When you want but you can’t, it is time to work on your paradigm

If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.  ∼ Stephen Covey

Lately I attended a wonderful workshop of personal development coach Elena Marsh about realising and reshaping our paradigms.

Paradigms are the navigators in our life

We see the world through our paradigms. Paradigms are a combination of our inner values, beliefs, motives and feelings. They are like maps that help us navigate in life.

Our paradigms are formed in our early childhood through parents, schooling and society. We incorporate them and usually don’t even realise that they exist but we see the world through them and act according to them.

The paradigms are actually created to help us in life. They are like pill sized knowledge to keep us secure (as in “one should approach strangers cautiously), help us survive (as in “one has to work hard to be successful”) and be accepted in the society (as in “One has to help the one in need”) and so on. But sometimes they don’t serve us, in fact they prevent us from achieving our potential, our goals and dreams. When we feel tight and trapped, we should go back and try to understand and work our paradigm that prevents us.

Would you like to get a sense of your own paradigms?

  1. Then complete the following sentences with the first thing that comes to your mind.
    I am …
    People are …
    Life is ….
    Love is …
    Work is ….
    Happiness is …What do your answers tell about you? Can you figure out your paradigms, your emotions, attitudes, beliefs, values? Now look at your answers. think a bit more about your paradigms.
  2. Now think about your paradigms, values, beliefs, attitudes,feelings, motives. Think about a flag that would represent those, represent you. How would it look like? Would you draw your flag?
    The picture here is what I drew in the workshop.
    flag_bayrakSo the shapes that look like tornadoes (orlike human feces) are actually a drill and a mirror image of it. I believe that as deeper I go in myself, as more comes out that can give warmth and light around. The circle in the upper left side is me and my life. It is like yin yang but I felt like putting a sunny day and a rainy day instead. They both will always be part of me and my life and I accept both of them. There is a curving line that is going around which is my life going up and down, left and right which means many experiences to have, many places to travel to and many people to meet, good or bad. And the on the top right is me, dancing, turning around myself. This for me is the definition of excitement and feeling alive which I want to feel like all my life. Drawing that flag made me happy. I saw what makes me tick. I saw what was most important for me. How I want to live and feel.

What do we react to tells a lot about us

In the workshop we had another interesting exercise to discover our paradigms. There were statements thrown on the floor. We walked around in the room and wrote down the ones that caught our attention, that meant something to us. The ones I wrote down were the following:

I am ok just the way I am.
One has to work hard to succeed.
I can inspire others.
I can’t make a living out of my passion.
I can’t risk my security.
I trust myself and I am confident I can succeed.

We then made a reflection on what the statements we selected told about us. Here how I interpret my selections: I selected “I am ok just the way I am.” because I didn’t feel confident saying it. I feel I need to improve myself to achieve my dreams. Deep inside I have the feeling that I am not enough. Although I practice daily affirmations such as writing “I am enough” I still struggle with it.

I believe “One has to work hard to succeed”. I find it difficult to sit and concentrate. I made myself busy with a lot of things before I could sit down and write. I find myself lazy and I am doing a lot of things to make myself continue to feel lazy. I am doing a lot of things not to work hard so I don’t succeed. I am scared to fail so I do not attempt to succeed. That also explain why I selected “I trust myself and I am confident I can succeed.” or “I can’t make a living out of my passion.”

“I can’t risk my security” actually means I don’t want to risk my security.

I chose “I can inspire others” because I couldn’t confidently say it. I think that I do not have many followers on my blog or nobody commenting on my posts and I take it as a proof of not being inspiring enough. Deep down I have the belief that being inspiring should be reflected in hard facts.

So how we can pursue a dream when we have limiting beliefs? When we say wecan’t but we want to?

  1. First we have to clarify the reason behind “I can’t”. When we say I can’t, it might be because:
    • We might have a fear, we might be overwhelmed
    • We might lack the information, experience, skills
    • We might lack time, money, resources
  2. Then we should challenge the argument behind “I can’t”.
    Do I really lack time? I have 24 hours like everybody else. Am I really lacking the skill? What am I scared of?
  3. We should then replace the negative belief with a positive statement or affirmation.
    If it is lack of information we can clarify which information we need, from who or where we can get it and get it. And we replace our can’t statement as “I can get the knowledge for this by ….”
    If it is lack of time we can replace the statement as “I have enough tine to do x…” or if it is money “I have enough money for…” In this way we can find the possibility to do something with what we have..
  4. And finally we should take a leap of faith and pursue the tiniest step.

Do yourself a favor, let that fake dream/goal go

Sometimes “I can’t” just means “I don’t want” or “This goal is not important to me”. We should be honest with ourselves and not waste our energy with the negative thoughts of “I can’t” when we actually don’t want it, so that we can spend to energy what we actually want.

Now it is your turn

Elaborating on my paradigms, drawing my flag, defining my fears helped me to connect with my inner self, see my fears, my values, show compassion to myself and determine tiny steps to move over my limiting beliefs.

How about you? Did you complete the sentences? Did you find out something about yourself, your paradigm?

Did you try to draw your flag? How does it look like and what does it tell about you?

Do you have dreams that you say you can’t? What is lying behind the “I can’t?” How can you work on them and replace them with actionable positive statements?

With love,