In the movie Forrest Gump, a young Forrest lives most of his life constrained to splints on his legs. The splints support his frail limbs and allow him to live a somewhat normal life. In his late childhood years, Forrest gets bullied by three friends. Rocks are hurled at him and he’s does what anyone would do – RUN!
As Forrest runs for safety, his splints slow him down. Instead of supporting him, they become a threat to his life. They prevent him from running fast enough to escape.
It’s a time of frustration and humiliation. But it’s also a turning point.
As he runs he seems to find supernatural strength as the splints begin to break off. His body responds as the splints are completely broken off and his fast running saves his life.
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Why am I telling you this? Well, as a child, your parents grounded you in routines, habits, thought patterns and beliefs. These emotional frameworks gave you the foundation to move through life and into adulthood. Their intent was to provide you with wings to fly.
Yet, somewhere along the line, you became attached to them. Simply put, they turned into coping mechanisms. Subconsciously, they began to determine your actions, each and every day.
Instead of these foundations being used as tools to release you into freedom, they became chains that held you back.
And this is where the problems begin.
Humans build scaffolds out of these beliefs, habits and thought patterns. A scaffold is a movable structure designed to support workers to get a job done. It’s temporary. It’s whole purpose is to enable other, more permanent structures to be erected into place.
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The signs and symptoms of false beliefs
Like physical health, there are signs and symptoms that show us life is not as it seems. Many of these cues are deeply personal and individual, but the coping mechanisms we construct all fall into some general categories.
These can include:
- addictions to substances (alcohol, drugs, or even other vices like chocolate, coffee and other foods)
- poor relationship/s you simply can’t extract yourself from
- fear of others
- abusive or traumatic past
- erratic decision making that hurt you and other people
- extended and constant work hours
- loneliness and lack of human connection
- missed appointments (physical, relational, mechanical etc.)
- constant negative and/or grandiose thinking
- inability to sleep because your brain is always ‘on’
- unable to speak up and live out your own values
Whatever your struggle is, instead of them being temporary, these habits and beliefs tend to hang around. Identifying them can be tricky, so talking it out can be highly useful.
But deep down you know they aren’t helpful. You know the pain of your past is writing the story of the future.
But for most people, there comes a time when the age-old structures that are supporting them, are actually holding them back.
You start to get edgy with the way life is and the constant feeling of stalling. You realise you’re not making any progress at all. You start to hate your life, but the coping mechanisms around you give you a strange sense of comfort. They’re helping you keep it all together.
Like Forrest, when you’re provoked and intimidated, you try to run away from the bullies that are chasing you. You do your best to outrun them, but unless you break free of the splints that hold you together, you’ll be run down.
Intuitively, you know it’s time to move on. It’s time remove the mask and be who you are created to be. You can smell the feeling of freedom and you even imagine life without the shackles and false beliefs.
But it’s scary.
Your scaffolding – your pain, your subconscious behaviours – are so diverse, complex and confusing you’re not really sure what to do or where to begin.
Instead, of digging around for ‘why is my life so crap’, it’s best to acknowledge the pain. Acknowledge the hurt, acknowledge the coping mechanism and acknowledge how it makes you feel.
Then, determine to move forward.
How to move past the false beliefs that are holding you back
Among other things, taking the time for some serious introspection is important. To start, ask yourself:
- How is this coping mechanism holding me back?
- What am I actually holding on to? Be specific.
- Why am I holding onto this garbage?
- Why can’t (or won’t) I drop the facade and let people know the real me?
- How could life be better if I just ‘let go’?
- How long am I prepared to wait before I change tack?
- What am I missing out on?
From here, it’s time to act. You start to set goals, habits, processes and routines that clear the way forward and force you to take action.
Most times, you don’t even recognise the vast array of false beliefs that hold you back. It’s only until ‘life doesn’t seem to be working out’ that you stop to ask some deeper questions.
In the end, the strategies you have put in place to cope and survive simply become unhelpful. Furthermore, they become destructive. It holds you back and stunts your growth.
Friend, you don’t need to fear the crashing down of the false beliefs. Instead, invite the challenge, walk the process, take down the scaffolds and build for the future.
You’ll be free, and in freedom there is life!
View how coaching can break you free from the mental clutter that does all the damage. Click here for more.