Beliefs are an amazing thing. Though intangible, they have a weight and power all their own. They can propel us to great heights or they can keep us chained to the ground. What is a belief after all- it is just a thought you have over and over until you take it to be the incontrovertible truth. Maybe it starts with evidence. I believe in gravity, for example. That belief is reinforced as I stick to the ground with every step. Maybe it starts with intuition or faith. I believe in a powerful, loving God. I just know it in my heart. Maybe it starts with a story you have been told so many times that you now tell it to yourself. You accept it as a belief – true and solid. Sometimes those stories raise us up. I believe I am strong, and that healing is my superpower. So, I push through rehabbing injuries without fear no matter how painful. I believe unquestioningly that I will heal and be stronger. Those stories in our heads – true or not – raise us up because we fulfill our own prophesy. I will get back on the bike and endure 5 minutes of pain because I know I will get to 60 minutes without pain eventually. Every time I do that, I believe it all the more. The reality though is that having evidence or faith or a recurring mental story does not make our beliefs true. While that plays in our favor when we are facing adversity and we need to fearlessly believe in our ability to overcome – true or not, negative beliefs can be a chain that holds us to the ground.
A few months ago, my husband and I decided to adopt Whole30 to improve our health. My last back surgery was extensive and, for the first time in my life, I had a very hard time rehabbing. My healing superpower seemed to be waning and I did not bounce back like I used to. I had nearly a year with minimal exercise which led to weight gain. Between eating according to the Whole30 guidelines and resuming my normal workouts, I have lost quite a bit of weight. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to clean out my closet of clothes that no longer fit me. I didn’t try any of them on. I just looked at the sizes and got rid of the ones I thought were too big. The other day, I grabbed a suitcoat on my way out the door as I headed to work. I hate driving in a coat, so I didn’t put it on until I got to the office. As soon as I put it on, I realized it was way too big. It hung off my shoulders, the sleeves resting on my knuckles. I was shocked frankly. I even looked at the size to see if I had missed it as I culled the closet. And then it hit me. Even though I had the very real and physical evidence of numbers dropping on the scale and clothes getting too big, I still had in my head a belief about my size which was in fact very inaccurate. The idea that my beliefs could be wrong should not have been an epiphany. After all, the world was flat, and the sun revolved around the earth at one point. It is clear that historical events can be retold from different and conflicting perspectives and still be deeply held beliefs by the tellers. I even accept on some level that my general beliefs about the world could be wrong. I have a harder time reconciling my deeply held beliefs about myself even when there is evidence to the contrary. In the case of persevering through difficult things, I am glad I believe, true or not, that I am a strong person because that has contributed to so many good things in my life – healing, education, raising a family, adventures, and working. But what about the beliefs that chain me? What about the beliefs, true or not, that I am not even aware of that guide my actions in a way that hold me back from being my best self? Those beliefs are like that jacket that does not fit but I keep putting it on because I am unaware that I have changed and no longer need it. It is time to get rid of the jacket. Some people say, “I will believe it when I see it.” I believe they are wrong. I know I will see it when I believe it. What beliefs are holding you back?
I selected this photograph because it represents freedom to me. This lone sailboat crossed the path of the ferry I was on. It seemed to be floating along on the wind unconcerned.
(1/200 sec., f/20, 105 mm, 100 ISO)