A core element of personal development and change is the need to reconsider any of our views and beliefs that aren’t helpful. When we reflect on our thinking, we can sometimes realise that our assumptions or ‘rules of thumb’ are either out of date or were never really true in the first place.
These can take many forms and in following them, we allow them to have an inordinate impact on our lives. They can take the form of inflexible views of others (“He just doesn’t care about my career”) or yourself (“I’ll never succeed in this company”). They can take the form of assumptions about others’ motivations or a misplaced certainty about the future.
When we take a step back and examine our own thinking about difficult situations, these beliefs are often easy to spot.
They sound like ‘rules’ or or statements of how things should be that, when applied inflexibly, don’t contribute to your happiness or success. They make life difficult and limit your options.
Letting go can be tough
Letting go of these beliefs can be tough, but it’s necessary. Considering how logical and helpful the beliefs are is an important step. Many such beliefs don’t stand up to rational scrutiny – they just aren’t sensible, logical or helpful.
In addition, they don’t need to direct our attention or the emotions we express. As I frequently find myself saying in coaching sessions, “a thought is just a thought”. It doesn’t mean we have to accept it as true or take action based on its contents.
We can view letting go of these beliefs and thinking patterns as a form of learning – as we encounter new information, our view of the world and how it works should change.
Letting go isn’t a sign of weakness
I often work with coachees who find this letting go aspect of personal change particularly difficult. They see any any adjustment of their perspective as a failing or even a weakness. Acknowledging the need to change your mind about a person or a situation is not a sign of weakness.
Far from it!
Adjusting your perspective and allowing your thinking and behaviour to follow suit is a sign of development and maturity.
Letting go gives you options
When you don’t base your behaviour on outdated and inflexible rules, or the unhelpful emotions they can trigger, you find yourself with a host of alternative options at your disposal. Life is no longer about the ‘black’ and the ‘white’, but presents itself as many shades in between the two.
Still, letting go can be tough. Rather than dwelling on past ‘failures’ and how your beliefs have previously made life difficult, focus instead on how a new flexible perspective will make life so much easier.
What beliefs would you like to let go of next?
If you’d like to learn how coaching could help you develop a more flexible approach to challenges, get in touch.