You, my friend, are not a sheep. You should not be following the flock or allowing yourself to be herded. “But I’m not a follower,” I hear you protest – and hopefully this is true – but so many people, myself included, have fallen victim to conditioned beliefs without even realizing.
What are conditioned beliefs?
Conditioned beliefs are the thinking patterns developed at a young age, usually, they’re solidly in place by the time you start school. They become the foundation for your future decision-making and problem-solving. The sneaky thing about conditioned beliefs, though, is that as an adult, you may not be aware you’re depending on them.
Okay, but I’m going to need an example
Let’s say you grew up in a family where money was tight. Whenever you asked for something, you were told you didn’t “need” it.
Now let’s say you’ve achieved success, but you’re still subconsciously carrying around the conditioned beliefs from childhood. You deserve a vacation; you worked your tail off to get to where you are at and you deserve to enjoy a relaxing week on the beach. But here’s where that sneaky conditioned belief shows up!
Your conditioned belief makes you:
– Feel unworthy of nice things because you don’t “need” them
– Put the needs of others before your own
– Deprive yourself of wants because they’re not “needs”
What can I do about it?
Conditioned beliefs can be changed, but it takes work. And I’m warning you now, it can be a difficult process with a lot of soul searching. It’s worth it, though. I promise you, the world is yours for the taking if you’re willing to overcome your conditioned beliefs.
For this exercise, grab yourself a notebook, pen and a cup of your favorite beverage. Take your time completing the exercise for each belief. Once you’re done, you’ll feel so much lighter!
Five steps to beat conditioned beliefs based on Byron Katie’s four-question method.
1. Write it down
If your conditioned beliefs are obvious, jot them down. If they aren’t, dig in a little bit. Conditioned beliefs manifest in many different ways, for example:
- Jumping to conclusions
- Negative self-talk
- Making excuses
If you notice these traits, question yourself. How are you thinking about the situation? What negative thoughts are you noticing? What assumptions are you making?
2. Ask yourself, “Is this true?”
Now that you’ve identified what you believe to be a conditioned belief, ask yourself if it’s true. Do you really not deserve a vacation even though you’re working 55 hours a week? If your friend came to you with the same situation, how would you react? What advice would you give?
You can also use this as an opportunity to uncover the origin of your conditioned belief. All beliefs have evidence to support their truth. When you trace back to the root of your belief, you can determine if this evidence still applies to you today.
3. How do you feel when you believe this to be true?
Step back for a moment and consider your conditioned belief. How does this belief make you feel? If you truly believe you don’t deserve a break from work, you probably feel unworthy. Notice the sinking feeling you may have in your stomach. This means the belief is holding you back!
4. What is the opposite of this belief?
The opposite of being unworthy is being deserving, right? Continue to challenge your conditioned belief by listing the opposite of each identified belief.
5. List why the opposite is true.
If you haven’t let go of your conditioned belief yet, you’ll need to at least suspend it to complete this step. If you go into this with a conditioned belief of being unworthy, you will never be able to see why you’re so deserving.
Wait, that’s it?
Well, no. That’s it if you’re just looking to eliminate the conditioned belief from your life, but if you’re looking to replace your old belief with a new empowered belief, you need to take control and do it! In step 4, you uncovered the opposite of your conditioned belief. If you’ll be embracing this empowered belief, now’s the time to act as if your new belief is true because once you believe it, it will be.