When Beliefs Change and Shift

beliefsBeliefs are one of the cornerstones of the foundation upon which we build our lives. They help us navigate and make decisions. No belief is inherently wrong; the only time I suggest to someone they revisit it and perhaps change it is if it’s creating dysfunction in their life.

As you work on yourself, as you become more and more mindful of your thoughts and actions, one of the first things that can is you begin to confront the beliefs you hold–about yourself, about the world, about people, about knowledge you hold dear. And sometimes, what can happen, is that you wake up one day and you have no idea what you believe, what to believe or what you can believe. That foundation is gone, and you’re left feeling like Wile E. Coyote, hovering in mid air, waiting to plummet to the canyon floor.People can discover that things they held dear and important have vanished. Beloved hobbies gather dust on a work bench. A musical instrument sits unused in a case that’s worn from previous frequent handling. We stop wanting to socialize (which is okay). Favorite TV shows or radio stations become flat and boring. Favorite foods are no longer interesting.

This is very normal, and I promise you, it will all sort itself out.

Part of this is overwhelm and the upheaval that can come from change. We have to look at aspects–many aspects–of our lives as we grow and change so that we do not become outdated to our lives. Beliefs are much like fashion; we grow and a tank top no longer fits. Designs change, and suddenly our most favorite bell bottoms with tie-die patches become outmoded.

Sure, you can keep wearing them. But if it no longer fits, there’s discomfort. And as we go through personal change, we start going through our mental closets, pulling out each thing, examining article of clothing, trying them on, considering and reconsidering. We’re left with pile of “no longer me” and one of “still me”. Unlike clothes, though, beliefs can’t be sent off to Goodwill or a homeless shelter for reuse.

The beliefs that are truly yours will return. The things that are important. But, for awhile, there’s a period where nothing fits or is interesting, and you find yourself bouncing around, feeling listless and agitated and without a foundation beneath your feet. The thing to believe at this point is that t will all work out. It’s like when we’re confused and hold no understanding. To allay the confusion, try telling yourself that the understanding is that there’s no understanding.

And then you have understanding. And believing that it will all work out means you have something under your feet again.

During this time period it’s natural to question your:

  • Relationships–family, friends, marriage
  • Job, even if you loved it
  • Personal preferences for food
  • Religious beliefs
  • Lifestyle
  • Sexual orientation
  • Chosen path
  • Sense of “why” you get up in the morning
  • Purpose

Yes, this period can be very scary, especially if it’s your first time through it. Weirdness comes and goes. You may even start believing things you didn’t before. Becoming more open to new ideas, opinions, modes of thought. This is a time period when trying new things will help you to rebuild that foundation under you. Believing in trying new things, if you will, will create yet another stone under your feet.

Sometimes, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness can arrive. Despair. Desperation–and so it’s really key to just hold yourself and this temporary phase in compassion. It will pass. Resisting it with great force will only create equal suffering. And when you’re in a place like this, the last thing you need is more suffering.

The first time you go through a major upheaval of all of this it’s difficult not to resist. The trick, then, is to not resist the resistance. Meaning, allow yourself to resist. Give yourself permission. You’re not trusting the sudden downgrade you’ve discovered. Your equilibrium is off and you’re unbalanced. Maybe the road beneath you is curvy in addition to steep. And there’s fog. Maybe even rain.

The first time I went through my own major period of upheaval and overwhelm and I found myself on that road was when I wrote Backbeat. Somehow, within me, I was okay with the process because–somehow–I knew the misery I was in was me healing. Fast. And so I was out-of-sorts. The second time it happened I was more aware of resistance and allowing, of acceptance and trust. I was still pulling on the parking brake sometimes in addition to tapping the brakes…but I was more trusting.

The third time it happened, I realized what it was and I let go. I trusted my internal navigation system. And, even though that period was harsher than either of those two, I swished through it with far more grace, ease and with the least amount of resistance ever. Everything that blew apart fell neatly back into place, and in a much better form. I trusted that internal traction and navigation system, and I was happier for it during all of that.

As you go through this, as you near the end, your important beliefs return. Socializing returns. You find yourself playing your music again. You also discover that you’re actually all right that you no longer believe certain things. Why? Because there’s a relief. It’s the equivalent of suddenly putting on shoes that fit correctly because they’re now the right size or design.

And that’s the neat part–you’re all right with no longer wearing what no longer fits.

The freneticism that you felt as those beliefs left you is gone. You have comfort again. And the next time it happens, it’ll be easier. And then easier still–and then easier still. Will it ever get easy. No. Well, maybe there’s a yes. Because the more you allow and trust, the easier it gets, which can equate ease. Really, what’s happened is you’ve built up internal muscles so you can carry a heavier load. Your workouts, if you will, are still difficult. Challenging. But they’re easier–because you trust the process, because you allow the process, because you understand the process better.

And you can believe that.

Questions? Comments? What are your favorite self-sabotage steps? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.


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