Last week, I had the privilege of bringing Moticise to a big event here in New York. We did the Mindset Reset workout, and it went great – one of those events where you could really feel the energy in the room, especially when they got to their feet, shouted their goals out, and did some boxing affirmations (that’s my favorite part).
After the workout, one woman came up to talk to me.
“I know what I want, and what I need to do to get it,” she said, “but…” And she gave me a laundry list of reasons it wouldn’t work. “I know those are limiting beliefs,” she went on, “but I don’t have a clue how to get rid of them. How do you change your beliefs?”
Naturally, I knew exactly how she felt. Who hasn’t been there before?
Changing your beliefs is a huge part of finding success and being fulfilled. That’s why I spend so much time learning and teaching new ways to do it. I’m always practicing new tools, methods, techniques to help people (and myself) do that. But that woman’s question, asked in a crowded, busy room, made me realize something: all the techniques in the world won’t help if you don’t do one thing.
That’s the first and most crucial step to changing your beliefs. You have to decide to do it.
When we realize that our beliefs are just that – beliefs – it gets easier to change them. We’re so used to thinking that our beliefs are reality, but they’re not. They’re just stories we tell ourselves, and quite often, we’re wrong.
I learned this in a really powerful way when I was twenty. I flew from New Jersey to France to meet my father, a man who’d left my mom, my sisters and me when I was a kid. He’d come back periodically, and there was talk of us going to live with him in Europe, but it never happened. My dad was brilliant – he held multiple PhDs and spoke a dozen languages – so I really looked up to him. Intellectually, he had himself together. But emotionally, when it came to us, he just couldn’t find it in him to connect.
Growing up, I’d formed some beliefs: that I was responsible for him leaving. That there was something wrong with me. That he would have stayed with us if I had been different. That I would be truly happy and free when I earned his love.
For the record, my mom was the most amazing, loving parent I could have asked for. She was always there, always nurturing and challenging us, doing everything she could to create the best life possible for us. I was a mixed bag of beliefs: strong positive, strong negative, plus everything in between.
So at twenty, I’d gone to France to see him, hoping to understand this void I felt in my life. But from the moment I stepped off the plane, he found something to ridicule: my luggage, my clothes, my modeling (he thought models were airheads), my “trashy New Jersey accent” (now that was just a lie). But despite the constant criticism, I decided to stick it out. I wanted to give him a chance.
On my last day, he was supposed to pick me up from the hotel and bring me to the airport. He picked me up, all right, but drunk, and almost an hour late. So, since I missed the flight, he decided we should go to a bar instead. (This was about ten in the morning.) And as we sat in that booth, while he grew sloppier and slurrier, and even said the closest thing to “I love you” I ever got – “You know, Sonia, I think I might actually miss you when you’re gone” – I realized something.
This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life, from this man I’ve been intimidated by, I thought. I’ve put him on pedestal. He’s shaped my entire belief system around love and relationships…yet he’s kind of pathetic.
I didn’t mean it in a mean or angry way. It was just that he wasn’t everything I’d believed him to be. He had his own pains; his actions came out of his own beliefs and issues. It dawned on me in that moment: that what you believe is not always real.
My beliefs were built on a lie. All those things I’d held to be true were just a story I’d told myself. Now I was seeing the other side of that. And in that moment, I knew I could change my beliefs.
I am worthy of love. I am not responsible for his decisions. Nothing I could have done would change him. I could never have made him stay. His leaving is a reflection of him, not me. I am good enough. I don’t need his approval.
As painful as that trip was, I was fortunate to have witnessed something that changed my beliefs so drastically. Not everyone gets to see that. But the good news is, you don’t have to travel around the world and witness your father slobbering over a beer to have a change of heart. You can do it right this moment.
In her latest book The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein says our beliefs are like a movie we’re watching. So often, we just sit and watch whatever’s on the screen. But we have the choice to get up, and change the movie. We can watch whatever movie we want.
All we have to do is decide.
So let me turn it to you. What beliefs are holding you back?
What’s something you believe that isn’t serving you?
Will you decide, right now, to change that belief?
What story will you tell yourself instead? What belief would serve you?
Take that new belief, and go out and shine.
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