The Beliefs We Hold

The beliefs that we hold about ourselves shape our choices and our lives.

If I believe I cannot do a thing or be a thing, the chances are, unless I am willing to challenge the belief I hold about myself, my assumption is likely to be correct – and I cannot do it or be it, because our thoughts impact how we feel and how we act.

‘Beliefs are just thoughts that we keep on thinking’!

We have the choice to examine the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and challenge the beliefs that are preventing us from living the life that we would choose for ourselves alternatively, we can choose not to.

The Choices We Make

Widely accepted, but seldom applied is the understanding that each of us are responsible for our actions, and we each live with the consequences of the choices that we make. It is important to recognise that the choices we make, given the information we have available to us at the time, and to the best of our capabilities –  result as often as is possible, in outcomes that we are comfortable with or at the very least – outcomes that we can live with.

While the law recognise’s that people under a certain age are not accountable for decisions influenced by others (adults), having knowledge of this fact, does not stop the negative emotions of shame and guilt that a person carries within themselves for the badly thought-out decisions that they have made as young people; Decisions that have led to outcomes, that they have later come to regret. People often carry the weight of regret, shame and guilt for bad choices way into adulthood – knocking their confidence and self esteem; informing their future choices and shaping their adult lives.

Resolving these negative emotions within ourselves is an important part of the healing process.

Consider this: If I ask you which do you prefer Tea or Coffee? Chances are, you will find it easy to answer the question with minimum effort, automatic even – because you know what you like and don’t like. You may choose Coffee, because you don’t like Tea, or visa versa. You may choose neither – preferring a cold drink instead, or nothing at all because you’re not thirsty, or you’ve recently had a drink. The point I’m making is, you know what you prefer intuitively and whichever choice you make in that moment, is undoubtedly the right choice for you.

The problem which decision making arises when our judgement is clouded or our choices are influenced by another/others. Sometimes because others imagine they know what is best for us, and sometimes,  not necessarily because the other person is intentionally influencing our decisions, but because we are choosing to put another persons beliefs, opinions and  preferences before our own, maybe because we care about them and don’t want to upset or offend them, maybe through fear of rejection or criticism, or for other reasons, but whatever it is, it is still a decision that ‘we;, are making and that we will live with the consequences of.

To give a lived experience example;

In a previous relationship, many years ago now, my new partner initially presented as ‘the perfect mate’. He appeared funny, kind, attentive,  intelligent and for want of a better word ‘really cool’. All the things I thought at the time were important qualities in a partner. I was impressed, because I was anything but cool, and I couldn’t really understand why someone as ‘cool’ as he was would be interested in someone as uncool and ‘straight laced as me. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but this kind of thinking came from my own lack of self worth. I also wasn’t aware at the time, that a failure to recognise and address my own lack of self-worth, meant I was likely to keep revisiting the same situations; Different faces, different places – always the same outcome!

Not long into the relationship, he came to my house and I was listening to pop music, belting out the words to one of my favourite songs; Erasers ‘We’ll be together again’, while hoovering the living room carpet. “You’re not into that shite are you?” he said, turning the volume down on the ‘Ghetto Blaster’. Embarrassed by my preference, and fearful that my ‘uncoolness’ would be revealed,  I immediately responded with “No, not at all – it just came on, I don’t usually listen to ‘shite like this”!  I never listened to that song, or any kind of popular music that I had previously enjoyed, again during the relationship. However, when asked if I liked the heavy metal music that was his preference, I felt unable to say No, even though, the truth was, I absolutely detested it. It gave me a banging headache, but instead of saying what I truly felt,  I fluffed around the question so not to appear ‘uncool, unintelligent or different to him. I also didn’t want to offend him with my honesty, so I skated around the question with things like; I’ve never really listened to it – to be honest! – I don’t dislike it, it’s pretty good” Complete tripe! I convinced myself I was being a  ‘nice’ person, being considerate – making compromises – rubbish, I was lying to myself, compromising myself because I was afraid of being rejected by someone I had feelings for. For the duration of the relationship, I kept up this ridiculous pretense of ‘not minding‘ listening to the awful din that was his music choice and avoided listening to anything that he might consider ‘popular’.

It began with music, but it quickly spread into every aspect of life. The clothes I wore, the food I ate, the company I kept, even my values and beliefs.

It wasn’t long before I lost sight of who I was and the things I preferred. I felt as though I was disappearing behind this other person until I was completely overshadowed and no longer valid, I eventually lost sight of myself.

The guy was not cool in reality,  he was incredibly violent and abusive. I eventually left the relationship after a particularly violent attack when he knocked me to the floor, held me down, and squeezed my throat with both hands until I passed out. It is by the Grace of God that I am here today to share my experiences with you.

The Responsibility We Take

For many years I was able to confidently say ‘None of it was not my fault’! He was the problem.  But after the third, ( not always violent, but always controlling and/or abusive), I had to face up and accept that I had a part to ” play in the things that were happening to me. I was the common denominator, leaving me no choice but to ask of myself ‘What is it about me always leads me to here?” I embarked on a journey of self discovery that would change me and my life for ever for the better. (feel free to request these self discovery exercises and I will happily email them to you)

How you Feel, matters. How you think informs how you feel and how you behave. All to often we leave ourselves out of the judging and blame others for the unhappiness in our lives.

I came to understand that I am not responsible for the violent, abusive behaviour of another. As we said in the opening sentence, ‘We are each responsible for our own actions, we own our behaviour and live the consequences of our choices.

We cannot control the actions of another person no matter how much we may want to or how hard we try. We can however choose how we respond to the actions of others. We always have a choice!

We can come to understand how and when we give away our power to others. How and when we allow our choices, opinions and values to be overshadowed and over ridden by another. We can learn how not to do these things, and how to stand in our power, exercise our rights – or not!

We can learn how to challenge the beliefs we hold about ourselves, we can consider the words we use to describe ourselves, we can choose to change if we wish.  We can choose to become more assertive and learn how to exercise our rights or we can choose to always point the finger and choose to continue on the path that we are on.

If you are experiencing negative emotions, it is very likely that you are going against yourself in some way, you may be ignoring your internal sat-nav that is alerting you to a problem. You may be doubting yourself, questioning yourself, or choosing to ignore yourself because you don’t want to face what listening to yourself means for you.  After 30 years of searching for answers,   I only found one way forward from this place of angst and confusion – and that is self-discovery! Looking within –  the answers are within us –  look within – know thyself!