Letting go of false beliefs. I heard once that to become who we are we have to let go of who we are not. Like most clever sayings, it is easier said than done.
Gabriel Marchel, in his book Being and Having, laments that our society teaches us how to hold onto and to possess, when it should be teaching us how to let go. We will never live richer, more authentic, lives until we do, because most of us are stuck in old belief systems that seldom get us what we really want.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know when to let go. Lecturer, author, and counselor Penny Peirce suggests taking a closer look when we:
• Are confused.
• Are depressed.
• Have no sense of direction.
• Have run out of motivation.
• Don’t like ourselves.
• Feel a sense of urgency all the time.
• Are ahead of ourselves and others.
• Are overwhelmed and overcrowded.
• Are procrastinating.
• Are spending time in the past.
• Are trying too hard.
• Feel no one seems to hear or see us.
• Find little of interest.
• Have no confidence.
• Feel things aren’t fun anymore.
• Expect results too soon.
• Are compulsive.
• Are sure the answer lies in thinking or doing more, better, or differently.
After seeing myself in more than several of Penny Peirce’s guidelines, I listed those belief systems that no longer serve me. Within minutes, my list had grown to ten. I then selected three “biggies” on which to focus my work:
- “Doing is better than being.”
- “I am not enough.”
- “There is not enough.”
I was ready to begin letting go, and to do it I committed to a simple three-step process:
One: Recognize when I am reacting to outdated belief systems. Emotional warning signals include feeling anxious, afraid, indignant, rejected, sorry for myself, ashamed, worried, or confused.
Two: Take a deep belly breath and gently observe what I am doing/feeling without judgment. “Whoops, there I go again.”
Three: Examine what has happened and tell myself the truth. For example, when I catch myself worrying about money (“there is not enough”), I remind myself that I have plenty of money on which to live, and besides, I can always make more.