Stop Being a Prisoner of Your Past

In prior blogs I addressed the power of being more “self-aware” and of living more “mindfully” in the “present moment” if you want to be a more effective and authentic person and leader. Both of these are reliant, however, on one’s abilities to raise the level of conscious attention beyond the heavy layers of mental and emotional pre-conditioning we all suffer from as we age from birth to present time.

We humans are like sponges. As we develop, we pick up all types of input from multiple sources and people. Some are intentional and positive in our learning processes from parents, teachers and others. However, much of what gets deposited into our streams of thinking are other people’s values, opinions, beliefs, prejudices and fears. By the time we come of age we are the amalgamation of our families and societies ways, and much of who we are gets wrapped up in who we should be, what we are supposed to do, and how we should perform if we want to be accepted. It takes tremendous focus to be able to think, feel, intuit and decide for oneself, and to get beyond all the internal chatter that we all take in over our lifetime.

The conditioned part of ourselves is what we can refer to as the ego, particularly the unhealthy aspects of ego that keep us stuck in negative patterns that were derived by any limiting beliefs and fears that somehow became our own. Our beliefs drive our behaviors, and limiting beliefs are the biggest barriers to success. We form beliefs to make sense of our world. Early beliefs were formed around our parents, family, and the immature decision-making skills of our youth. We often interpreted things happening around us and began to think the following:

I’m not good enough

I’m not needed

I don’t matter

What I say doesn’t matter

I’m not important

I’m not smart enough

I’m bad

I’m wrong

I’m a loser.

As we experienced life, many interpretations of events made lasting impressions within us that, if eventually not seen to be untrue and released, become the predominant thinking and feeling patterns that shape our daily lives. The insidious aspect of beliefs is that, once they are cemented, like grooves on an LP record, they keep us in a constant, repetitive way of thinking and feeling that shuts out new information or doesn’t allow for any positive changes to occur. These beliefs carry forward into the present, and people often go to the mat defending their beliefs, even when their beliefs do not serve them. People react according to their beliefs and often distort facts to support their beliefs. Getting to the core of negative beliefs will begin your liberation and advance you toward authenticity. Self-judgment is the core disease.

Literature is full of terms addressing negative thinking and self-judgment we human-beings suffer from: the dark side, demons and dragons, forces below the surface, fears, and the realm of the subconscious. There are things in your “basement” that are negative, and the key to unlocking their hold on you is to increase and expand your levels of self-awareness. Without the willingness to look in this area, any significant progress toward authenticity will be hampered.

The first stop on this journey toward authenticity and conscious leadership is to reflect on what you believe, what your truth is, how you arrived at these beliefs, and whether they serve you along your journey to authenticity. You have to know how the thinking machine that we call our brain or mind works and the emotional and reactive systems that are hardwired into it.

On my own pathways of personal and professional growth, I had to constantly take stock of my most revered beliefs and truths. Every time I was faced with new ideas or fresh realizations from past teachings, I had to look at what was before me, how it resonated within, and whether it felt right to either accept or reject it. Once new truths were realized, the old had to be let go so to effectively integrate them into my system of understanding. Beliefs do not seem to go quietly or without discomfort. Many times this created conflict, which required delving deeper into the strata of my mind.

Our thoughts, feelings and beliefs color our perception of the world. They determine our actions, inactions, feelings, and behaviors. It is said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. You do not believe what you see; you see what you believe. This is why people facing the same situation see things so differently. A simple formula for how beliefs become our reality is:

Experience  Thoughts  Feelings  Interpretations  Response  Result Belief

Our brain-mind ‘ego’ system is constantly making judgments about our surroundings and events. Beliefs are created and stored, and when new events come along, these beliefs are tapped to evaluate what is happening and how to keep us safe. The new experiences that trigger old reactive patterns do not always reflect current reality, and if we are not aware of this and continue reacting as we always have, we often get the same results.

Those who have been able to think beyond their egoic attachment to their belief systems, who have been able to see what is presently before them with a keen sense of objectivity, and, seeing with lenses unfiltered by old beliefs can now allow new understandings that reflect ‘what is’ in the present, can begin to shed the shackles of any limiting beliefs and fears that have been holding them back. Those who are willing to self-assess utilizing their own powers of intellect, intuition and heart – and can see what stories, roles and masks no longer serve their highest and best interests – can now change or drop those old patterns and free themselves to think and live anew.

Beliefs, opinions, speculation, and assumptions do not always equal truth. Knowing leads to truth, but one person’s truth might not be the same as another’s.

It is clear to me that belief, truth, fact, speculation, opinions, and knowing play with each other in interesting ways. Do we need facts in order to believe? Are beliefs always true? How do we “know” anything? Thinking about how we think and how we perceive facts and create beliefs and truth is a challenge. So much of what we think we know as truth is often taken for granted. By using the most powerful asset we have, the thinking process, we can break free of automatic programming and take in the truth that we each feel is right.

A key factor in living authentically is to know, speak, and live from your truth, not from truth planted by others or from some events far in the past and now are lodged unconsciously within. This process entails being free of programming, reactive thinking, and behaviors that do not serve your highest good. I hope that as you begin your journey into expanding your self-awareness you take time to think about your life, your truths, and how you have come to know what you know. Authentic thinking breeds authentic behaviors, helps us break free of the prison bars of past limiting beliefs and fears, and allows fresh, healthy, caring, and effective ways of thinking, living and leading.

When we change the way we see things, the things we see can change – Thinking for oneself in the here-and-now is the territory of authenticity and the connection to conscious leadership!

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