What if people like me?
What is a belief?
My best friend since kindergarten told me, "I'm best friends with Karen now." At a time when learning to French-braid hair together in the bathroom at lunch was everything, I was devastated, and whispered, "But why?" I remembered the many sleepovers at her house when we made chocolate chip cookies together. She would place exactly four chocolate chips in each mound of dough. "Because Karen is cool, and because I don't get your jokes."
That little conversation planted a painful seed. My sense of humor is weird and alienating. I'm not cool. People don't like me.
Other similar middle school incidents followed until I was so shy, I looked at the ground most of the time and I started getting headaches, which helped me stay home from school and avoid more teasing. My mom took me to doctors, but I knew they would find nothing physically wrong with me. The problem wasn't my body, it was me.
Fast-forward a few decades...
I went to visit a friend in a different country who I hadn't seen in over a year. I was so thrilled to get to see her! But during my stay, I spent a lot of the time filled with various errands, staying out of her hair. I didn't want to impinge on her time or get too annoying.
Until she took me aside, with tears in her eyes, to talk about how hard it can be to be friends with me because I wasn't putting in the time friendship needs. She was gently reminding me that I was rejecting myself, that I was the one assuming she wouldn't want to spend time with me. She reminded me that she was also really looking forward to spending time together.
I new kernel of an idea was planted - maybe people do like me. Maybe some people do laugh at my weird jokes. Maybe it's OK to not be cool but to just be me.
Beliefs are slippery little buggers! We are not really aware of them most of the time. What even are they?
Beliefs are just generalizations, meanings, and stories based on an event or a series of events. The brain feels happy and relaxed to have a reason for things--even if that thing is "You're a crappy person". Once the meaning has been assigned to the event, it creates a file cabinet in which other events can be easily categorized. Creating a new file is hard, so the brain files events away into the pre-designated categories, and the beliefs start feeling like truths.
Then those beliefs become powerful drivers of behavior. In my case, my belief that people don't like to spend time with me drove me to keep overly busy when visiting my friend.
In fact, we can say that all behavior is simply a reflection of belief. Limiting beliefs keep our authentic self small while empowering beliefs to stimulate growth.
Shifting limiting beliefs is a coach's sweet spot. Beliefs are very resilient; they don't go away very easily.
A coach might ask you to get very specific about the event. What actually does and doesn't happen specifically? What meaning do you assign to it? What stories are you telling (or not telling)? What happens if you cast a little bit of doubt on that meaning? What if a different story might be true? What if other events contradict the category? What might a little love and compassion bring?
It's a big topic and there's lots more we can talk about! For now, what's a story you tell about your life that might be wanting to shift?
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