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Conflicting Beliefs and the Hamster Wheel

Young troubled businesswoman with hands on head

I grew up in a Catholic working class family.  We were taught to have a strong work ethic.  Working hard was an underlying theme that ran through everything we did; from daily chores to going to church, to being in sports and doing homework.

I completely embraced this value, sometimes to the point of creating work just so I had something to work on and feel like I was worth something!  This is an example of a value out of balance.  Aside from the importance of working hard, I received the message (intended or not) that my self worth was based on my productivity.  There is a huge difference between working hard for the joy of what you are doing and serving others, and working hard to feel good about yourself.

So, that was one belief I grew up with: work hard and life will be good to you.  Now, couple that with a belief that rich people are “bad” people; they live off the backs of the common class, they take advantage of the poor, etc.  This belief was not a directly taught belief. It was one I formed in my childhood as a result of listening to discussions about politics and to the nuns and priests talk about frugality and how God blessed their “not-having.”  Without realizing it in consciousness, I tucked away all sorts of beliefs around work, money and how those two things “should” interact.

How did this conflict in beliefs show up for me?  I worked very hard and every time I was on the brink of great success, I would sabotage myself!  You see, I had to work hard to feel good about myself and if I had great success that translated into money, then I was living off the backs of others and that would not make me feel good about myself. Realizing this conflict, I was able to reframe my belief system and create a healthy relationship between me and money and work.   Now I believe that money flow allows for more giving. This belief works for me.

I have coached with many clients that have also experienced conflicting belief systems they weren’t even aware of.  Often times, you may discover a conflicting belief system when what you really desire keeps eluding you at your own hand. Exploring a client’s self-sabotage or patterns that appear to hinder their success can often lead to discovering conflicting beliefs that are creating dissonance for the client.   It may not be in the same area as my experience; however, conflicting beliefs will often keep you in the hamster wheel with little understanding of why you end up there.  We are not always conscious of our belief systems, especially if they were formed in childhood.  And in the normal course of conversation, we don’t talk about beliefs the way we talk about current day issues.

Getting to belief systems takes a discovery process.  You have to pay attention to your own negative talk, excuse making, frustrations, assumptions and ask yourself: “what do I believe about this?  How is this belief supporting or detracting from what I desire for my life?” This is a good place to start!

Even better: if you feel like you have been in the hamster wheel for a while, reach out!  Working with a Life Coach will help you to become clear so you are better able to make choices that support what you want for yourself and then establish supporting values and beliefs.

Slow Down to Speed Up

Fall Swirl 900x675Have you ever hit a time in your life where it seemed that nothing was moving at the speed you want or expect?  Or that maybe life is moving at a speed where you can’t catch your breath? What I have learned is on either side of this duality lies the balance for us.

In 2006 I changed careers.  For a time, my career was moving very slowly and I was bored out of my mind.  No matter what I did, proposed, initiated, created…nothing seemed to be moving at the pace I expected or wanted it to.

Then, out of fear, I jumped into something that I thought, from my limited viewpoint, was the answer!  That position took me into the fast lane of life.  So much so that I was an anxious mess and not very fulfilled in my daily living.

I hit the wall, the slow down.  “The wall” was a disc rupturing in my back that required two surgeries within a month’s time and then a two-year recovery.   In order to slow down, I was forced to literally stop.  All I could do was focus on getting through the pain cycle and re-learning what my new way of “being physical” looked like.

I had been an athlete my whole life.  I coached gymnastics for 25 years and not a day went by that I wasn’t in some form of physical exercise.  To say that being out of movement was a challenge for me is an understatement.  It was a completely devastating experience and perhaps the reason it took me so long to recover.  I was trying to force myself to be who I was, which was causing more setbacks than helping.

Since then, I have had other slow down experiences.  Each time, I learn more about what I am being taught in this life lesson.  I would like to share two lessons with you for when you may “hit the wall,” whatever that is for you.

Embrace and Be In The Present Moment.

Some may call this presence, mindfulness, and meditation of sorts.  It is all of this and more.  I have learned in my slow down moments to pay attention to what I am paying attention to.  This finally helped me to realize I was not paying attention to what my body was telling me. In fact, I was completely ignoring the signals that were blatantly blinking RED to stop!  Hence, another reason for a long recovery.

I was gifted a Mindfulness Course by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  What a lifesaver!  Mindfulness has gone beyond just my body.  I have been practicing it in all areas of my life now for 6 years.  Each year I get more and more clear on my ability to create what I want for myself.  I have also learned to accept whatever timeline presents itself.

Get Clear on What You Control.

That would be you and only you! What we have “control” over is our own values and beliefs; these drive our thinking and feeling which then drives our behavior and responses.   We have some values and beliefs we are very much aware of and we have some that we are not aware of.  These may be inherited or learned; we are not necessarily conscious of them, but have been in the weave of our fabric since childhood.  The clearer we are in these areas, the more clearly we are able to navigate what we want for ourselves. This is what life coaching helps to support: discovery of your unique value and belief systems and how those are expressed in your life.

I have found that these two practices will cause a slow down to speed up.  Both practices support clarity and clarity supports movement.  You can see the way.  For me, as a side benefit to these practices, I have learned to accept what is, trust the process, pay attention to my energy and if it is good, have faith that what I am doing now will lead to where it best serves.  Now I can say my days are resonant to whom I am authentically and my life is fulfilled.