3 Unconscious Beliefs that Limit Your Growth & Joy
Unconscious beliefs are fascinating. As humans, we can believe things and not even know that we hold those beliefs. These unconscious beliefs can operate in the shadows of our lives, stealing our joy and limiting our growth.
In this edition of the “Monday inSight Letter,” I’d like to share with you 3 beliefs I had, that I didn’t know I had, that were severely holding me back.
Unconscious Belief 1: How I see life, is the way life is
This belief runs deep, and even though I might see how untrue it is and how much I've grown to unravel it, it still tries to operate below the surface.
The premise of this belief assumes that what I see in life, in others, and in myself reflects the truth of what's really there. If I see something as negative, then I believe that “it is” negative; the same goes for positive.
This applies to “meaning” as well. If I look at anything (person, place, or thing), my mind gives it a meaning or tells a story, and the belief assumes that my meaning or story is an accurate reflection of reality.
The fundamental discovery here, which I often talk about, is the realization that I am not experiencing something “out there” (life, others, or the self I think I am). Instead, I am experiencing my perception of those things.
I am experiencing my creation of those things.
If I'm watching a movie, I might assume that I'm experiencing the movie. However, in reality, I'm experiencing my own creation of meaning – my interpretations and subsequent beliefs based on those interpretations.
With this false assumption (belief), it leads me to blame whatever experience I’m having (positive or negative) on the movie.
Now, here’s weird it gets weird and problematic.
Whether the experience is positive or negative, believing that my experience is determined by something “out there,” gives it a power over me that it doesn’t really have.
If I think another person is making me feel a certain negative way, my blame becomes fearful of them; assuming they have power over me.
Likewise, if I think another person is making me feel a certain way, positively, my blame becomes attached to them. I cling to them, assuming they have power over me.
This isn’t an issue about what you should or shouldn’t believe, this is much more about “what’s really true.” You’re free to believe whatever you want to believe, but the question is, “how close are your beliefs to what is actually true.”
Separated from Power
The limitations that arise from this unconscious belief are that it constantly puts the power of your experience in the hands of something you are separate from (a person, place, or thing).
For myself, this is a “holy shit” kind of moment.
I am being invited to be still and deeply question what I am experiencing. Additionally, I am being invited to release the world, so to speak. There is a genuine invitation to return to reality and recognize that my limitations are only determined by my perspective and the beliefs that I hold – beliefs that may be backwards and irrational.
Unconscious Belief 2: My emotions tell me what’s true
Building upon the first unconscious belief, the second unconscious belief is all about what I believe about my emotions.
The mind is constantly trying to make sense of things. It does this by telling stories, which is like trying to put the pieces together in a way that makes sense. If we can make sense of it, we can then do something about it in some way.
However, if our sense-making is not aligned with what's true, then our attempts to do something about it are like wrestling a dream. We expend a lot of energy thinking we are doing something, but nothing is happening. This is also like saying no real progress is being made.
Imagine sitting down to play a board game with a friend. It's a game you haven't played before, but it looks similar to other games you've played. You think, “oh, I played games like this before, let’s dive and start playing.”
If you try to play this game without understanding its rules and instead rely on assumptions based on previous games you've played, you're likely to encounter frustrating limitations.
Similarly, in our attempts to navigate the game of life (being human), we make numerous false assumptions about the rules. These assumptions lead us to encounter limitations, which we then attribute to life itself, rather than recognizing that they are a reflection of our incorrect understanding of the rules.
The Emotion Rule:
My emotions are not telling me what's true about life, others, or me; they are showing me the beliefs and assumptions that I am carrying within myself.
If I believe that my emotions are telling me what’s true, this adds to the fuel of blaming the world for my emotional experience. If my emotions are saying that I hate someone, then the belief in that assumption gives the other person power over my emotional experience. “I’m experiencing this unpleasant energy of hate, because of the other person.”
The way this has transformed my personal experience is by first transforming my relationship with emotions. I increasingly recognize that every emotional experience is actually trying to support my human journey. Less and less, I perceive any emotion as being against me or in my way.
I become more available to see the emotion as a teacher, rather than an enemy. Naturally, if I see it as an enemy, I push the emotion away, which also pushes away the learning opportunity.
Of course, this is what I've spent most of my life doing: pushing emotions away. But in doing so, I've also pushed away life itself, and missed out on countless opportunities to learn and grow. This leaves me in a constant state of limitation, and I wonder why I'm not growing.
- Negative Emotions: What I’m feeling is inviting me to see where my beliefs about myself, others, and life, are not in alignment with what is real and true.
- Positive Emotions: This positive emotion is the result of seeing/perceiving myself as whole and complete (which is closer to what’s true). It’s not the result of what is happening in my life or in the world.
Unconscious Belief 3: I’m entitled to what I want
This is a BIG ONE, for me at least. For so many years of my life, I assumed that what I wanted should be given to me easily or should just happen without any effort.
As my beliefs about entitlement clashed with the realities of life, I began to feel resentment towards life, others, and even myself. I used to think that life and other people were keeping something vital from me.
Here’s the tough-hard truth of the matter:
- If I want to experience something, then I have to grow up – into that experience.
The experience I deserve to have, is the experience I have grown into. If I am having the experience I’m having, then… I deserve that experience.
If I’m having a shitty relationship experience, which is also to allow myself to have a shitty relationship experience, then I deserve that experience. Furthermore, and importantly, if I turn that shitty relationship experience into a powerful growth opportunity, then… I deserve that growth opportunity.
If I’m painfully struggling in my attempts to create a meaningful and profitable business, then… I deserve that painful struggle. If I’m looking at that struggle as an opportunity to learn and grow, then I deserve the growth that comes with it.
In an interesting way, I have the experience I think I am deserving of. If I don’t have the experience, then I haven’t yet grown into understanding how I am deserving of it.
Before we jump to “deserving the end result” of what we’d like to experience, maybe we can question… if we see ourselves as deserving of the lessons to get there.
Don’t Fool Yourself
I say this from painful experience, and also I’m just talking to myself:
“Don’t fool yourself, Tiger; growing into the experiences you would like to have is not a free and smooth ride. If you’re going to GROW, you’re going to have to face your fears and make some difficult decisions that stretch beyond your current comfort zone.”
In my previous and current fears, there is a tendency to downplay the sincerity of what I want to experience because… I fear the reality of having to face my fears if I am going to grow into that experience.
Maybe you can relate to that?
I think this is what tends to fuel a sense of entitlement. On one hand, there is the unavoidable sincerity of what we would like to experience (what we want), and then there is the fear of growing up into the space that would deserve it.
The sense of entitlement can be a strategy to avoid growth and face fears. It involves demanding that the world give you what you want instead of embracing the challenges that come with deserving the desired experience.
I have two options here, for moving beyond this limiting belief about entitlement.
- 🤔 Option 1: Fully acknowledge the sincerity of what I desire to experience and embrace the reality of how challenging that might be. Then, question honestly if I am up for that challenge, while also being honest about the long-term consequences of not growing in that area of my life.
- 🤮 Option 2: Keep pretending that I don't desire to experience what I actually desire to experience. Pretend it's about something apart from “I'm afraid of growing through facing my fears,” and then blame other people and the world for not having the experiences I'd like to have.
In Conclusion & Honorable Mentions
These (above) are just three common and unconscious limiting beliefs that limit the human experience. Here are some others that you might relate to…
Here are 7 other common unconscious beliefs that can limit the human experience:
- My worth is based on my achievements
- I am not good enough as I am
- I have no control over my life.
- Change is scary and should be avoided
- It is not safe to trust others
- I must always put others' needs before my own
- I am defined by my past and cannot change
- Perfect is better than good, and good is better than bad (bad is a good teacher, and good is a path toward better)
My hope here is not that you become discouraged by what might seem to be an overwhelming number of unconscious and limiting beliefs.
My intention in exposing these limiting beliefs is to reveal the opportunities they point towards. Again, all unconscious limiting beliefs, in some way, give away your power. If we can start making tiny adjustments, improvements, and clarifications, then you can start to regain your power – bit by bit, step by step.
For myself, if I take moments to reflect on these things, then the landscape of life becomes so much more playful in nature. It's like, “Oh! Wait! This is an adventure. I'm on an epic journey to learn and grow. What I'm learning and growing into is some sort of discovery that shows just how deeply connected I am to everything I experience!”