When I was a child, I held a belief that if someone didn’t like cilantro, they were not fun.
Does that sound ridiculous? Because as I type, it does; however, I still had that in my mind as a belief that I held.
In my early professional career, I found out that my favorite manager ever, Jackie, did not like cilantro. Jackie said that cilantro tasted like soap to her. So, at that point, I needed to decide if my belief about cilantro and fun held true or if Jackie could in fact be fun, even though she did not like cilantro.
What are beliefs? Webster defines believe as held as an opinion or accept as true. What then are facts? Webster defines fact as act or action, something that exists or is real, or piece of information.
Many of our beliefs are told to us as children and we incorporate them into our lives without much thought. The only reason I considered changing my belief about cilantro was because I had evidence that Jackie was fun long before I knew of her dislike for cilantro, because I knew her. While cilantro is a harmless example, what about other examples that do cause harm?
As I read the news recently about the verdict of guilty in the Alex Jones case of defamation concerning the Sandy Hook shooting, I asked how did we get here and how can we all collectively do better? I fully support his guilty result in that case. He and others should never have begun down the road of the monstrous theory that the shooting was staged. How could anyone be so vile and callous in what they share outwardly, period?
Over the past several years, I found myself shouting in my home at various news stories that I find extremely distasteful, and while I see the anger bubbling all around, it appears to have bubbled over at this point. How did it get so bad? Why is everyone looking for someone to blame or hurt, when blaming and hurting others does not take away our own hurt?
I don’t want to blame or hurt anyone. I want to take responsibility for myself in every aspect. I want to do better, every day, better than the day before.
Will you join me on this journey? This is my plan, and it can be yours too:
First, I want to examine every single belief I have. I want to write them all down, no matter how obscure or long held, and I want to think about them each. Why do I have this belief? Where did it come from? Have I ever encountered something that challenged my belief and if not, how could I challenge it for myself?
Second, I want to make a list of values I hold and what I want my life to include. So far, I want to list free thought, safety, family, time, kindness, and health. I’ll think of more to add and so should you.
Third, I want to review my list of beliefs and double-check that they align with my values list and remove any that do not.
Fourth, I want to recognize the running dialog I have in my head to myself and label any parts that are not aligning with my personal values and beliefs that I took the time to solidify. Since I recently read in The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, that of the seven billion people on the planet, we all share the same 15-20 common negative beliefs about ourselves. I find this researched fact to be astonishing and it makes me hopeful. I look at that fact as our connection and our way out of our collective hurt. (Neff and Germer, The mindful self-compassion workbook, page 124.)
Here are the most common negative held beliefs listed in the book:
I am not good enough
I am defective
I am a failure
I am stupid
I am helpless
I am incapable
I am a fraud
I am bad
I am unlovable
I am unwanted
I am worthless
I am unimportant
I am abnormal
I am weak
I am powerless
Wow, seven billion people say the same 15-20 negative phrases to themselves. I’ll add one that I’ve said to myself: “I’m not that kind of girl.” I use that phrase in a negative manner to myself when I don’t think I’m “good enough” for whatever. My phrase is a variant of the “I am not good enough” kind.
The theme here is we are all hurting in similar ways to everyone else on the planet and instead of focusing on doing better, we tend to focus on a source of blame.
What if we are to blame? We, individually, need to do better.
If we didn’t question these beliefs, values, and statements of self-talk, we wouldn’t be able to get out from under them.
If I can’t remind myself when I have this running dialog of “I’m not that kind of girl/good enough” that I absolutely am good enough, then how would anyone view me as that?
It is easy to get caught up in the running anger, frustration, and drama that is pumped into our minds via every device we have in our homes. Additionally, the device in our pocket that we view our social media on, lately there is growing evidence to suggest that social media is contributing to this constant dribble of negative self-talk.
Look at the list and think about the phrases that you say to yourself. Then think about a counterbalance phrase that you can have at the ready. What would you say to a well-known friend if they said the same garbage? That is your go-to counterbalance phrase.
If we do better, daily, then we are all good enough, smart enough, legit, desirable, normal, whole, capable, decent, worthwhile, strong, accomplished, loved, important, and powerful!
Read the book. We need to bring awareness to the self-dialog that we allow and identify what we want to keep and what we want to get rid of. In the same way we examined our beliefs and values, we need to assess our inner dialog.
Now, please: go, do better!