When I was a child, my mother ordered me to never cross the street by myself. This led me to believe that it was unsafe to do so unless she was with me. It didn’t take long, though, for this belief to pass its sell by date.
We discard the most obvious expired beliefs, but some of them are sneaky. Many people learned when they were young that you need to work hard in order to get by or that the doctor knows best when it comes to your health. These beliefs sound so reasonable that we may accept them as facts.
We all learned many beliefs masquerading as facts from childhood authorities: parents, teachers, and others. We absorbed them at a time when our ability to question what they told us was untried. A lot of what I picked up along the trail of growing u p still inhabits my being, rent-free. They block the path of original thinking and creativity.
My squatters tell me all kinds of lies that I believe to be true, like “You don’t like to cook,” “Housework is hell,” and “You’re not very good at technical or mechanical things.”
Like most of the unexamined beliefs I hold in my head, I acquired these from a number of sources.
“You don’t like to cook” comes from a period when my mother worked at night when I was in junior high and high school and had to cook dinner several nights at week.” I hated cooking then, and now, though my circumstances are entirely different, my adolescent attitude carries over.
“Housework is hell” comes directly from my mother. She had four children, including two boys with the destructive capacity of puppies. Again, I have carried this attitude into adulthood.
“You’re not very good at technical or mechanical things” has several roots. It stems in part from my believing I was no good at math. I clung to that belief, ignoring much evidence that I was good on computers and designed and constructed several web sites.”
The mechanical part of this has more general roots. The other day I was wishing that, instead of taking home ec and learning how to make aprons and biscuits, I’d gotten a course in unblocking drains, simple carpentry, and elementary car repair. When I was growing up, girls were going to have husbands who would do all of that, and somewhere in my crowded mind lounges the belief that females aren’t supposed to do such things.
The belief family most destructive to creativity usually begins, “You can’t do that (whatever that is). You can’t draw a straight line, carry a tune, express what you feel, ask for favors, or risk your security. You have a black thumb; you can’t read a map; you can’t eat strange food. Solution
1. Notice what beliefs are blocking your way. Sometimes they take this form: “I’d like to . . . but . . .”
2. Ask yourself, “Why is that true?”
3. Ask yourself, “How long has this been true?”
4. Ask yourself, “Who told me it’s true?”
5. Decide it’s not true. Replace that belief with one that serves your creative purposes.