You already know that your beliefs shape your perspective on life. That much is clear.
But how do you know if your beliefs are accurate? Or even worse, how do you know they’re not negatively affecting your life?
I’m 29 now, and when I look back at what I believed in my early 20s, I’m shocked at how useless and limiting those beliefs were.
And the worst thing is, those beliefs were a lot different from reality.
So today, I’m going to go over 5 common, toxic beliefs we need to get rid of.
1) Once I achieve XYZ goal, I’ll be happy
Don’t get me wrong, goals are important to live a fulfilling and purposeful life. But many of us think we’ll only find happiness once we achieve those goals.
But if we have this belief, we can’t fully enjoy the present moment. We can’t enjoy the journey.
If we want to be happy, it’s crucial that we find peace in the present moment while we’re working towards something bigger than ourselves.
Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh says it best. He says that planning for “future conditions of happiness” thwarts us from enjoying the now:
“Deep down, we believe we can’t really be happy just yet—that we still have a few more boxes to be checked off before we can really enjoy life. We speculate, dream, strategize, and plan for these “conditions of happiness” we want to have in the future; and we continually chase after that future, even while we sleep. We may have fears about the future because we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and these worries and anxieties keep us from enjoying being here now.”
“If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone. You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. “
2) Negative emotions are bad
Thanks to the popularity of the “positive thinking movement”, this is a common belief.
The trouble is that when we experience emotions like anxiety, fear or sadness, we ignore them. This doesn’t mean they go away, though. Instead, they get stronger.
But If we can embrace our darker emotions, we can learn to accept them rather than running away from them. And through acceptance, they become weaker.
According to Buddhist master Pema Chödrön, negative emotions are also excellent teachers about what we’re experiencing in life:
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
3) It’s too late to make change
Everything flows. This was apparently coined by Heraclitus 3,000 years ago. He believed that the only constant is change.
Most of us would agree with this belief. The world changes every day in so many different ways.
Despite this, we have a tendency to freeze-frame our self and our situations.
But this simply isn’t the case. Just like the universe, we ourselves are also always changing. The plasticity of the brain is proof. And every moment is an opportunity to change who we are and our circumstances in life.
Rhonda Byrne offers some wonderful words of wisdom in relation to this: “Every single second is an opportunity to change your life because in any moment you can change the way you feel.”
4) We should always strive for perfection
Always seeking perfection is a surefire way to not getting anything done. It’s also a definite way to experience failure.
No matter how hard you’ll try, you’ll never achieve perfection. When you’re learning, you won’t get there right away and when you’re a pro, you’ll realize how much more there is to learn.
A better strategy is to always try your best and not worry about perfection.
Buddhist Master Peme Chodron offers some great advice: “Don’t worry about perfection. Just be there each moment as best you can.”
5) What everyone does to you is personal
When we take things personally, we give too much power to certain individuals than they should be allowed to have.
But most of the time, it’s not about you at all. It’s about them and their own perceptions projected onto you. In fact, it’s almost always about them, their issues, their needs and their desire to control.
Give yourself space between you and your reactions and understand no one can you make feel a certain way. You’re in control of how you perceive the world.
Miguel Ruiz says it best:
“Don’t take anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”