In my first post on this blog, “Living Joyfully,” I shared that each year I choose a word to set an intention for my year ahead, and that in 2013 it was “joy.” What I didn’t share was that in addition to the word I choose for myself, a dear friend and mentor also gives me a word; her word to me was “faith.” I have been practicing these a day at a time, perfectly imperfectly.
In 2014, my word for myself is “compassion,” both for myself and for others. I can only be as compassionate with other people as I’m being with myself. If I’m hard on myself, telling myself that I’m not progressing fast enough on my goals, and using negative self-talk, guess what? I’m usually hard on others, too. Whether or not I say so, I can start thinking as if I know what they should be doing, which is always a dangerous place to go.
On the other hand, when I’m gentle with myself, I’m able to be more loving and accepting of others. Sometimes that means using self-talk as if I were an 8-year-old girl. If I forget to bring or do something, if my first thought is, “of course you forgot,” I’ll tell myself, “re-do,” as bravery coach Kate Courageous blogs about. Then I literally tell myself, “it’s okay, sweetie, here we go…” As ridiculous as it might feel at first to talk to yourself as if you were 8 years old, it’s even more ridiculous to address yourself in a way that’s shaming. (Brené Brown has written powerfully and prolifically on the impact of shaming language.)
My mentor’s word for me in the coming year is “freedom.” I probably wouldn’t have chosen this word for myself, which is why she’s my mentor. We hear a lot about freedom in this country. The Bill of Rights enumerates several freedoms we possess: speech, religion, press, assembly, and others. When I drive on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) or take the Staten Island Ferry, I enjoy seeing the Statue of Liberty, that iconic gift of the French to Americans. We take these political rights for granted today; of course I can write a letter to a newspaper; of course I can go to any church to worship.
Yet what else can freedom represent in my life? How can I move toward greater freedom, to come more fully into the person I was made to be, so that I can have an amazing life, and be of greater service to others? What limiting beliefs are stopping me from embracing an even more amazing, truly free life?
In the disciplines of psychology and coaching, much is said of the limiting belief of scarcity: not having enough, and not being enough. It seems part of the human condition that these fears rear their ugly heads subconsciously at least some of the time for most of us. As Brené Brown identifies, the simple act of articulating our fears or feelings we’re ashamed of having, and particularly sharing them with someone we trust, weakens them.
Once I identified “I won’t have enough” as an under-the-surface limiting belief, I was able to construct a positive belief to replace it: “everything I need will be provided.” This lets me choose to focus on a positive, rather than a negative, belief.
There is always presence and absence in our lives. Our perspectives are simply the result of a decision of where to place our attention. When we focus on absence, we experience more absence. If we focus on what is present in our lives, we attract even more abundance and life keeps getting bigger.
What’s a limiting belief that’s holding you back? How would it feel to counter it with a positive belief? Please comment and share!