The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
In therapy, a common practice is to help clients challenge their mistaken or limiting beliefs. Growing up, we all develp a set of beliefs that help us make sense of the world around us. We understand ourselves by the way those most important to us treat us. We understand other people and how relationships work by observing and participating in our own family dynamics. We also can learn some behaviors that help us to survive in a challenging or threatening environment. Some beliefs limit us and confine us to ways of being that may have helped us survive childhood but do not serve us well in adulthood. Some beliefs have us defining ourselves mistakenly in ways we never think to challenge or outgrow.
Some of the common mistaken or limiting beliefs I’ve observed in my work-
“I need to be small and silent”
“I need to be perfect”
“Other people have more value than I do”
“It’s my job to entertain everyone”
“It’s my job to take care of and protect everyone”
“It’s my job to carry the problems of the family”
“If people get too close, they will always hurt you”
“I don’t matter much”
“I matter more than anyone else”
"I must stay in control of everything and everyone in my life in order to be safe and ok"
Maybe you hold some of these, perhaps you carry other limiting beliefs that keep you from living an abundant life.
When we agree that these faulty beliefs are true, we form thoughts and behaviors to reinforce them. Even the lens through which we look at the world tends to reinforce and validate these beliefs.
Therapists encourages people to challenge those beliefs and to replace mistaken beliefs with truth.
That sounds easy enough doesn't it? Given that these beliefs often cost us in terms of life and relationship satisfaction. It seems that adopting new healthy beliefs would be fully welcome.
…except for the fact that living from the beliefs we adopt in our early years tend to be where we feel most comfortable. They can actually start to form our identity, we feel lost without them And if the beliefs kept us safe from harm, replacing them could seem downright dangerous. Many people experience various degrees of anxiety when replacing unhealthy beliefs with healthy ones. And that is because another belief that is often adopted is “the devil that is known is better than the devil that is unknown” And therefore many people feel much more at ease knowing what to expect (even if it hurts us) rather than breaking free from the pain that the belief causes them
Friends, we are made for so much more than this. I believe that when Jesus came to set the captives free, and to rescue those from the pit, to break chains and bring freedom from oppression, that often, the pit, the chains, the things that enslave us most are the things we create and maintain for ourselves in terms of our wrong beliefs and living out of those beliefs day by day, moment by moment.
Challenging those beliefs is not easy. All of our habits, our thoughts and ways of being are like well worn groove in our brain. The way we know how to keep our nervous system in check is to do what is familiar. Challenging what we believe to be true can often stir up all kinds fear and anxiety. But I encourage people to anticipate the feelings of anxiety, the difficulty of changing habits as if we are treading new territory in our brains forging new paths, where weeds and bramble and obstacles have taken over. The old well worn paths are so much easier to go down we just slide down them without much effort. But if we can visualize being a pioneer creating a new path we can better accept the challenges. We need to gather our resources and supportive people around us (these are our community and our tools) And we need to use those tools and support to carve out new paths and to go down those paths over and over again until new beliefs take root and the old ways deterioate with lack of use so that those old ways become more difficult and less desirable paths to take. It takes patience, gentleness and grace, courage, and above all it take a willingness to persist. Above all, we need to adopt and live from a new belief, a belief based in truth-With God all things are possible.
After several months off, I'm back with Five Minute Friday. A writing challege to write for five minutes on a given one word prompt. This weeks prompt was persist.