What do you believe about yourself? Most of us carry a story that says “I’m not good enough.”
The story is a belief and an identity that kicks in, in certain situations, and for many people, in every situation.
For example: If you are looking for a relationship and you have the belief that you are not good enough (not good enough to be loved, not attractive enough, etc.) you will carry yourself as someone who is not good enough. Posture, facial expression, speech, and conversation will all be affected. You will make yourself unattractive and teach others to treat you as unattractive—and the image you believe in will be reinforced. Such is the power of a belief.
It’s only a belief, and therefore real for as long as you subscribe to it. If you find yourself playing the “not good enough” role, identify it and accept it. Sit with it and realize that you created this belief. Next, change your posture. Breathe deeply. Speak with authority. Be who you want to be. Practice being worthy by playing the role of one who appreciates him/herself.
When you believe that someone else is not good enough, or foolish, or incompetent, or any critical description—that’s what you will see. They won’t have a chance with you, because your belief prevents you from seeing who they are. Your belief in their low status will encourage in them the very traits you dislike. For example, if you think someone is a fool, you will talk to them as if they are a fool. This creates a dynamic where your way of being encourages them to be a fool. In other words, the more critical you are of someone, the more they will live down to your low expectation. Set aside your negative belief.
Several things you can do are:
• Look for qualities you can appreciate in the other person
• See God in that person
• Pray to your Higher Power that you may see this person clearly (To use a New Testament reference: Ask that the beam be removed from your own eye that you may see more clearly.)
• Recognize that whatever you are reacting to in them is actually projection. It always is. That is, something in them reminds you of some part of yourself that you don’t accept.
• Ask them how they feel and what they want. Ask them to tell you about themselves instead of assuming you already know.
What do you believe about human existence? Are we all sinners who must be saved? Are some people better than others because they have more talent or more money? Are certain ethnic groups or races more important than others? Are people who disagree with your politics stupid? weak? evil? foolish? deluded? Are people who don’t follow your religion condemned or somehow less worthy than you? These beliefs create communication barriers between you and other people. They limit what you can achieve and serve to limit others, too. They are illusions.
Beliefs limit your growth. Spiritual growth and human adulthood are not about creating more beliefs. They are about undoing the many false beliefs we hold. Zen Buddhists call this “Shoshin.” It means "beginner’s mind," and it refers to frame of mind where you are open, eager to learn, and have no preconceptions. Belief gives you the illusion that you already know. When you “already know” you are blind and deaf. What you see and hear takes place in your own mind and is projected on to others and into your world. If you must hold beliefs, hold them lightly. Practice seeing the world, yourself, other people, and God as if you are looking for the first time. This is humility. This is wisdom.
By William Frank Diedrich
Author of Human Adulthood: A Spiritual Romance
and a few other books.