Beliefs, and by extension, belief systems, are powerful energy magnets that shape our inner and outer worlds … and they can be innocently (or not so innocently) misleading.
For example, in the 1500′s, authority figures believed that the world was flat as a pancake; in the 1940’s doctors appeared in ads advocating the health benefits of cigarettes (at the time, many believed it to the true); and in the 1960′s, it was OK to pay women less than men for the same job.
Plus, if you can believe this, in my home town in Nova Scotia, Canada, once a female school teacher married, she was required to resign her teaching job (gasp!).
Belief and belief systems can cause you a big problem at work if:
Your belief system is not aligned with the ones at work;
You have acquired a belief system that doesn’t fit who you are
So what happens when your personal belief system doesn’t mesh with your work belief system? Or if you have bought into a belief system that doesn’t reflect who you are as a human being? Society pushes us to ready-made, one-size-fits-all belief systems that are convenient, reinforced, and available. From what I’ve observed as a Healing Conversationalist, you can only go so long with a belief or belief system that doesn’t suit you before stress and health issues rise to needle you at home and in the workplace.
Let’s look at one of today’s common beliefs: Farmers and their families grow our food and nice butchers in clean slaughterhouses kill and prepare our meats. The reality is that most food is grown on factory farms and animals are raised and slaughtered in the cheapest way possible (farm animals are not covered by the same laws as pets). The point here is not whether this is right or wrong; the point is that the belief, for most people, does not match reality.
On the work front, although many believe in the concept of job security, The Wall Street Journal reports that the average worker will work at his employer for only 4.1 years (Bureau of Labour Statistics). It is called “The Four-Year Career”. Here’s my personal favourite belief: More technology equals increased leisure time (ha!). Belief and belief systems are far from infallible, so how do you check yours out?
From a career perspective, it is wise to remember that if your personal belief system and your work belief system are in slight to moderate misalignment, you can still function in the position for a period of time. If they are a long way apart, then you need to change jobs because the stress of the misalignment will impact negatively your health and well being.
As you may have guessed, the first step in belief system alignment is discernment. Basically, you need to ask yourself the timeless question: “What is my belief system and am I in alignment with it?”
Experience has taught me that the best way to discern whether or not a personal or work belief is valid for you is to confidently tap into your “inner” compass. The good news is that everyone has one, and the even better news is that your inner compass is linked to happiness, fulfillment, job satisfaction, feeling valued and appreciated, and inner peace; in essence, it is the filter that is in direct alignment with the true North of your heart, mind, and spirit.
Tapping into Your Inner Compass
Three things to remember about your inner compass:
First, the more you use it, the more confident, clear, and empowered you become;
Second, sometimes the needle of the compass might be a little off (away from true North). For example, if you are in the forest finding your way and have a lot of metal on your body, you will have difficulty finding the true magnetic North. (This happened to an engineer friend who stubbornly insisted that his compass was pointing true North only to discover that his gloves had a thick metal buckle that was skewing the compass needle to North West). The same principle applies to your personal and workplace belief compass; you have to be open to removing the “metaphorical metal”, so your inner compass needle reads true;
Third, every now and then your beliefs need to be challenged, refreshed, and revitalized; the more you do it, the easier and more natural it gets.
So, when was the last time you examined your work and personal beliefs, put them under the microscope and challenged what you really believe to be true?
If you are like most people, the most impressive kick-at-the-belief-can will be in the flicker and fade of self-improvement New Year resolutions; unless of course, you have a life changing event that leaves you hanging upside down like a bat in a cave; or if you choose to employ the services of a life coach.
Would it surprise you to know that many people buy into belief systems by distraction, convenience, or default? You know what I’m talking about; the plethora of “ready-made” belief systems, like the ones that come to you through your family of origin, authority figures, consumerism, or via the shiny tinsel values of popular culture (gasp!). I’m not saying that there aren’t valuable beliefs that are passed along through these vehicles, just that unless your inner belief compass is engaged, robust, and pointing true North, how in the world will you be able to tell the difference?
Four Tips to Tune-up Your Beliefs
If you are interested in doing some good ol’ spring cleaning in the personal and workplace belief department, here are four tips:
Be patient, gentle, and accepting with yourself; this is a process, not a race;
Learn to listen to the subtle, positive guidance of your inner compass; having the gumption and confidence to act on the guidance of your inner compass comes later;
Look to Nature for nourishment and support; observe eco-systems, acknowledge that as a human being, you are part of an eco-system; from this vantage point, observe how you beliefs shift, evolve and grow;
Pick up a current belief and ask yourself “When and where did I get this belief?” Go deeper to explore if the belief is driven by ideology or what feels good and true in relation to your evolving relationship with your inner compass. After this exploration, ask yourself “What steps am I taking if I do believe in this?” or “What steps am I taking if I don’t believe in this?”
Finally, if you find yourself in a position where you have challenged, explored, and then chosen to embrace a personal or work belief, look at what structures you can put in place to support the belief, so it will in turn support you as you go about your daily life. For example, I believe that one of the true currencies of life is kindness, so I actively integrate, acknowledge, and nurture this energy every day. The net result is that my belief and actions are in sync, so precious nuggets of happiness, inner peace, and fulfillment are mine to enjoy.
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Photo credit: “Belief” by Steve Rhodes via Flicker