In last week’s blog post we talked about the importance of reflecting upon and learning from our constant mind-chatter. This inner monologue explains a lot about how you perceive and react to the world. It also influences how others perceive and react to you, so it’s vital we take the time to understand it and become more self-aware.
Write Your Beliefs
We generally don’t notice how our minds work with assumptions and beliefs. For one thing, they are embedded, we take them for granted, and we assume they are universal truths. But beliefs are a way the mind filters out information. So as not to be overwhelmed with incoming information, the mind forms a mental model or a representation of reality for a purpose.
Most people confuse their perception of the environment with the actual environment, concluding they can’t change things because that’s the way things are. If we remember that our perceptions are the map and not the territory, then we realize we can be flexible in changing our beliefs and considering alternatives.
Unfortunately, most of us pride ourselves on our quick thinking and ability to size up people and situations, and thus we forget that our interpretation of reality is not in fact reality.
What to Do
- Carry a notebook, smart phone, tablet, or recording device.
- When you notice a belief or interpretation of reality, write it down as best you can, a few lines at a time.
Over the period of a week or two, record a dozen beliefs or interpretations. Some beliefs that you notice will annoy you and others you will defend vigorously. The idea is to raise your awareness levels, not to make any judgments of yourself or your beliefs.
Reflection and Learning
Now that you’ve taken the time to record some of your beliefs, it’s time to reflect on them.
- What did you notice most?
- Did you notice any trends?
- How hard was it to be non-judgmental?
Many people are resistant to changing life-long beliefs, but remember, a belief is merely an interpretation we’ve chosen at one time because it helped us understand reality. We are always at liberty to choose alternative beliefs if they are better suited to a new reality.
“People’s greatest resistance to grow and develop often stems from inflexibility in changing beliefs or considering alternatives.”
Joshua Spodek, Leadership Step by Step: Becoming the Person Others Follow