My husband sang in a choir for the first time in his adult life this past weekend.
If I had a nickel for every time he sings obnoxiously and poorly on purpose, we’d be living in Fiji right now. This makes no sense to me, because he is musically trained, degreed even, and this choir thing still freaked him out. I thought he was going to jump out of the car window on the way there.
Believe it or not, I don’t think singing (in and of itself) has ever killed anyone, and as luck would have it, he survived the experience, even mentioning after it was over, “it wasn’t as bad as I thought.” And it wasn’t. Everyone was really encouraging and he held his own.
His belief that I can’t sing had such a grip on him that I bet it stole a lot of fun and even opportune moments from him over the last 40 years.
And one suck-it-up hour singing with 25 nice people took away 40 years of jokes and excuses. (Glory be.)
So this is a silly, minor situation, but it struck me as a pretty major example of how we let the most miniscule things evolve into hairy monsters that hold us back.
What broken beliefs are holding you back?
Common Broken Beliefs
In my field I run up against a zillion of them, mostly from women, but many from men too. Here are a few common broken beliefs:
- I’m not good at _____.
- I’ve never done _______ before OR I can’t ever do _______.
- I’m not ______.
- There’s no room for me at that table.
- Nobody would support me.
- I don’t have enough money/time/talent.
- I’ll never be more than I am right now.
- I don’t deserve to have that. (this is a scary silent one that manifests in strange ways – self-sabotage, lack of willpower, etc. – very rarely can someone articulate a broken belief of deserve level.)
- I don’t know how to do _____.
- Nobody ever taught me ______.
- They’ll always see me as ______.
The list goes on. But these are the most common ones. What’s interesting is that these broken beliefs look a lot like excuses too. Reasons why we’ve convinced ourselves we can’t be/do/have what we really desire. It’s easy to blame them all on someone else, but really, it’s up to us what we hold onto and what we reject. My life is up to me and yours is up to you, no matter what has happened to me, and no matter what has happened to you. I promise you will find freedom when you truly embrace that idea.
We all have broken beliefs – ideas that were programmed into us long ago, either by our families, influential friends or adults, mentors, unknowing well-intending individuals who spoke words over our lives that chipped away at our confidence. I don’t think people intend to do this. Remember they’re walking around with their own knapsacks of broken beliefs too. Not all our broken beliefs come from other people. They can stem from our own insecurity, personal experiences, successes, and failures too.
**Broken spiritual beliefs
If you’ve got broken God beliefs, those take a lot of work. Ask for help from someone you trust, which usually means a real live person and not the internet. One of my favorite writer/speakers Glennon Doyle has a friend with God issues – the friend calls that still small voice in her soul “Sebastian.” It works for her. There is a way to find harmony in your spiritual life!
What takes root, makes rot
One of my favorite stories is about Meryl Streep, who noted that a movie producer in 1976 told her she was too ugly to star in King Kong. (She since has gone on to receive nominations for 18 Academy Awards and 29 Golden Globes, so it all worked out just fine.) Can you imagine if she had allowed that unfortunate feedback to take root and grind a rut her mind? My favorite part of this story is that the producer insulted her looks in Italian to an associate in Italian. Knowing the language, she responded right back to him in Italian, apologizing for not being beautiful enough for his movie. *mic drop*
When left unchecked, these little seeds of hurt or untruth or unsolicited poor advice settle in deep in our minds and make ruts that we pace back and forth in. Ever notice that you pace the hardest when you’re at a low point? It’s almost like grabbing a comfort blankie of shame when we’re feeling down anyway. “Well, of COURSE I didn’t hit my goal – I’m never been any good at it.” In that moment, your mind and heart searched for evidence and reason that you faced a failure – and found confirmation in those old, sad, broken beliefs.
It takes a strong mind and determined spirit to reject hurtful words. And a lot of forgiveness too (for ourselves, and for other people).
My personal broken belief
I am so grateful and beyond blessed that my parents instilled strong, confident, convicted, and empowering beliefs in me, and my sister too. Not everyone is so lucky, and while I can only imagine the pain that comes from addressing broken beliefs from your parents/childhood, I know it is possible to break free of them. Seek help and wise counsel. Your amazing life is worth the work.
Most of my limiting and broken beliefs stem from the comparison game. The most dangerous game in our culture, in my opinion, and one that is destroying young people by way of mental illness, addiction, overuse of technology, obsession with social media, and violence against one another stemming from emotions they don’t understand how to process. But that is a tender and touchy piece for another day.
In my sad little knapsack of broken beliefs, one I reject daily is the idea that “that more outgoing and vivacious person is much better suited to make an impact than I am.”
That is embarrassing to spill here.
But that is a real, limiting, broken belief that likes to take root and rot in my mind.
Where it comes from
I am an introvert by nature. I love words, and I love people; I love working with people, and I love to write. My greatest desire is to make an impact for good in lasting ways that matter to God and to people and to my family and to me. I am willing and I believe I am equipped to do it. This is one of my good core beliefs.
All of that energizes me and exhausts me all at the same time. After intently investing myself into other people, I reboot best by myself, in silence, with my “favorite things” – yoga, great coffee, plants I haven’t killed yet, incredible books, mind-stretching podcasts, and watching my people be their beautiful selves. (Introverts need lots of quiet time – be patient with us, please. Once our batteries are recharged we’re totally worth it!)
So when I watch charismatic leaders with dynamic personalities doing outstanding things, my mind will fall into a nasty old rut if I let it wander around without supervision. “Wow – they are doing this so much better than me. There’s no room for me in that arena.”
That is not a version of myself I’m proud to showcase. But that’s where broken beliefs will take us.
How to reframe it
The way I want and have to reframe that broken belief looks more like this:
Wow – they are rocking this leadership thing. Our styles are totally different and I am not like them. But there are people out there who need my unique brand of leadership and mentorship. There are people who are praying to hear what I have to offer. I can be living proof that people like me can make an impact too.
How much more fun that version is. It’s not nearly as comfortable as an old rut because I have to carve a new path. Which usually means stepping out of my comfort zone to think and behave differently.
So whether you think you can’t sing, or can’t change careers, or will never make any more money, or will never be happy in your marriage, or will never lose weight, or can’t escape the cycle of broken beliefs in your family, carve a new pathway.
You are the only one who can do it. You can do it.
And our little choir is singing for you.