It’s been said that if we know the truth, the truth will set you free. The converse must also true: if we don’t know the truth, we won’t be free. What we believe matters. We could hold high-level beliefs, or limiting beliefs.
Beliefs matter because they show themselves in behaviour. Healthy or destructive behaviour shows, underneath whatever words are said, the existence of healthy or destructive beliefs. Some of our beliefs may change, but some are entrenched and no matter what evidence or experience is put before us, we don’t change our mind – even embracing coping strategies like denial. It’s like certain beliefs are fortresses or strongholds in our psyche and the only way for those beliefs to change is for the stronghold to be demolished.
Historically, a stronghold was a structure used for entrenchment, defence and as a place to launch attacks from. If an army encountered a stronghold that was occupied, they would have to siege against it, battering the stronghold into submission until it crumbled. Alternatively, they could isolate it, waiting and starving out the occupants. However, this could take months if enough food supplies were available. Strongholds needed to be torn down so they were useless, which would have been a sustained and intentional process.
So what kind of mental strongholds could we be faced with, that upon reflection, need to be systematically and ruthlessly torn down?
1. Limiting beliefs include our beliefs about the world
Firstly, we can believe lies about the world. I don’t mean geography here, but I mean our view of society, people, culture, politics and the framework that the world operates. These beliefs will shape our attitudes, which spill over into our words and actions. For example, if we believe the world to be an evil place where everything is in decline and is dangerous then we may withdraw and isolate ourselves, shutting ourselves off from the good, the beautiful and the valuable that is out there. This also spills over into how we see our circumstances. Are we optimistic or pessimistic? Sometimes we use the label of ‘realism’ to mask pessimism and cynicism, which in reality are actually manifestations of fear.
2. Limiting beliefs include our beliefs about ourselves
Secondly, we may believe lies about ourselves. This could be beliefs connected to areas of guilt, shame or low self-worth we have. Fear is often at the root of lies about ourselves. Guilt is related to a fear of punishment, whilst shame links to a fear of how others will see us. Other external behaviours can be fruits of a root of unhealthy beliefs. Rebellion, for example, can be a manifestation of a fear of being controlled. Sometimes a good question to ask ourselves is ‘what am I scared of?’
3. Limiting beliefs include our beliefs about others
This principle of identity belief also demonstrates the third type of lies that we can believe: lies about others. Judgements or assumptions are manifestations of beliefs, and we can see how unhealthy some of these beliefs can be in the extremes of racism, sexism, ageism and other forms of active discrimination. Individually as well, if a certain person has been placed in a ‘box’ within our thinking, it can become really easy to define a person according to their behaviour and hold them to standards we would never accept ourselves. Once we label people, we close off the ability to learn from them.
To find out more about how I can coach you out of limiting beliefs, contact me for a free consultation.