EDITOR’S NOTE 5/4/20: A photo of a group of children smiling accompanying this article has been removed at the request of one of the photo’s subjects, who was underage at the time of publication. The photo in question was taken by Edward Biagiotti, and no copyright laws were violated with the publication of the removed photo. No reason was provided with the removal request.
“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.” – J.C. Watts
A good friend of mine suggested that I write an article about letting go of the negative stories we tell ourselves. As usual, it was perfect timing for me. When we are making positive changes in our lives, the old limiting stories of the past will inevitably show up. When they do, it is up to us to choose whether we are going to believe those stories or embrace new ideas about who we are and what we are capable of. As a district, our job is to guide our students onward into ever expanding ideas about who they are. Sometimes this is easier said than done. The subconscious mind is an interesting mechanism. I am referring to the part of our mind that tell us stories, often from the moment we wake up, and interprets our current reality based on past experiences and the beliefs that were formed during those experiences.
The subconscious mind is like a computer. Whenever we are taking on a new endeavor, we have to accept a new program into our operating system. Once accepted, the new beliefs will become part of our reality, without any strain on our part. While we are learning something new, however, the subconscious mind will do its best to bring us back to whatever patterns of thought and behavior that we have been comfortable with in the past. If we know what is going on, we can learn to be gentle with ourselves as the subconscious mind goes through these growing pains. It is like a child. The more we try to force it to change, the more it will resist. That is why it is important to learn to be gentle with ourselves and others while we are going through changes, especially positive ones.
As the Inclusion Specialist for our district, I have been on a continuous growth curve. There was a time when I had difficulty speaking up for myself at meetings because part of me would be thinking, “Who am I to say this? What if they don’t respect my opinion?” I would be hard on myself leading up to meetings, during meetings, and even after meetings. None of that was helpful, yet it was an old pattern of criticism that was operating in my subconscious mind. I have had to be gentle, encouraging myself every step of the way. By doing so, I have learned that people do respect me when I speak from an authentic place and share insights regarding my students. After 17 years in the field, and a natural ability in this area, one might think it would be easy to speak with authority. In my case, I had to create new beliefs about who I am, and the value of my opinion. With each positive experience my faith in myself has grown. Most of us were not taught to be unconditionally loving with ourselves. We often feared that we would not be loved or accepted if we were vulnerable and authentic. I used to believe that forgiving myself and letting go of past negative stories would lead to more trouble. I thought those stories were real. Now I realize that when I love myself unconditionally, I make wise choices. I also attract better situations than when I am walking around carrying guilt, remorse, and judgment about the past.
Letting go of the past means taking care of ourselves. Like a loving parent, we remind ourselves that no matter what has happened in the past, this is a new day, and we are worthy of the best in life. I start my day off with inspirational reading that reminds me of these things. It is like priming the pump for positive thinking. I follow my inspired reading by sitting silently with my eyes closed for a few minutes. By doing these simple steps I have a better chance of being kind to myself and others as the day goes on.
There might be some limiting beliefs and judgments that you are holding onto regarding what you or someone close to you is capable of. At first it can be scary to slow down and find out what they are. It is helpful to write them down on a piece of paper. When they are all written down, make another list of all the positive things that you have accomplished lately, include even the smallest things. By doing this you will get a more accurate picture of what is going on in your life and bring yourself back to the present. Now is the only time we have to move forward and experience new and better outcomes.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, live each week, Wednesdays at 3 p.m. on www.UnityOnlineRadio.org. Visit www.TappingIntoGenius. com for more articles and a free, inspirational parenting download.