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Our beliefs are among the most powerful forces in our lives.
They shade our perception and color how we see the world. They motivate us to act a certain way.
Sometimes they hold us back from taking action when we should.
While many beliefs have the power to change our lives for the better, many of us have toxic beliefs we cling tightly to—beliefs we may even have been taught are positive and healthy.
Sometimes we are not even aware of these pernicious assumptions and values—yet they are shaping our lives day by day in unhealthy ways. They hold us back from reaching our potential, and prevent us from finding our happiness.
Here are seven toxic beliefs to let go of right now to be a happier person…
1. History always repeats itself
It’s understandable to assume that what you have experienced in the past is indicative of what you can expect in the future. It’s data, after all. Recognizing data and interpreting it is one of the basic gifts of human intelligence that helps us not to repeat mistakes. But oftentimes we misinterpret data. We pull it out of context, and we allow our emotions to cloud our perception. We don’t expect the good times to repeat themselves, but we do expect the worst times to come back again and again like a bad penny.
This is also a toxic belief when it comes to our relationships. How many times do you find yourself rehashing the same issues again and again with a girlfriend or boyfriend, a spouse or a friend? All too often it is because we go into encounters expecting history to repeat. So we create a self-fulfilling prophecy, reliving the dramas of our past.
2. I’m too different to fit in
How often in life do you hold back from sharing your gifts because you are convinced that you are just too different to fit in, and that nobody wants them? This may be something else where you feel like the past will reflect the future. Maybe somebody didn’t accept you in the past at home or in school or at work. But that doesn’t mean that nobody will accept you now.
You may be different, but it could be that there is a community out there just waiting for you to add your uniqueness. You never know until you try. And if you do, you can be the one to start welcoming others who may feel that they are too different.
3. I don’t deserve happiness.
Just as many of us internalize the feeling that we are too different to be loved, some of us also internalize the belief that we do not deserve to be loved or be happy. But if someone has told you that you do not deserve happiness, no matter what their reason or who they are … they are wrong. You are a special, wonderful person who has so much to give to others. If you are true to yourself and live from your heart, you deserve to be loved for just who you are.
4. Jealousy means my relationship is strong
Everyone experiences at least the occasional bout of jealousy—jealousy is the fear we are going to lose something because of what somebody else has. And for many of us, it has a basis in previous experience. But our culture tells us that jealousy is good, that it is a sign that a relationship has a strong core—otherwise you wouldn’t feel so passionately at the thought of losing someone.
Really, though, jealousy is a toxic belief that draws its fuel not from the strength in a relationship, but from our own insecurities and weaknesses. Worse, it can lead to real damage in a relationship. Here’s some quotes about relationships.
If you fear losing someone, it is a good idea to ask yourself why. Sometimes there is a real problem in the relationship you need to confront. Other times, you just have to confront the other toxic belief that you are not worthy of being loved. Either way, trust is what makes your relationship strong, not fear of loss.
5. Criticism is always personal
It is hard to take criticism, whether from a loved one or from a total stranger. When someone criticizes us, it is all too easy to find ourselves going on the defensive. This is because many of us have the deep-rooted belief that criticism is always personal.
Oftentimes, however, criticism actually has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the people who criticize us are really pointing at their own flaws. In many cases there is transference going on. Your boss had a bad day, so he tells you that you’re a bad employee. Your partner freaks out at something you said or did, because her last boyfriend said or did something similar—without your good intentions.
You never know why someone else is really criticizing you or when that person is just going through a rough time. If you can keep from taking it personally, you can keep the situation from spiraling out of control. This also keeps you from constantly questioning your own self-worth!
6. Vulnerability is weakness
This toxic belief stems from the fear that if we show who we truly are, and walk out into the world with our hearts open and exposed, we will be attacked, condemned, or even destroyed.
There is such a thing as being too strong, though.
When we refuse to be vulnerable, we cut ourselves off from the possibility of being loved for who we truly are. So long as we keep our walls up, we keep our loved ones out. And when we do that, we can never find true happiness.
7. I’m alone
When the ground is falling out beneath you and you feel like you are in free-fall, you may also feel like you are all alone in your struggles. Sometimes that is true—sometimes you really are alone.
But often, you are less alone than you feel. You never know who may be able to help you. Sometimes even a stranger can give you exactly what you need to take the next step forward and start improving your situation. Don’t isolate yourself further by believing it is impossible! Reach out to others. You may be surprised who reaches back.
When you let go of these toxic beliefs that are holding you back from love and happiness, you can replace them with healthier beliefs which can help you to repair the damage to your heart.
Then you can move forward into a brighter future!