I was raised to believe that to be successful, perfect or even good enough, I must live in a pursuit of possessions, achievements and certain values. Perhaps you were raised to believe these things too.
What I heard from parents, friends, teachers and everyone else surrounding me was taken at face value because it was coming from the only people in the outside world I knew and trusted. And even though most advises were coming from a loving place, almost always they were projections of other peoples’ fears and unconscious beliefs passed down to them by someone else.
Because those ideas and thoughts were not questioned and examined for a very long time, they formed my own belief system aka “my mental playlist” that caused a lot of confusion and some emotional suffering down the road.
Here are some of the tunes I grew up with. To be perfect (or successful), I should:
- Get married in my 20s (oops, I think I missed this train)
- Have my first child, or better 2, before I turn 30 (oops, I think I missed this one too)
- Never get divorced, even if I am unhappy in my marriage (divorce = failure. Imagine what will people say?)
- Prioritize material possessions because they indicate my level of success and happiness (hello, debt!)
- Make more money than I can spend (who cares if you are unhappy while rolling in cash?)
- Fit into size 2 jeans (just not going to happen)
Believe it or not, we all have our own mental playlists on repeat all day long. For most of us, these tunes have been playing for so long, that we just don’t pay attention to them any longer. They become universal truths we don’t question. Curated for us by other people, these playlists turn into our belief systems that have a huge impact on the results we achieve.
What most of these beliefs have in common is focus on the external, material things that put artificial walls around us, and almost always involve comparison and emotional suffering.
What can you do to shift your perspective? Rewrite your negative tunes by focusing on the feeling states you want to experience.
Here is my list of top tunes rewritten. To be perfect (or successful) I want to:
- Spend my life with someone who shares my values and makes me feel heard
- Have child(ren) when/if I feel ready
- Choose to end any relationship that’s no longer serving me and doesn’t make me feel alive
- Do small things that bring me joy
- Aim to create fun memories (vs. material possessions covering up for insecurities)
- Embrace “imperfections” I don’t have control over. Focus on feeling grateful for everything I have
I invite you to write down your own playlist of the tunes that are not serving you, and then rewrite it focusing on the feeling states you want to achieve. Add to this list every time a painful thought comes up, and keep rewriting the new ones. This will start the process of rewiring the neural pathways in you brain and will lead to a new habit of focusing on one and only thing you can really control – your thoughts.
And keep this one question in mind as you are working on it: Does it matter how my life looks on the outside if it doesn’t feel good on the inside?