Welcome to 2016! What kind of year are you hoping for? What changes are you cultivating as we make the transition to another precious year of life on planet Earth?
It seems like just about everyone is cooking up new plans and dreams. New Year’s resolutions have fallen out of fashion a bit, but you might have already chosen your Word of the Year for 2016, or set some intentions or updated your core desired feelings.
Take a look at what you’re wanting for this next year, what you’re most longing to do or feel or experience. How would your life be different if your desires came true? Is the area you’re most wanting to change one that seems to be a recurring challenge year after year?
If you do have a desire that never seems to come true, it could be time to dig deeper. There are many practices you can use to bring your dreams to life from visualization to affirmations to mapping out the steps to your goals. These are all valuable tools. However, if you only do these things on a surface level, without going deep, you might not get anywhere. Obstacles will continue to arise and you’ll find yourself back in the same place on the eve of 2017 wishing that you’d finally been able to make that big change.
The problem is that you have a core belief that contradicts your desire for change. Core beliefs are your most deeply held understandings of life. They are not objective truth, but rather a subjective way of looking at the world. Often you began to believe them in childhood, adopting them wholesale from your parents or teachers or peers. You never questioned them because it never occurred to you to do so.
A belief, as Abraham often repeats, is just a thought that you keep thinking.
Your core beliefs are so ingrained, so long a part of your basic ways of thinking, that you don’t even notice them anymore. As you change and grow you take on new core beliefs. You come to believe that kindness is more valuable than being right, or that you deserve to be loved. Yet these new beliefs often contradict the ones that lie deep under the surface. This can keep you stuck when you’re trying to create positive change.
In our culture we’re not taught to go deep or to examine our assumptions. We forget that in order to create deep and meaningful change it’s important to question our own perspective.
When you examine your core beliefs, really digging deep and excavating them, you’ll begin to see the obstacles you’ve placed in the way of your own success. One way to do go deeper is to look closely at your actions and choices in connection with an area that’s challenging for you and uncover what kind of belief causes your behavior.
Here’s an example. Say you’re having trouble with managing your time. You’re feeling stressed, bouncing from one task to another with a seemingly never-ending to-do list. You’ve tried organizing yourself with a new day planner, setting intentions and letting go of old commitments. But it just doesn’t seem to stick.
Take a look at the language you’re using on a regular basis. Are you always complaining about your tight schedule? Do you speak of yourself as “just so busy?” Do you lament not being an organized person?
What about your actions? Look at those next. You’ve set an intention to take some down time, but does it ever actually happen? Do you say yes to family and friends asking for help even while you’re resenting more claims on your time? Do you ask for help yourself when you need it?
Once you’ve taken a deeper look at your words and actions, examine where your attitudes toward time management came from. Were your parents always busy and on-the-go? Was it a mark of pride in college or as a young professional to be busier-than-thou? Do you believe that being a good parent, spouse or employee means constantly working? Or that you can’t “have it all” no matter how hard you try?
Sit in stillness and look back at your life trying to spot the point at which you accepted the mantle of stress and chaotic days. Maybe you were a creative kid who had trouble managing her time between homework and after-school activities. If your family gave you the label of “the unorganized one,” you might have accepted it unconsciously. Is this old belief still true after all these years, or can you make a choice to let it go? Even if you believe it’s true, once you’ve dug down to the underlying belief and its origin, it becomes easier to see it clearly and make the changes you desire.
When you’re able to see your deeply held belief and where it came from, you can detach from it emotionally. Your self-worth isn’t based on whether or not you can accomplish a certain number of things in a day. Organization is a skill, one that you can learn and practice. You don’t need to keep beating yourself up for not knowing it yet; and now that you see the obstacle, you can decide to let it go.
This process works for any number of life’s challenges: relationships, money, career, family, body image. Where do you feel stuck? Pick one area where you’ve longed for real change but haven’t seemed to get anywhere and start delving into the trail of beliefs that got you where you are today. Journal about it, discuss it with a trusted friend or simply take some quiet time for musing by yourself.
Core beliefs are the often-unseen foundation upon which we build our lives; but the good news is, you can renovate that foundation. Try foregoing lists of resolutions or goals, and instead take some time as 2016 begins to dive deep into the beliefs that are holding you back. See them clearly, let go of feeling bad and choose to update your beliefs. It’s intense work, but so worth the effort.