Our mistaken beliefs hold us back from going for the life we really want. Understanding what mistaken beliefs are, can help us overcome our doubts.
Living type of life we want to lead requires us to explore our innermost thoughts and desires, or yearnings. But sometimes, we may experience self-doubt. We may believe we’re not worthy of a great life or that we can’t get what we yearn for. Counteracting these doubts means understanding mistaken beliefs—the lies and misbeliefs we adopt throughout our lives—and realizing that they’re not necessarily true.
How do we start understanding mistaken beliefs? More importantly, how do we let go of these thoughts that hold us back?
Every person has some core mistaken beliefs about themselves and their role within the world. As Alfred Adler said, from the beginning of our life, and through the first six years or so, we’re being programmed with different experiences. There’s socialization with our friends and interactions with our families that help us form our worldview.
Now, as you may realize, as youngsters we’re not even consciously aware that this formation is happening. It’s a natural part of growing up as we develop. Each interaction we have gives us a message and those messages start to form a set of beliefs.
During our childhood, we develop four areas of core beliefs: our beliefs about ourselves, our beliefs about the world, our beliefs of what the world expects from us, and what we expect from the world.
Perhaps we feel there’s something wrong with us or that we’re too much. We might believe we’re not loveable or that the world is unsafe. These beliefs are universal—we all experience them. We may not experience those exact beliefs, but we all have a variation. These beliefs aren’t truths, but we operate under the idea that they are.
Alfred Adler came up with the concept of the inferiority complex. On some level, all of us have an ingrained sense of inferiority. If we can’t see it in others, chances are we just don’t know the person well enough or haven’t dived in deep enough with them. It’s simply part of becoming a human being and part of growing up.
These beliefs about ourselves may be related to our role within our family. Perhaps an older brother or sister could always do things better than you could? For almost everyone, our parents are seen as being “big and adult;” they can do all these things that as a child we simply can’t do. They can drive, they go to work, they understand money, they know all the answers. Naturally, as children, we realize our parents have more abilities than we do.
These beliefs of inferiority get woven into our fabric and makeup. Being a little child trying to find your way in the world and trying to get attention results in us getting the sense that we’re not sufficient somehow. Even if your childhood wasn’t particularly difficult, you still experience the struggle of growing up.
Now, just because these beliefs about our inferiority in the world are universal doesn’t mean they’re true, of course. We all may experience this phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean we should believe it. We’re fully grown adults who can do all those things we once dreamed of. We may think we’re past our inferiority feelings, but within us, they’re still there.
These mistaken beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are beliefs and truths in our mind. And because we believe them, we look for signs that reinforce these mistaken beliefs all around us. We’re trying to prove and confirm what we think is true.
For example, let’s say I have an unconscious belief that I’m not enough. So, then I act in such a way that all my interactions with others reinforce, “I’m not enough.”
I’m called into a business meeting, and I shuffle in. My shoulders are hunched, my head down. I don’t speak up, because I believe that I’m not enough—my insights don’t matter. I might doubt myself rather than sharing my opinions. I’m not enough, so why should I share? Now, what’s happened is that my beliefs have become my actions.
The others in the meeting see a person who doesn’t assert herself. They see someone who’s disengaged, who’s not speaking up. Their beliefs then become, “Well this person doesn’t have much to offer.” In return, they may not call on me to share. They may acknowledge others over me. They don’t respond to my questions or comments. I am dismissed and written off.
Then the original belief is reinforced, “See—I knew I wasn’t enough! I knew I wasn’t worth calling on.” It keeps the cycle going. From beliefs to actions, actions reinforcing beliefs. The world is reflecting back on us.
We hear what the world is saying, and we feel like all our doubts are affirmed.
Sometimes it’s harder to identify our own mistaken beliefs, and that’s where it can be helpful to surround ourselves with allies. Our friends can see where maybe we’re shooting ourselves in the foot or setting ourselves up for failure.
It’s not always easy to hear, but sometimes it can help point us on the right track. We may display the way we feel about ourselves in a way that’s clear to others but isn’t clear to us.
Universally we all have mistaken beliefs, but we all also want to be fulfilled. People yearn for a sense of purpose, a life where we’re getting more fulfillment and more joy. Each day we choose to go out, even if we have mistaken beliefs about ourselves, and to put ourselves in the world.
The fact that we don’t lie in bed, that we get up, get dressed, and leave our house each morning indicates that within us is a desire for more. We want to achieve, to grow, and to become better at whatever it is we’re doing.
Yet, for many of us, there are thoughts that creep into our minds—doubts and fears that take over—and tell us that the things we want are unreasonable, unobtainable, or that we are undeserving. We may fear failure, mistakes, embarrassment, rejection, or worse.
Understanding mistaken beliefs and acknowledging them is the first step in learning to let them go. These mistaken beliefs keep us from moving forward. They prevent us from making the choice to move our life in the direction towards abundance and achievement.
Each of us is a magnificent being, worthy of all the joy and rich experience that life brings. When we start to feel a sense of doubt, it’s important to remind ourselves of the important truth instead. You are worthy. You are a gift.
It can be tough to shift our thinking from self-doubt to self-belief. It doesn’t mean you’ll have instant confidence. This acceptance is a slow process that begins when we start to really invest in ourselves and our personal growth.
In order to love yourself, you must know yourself and align with your truths. This means understanding where your mistaken beliefs originated, acknowledging your emotions and thought patterns, and treating yourself with compassion and kindness.
When we make a decision to live a life of more, it’s a leap of faith. We must believe that we are worthy of a life of fulfillment and goodness (we are!). Each person is imbued with great potential for happiness, goodness, and a life of MORE. Understanding mistaken beliefs and learning to let them go will help you move forward on your journey toward living the life of your dreams.
For more ways you can live a life of greater fulfillment, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. We have many of our courses available for download on our website. Don’t miss out on our special introductory price on these great courses!
Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach.
She is a co-founder of The Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.