be healthy for you and would swiftly avoid it (much the same reaction I had when I saw blue bubblegum flavoured ice cream for the first time, but then again I’m a purist when it comes to gelato).
Unlike my subconscious belief about what makes a good orange soda (or a bad bubble gum ice-cream, for that matter), core beliefs are more global in nature. They shape how we move through the world, how we interact with people, but most importantly, they shape our self-image and self-worth. We internalize those beliefs quite early on in life, and they are made up of bits and pieces of things we hear from significant people in our lives (yes, as a friend of mine pointed out recently, it always goes back to your parents).
Now, the origin of a negative, limiting, or non-resourceful belief is really not important here. I mean sure, we can continue blaming everyone for everything negative that has happened to us effectively deflecting responsibility for our actions. However, this also results in renouncing whatever power we have in our lives to change things. Besides, after a certain age blaming your parents is all shades of unbecoming.
Now, If like me you’re passed your 20s or 30s, and think back to you “terrible 17s” I hope you’re in a place in your life to realize that thankfully, due to accident or sheer force of will, you have found more effective ways to deal with stress that don’t involve acting out in hostile and juvenile ways. We are constantly changing, and that is why when a limiting belief whispers (or screams) in your hear “YOU CAN’T DO IT, YOU LITTLE <fill with expletive of your choice>” this is:
1) irrational - you may not be in a position to do so at this moment, but you can build the knowledge and skills to accomplish just about anything.
2) untrue - unless we’re talking about something like sprouting wings and flying, then you’re on your own.
3) fruitless - don’t get in your own way, and try anyway. What’s so scary about proving to yourself you can actually do it? And failure is just the growing pains of a lesson learned.
Here’s a little physical exercise on the powers of the mind and visualization:
1) stretch before we begin (especially if you are passed your 30s)
2) stand facing a wall, and point your right finger strait ahead, move your arm back as far as you can pay close attention to all the objects you see in your way
3) when you can’t go any further focus on the last object your finger landed on
4) now do that with your left finger
5) relax your body, and close your eyes. Repeat those same two movements, in your mind only. Just allow yourself to visualize.
6) Now, try steps 2) & 3) again
Did you go a few cm/inches further than the first time? I did.
Your subconscious mind does not register whether something is real or not, it just absorbs the information. The way that it internalized those limiting beliefs so long ago that you’ve started to think they were always there, or even worse that they are an integral part of who you are. Well, that is not the case, remember we are always changing. (As for the dangers of identifying with your beliefs, I refer you to the Eckhart Tolle quote I posted yesterday).
Just like anything else in life, changing a limiting belief that has kept you in a stalemate takes work, commitment and persistence.
Here are some alliterations to help you out:
1) Recognize the belief, habit, pattern, or thought that is holding you back.
2) Realize that it is within your power to change.
3) Replace the limiting belief, habit, pattern, or thought with one that empowers you.
4) Repeat any action oriented to produce a new empowering behaviour.
Start small: succeed in replacing an old preconceived notion with an openness to possibility to create momentum; move to something midsize, and watch the domino falls.
I resolve to start with the orange soda cans that are left in my fridge. I promise by the last can I will enjoy it even without those satisfying carcinogens I seem so irrationally attached to.
So what are you going to change next, on your way to becoming your own superhero? Don’t know yet? Here is some homework:
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