In search for ourselves, we often discover that we haven’t known who we are for a very long time, sometimes as far back as childhood. Although the search for meaning and the essence of oneself is harder in society where we have become disconnected from families and relationships, the discovery may reveal that we truly never knew what was important to us, never having learned the skills for putting our needs to the forefront. Through years of assisting individuals and groups to find their essence, the missing ingredient almost always seems to be a positive connection to oneself, which directly affects the ability to relate to others and to a healthy belief in something greater than ourselves, or a Supreme Being.
Some experts suggest that letting go of negative beliefs can happen simply by changing behaviors. I call this the “Monday morning diet syndrome”, or going on the same diet every Monday morning, only to go off of it by Tuesday. Certainly working to change behavior helps, but many times we slip back into our old behavior after a period of time. I suggest the following steps to begin to give up old beliefs:
- 1. ACKNOWLEDGE PAST LOSSES – None of us had the perfect situation during our early years. It is important for us to get past our denial and stop protecting our source relationships. On the other hand, blaming our past will not help us get where we want to be. We have to be accountable for our own happiness and misery. Blame is a defense and part of denial.
- 2. ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL – Much negative behavior is an effort to avoid feeling fear, inadequacy, guilt, and other emotional states, which we have labeled negative and don’t want to feel. To counter this we must be willing to feel “through” the feeling.no when you need to and being willing to feel the accompanying guilt or fear of disapproval is a powerful way to reverse negative beliefs.
- 3. IDENTIFY YOUR NEGATIVE BELIEFS – Most of us have three or four core beliefs that drive the behaviors we most want to change. If we can identify them, we can begin to see which behaviors and feelings may be attached to them.
- 4. DEVELOP A SUPPORT NETWORK – No one heals alone. To improve on all accounts we must learn to share our deepest self with others. Love can only come through our willingness to share ourselves.
- 5. HONOR YOUR PHYSICAL BEING – Early in the phases of stress and burnout, our bodies will begin to talk to us. Learn to listen! Take your body back through exercise, quiet time, meditation, healthy eating and stress reduction.
- 6. LET THE CHILD WITHIN YOU OUT – The child within us never goes away, and never loses the need for love, nurturing, attention and play.
- 7. HAVE A SPIRITUAL PROGRAM – Our concept of a power greater than us from childhood may not work for us as adults. Many individuals have to reframe this concept as they begin to grow and find themselves.
- 8. ABOVE ALL, BE HUMAN – Allow yourself the privilege of making mistakes, expressing your humanness, and forgiving yourself. Nothing is more powerful than forgiving ourselves and nothing is more healing. Be patient with yourself. Small increments of change are how most people do it.
Dell deBerardinis, M.S., speaker, author and psychotherapist