Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Rising above our limiting beliefs
Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash
I love the comic strip Shoe by Jeff MacNelly, where Shoe (one of the characters) is pitching in a baseball game and someone says, “You’ve got to have faith in your curve ball.” To this, Shoe replies:
When it comes to believing in myself, I am agnostic.
This quote is usually easily brushed over but holds a lot of power. Unfortunately, Shoe’s response is a belief that majorities have about themselves, which prevents them from reaching their true potential.
Belief originates from what we hear, and keep on hearing, ever since we come out of our mother’s womb. It becomes part of our subconscious mind, shaped by environment, events, past experiences, association, etc.
Most people stroll through life without questioning the source of their conditioned beliefs, and thus conclude that it is static. They continue to hold on to what they have been preached on by others. The idea that their system of beliefs are static keeps them caged in, preventing them to progress towards tangible change.
The real success lies in accepting the truth that our limiting belief is a choice, and we can choose to not stay influenced by it for the rest of our lives by determining how we respond to them.
On top of my head, I can name a couple of individuals who dared to dream greater than their circumstances. Martin Luther King believed that freedom was a possibility, while battling the tragic circumstances of segregation and discrimination. We all know the fate of Martin Luther King’s dream. Born into poverty, Oprah Winfrey was sexually abused by her cousin and gave birth prematurely to a child at age 14. Today Winfrey has built a media empire that is one of the most respected in the world.
My father was born into a family of farmers in a small village of India, where extreme effort and perseverance is required to attain a good education. Even to this day, it is commendable for anyone to graduate high school there. But my father chose to not absorb himself into these circumstances and went on to publishing multiple research papers, obtained his phD and changed the economic condition of everyone else in my extended family.
The magic of my father’s big thinking is the reason we were able to escape the cycle of inter-generational poverty.
Life’s greatest temptation is to become absorbed in one’s circumstances. When we give in to this temptation, we end up in a state of hopelessness, anguish, disillusionment and doubt. So, what can we do to change our conditioned beliefs that we have acquired?
“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
First step is to identify your limiting beliefs. What is the source of it? Whether we accept it or not, we are all latching on to beliefs that are preventing us from reaching our highest potential. Meditating on the beliefs that we have and how they limit us from achieving our desired future state is the first step towards any real change.
There is also some truth in accepting that freedom is always within limits. In life, we can face circumstances which are beyond our control. We are forced to deal with these circumstances because we did not have the freedom to choose.
My father did not have the freedom to choose to be born into a small village of India with a poor education system, but he did have the ability to determine how he would respond to his circumstances by investing in his education.
Once we have a list of beliefs, we must determine if the desired future state has any connection with who we are and what we can do. In this process, the ability to evaluate one’s own ability becomes the most important skill of all. We have to be deeply connected to reality throughout this process. Failing to do so, we can easily become targets of our own ego.
My dad employed his talent of having amazing work ethic and book-smartness to break the generational cycle. He relied on his best and most realistic skill, academic excellence, to achieve his dreams. He did not take the route of becoming an influencer or an actor because I am unsure if that would have gotten him a scholarship anywhere during the 2000s.
To break any limiting beliefs, we have to align our tasks, choices, priorities, values and willingness everyday towards that end goal.
My dad got a scholarship to study at a University in Ohio based on his educational skills, but in order to do so, he had to be exceptional amongst his peers and rank well enough to stand out to international schools. He had to skip out on buying groceries sometimes so he could save up for books. He had to move to the U.S. without his family to achieve his desired state.
Once we undergo above-mentioned steps of analyzing our limiting beliefs can we truly reap the benefits of being free from them. In the process, it is helpful to remember that our success will not be grandiose but iterative.
Read this article on Medium