Like limiting beliefs, mistaken beliefs are ideas that are holding us back. The difference is that mistaken beliefs, in my book, are ideas that actually harm you. That make you feel less than, unworthy, or stuck. They are ideas that you accepted as true, but some part of you knows that they are false. And that part of you who knows, is the true you.
When I use the term “true you,” I don’t mean to say that this part of you is better than any persona you adopt. But I am here to say that the true you is a more accurate reflection of who you are, at your core. When people act out, we say that they lost their mind. I would say that differently; I would say that they lost their connection with their true essence and got wrapped up in the persona that their mind has created.
But I am here to say that the true you is a more accurate reflection of who you are, at your core.
I see personas as the reflection of us that we allow the world to see. There is nothing wrong with personas. In fact, personas can bring a sense of fun, or light heartedness, to your life if you let them. You can actually see your persona, and laugh, at how you are entangled into your thinking and letting that control what you do.
This is where mistaken beliefs, however, do the most harm. When you identify as a persona, and that persona holds a mistaken belief, then you will have trouble unwinding that idea. If, however, you can begin to see that your persona is just one aspect of you and not necessarily reflective of the true you, now you have a better chance of giving up your mistaken beliefs.
Here are some examples. If you are someone who says, I am the kind of person who always tidies up after myself, then you will find it hard to give yourself grace for leaving a mess behind. You might even begin to beat up on yourself if you do not live up to your strict categorization of yourself. In this way, your belief is mistaken, because it causes you to think less of yourself merely because you are not living up to a persona.
Or, take someone who identifies as someone who keeps her cool. If this is her identity, then she might be unwilling to allow her emotions to come in and do their job. She might resist a strong, or difficult emotion, because she holds fast to the mistaken belief that people who keep their cool are better than people who do not. In this way, her belief — tied to her persona — is causing her harm. The better course is to ease up on these absolutes and give yourself leeway to show up differently, and with different personas.
In this way, mistaken beliefs that are entrenched in our identity are the hardest ones to move out because we think that we are losing a part of ourselves if we give them up. Not true. We are giving up the idea, so that our complex, and interesting, true selves can shine through.
Here is the difference. When you believe that some personality trait, or character of yourself, is the true you, then you are unwilling to give up that trait even in situations where you can’t live up to the rule you placed on yourself. If you say, I am always on time, then you will feel tension when you are not on time, not because that’s the true you, but because you have linked your timeliness with your identity.
What’s the solution? Give yourself some grace and some leeway every chance you get. Say to yourself that you are someone who prefers to be on time, but it’s ok to be late. Say to yourself that you prefer to keep your cool, but that emotions are helpful. Say to yourself, I like a tidy space, but I don’t require one to be happy. Each of these statements disentangles you from the absolutes, and gives your true essence a little room to breath. That’s what your inner being wants. A little room to come out and express.
What’s the solution? Give yourself some grace and some leeway every chance you get.
Some people fear this sort of non-absolute way of being. They think that variations to rules is a sign of the demise of civilization, or that being flexible lets them off the hook. I am not sure when all this personal pressure started, but most of us that I can see need a little love, not a dose of self restraint.
If you live a rigid lifestyle and abide by your rigid rules, I assume you can find happiness there. But it’s a conditional happiness, one that requires that you meet all your rules in order to feel good. I personally strive for an unconditional sort of happiness, one that only depends on me and not anything external to me. In this way, I prefer rules of thumb, rather than absolutes. I prefer a self administered dose of grace, rather than forcing myself to adhere to a regime. I prefer to see life as a series of new experiences, rather than a preset experience done over and over.
I have my habits, and my routines, but I see them as fun things to add to my day. If I miss my routine, then I say, oh well, and see what the day brings. In this way, my mistaken beliefs that the better life was one of rigid rule following have all gone by the wayside.
Each of us has the power to self identify as to who we think we are. My advice? Choose broad and expansive ideas for your personal journey. Save your rigid beliefs for a persona that you trot out on occasion to work to a deadline, or get something done. See that persona as one that you adopt and use for a limited time, and then revert to your expansive way of seeing yourself as soon as you can.
Mistaken beliefs are nearly always wrapped up in identity, which is why they hurt us. If you can begin to see where you are holding tight to a narrow view of yourself, you can free yourself from the mental anguish that comes from swaying away from that rigid belief.
Here are some common mistaken beliefs, and some suggested ideas to try on to move past them:
••Old: I am never the one selected, picked, or winning.
➡New: I sometimes win and sometimes lose. I can do either and feel fine.
••Old: I have too much to do.
➡New: I have just the right amount of work to keep me stimulated and engaged.
••Old: I can’t do that new thing that I am interested in.
➡New: I can try new things and it’s good to have interests.
••Old: They should not be doing that.
➡New: What others do is none of my business so I plan to keep the focus on me.
••Old: I have to know the answer before I speak.
➡New: I can talk out my ideas and reach a good conclusion.
••Old: We can’t do it that way.
➡New: There are likely many good solutions to this problem.
Mistaken beliefs have the benefit of being really good sources for the words you need to turn them around. So set an intent to see your own mistaken beliefs, and then use them to create a new idea to better support the true you.
Souls, I have found, are hard to put into a box. They defy description. They seem to transcend the words we use, which are always limiting. That’s why I am now careful not to say that I am always, never, or intrinsically one way, without giving a little wiggle room for my true self to express.