Sometimes when we think we can’t do something, we simply don’t try. A crucial, yet simple question we can ask to empower ourselves is “why”
When we ask ourselves “why” we can’t do something instead of just accepting a baseless belief, we can unlock doors we assume are closed.
Beliefs are formed to help us to adapt to our environment or “to fit in”. The more established a belief becomes in our minds, the harder it becomes to question or change that belief.
Recently I came across an interesting take on human belief systems by Psychotherapist Dr John Nutting. In relation to our Core Beliefs, he indicates that “even when there is clear proof or evidence available that should convince us that a core belief is out of date and no longer applicable, it’s still unbelievably difficult to see this and even harder to make any change”
Based on this, our beliefs and the rules we live by must be assessed and updated regularly. And besides, living by rules and beliefs specifically created to serve us at a particular time or stage in our lives is a nonsense if our circumstance has changed, and it will have because things never stay the same!
By analysing and simply challenging these beliefs we can craft a more efficient belief that’s in synchrony with the current life we lead. The most important reason to “update and optimise” is to prevent negative beliefs, beliefs that get in our way, beliefs that sap our happiness, hinder progress and dim our productivity from becoming part of our core belief system.
Here’s an example: A little over a year ago, I was watching a video online of an amputee runner and I remember thinking how amazing it looked, that was it… I was thinking “that looks great”, I was thinking “it would be great to run” but that’s where it ended, a thought. In my mind, it was an impossibility.
For so many years, I simply dismissed running as an impossibility because of my partial foot amputation on my left leg, and it was. It was something I’d cemented in my mind and in many ways I’d come to accept. If I had have attempted to go for a trot while I had that useless limb, I would have spent a month in bed or on crutches, no thank you.
Even when I made the decision to amputate that leg, the beliefs I’d formed about my abilities remained. Amputating a leg is fairly straight forward really, you physically remove something. You can see a part of your body isn’t there any longer and strangely enough, processing that fact (in my eyes anyway) was fairly simplistic. What wasn’t simplistic was amputating that older, more entrenched belief about my physical abilities. A belief that had been there for so long, shelved, unchallenged, until I asked a very simple, vitally important question.
“Why can’t I run?”
“Why is it impossible?”
“Why will I be in too much pain?”
I actively began to question my thought processes, asking “why?” which turned into”why the hell not?!” to the point where it became a great way to unlock avenues of life that seemed to be shut off.
The situation had changed, I was now balanced, relatively pain free, but best of all wound free. That belief – “I’ll never run again” needed an update, so out it went, replaced by a more cynical, wall breaking, curious mentality that spilled into other areas of my life in a positive way. All from asking one simple question.
Together with my prosthetist and the wonderful people at Ossur, up I got onto a brand new set of flex run legs and within a short few months, after 13 long years, I was running, belief smashed! It was almost as if a wall had been knocked over and on the other side, new pathways began to open up in front of me. I remember taking my first few strides, it was as though I was breaking shackles, the freedom of being able to move swiftly under my own steam was both liberating and exhilarating! I felt like Forrest Gump when he was breaking free of his Callipers as he ran away from rock throwing bullies!
Sometimes we can form these beliefs in moments of turmoil and crisis, often they are beneficial and essential in successfully overcoming the obstacle we face. When we recover, steady ourselves and build up to a place where we can confidently reassess these beliefs, be brave and do it – knock down any walls that stand between you and your full potential.