For centuries now, human beings have perpetuated and disseminated certain limiting beliefs that result in limiting attitudes and behaviours. As a result, humanity has for centuries transmitted and preserved beliefs that only damage us as a species. Instead of uniting us and making us stronger, they weaken us. Only by identifying, questioning and changing those beliefs will humanity advance into a new and more accepting existence.
Let me give you an example. Most human beings consider theirs one of the best, if not THE best culture in the world. Many people believe things such as…
- Mine is the best culture in the world.
- My culture transmits values, principles, and virtues like no other culture.
- Many of the traditions in my culture make us better than others
When new human beings are then born into one of those cultures, they learn to despise others, even though they originally had no choice at all where to be born. They will antagonize others, just based on those beliefs. And might even feel great insecurity or anxiety if anybody then proves them wrong.
That’s the way in which conflict and crises are created. There are many of those limiting beliefs transmitted from generation to generation. Some examples are:
- My culture and inherited worldview hold THE truth
- Only those adhering to my culture are right
- Only WE are the chosen ones. All others are less than us
- We are whom we were born to be. By being born where we were born, we are superior to others because our culture offers us some principles, views or beliefs that make us better
- Success is humanity’s ultimate goal
- Human beings need to be important. We need to strive and to always try and be better
- Life is a race we need to run
- Life is hard
When two people from different cultures but with the same belief meet, both are convinced that theirs is the superior one. By trying to prove the other one wrong, conflict arises. And because they firmly believe their opinion, they try to prove their views superior and try to convince the other person of their mistake.
By perpetuating certain beliefs, we also perpetuate limitations and conflict.
This doesn’t need to be like this, though. Human beings have a choice. They can choose to modify the beliefs they transmit just a little bit so that they are not that limiting. Instead of: “Life is a race we need to run,” the belief can be something like, “Life can be a race to run.” Instead of: “My culture and inherited worldview hold THE truth,” it could be, “my culture and inherited worldview hold my truth.” Or even, instead of: “Life is hard.” something like, “life can be hard or not”. Just those changes in the wording open new possibilities. By not being so limiting, we give the next generation permission to question the rigidity of their beliefs and the choice to accept others more easily, thus helping humanity come to an understanding.
I know this approach will need some time, some generations, to become a reality. But no road is walked without taking the first step. I hope my little reflection here today could help you take that tiny first step by making you at least think about this and about your own limiting beliefs from a slightly different perspective.
If you then discover that your own beliefs are limiting you, ask yourself how to change the way in which you express them every day when talking with others, with your children or any other children still growing, with others in society, with your peers and friends. Ask yourself how to contribute by planting the new seed of a less limiting belief that can grow into your culture. When somebody expresses a limiting cultural belief, offer a less rigid one instead so a little hope can be shared. We can all change those beliefs step by step, seed by seed, word by word. Help yourself and help generations to come do away with some of our obstacles, limitations, and conflicts. Redefine your own beliefs.
I encourage you to consider and approach some more ideas:
- Replace limiting and sentencing words from your beliefs. Instead of saying, always, never, everyone, nobody, and so on, open your expression to wider terms such as, occasionally, seldom, most people, just some, and others.
- When speaking, be it with adults or children, add an extra layer of flexibility to your words. Leave a door open to doubt. After all, no human being knows it ALL; no human being has lived it ALL. Thus, begin expressing your beliefs by declaring that they are YOUR beliefs but there could be others as valid as yours.
- Ask yourself what is limiting you, what obstacles you face in life and check how you talk about them to yourself. There’s very likely room for changes in the way you speak to yourself too.
- When thinking about the supremacy of your culture, remember that all other great cultures in history were finally replaced by newer ones. Question the historical basis of your belief. Question your beliefs from their roots.
- Give yourself permission to doubt. Allow doubt in others, too.
- Look for and define beliefs that trigger positive instead of negative feelings, thoughts and emotions in you.
- Give yourself permission to learn and continue growing.
Enjoy life, ALL of it,