Personal Essay: How to Break Free of Limiting Beliefs
What do you believe? Does it empower or disempower you? Are you a more powerful person as a result of your beliefs?
As human beings, we are made of energy; we are an energy source. An energy source produces power. So since we are energy, we are power. How we direct that power lies in what we believe. But too many of us misdirect that power and lose ourselves by blindly following beliefs that we didn’t choose and that hold us back.
My family recently experienced one of the most powerful storms in recorded history: Hurricane Irma. The storm left millions without power. This metaphor for our lives stands out to me on the heels of this horrific devastation. The devastation of the emotional storms that leave us “without power” as people hoping to connect touches all of us. However, unlike those victimized by natural disaster, we humans have the ability to never “lose power.” It all starts and ends in the mind.
When I was a little girl, I wasn’t afraid to do or say anything. I would stand up to adults and tell them my opinions, no matter how disagreeable. At 9 years old, I was audacious enough to believe that a little trailer park kid like me could become an actress in Los Angeles.
Then the storms hit.
I got in trouble for speaking my mind. I started to believe that if you choose to be bold, you will get hurt. Throughout my childhood and into my teens people told me that I would never make it as an actress, that I should “be realistic.” Fortunately, all of these storms failed to knock out my power.
How was I able to accomplish this? The battle was fought and won inside my mind. You see, before anyone even breathed the words “you can’t,” I had already determined (and therefore set into motion that) that “I can.” And so I did.
How does this process work? Though it’s quite simple in theory, it’s difficult to execute because it goes against what society teaches. (But then, I’ve found most things that lead to inner peace do.) What I learned to do is to take steps to protect my mind from the storms outside. An easy way to think about it is with these equations:
Unprotected Mind + Negative Beliefs = Reduction in Personal Power
Protected Mind + Positive Beliefs = Addition to Personal Power
So, how do we reclaim our power over our thoughts? As with any skill, practice makes the master. This transformation will not happen overnight. But there are steps you can take every day to create the new neural pathways necessary for this practice to become a part of the brain’s involuntary processes.
Observation. The absolute most important thing that you must discover is how to observe your mind.
Observing your mind when new information flows in allows you to catch the words, thoughts, and beliefs that don’t resonate with you. Once you learn to spot them, you can filter them out.
Take this article, for example. I’m recommending that you adopt my way of thinking. But if you simply take my word for it, then you’re doing the opposite of what I’m asking you to do. Instead, ask yourself, “Can this work for me? Can this become my truth?” Maybe yes, maybe no. The point is, if you are asking yourself this question as you read, then you’re in the process of observing your mind.
Recognizing the power of belief. Santa Claus is real, right up until he isn’t. If you believed in him, then he really came down your chimney, he really ate your cookies, he really left you a gift. Your belief gave power to the notion that he was real, and when you removed your belief, the power that the story once held disappeared.
Once you have a deeper, more internalized understanding of the incredible power your faith in a belief system holds, you will be well on your way to choosing to which belief systems to give your power and from which to withhold it.
This is why harnessing the mind is so crucial. Who would you be if the beliefs of the world around you weren’t yours? How much farther can you go? Try this: Choose one belief system that you have adhered to that holds you back in some way, and really think deeply about it. Where did it come from? Who told you to believe it? And then, if it is no longer serving you, get rid of it. Really take the time and focus on letting it go. Free yourself from it.
I write this with love for you, and for the you who is dreaming about emerging from the beliefs that have held you back. I hope you choose to see the beauty in the unique individual you are. Break the beliefs that aren’t from your heart, and begin the journey toward your truest self.
BIO: Actress AnnaLynne McCord is the president of the nonprofit Together1heart, which works to care for and secure the rights of young women and girls who are victims of or at risk of becoming victims of slavery. She has also starred on the TV series Nip/Tuck and 90210.
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