Your Perception is Reality
I used to believe that love was enough – enough for a successful marriage, and enduring friendship, a strong family connection. Once you proclaimed your love, it was sufficient to weather any storm…right?
(Stop laughing guys. I can hear you, you know.)
It wasn’t until I went through a few rough patches in my first marriage without giving any thought to personal growth or communication strategies that I realized love isn’t enough. It played out in my friendships, too. When one person gets too busy for the other, lifestyles change, or a falling out isn’t repaired quickly enough, the relationship falters. You may always love the other person, but the love alone won’t sustain the relationship. It takes daily work and compromise.
(This is probably why I don’t watch romantic comedies or read love stories.)
Warren and I used to joke that everyone should get married the first time just to learn how not to screw it up the second time. Neither of us realized in our first marriages that the “do” in “I do” is a verb and implies action. If we don’t make the effort in the early golden period of our relationships to build on our communication skills and resolve problems, we will struggle mightily when a big test comes our way. In hindsight, this is completely logical and I’m embarrassed that I ever bought into that “happily ever after” crap, because boy was I tested!
This was an emotionally and financially draining lesson we both went through, and since we can’t change the past, we’ve learned to challenge our assumptions going forward. Discovering and challenging those limiting and harmful beliefs is the real road – albeit a bumpy one – to happily ever after.
Whether you are laboring under the false belief that love should be enough or you have your own brand of complete nonsense keeping you from Living the Good Life, here is a primer on getting rid of the bullshit.
Perception is reality, ya’ll.
Define your limiting beliefs
These are the assumptions that need challenging most. No matter how smart you are, if your soul is going in the wrong direction, it will drag your brain along behind it.
- If your relationship is failing because of your outdated or fairy tale concept of love, this belief is limiting the potential you have with your mate, friend, or family member.
- If you tell yourself you can’t lose weight, get organized, manage your money, or even get a good night’s sleep – guess what? You won’t.
- If you believe general stereotypes about the way the world works – I can’t trust anyone, good things never come my way, they are all trying to take advantage of me – it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Go one, write out your limiting beliefs. You don’t have to share them with the rest of the class.
Determine how those limiting beliefs have impacted you
In the instance of our divorces, you can imagine how this false message of love without effort affected us and our former partners emotionally and financially. We all know plenty of people who have fallen prey to this limiting belief.
From your list of limiting beliefs, consider:
- How each has affected you in your life thus far
- Where you learned it to begin with – was it something that happened to you, a phrase repeated by your parents, or an early experience at school?
- Now put on your detective clothes and examine it in detail. Is there an exception to the rule? Could you convince a stranger this is true? A self-limiting belief draws its power from the stories we tell ourselves and the past history we can’t shake. It does not rely on facts.
For some reason I can’t shake the image of smarty pants Velma, Shaggy, Scooby Doo and the gang at the end of every show. The limiting belief is being led away in handcuffs by the local police, shaking his fist at you and saying, “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” That’s just how my mind works.
Reframe your limiting beliefs
In our cases, we learned the hard way that love is not enough. Love is a journey, not a destination, and sometimes there are detours, potholes, and road closures. We put forth daily effort in this marriage to keep it heading in the right direction.
This reframing of our limiting belief – that love is a journey and not a destination – has kept us on track for 8 years through cross-country moves, job changes, starting our own business, selling everything we owned, saving enough money to travel around the world, and making this long-term travel into a permanent lifestyle. We’re not limited by our beliefs on love anymore, and we know and appreciate how much work it takes to keep this thing going.
To reframe your own limiting beliefs, you have to inject a dose of reality. Is it true that you will never be able to manage your money, or is it that you haven’t set your mind to do it? Or that you are listening to a story from your younger, less focused self that is no longer accurate? Are you really incapable of organizing yourself, showing up on time, or finding someone to trust? I don’t think so.
Try these on for size:
- I can get organized if I spend 15 minutes a day clearing the clutter.
- I can lose weight if I burn more calories than I eat every day.
- I can manage my money if I write down what I spend every day and see it in black and white.
Finally, you have to drill this reframed belief into your head. Make yourself a postcard, pin the lovely photograph Warren took to motivate you, or create your own. You have years of negative self-talk to overcome, and it will take repetition and repeated exposure to remind you.
Perception is reality.
Or you could just go through a really gut-wrenching life experience. You’re free to pick the option you want, of course, but I’d go with the postcard if I were you. It’s a lot cheaper.