When my husband and I are on vacation we like to browse the gift shops and read the bumper stickers, t-shirts and fridge magnets. There’s a lot of insightful, not to mention funny slogans on them, believe it or not. Many of them have good advice. They’re what I call, “fridge magnet philosophy.”
One time we saw a plaque that said, “Don’t believe everything you think!” The minute I saw it I had to chuckle to myself because I knew it to be true and I knew it to be one of my weaknesses. Not anymore, but this was quite a few years ago.
It Doesn’t Mean It’s True
Our mind is full of clutter. If you ever stop to listen to it, OMG! There can be a lot of crazy talk going on in there! If you’re upset about something or going through a tough time it can be very tempting to start believing your thoughts.
Just because you think it, does not mean it’s true. Let that be your mantra. Repeat after me, “Just because I think it, does not mean it’s true.”
It’s just a story.
We tell ourselves what really are a bunch of lies.
Our thoughts reflect our beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts we’ve had for a while that are stored in our subconscious. We don’t go around thinking about or examining our beliefs on a daily basis, but we do think all day long. Our thoughts come from our beliefs.
For example, your boss is riding you at work, asking you all day long if you’ll finish your project on time. Other than having a few choice thoughts about his comments, you could possibly also be thinking things like, “I don’t know why I ever took this job, I can’t do it! or “I’m a fool to think I am capable of this” or maybe even a bit more extreme, “What the heck am I doing here? I’m a fraud!’
Ok, maybe your boss or a previous boss or your parents gave you those messages originally, but who’s thinking them now?
No One is the Expert on You Except You
Just because they told you that you’re incapable, incompetent, irresponsible, unlovable, fill in the blank with any other negative adjective, doesn’t mean it’s true!
Did you hear that?
Just because someone else told you something about yourself does not make it true.
I’m not talking about things that possibly are true. If you’re late to work every day and your boss comments on that, well, in that case he’s right. That’s an accurate observation of your behavior.
What about the rest of the things you’ve been told over the years? You’re not unlovable, no one is. How about incompetent? Sometimes we are in over our head. If that’s the case, fix it. Get some training, google resources. Do what you have to do to “up” your competence level. Then that belief is no longer true.
Parents Are Often Wrong
The most damaging ones are the untrue ones. Usually they start with our parents because that’s where we get our initial beliefs. Since they’re our parents we don’t question their authority. Because they said it, it must be true. No, that’s really not the case most of the time.
Many parents give us messages such as, “You’re stupid!” or “You’ll never amount to anything!” or “You’ll never get a good job!” or “You can’t do it!” etc. etc. etc. If I didn’t list one your parents said to you, I bet you can think of it in about five seconds or less. That’s how powerful beliefs are that our parents gave to us.
And most of them aren’t true.
Why our parents say the things they do depends on the parent. Many times, they are said out of frustration, anger, jealousy or their own feelings of unworthiness. When you consider the reason your parents may have said it, it’s so much easier to see it’s not true. If they are angry at you and yell that you’re no good, more than likely it’s because they can’t express their anger in a healthy way. It really has nothing to do with you as a person. Maybe your behavior wasn’t so great, but behavior isn’t the person.
Separate the Person from the Behavior
When my son was younger and I would get upset with him sometimes he’d come back with, “I guess you don’t love me.” My answer was always the same. “No, I love you very much. I just don’t care for your behavior right now.” It’s important to be clear with children so they see it’s their behavior you’re upset with, not them as a valuable person. Many parents don’t do that. My dad didn’t. When he was mad at you, he let his anger rip. There was no telling what came out of his mouth. It took me many years to de-bunk all the “lies” he told me about myself.
Just because you think something about yourself doesn’t mean it’s true. Same with beliefs. Just because you believe something about yourself, doesn’t mean it’s true (except the good ones, of course!). Remember, most beliefs started with our parents. Most parents don’t know how to handle their anger or disappointment. Nor do they know how to distinguish between being upset with your behavior vs who you are as a person. There is a huge difference.
That’s why name-calling is so damaging. If your parents called you stupid for the first eighteen years of your life, what are you going to believe? Most of us will take on that belief. Even people who do the opposite of what their parents said or did still harbor some of those old beliefs. Since we don’t “think” about our beliefs on a regular basis, they turn into subconscious programs. As such, they’re still there until you consciously identify and eliminate them.
Which is why you shouldn’t believe everything you think and believe about yourself.
Your Thoughts Define Your World
When your life isn’t going well it’s one or both of two things. Your thoughts and beliefs. You can think positively, but if there are underlying, unaddressed negative beliefs, your life can go down a path you’d prefer it not to. If you think and believe negatively, well, need I say more? It’s time to address those beliefs that are causing the negative thoughts.
The first step, then, to having a successful life is to examine what you’re thinking about yourself. Then drill down further and look for the underlying belief. If it’s a negative belief, ask yourself if it’s really true. If it’s an old one from your parents calling you stupid, chances are very good you are not stupid. You can let that one go.
If You Lack Skills, Get Them
If it’s a specific belief such as, “I’m no good with money,” ask yourself if that’s true. Some of us aren’t. That’s ok, there’s a thing called Google. You can google answers to your finance questions. You can hire someone, you can talk to a friend who’s good with money.
Follow the bread crumb trail of your beliefs. If your parents gave you negative beliefs, many of them probably aren’t true. If some of them are, address them. If you gave yourself a negative belief such as the one above, it’s not so much a belief as it is a fact. Fix it.
When I first started my business, I didn’t know much about accounting. I could’ve told myself how I’m so stupid, I don’t get it, I can’t do it etc. Instead, I got help. I hired an accountant to set up Quickbooks for me and teach me the basics. There’s no shame in that. If you’re going to run a business, unless you’re paying someone to do the books, you need to know how to manage the money. Even if you have help, I would advise understanding it because it is your business.
Bottom line is, the fridge magnets are right: Don’t believe everything you think – or believe!
Some are worth keeping, some need fixing, most need eliminating.