9 Beliefs That Will Ruin Your Life
The things we believe about the world, life, and ourselves have a giant impact on us. Certain beliefs help us to get on in life, to be happy and do well. While other beliefs hold us back, making us anxious, depressed and ineffective.
It is very helpful to weed our mental garden regularly. We can do this by finding harmful beliefs, pulling them up by the roots, and discarding them.
Life is better when the beliefs we hold are rational, wholesome, and beneficial. There are some common beliefs, held by great swathes of the population, that tend to hold people back. It is good to become aware of these common harmful beliefs and to jettison them. Even merely becoming aware of harmful beliefs you hold can usually lessen their negative impact.
Here are 9 beliefs that will ruin your life… but only if you let them.
The World is Going To Hell in a Handbasket It is common to hear in the news media that the world is an awful, and only getting worse. When we believe this we tend to feel depressed and anxious. It feels like our actions and efforts are pointless.
If, on the other hand, we choose to notice the myriad ways in which the world has improved and is still improving, we can feel much more positive. Steven Pinker’s ‘Enlightenment Now’ and Hans Rosling’s ‘Factfulness’ are excellent books that chart the many ways in which the world is better now than ever before. Reading these books dispels the notion that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Realizing that we live at a great time in history and that the world is improving in so many ways, allows us to appreciate how lucky we are and to have the confidence to move forward with our plans.
Interpersonal Rejection is Lethal When we catastrophize interpersonal rejection we live small lives, full of anxiety and fear. We don’t take risks. We don’t ask for what we want. We shelter and cower. We avoid reaching out and connecting with other humans.
The truth is that interpersonal rejection is benign. Rejection has no negative impact on us. All that can hurt us is our beliefs about rejection. It’s what we think rejection says about us that really hurts us. In reality, rejection is a crucial component of a life fully lived. Some people will like us and love our work and personality. Other people will not. That is true for every single one of us.
Rejection helps us to see who is for us and who is not. Rejection also allows us to see reality and course correct if and when necessary. Embrace rejection. If you are never getting rejected it simply means you are not pushing out into the world enough. Get rejected!
My Country or Race is Special (and it Needs to Be Defended) Your race, ethnic background, and the country you were born in are all totally arbitrary accidents of birth. Countries are merely human constructs that exist only as stories in the minds of homo sapiens. Race is irrelevant.
If you define yourself by your country or race you are necessarily excluding others. So drop the story. Open yourself up to the entire human race and world. Define yourself by your individual traits. Be a kind and good person. Don’t fall back on your country or race as a means of finding identity.
I Will Finally Live As I Want to Live When I Accomplish X, Y, Z Many of us humans are natural procrastination machines. We love to put stuff off. We tell ourselves that we will live as we desire to live when x, y, or z happens. This belief is a lie. And it can ruin the lives of those that hold it.
When you put things off it is almost always due to fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not doing it right. There will never be a perfect time to start. There will never be a perfect time to act. Life, and you, are messy. Act now. Start now. Course correct as you go.
Other People Are a Threat to Me Many people see the world as a dangerous place. And they see other people as first and foremost a potential threat. The news media has a lot to answerer for in this regard. If it bleeds it leads, after all.
In truth, most people are decent humans trying to get by as best they can. Most people want to connect and to be kind. Believing that most people are a threat leads to defensive behaviour, and sometimes even preemptive attack behaviours. Many assholes are only acting like assholes out of fear. They think they need to strike first because other people are a threat.
Instead of believing that other people are a threat, choose to see other people as friends and comrades. If you treat people as if they are your friend they will almost always respond in a friendly manner.
The World Should Be Fair / Life Should Be Easy / I Should Be Happy We are often fed the lie that things should come easily. When we are children we get fed and watered, and hopefully lots of loving attention, without having to work hard for it. But as adults, we need to earn what we achieve.
Life is hard a lot of the time. Life is rarely fair. Happiness can be fleeting. Once we accept that life can be tough and happiness fleeting, we can stop raging against reality and feeling guilty for not being full of joy every second of the day, and get on with living well within this messy but often beautiful world.
I’m Still the Shy Nerd I was When I Was a Child Many of us still feel as we did when we were vulnerable children. We have scars and bad habits. We live patterns of behaviour that we learned when we were insecure children.
It is important to realise that you are no longer the vulnerable child you once were. You are an adult now. You have learned and grown. You are more powerful now. See yourself as you really are. Have a growth mindset.
There is Only One Way to Look at This The world is very complex. If you are dogmatic in your opinions and beliefs, believing that you know it all, you will never learn or grow. You will stay stuck, calcified, and ignorant.
In truth, there are many ways to look at most issues. Lots of things you currently believe to be true are in fact false. Open your mind. Be ready to be wrong. Embrace being wrong and having your mind changed.
I’ve Come This Far, Therefore I Must Keep Going The sunk cost fallacy can ruin a life. We change. We are fluid. Reassess what you are doing on a regular basis. Sometimes the wisest course of action is to drop plans, projects, or behaviours that are no longer serving you. Have the courage to admit when something no longer serves you and jettison it. Free yourself up for better things. Change is healthy and not to be feared.