Is your glass half empty or half full? Most of us aren’t hard-wired to see the positive side of things, to be grateful for what we have in our lives, the things we’ve accomplished, or to see how we add value to the lives of others. I’ll admit there was a time when it was very difficult to live in a state of gratitude for the things and people I had in my life. First world problems right? But it’s all relative. One woman’s needs may be very different from another, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant to her world and her emotional survival.
The Original “Comfort Zone”
Our Stone Age ancestors figured out how to make fire and spears, but they also passed down to us a deeply ingrained sense of lack and a fear of the unknown. You see, back then, Great-Great…Great times 1,000…Grandpa Urg, and Grandma Der and their clan were in ever present danger of being eaten by a tiger. There was always competition and a lack of something – food, water, shelter, etc.
Granted, food, water, shelter, and clothing are very important aspects of survival, and many people in the world today still live with actual lack. But when was the last time you were chased by a tiger or had a hard time finding enough food or water?
Thanks to Grandpa Urg and Grandma Der and all our other ancestors over the past few million years, we’re still hard-wired to think everything, everyone, and every situation are out to get us because that’s how we’ve survived. This is where our collective ‘playing it safe’ and avoidance of failure come from – we default to thinking something is wrong or something is missing; thoughts like “I don’t have enough money,” “I’m not motivated,” “I’m too fat,” “I’m unorganized, “I can’t trust anyone,” or “no one sticks up for me” seem to permeate our minds on a constant basis.
False/Negative/Limiting Beliefs Create Your Life Experience
We all have false beliefs that we created after a particular event, or reoccurring events, most likely when we were children without the context of life experience from which to draw – all the peaceful, loving lessons we’ve learned in safety, security, self-confidence, relationships, and communication. Now we’ve been practicing these false beliefs for so long that they’ve become who we think we are and this is simply out of habit. Habits can be broken. Habits can be changed for the better.
It’s important to remember that what you believe about yourself and your world forms your thoughts. What you think about yourself and your world will dictate the actions you take, the things you say to others, and the attitudes with which you carry yourself; so, ultimately, what you believe actually comes through in your attitude and is conveyed through body language and all the other non-verbal cues that make up most of our human communication. What you believe about yourself and the world around you is communicated to others whether you say it out loud or not?! Blam! Is your mind blown yet?
Let’s say, for example, that Sally has a false belief about not being able to trust people because in the 3rd grade a teacher picked on her. Imagine how this belief now comes out in Sally’s attitude. She may stand as far away from others as possible out in public, avoiding eye contact, frowning, eyebrows drawn together, arms folded across her chest. Is this someone you would want to approach? I bet Sally has a hard time making new friends or getting ahead in life.
Recognizing And Overcoming Negative Beliefs
It’s time to change the habit of false beliefs you’ve created over a lifetime that have been holding you back from things you want to accomplish and relationships you want to strengthen, or even from your own inner peace. If you could go back in time and transfer all the peaceful, loving lessons you’ve learned through life experience to the child version of you at the time of the event that caused you to form that negative belief, do you think you would have created the belief in the first place?
Wouldn’t it be better to hand pick the way you are being now? You can create what you think, say, believe, your attitude and your actions. Why not focus on abundance, joy, happiness, health, and creativity?
Practice Gratitude Daily
“Ah, but what about when life gives you lemons?” you might be wondering. It may be outside of the realm of traditional thinking to look at the positive in extremely sad or difficult times; but when you are facing the biggest of obstacles or fears, this is actually the best time for gratitude. In those difficult moments, thinking about areas in our life where we do have abundance, love, health, and joy, helps us to not feel so stuck, sad or terrified. It actually helps us to get unstuck, to see whatever the situation is in a way that makes us feel calmer and helps us to open up to thinking outside of the box for answers. Not only that, but when we recognize what we have to be grateful for, we can improve our health and relationships and lessen our need for always wanting more stuff to fill imaginary voids. We can use gratitude as a way to manage stress and feel more peace and calm in our lives.
Since we aren’t hardwired to live in a state of gratitude, this is a skill that will require practice. Make it a point to practice gratitude daily. With a gratitude journal you can write down all the things or people you are grateful for having in your life, valuable lessons you’ve learned from them, things you’ve accomplished, and areas in which you bring value into the lives of others. You can then go back and look at what you’ve written on difficult days and you may find your day becomes easier.
With daily practice of bringing your awareness to all the things (big and small) that you have to be grateful for, you’ll find that gratitude will come easier and more natural to your thinking, speech, attitudes, and action. Practice being positive, loving, giving, and grateful rather than practicing negative/false beliefs about yourself or your world. You may find the negative beliefs about yourself and your world to change for the better and naturally more inner peace will follow.
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