Do you ever look back on your childhood and just think to yourself, “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I ACTUALLY believed half the things I used to.”
Whether they believe that clouds are made out of marshmallows or that pregnant women must have eaten watermelon seeds, kids have a pretty unique way of processing information, based on their (fairly limited) experience and understanding of their world.
Let’s take a step back for a second, and start with the foundation. There’s a little bit of discrepancy when it comes to how much of our brain we actually have access to, but the general consensus is that we only consciously access roughly 5-10% of our brain (in other words, this is where our decision making comes from), and 90-95% of our brainpower is made up by our subconscious mind (the auto functions). Essentially what that means is just that your conscious mind helps you decipher information throughout the day and your subconscious mind files it away for safekeeping.
However, just like virtually everything in your life, your cognitive abilities develop over time. According to Mae van Rensburg, Personal Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner, “a child’s critical mind only develops from around the age of eight, therefore whatever they hear, see, feel [before then] goes directly into the subconscious mind without analysis, and is accepted as fact.” The example she gives is with dogs: if a child has a frightening experience with a dog, then their brain will process it pretty literally: dogs = loud = scary = mean = bad.
Growing up, we don’t necessarily need to be explicitly told something in order to believe it. For example, you could have watched a show where someone’s silly big brother was in a band, wildly broke, while living in his mother’s basement trying to make it big. With that buried deep in your subconscious, even if you grow up to become an extremely talented guitarist, chances are you will probably still subconsciously believe that musicians = broke = unsuccessful = the butt of all jokes = XYZ, which means you’re going to have a substantially more difficult time making it then someone who doesn’t have those limiting beliefs.
This also means that you could have had the most incredible childhood with the most amazing family and friends supporting you, and still find yourself struggling with your own self-worth. There are so many outside factors (from the movies and TV shows we watch, to the music we listen to, to the social media we scroll through, to the peers we have at school) that can contribute to our limiting beliefs, which means you should never feel bad about yourself for feeling this way. You also shouldn’t fear that one bad show or bully you went to school with ruined your chances of ever being successful. Instead, just realize that once you identify that these limiting beliefs exist (like “most guitarists aren’t successful”), then you can work towards rewriting your narrative.
One of the best/most efficient ways you can uncover these negative/limiting beliefs is to speak with a licensed therapist who can help you work through where these feelings come from and why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling.
But, with that in mind, to get the conversation going, we’ve put together 3 lies you probably grew up believing that could be holding you back, for your entertainment purposes only.
3 Lies You Probably Grew up Believing
Lie #1: You’ll only be successful if you think/talk/act a certain way
Close your eyes and picture your dream life: do you dream of having a large home with an equally large family inside? A tiny home on wheels? Do you dream of spending your summers backpacking through Europe? Or of being married, with 3 dogs, no children, and a huge pool? Most of us can picture that one thing that we really, really want: the thing that FIRES us up and makes us grin from ear to ear. That’s because there’s ultimately no universal measurement of success: this is why one person’s dream of living in a trendy apartment in Manhattan makes someone else’s skin crawl. However, from a young age, we’re fed lie after lie that we should all strive for the same measure of success, and that we can only attain it by following one particular path (we’ll touch more on this in lie #3). But the thing is that success isn’t necessarily found in the job or path we choose to take, but rather, in the desire for it. If you desire to become a successful artist, then you need to stop listening to the lie that you’re signing up for a life of being the starving artist, rewrite your narrative that you’re worthy of success, and by golly go out there and become the best dang artist around (paint your way into the life of your dreams). This isn’t to say it won’t take hard work, but when you go at it with the attitude that you are worthy of success, then you’ll be more likely to opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t let anyone tell you what your dreams should be for you to become successful – you have the power within yourself.
Lie #2: You are broken, but we can fix you (for a cost)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen an ad for something (maybe a shampoo) that points out all of the issues with one particular thing (maybe the lack of volume in your hair), while offering the perfect solution (solution = buy their shampoo), that suddenly leaves you feeling insecure about something you didn’t even know was a problem in the first place (wait – you don’t like that my hair is flat?). For years, and years, and years we’ve had our flaws pointed out to us, and then immediately sold a solution for them – and nowadays, all it takes is one quick scroll through social media to have insecurity after insecurity repeatedly pointed out to us. Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t to say that you should never do things to work on yourself or your appearance: if the shampoo fires you up and makes you happy and excited, then, by all means, go out there and lather, rinse, AND repeat (although, Ethan Craft would argue against it). You need to remember that you are not broken, and you do not need fixing. Remove those from the equation and find a way to do all things out of love for yourself.
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Lie #3: Here is the path you must follow
From a pretty young age, we’re handed this roadmap for the journey of life. It may look a little different depending on the family you grew up in, the movies you watched, or the schools you went to, but it typically follows a similar roadmap: you must go to school, get a well-paying job, be married by the time you’re 23, purchase a home on a mortgage that’ll take decades to pay off, adopt a pet, have 2-3 kids, take the promotion, retire. That’s all fine and dandy if that’s how life works out for you, but what happens if things don’t fit that timeline or we do it in a different order? We may date the wrong person or take the job we absolutely hate because we’re more focused on what we’re supposed to do, as opposed to what we actually want to do. Or we may think we’ve failed if we’re pregnant at 20 or single at 40. We’re fed all of these lies about how our lives should unfold, without realizing that there’s an exponential number of pathways for how to live a happy, fulfilled, and successful life. The fact is that life is way too short and precious to spend it doubting your worth- your journey is your journey, so make it your own and enjoy its uniqueness.