Are Your Beliefs Holding You Hostage?Dec 11, 2018
7 Steps to Break the Chains and Transform Your Life
Beliefs are a powerful, quiet presence in your life. They hold you and sustain you through life’s tumultuous cycles.
You’ve likely been lifted up more than once by a force so strong, you couldn’t help but rise up. You may have wondered… how did I survive that? You survived because you believed you would. Your beliefs about yourself carry you through life. Some are incredibly strong, like faith, love, and honor, and they bear the gift of resilience. However…
“Some destructive beliefs hold you down… they keep you small and stifle your greatness.”
Picture a chain. It restricts. It binds you, holds you hostage, and prevents you from going where you want to go. It blocks a door, a gate, and a closed box.
Chains do that in real life, too. You may not see them, but they’re there. Those illusory chains are the byproduct of destructive beliefs that may have been formed when you were young.
“We’re not meant to stay small.”
It’s within our nature to expand. We’re not meant to stay small, If we did we’d be making decisions with our childhood mind. Or… maybe we are doing exactly that. Maybe the beliefs we formed as children have kept us in a cocoon of safety, tightly bound from ever spreading our wings.
For example, do you remember a time when you were creative and you felt alive? You loved painting, writing, or singing, but somehow your dream got lost?
All it took was a teacher’s grade or a thoughtless remark by a jealous friend to assassinate your confidence. It triggered the thought, maybe I’m not good at art.
Now, every time you think about painting, writing, or singing, you hear the inner chatter of your brain rattling the chain. It is saying, “I’m not good at it…” and the thought repeats itself to the point you enhance it by saying… I’m not creative at all.
“Destructive beliefs can suffocate your potential greatness.”
At that point, it suffocates all thoughts of artistic endeavors and steals your confidence, your drive, and your happiness.
Beliefs are thoughts and feelings we have over and over again until we’re certain they’re true. They form the framework and set standards by which you live. They’re derived from old stories, and they become such a way of life, you can’t imagine living without them.
Some beliefs are beneficial and help you make the right choices. They can lift you up when you’re weak, carry you through to fulfilling your dreams, and establish a foundation of strength for your whole life.
Others can stifle you, often for a lifetime, because you never told them to go away.
“Imagine the things you haven’t achieved because bad beliefs stifled you.”
It’s painful to recognize the things we haven’t achieved because of ideas we developed as children. Can you imagine who you would be today without those thoughts?
Here are some consequences of false beliefs that might keep you chained and bound:
- Staying in a job you hate, because you “can’t” do anything else.
- Being depressed because there is nothing to feel good about.
- Staying in a relationship that is toxic.
- Never try that one thing you always wished you could do, because you’re not “good enough.”
- Believing you will never feel joy again because you lost someone you loved.
- Thinking you’ll never have enough money to live a happy life.
- Feeling not good enough, talented enough, or creative.
- Believing you’ll never find true love after heartbreak.
I can look at this list and check off a number of them that belong to me. For a long time, I gave my beliefs more power than they deserved.
"People learn to love their chains." ~ Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
In the HBO television series, “Game of Thrones,” the dragon mother, Queen Daenerys Targaryen, stands before thousands of slaves she wants to free, but they’re resistant, even terrified. When they refuse to be free, Daenerys says, “People learn to love their chains.” They’ve lived with fear so long, they couldn’t imagine life being free.
Have you lived with a destructive belief since you were a child? We often put a chain around our childhood as though it’s something we can’t fix.
Perhaps it’s not possible to go back and fix or change the circumstances of your childhood, but it is possible to unchain the belief that may be holding you hostage.
“Beliefs are challenged when one stage of life ends and another begins.”
Sometimes one stage of life ends abruptly and another begins. This is when your beliefs are challenged. It happened to me when I suffered a great loss.
My husband died suddenly of a heart attack at age 54. Too damn young. I expected a lifetime of watching our children grow and become adults with families. But life sometimes deals you the unexpected.
I was left to be the sole support of my three children. Frankly, I was terrified and I didn’t know if I could do it. I had no choice.
I’d lie awake at night thinking about bank accounts, credit cards, and the hockey skates I needed to buy my son.
I had started a new career in real estate and experienced a great couple of years when the market was booming. But then the crash hit and I was terrified all over again.
“Many struggle with beliefs about money.”
Around that time, I happened to see actor Will Smith interviewed by Oprah. She asked him if it felt good to be rich. He said something I didn’t expect… he said he still falls asleep worrying about money. Will Smith! Even Oprah was stunned. He said it’s what he learned as a child.
If Will Smith worries about money, then “worry” is really the enemy of our spirit. “Worry” is fear that is armed with old beliefs. Where did those beliefs begin? For Will, it was his childhood.
After watching that interview, I realized I felt the same way my entire life. Even though my parents were very young during the Great Depression, it left a “Great Impression” on them. They learned that money was scarce and hard to keep.
I remember my parents saying things like “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” or “We can’t afford that, we’re broke,” or “You’re sending me straight to the poor house.”
There were five children, I was the oldest, and because of that, I paved the way for needing things we couldn’t afford. I felt I was a financial burden.
Was it true? No. I grew up in Pebble Beach, California, one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, my father, and mother made a nice living, and we never went without, especially at Christmas.
But, the “old stories” of their poor house mentality were ever-present.
In fact, when I left home at 16 to join a touring musical show in New York, I had the conscious thought that it would help my parents because it was one less mouth to feed.
I don’t blame my parents… it’s what they were taught. My dad lost his father when he was 11. He became the “man of the house,” and had to sell eggs to help support the family. My mother had similar circumstances. My parents’ survival skills were learned at an early age, and that meant living with the belief that money doesn’t come easily, nor can it be trusted.
When the real estate market crashed in 2008, my fear kicked in. I dug up those old beliefs… “money doesn’t come easily,” “We’re just a step away from losing our house.”
Was it true? No. I had to put my fear aside and start believing in my capabilities of earning an income. Belief in myself.
“I vowed to break my chains around destructive beliefs about money.”
I vowed not to pass on this destructive money fear to my children. I wanted them to feel safe. I had to consciously take steps to change it.
I asked these questions:
- What are my current thoughts about money? Money doesn’t come easily. I can’t trust it.
- Where did this belief come from? My parents struggled through their youth with fear from the Great Depression.
- Was it true in my life? No. I have always found a way to pay the bills and provide for my family.
- How has the belief helped me? I am resourceful. I save money. I don’t have a lot of debt.
- How has this belief hindered me? Sometimes, I lie awake at night worried. I feel guilty when I buy something for myself. I’m ridiculously crazy about keeping utility costs down to the point of discomfort in the summer. I hated my relationship with money.
- Am I able to release the old belief by discharging it from its command? Yes, I am ready.
- What is my new belief and affirmation? Money comes abundantly to provide a wonderful life. I always have enough money because I am full of ideas to create and renew my life.
It’s not easy! I find myself easily going back to what was familiar.
I worked hard to get friendly with my finances, by learning my credit score, how much I needed to start saving every month, putting money into a retirement plan, and setting up additional streams of income. I diversified my real estate business and I was able to continue to provide for my family… in fact, I got my children through college.
“Be vigilant and aware of your beliefs. They often need a course correction.”
Once you’re aware of the chains, you’ll never be unaware when the behavior pops up again. I have to be vigilant. Those beliefs were planted deeply, but I turn to the new affirmation whenever I feel self-doubt.
I’m grateful Will Smith taught me there’s never an amount of money in the bank that will make you feel safe or happy because a number doesn’t have that power.
Once you start to clear out those old judgments and old ways of thinking, you’ll start to break the cocoon of fear, feeling free… and motivated.
Now, it’s your turn. Get a pen and paper…
- What is your chain? (around money, love, happiness, job, etc.)
- Where did the belief originate? (parents, job loss, circumstances)
- How has it worked for you?
- How has it worked against you?
- Are you ready to release the chain and start a new belief?
- Can you write a statement of your new belief?
- Congratulations. You’ve released the chain.
Close your eyes and imagine how good that will feel.
I had to work hard to break free of the chains in my life. At the time my husband died, I believed there was only one soul mate for a lifetime. But I was so young! I couldn’t imagine living without a partner for the rest of my life. I struggled with believing I’d never find true love again.
“Is it possible to have more than one love in a lifetime?”
In 2010, I received a message on Facebook from a man I had met when I was just 16. We were both in New York rehearsing for a musical show that would take us around the world. We split into two different casts and went on tour. I never saw him after that. But, it was that chance meeting that changed the destiny of my life, and his.
As I write this, I’m celebrating six years of marriage to the new love of my life. I discovered love is possible at any age. It was a gift from setting my beliefs free and being open to the possibility there can be more than one love in a lifetime. The chain I wear now is the one of beautiful love.
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**Previously published on Medium.com**