Challenging Beliefs That Hold Us Back
The beliefs we hold in our own mind can push us towards awesomeness or completely destroy us. Worse yet, they can even leave us right in the middle where mediocrity lives.
Tonight I got to experience all three stages in less than a minute.
It was terrifyingly uncomfortable.
And it was fucking awesome.
Snejana “Snow” Urbin was visiting the dance studio to put on a special Rhythm Workshop. We were learning about arm “styling.” Rather, we were learning how to use our arms for balance with our partner. Arm styling isn’t just style. It’s function!
The workshop completely screwed with my muscle memory for the entire night.
I had varied success with the workshop. From fluid arm movements to flailing about and completely forgetting the routine (sorry, followers!).
You know, normal reactions for learning something new.
Up to this point in the workshop, I had been moving through the motions rather casually. I had a lot to think about, but I wasn’t giving it the same amount of vigor I’ve put forth in other lessons. Internally there was a belief that I wasn’t going to learn it in just one workshop.
That limiting self belief caused me to maintain a very mediocre attitude and as a result I didn’t put forth my best effort.
Despite that, the workshop itself was going great. I could see where I was struggling, but I believed it would get easier the more I did it and could build it into muscle memory.
The workshop went on and little did I know, I was about to face one of my lingering social fears with absolutely no preparation.
I knew I was going to have to face it in the future. But I didn’t plan it for THIS soon.
Okay, it’s a little more complex than that.
Counting out loud. Oh my!
By itself, counting aloud isn’t a very scary concept. The situation and circumstances was.
Snow had us all count along as a group to our steps.
“One, two, three, four-and-one, two, three, four.”
So far, not too bad. Everyone was counting along. The reasoning behind it made sense: aligning our breaths with our body’s movement. Matching the level of exertion of our voice with that of our body.
We rotated partners and I was then face-to-face with Snow herself.
The counting resumes and suddenly I no longer meet the quota.
I find Snow’s arm on my shoulder and I quickly realize I’m about to become the “example” for the rest of the class.
I knew exactly what she’s about to critique.
My voice. How quiet I was. I’ve always struggled with speaking loudly and often have to repeat myself.
This is a belief I’ve held for my entire life because of the voices in my head – my very own thoughts trying to sabotage my success.
I am naturally soft spoken.
I was born with a quiet voice.
I’m just a quiet person.
I’m timid. I’m shy. I’m quiet.
It’s just who I am.
I can’t be loud and boisterous like others.
My voice can’t fill the room.
I couldn’t lead the pack even if I tried.
To her, being able to vocalize our steps with clarity and confidence would mean the difference between clear and strong movements in our body.
Strong and confident, not soft and lazy.
To emphasize her point, she had me count aloud.
To the entire class.
Years ago I would have cowered at the thought.
“No way in hell am I going to do that!” As if I would even have the courage to open my mouth to say anything at all. My usual response would have been to find any excuse to go hide in the bathroom.
Thankfully, my shyness is no longer that bad. I stayed in the room and on the dance floor, anxiously staying within Snow’s grasp as she waited for me to speak up.
I did as I was told, despite the discomfort, the awkwardness, the fear.
“No, no, louder.” I was already flustered, but it still wasn’t enough. “We need to get more of that Donald Trump in there,” she said, pointing to my chest. “Or Hillary Clinton, I don’t care. Louder.”
Without having a chance to think about it, I filled my lungs with a little more air. I tried to speak louder and resumed counting again.
“One, two, three, four-and-one, two, three, four-and-one, two, three, four…”
Snow moved on to the next person. They joined in.
And then the next. And the next. Until the entire room was counting in unison.
That experience lasted only a few measures, yet I somehow just pushed through a fear I was terrified to face. And it took less than a minute.
I spoke louder. My voice filled the room.
And all I had to do to speak louder was to … do it. Draw in a little more air and raise my voice. Speak louder.
That was it.
In less than a minute I did what I agonized over for years.
Fucking hell, that was all it took?
Those voices and thoughts inside of my head, they were just limiting beliefs that destroyed me for years.
Therein lies the problem: thinking way too much. Giving those negative thoughts a chance to settle in and get cozy.
Despite the rather brief and simple experience on the surface, it provided me with a rather profound shift in attitude.
Like a phoenix resurfacing from its own ashes, I tackled the routine and movements with disproportionately more effort. It was far from perfect, but I had developed an air of confidence I haven’t felt in a long time. I put in considerably more effort into the routine and movements, trying to perfect them as much as I could.
Counting out loud with more vigor and confidence helped me to incorporate more power into my efforts. I wasn’t holding myself back from limiting beliefs that forced me to “play small” in my behaviors.
That brief opportunity to challenge my limiting beliefs gave me a glimpse into all of the awesome opportunities that could follow if I choose to pursue this new mentality and level of awareness.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was a deeply personal experience, unique for me, and made me alter the psychology of my progression through dance – which could have some correlation with the way I approach my daily life.
Limiting beliefs are bullshit.
Whether I created them myself or they were imposed upon me, it does not make those beliefs inherently true. As we move through experiences in life, we sometimes find that we can surprise ourselves. It’s up to us to decide whether or not we will ACCEPT those beliefs that hold us back.
“I’m too quiet. I’m naturally soft spoken.” It’s not only a limiting belief, it’s a shitty excuse for STAYING THE SAME and hiding from change. Where I want to go and what I want to achieve will require me to push through discomfort and fear to create positive change.
The amount of effort generates the quality of results.
The effort I was putting into the workshop in the first half was “casual” at best (my excuse: there is too much to think about). After I was forced to (inadvertently) push through my fear, I was reinvigorated and was capable of putting forth tremendously more effort.
I became more determined, confident and effective once my attitude and beliefs had changed.
If I want to generate high level results, I have to be willing to put forth an equal or greater amount of effort and work.
In other words, if I want to become professional at dancing (or any other skill), I will only be able to achieve that by putting in a professional amount of training, practice and work. Professionals aren’t “pros” because they are talented. They’re a “pro” because they’ve practiced so fucking much that they become a master as a result of the work they’ve done.
It’s okay to go all out, to go overboard.
Where I want to go and what I want to achieve will require me to do things that are out of the ordinary.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
– Thomas Jefferson
This may put me in a strange position of doing things in unusual, unorthodox ways. It may cause me to look weird at times. I may open myself up to criticism, critique, laughing. By doing something I’m not comfortable with, I make myself vulnerable.
If I want to become a better dancer, I must practice, even if others do not.
If I want to start a new venture, I must be willing to start, even when others criticize it.
If I want to write words on a blog, I must post it, even if others will think my ideas are weird.
If I want to achieve big and lofty goals, I must pursue them, even if others laugh at them.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what I want. The only thing that matter is the fact that it is my want, that I’m willing to accept it, and that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Doing things differently, going down a different path than the average person is not wrong. It’s only different. It’s a choice and I must learn to be okay with that path of uncertainty and vulnerability, as long as it’s a conscious choice made out of personal desire and authenticity, not from fear or limitations.
Is it weird to go all out? To go overboard? Maybe.
Is it less common? Probably.
Is it a limiting belief to think that I can’t have that “all out” dream? Yup.
Will I bring my dream to reality by playing it small? Hell no.
To take on a Snowy Disposition is to live as a Lighthouse.
To live as a Lighthouse is to live by example. To be unapologetically “me.” To be authentic about who I am and to remain steadfast with my core values and the beliefs that are in tune with who I really am.
It is my goal to become someone who leads by example through action and choices, not just by words and claims alone.
When I approach life in this manner and avoid playing it small because of fear and limiting beliefs, I will begin to live a life as I intend. Hopefully along the way, I can show through my experiences that it’s possible stay true to who you are, regardless of what you pursue.
What is a Snowy Disposition?
A new attitude to live by.
- To not bow down to beliefs, whether imposed by the self or from one’s environment, that limit and prevent one’s self from pursuing that which they desire.
- To attack life with vigor and passion, not only because it generates better results, but because it brings new light to one’s life.
- To be willing to go overboard even at the risk of taking a path less traveled, filled with uncertainty, vulnerability, criticism and isolation.
- To pursue new beliefs, new attitudes, and new paths in order to become a beacon of light for one’s self and others wishing to pursue a similar path and attitude of their own color.
Living life with a Snowy Disposition is not going to be an overnight fix, but I must also be careful of what I tell myself and so readily believe: it’s just as possible that it could be an overnight fix, as long as I continue to embrace this new attitude and seek out the discomfort standing in the way of my goals.
Either way, it’s a step in the right direction for me.
Here’s to courage and living life with a Snowy Disposition.
Thank you, Snow.