We all have beliefs about who we are. Often they are negative. And often they have no true basis. They develop when we are told something by a person of ‘authority’ (parent, teacher, partners) and take it on as truth. Once we accept it, we then spend a good deal of time looking around for evidence to support it.
“What you think you become”, Buddha
When you become aware of something you begin to see it everywhere. Say you want a red dress to wear because you never see anyone wearing a red dress. You find one and buy it. You wear it. And now all you see is people wearing red dresses. Did everyone have the same thought at the same time as you? No, it’s just that you now have red dresses on your mind, your focus, and so you notice them – but they were always there.
Same goes when someone says “you’re stupid”. That thought sticks and suddenly you see around you all the ways you are stupid. Evidence mounts, belief is believed. Voila, it doesn’t take much.It’s easy for us to take on these beliefs and give them strength because they tend to form when we are young and/or vulnerable. When we don’t have the capacity to see that whatever words were thrown at us were in fact about the other person, not us.
But it happens to all of us in varying degrees. How do you know that the belief you have is unfounded? If, when you think that you are stupid / unkind / selfish /ugly etc, you feel upset and the thought provokes a negative emotion, it is unfounded. The negative emotion is the thing to notice because that is the non-conscious part of you trying to get you to change your thoughts. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT REAL!
This is where it gets exciting! Those disempowering thoughts ARE NOT REAL! And they can be STOPPED! The next time you find yourself with your self-fulfilling prophecy about how dumb you are, stop and notice the negative emotion that arises. This acknowledgement is the first step to banishing those negative thoughts and emotions. You can then work to change your focus to build positive beliefs and a strong character.