‘The map is not the territory.”
– Alfred Korzybski
Nobody sees the world as it truly is. We merely have maps. These maps can contain a lot of accurate information but they are not complete.
There’s always more you can learn, a new outlook to appreciate and areas that were once marked ‘hazardous’ can be explored as you push beyond your perceived limits. This is why it’s so important not to view your map as the territory. The day you believe you see the world as it truly is, or understand exactly how it works, is the day you stop growing.
Unfortunately, we live in a system where we’re constantly being told how the world is. The media, our teachers, parents, religious figures and politicians all express opinions on what constitutes reality. Because their voices are so prevalent, and they all tend to be reading from the same script (at least within national boarders or supranational constructs like ‘The Western World’ or ‘The Islamic World’ etc.), it becomes very difficult not to get sucked in.
Then, without even realizing it, you start accepting the world as it is presented to you. You believe that authority figures have it all worked out and what they decree as possible for your life (teachers telling you what your prospects will be beyond school, careers advisers telling you what is and isn’t possible in the world of work and religious figures telling you whether you will gain salvation or not) represents ‘The Truth’.
‘The Truth’ is a dangerous word. It means unchangeable, unchallengeable, fixed and the same today as it will be for the rest of time.
I hope you’re beginning to see why this is a problem?
If you are presented with a life that is totally inauthentic to you (for example; school, university, 9 to 5 job, working endless hours in a career you aren’t passionate about, retirement at 65 plus and then waiting for death) and are led to believe you have no other choice but to adapt and accept it, then, no matter how trapped you feel, you are not going to look for anything else.
Equally, if you’ve been led to believe that your failures are because you haven’t got a natural aptitude for a particular skill or you’re too old, or are naturally overweight etc., and you accept this as ‘The Truth’ about yourself and your abilities, then you are completely blocking the possibility of being able to learn and grow.
I hope the picture’s getting clearer.
What you believe about yourself and life will set the possibilities (and boundaries) for your existence.
I want your possibilities to be endless. I want you to have every opportunity to fulfil your potential and live as great a life as you can. But through my experiences as a hypnotherapist, author and coach, I know that won’t happen if you accept limiting beliefs about yourself and life as ‘The Truth’.
That’s why I created the following list of 10 beliefs you need to reject and 10 you need to adopt (with a few additional explanations where I felt necessary). Read them now and check if any are holding you back. If they are, search for a corresponding substitute from the ‘beliefs to adopt’ section and start making that outlook a part of your being.
10 Limiting Beliefs to Reject
- Only the exceptionally talented or lucky get to live extraordinary lives.
- You can’t be happy all the time.
Why not? Who says so? A more constructive belief is to see happiness as your natural state. Therefore, anything that blocks that feeling should be worked on and removed.
- The only person I can trust is myself.
- I am too old to live my dreams.
- I am too young and inexperienced to live my dreams.
- Authority figures know all the answers and we should do everything they say.
- No matter how hard you work, luck will determine most of your outcomes.
- Life is a struggle.
This is an important one. Most people believe life is a struggle and they project that mentality onto the people they meet. If you’re meeting a lot of people like that, and you’re dealing with some difficulties yourself, it becomes very hard not to adopt this belief. But life doesn’t have to be a struggle. It can be a game or a dance or an adventure.
- My race, class, nationality, sexuality and religion defines me.
Again, this is important. Identities impose restricting limits on your life. They can influence you to conform to certain ways of behaving and living. This is stifling for any human being. We can’t be contained by the colour of our skin or a strict religion. We are far too complex, colorful and multifaceted to be boxed in this way.
- I am limited by my upbringing and environment.
10 Life Enhancing Beliefs to Adopt
- The world is full of opportunity.
- Other people are trustworthy and willing to help.
- Everything and anything can change.
- I am always learning and getting stronger.
This is one of the greatest beliefs you can have. It doesn’t demand perfection, just progress. I bet that right now there is some action you can take to move your life forward, even if it’s tiny. Keep repeating it and your progress will be guaranteed.
- Life is a miracle.
- I am complete.
- I can be happy and have something interesting to do every single day of my life.
Why not? Don’t get fooled into thinking that working in very structured, routine and repetitive way is the only way to earn a living.
- I can be healthy my entire life.
- My working life can be fun and rewarding.
- There is a solution to every problem.
This is a great belief to have. It releases you from panic and desperation and allows you to calmly continue with your life until your solution arrives. And it will!
I hope this list has got you thinking. Are there some things you’ve mistakenly identified as ‘The Truth’ about yourself and life when, in fact, they are just beliefs?
And now that you’re aware that they are just beliefs, are you ready to adopt new and more empowering ones?
Making this shift will open up a world of possibilities for you. As your map enlarges, so does the list of things you can be and do.
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Joe Barnes is the creator of the Screw The System website and author of Escape The System Now. His mission is to give strength to all Dreamers, Adventurers and Entrepreneurs to pursue their true calling. He also works as a hypnotherapist and tennis coach.