As I was leaving the shala this morning, I looked up at the sky. There's something so relaxing and rejuvenating about seeing what's in the sky. I highly recommend it. So there I was looking at the sky, walking to my car. What did I see? The moon!
It took me back to first grade at Crestview Elementary. I had a four question True/False Science quiz. Looking back, I understand the point of what the curriculum was trying to teach. It was trying to get us to associate the sun with daytime and the moon with nighttime. One of the statements was, "True/False -- you can see the moon during the day." Of course, I knew that the sun comes out during the day and the moon at night. The wording of this question was too vague in my 7 year old mind because, technically yes, you can see the moon during the day. Not all the time, but it is possible. So I answered true, got it wrong, and made a 75 on the quiz. Now, as an adult, I get tickled every time I see the moon during the day. I wish I could call up Ms. Howard and say, "Ms. Howard, it's LaTisha. I am looking at the moon right now and it's daytime."
I say this because it's so easy to cling to something we've been taught, told repeatedly, or that we believe to be true. This belief can either empower us or hold us back, without us even realizing it.
If you're struggling with work, your love life or any other area of your life for that matter, I highly suggest getting to the root of the matter. Sure, exogenous factors can totally affect you. Oftentimes, though, the struggle that we see outward is a direct result of something on the inside.
So how do we do that exactly? Here are some helpful tips:
(Please note: approach this exercise with curiosity. Notice what comes up for you, but don't judge yourself or your responses.)
1) Examine your beliefs. Ask yourself, "What do I believe to be true about my ___ (insert word here -- career potential, love life, body image, etc.)?"
2) Journal out your answers. Set your timer for five minutes. Let yourself get loose. Don't edit yourself, either. Complete sentences, phrases, one word answers, pictures. Let it all come out. If you find that you're uncomfortable, blocked, or that you are being triggered, stop and take a breath. Ground down in your body (I usually like to observe and tune into what my feet feel like). Pick up your pen and keep writing.
3) Notice if there are any common themes or if you're able to group your answers into categories. Perhaps, with your career potential, you're noticing that strong themes around not being qualified enough, not really knowing what you want out of your career, lack of confidence, etc.
4) Ask yourself, "Why do I believe this?" or "Where did this come from?" Set your timer for ten minutes and write in your journal. Where did you learn this belief? In school? From your parents? Your friends? What evidence in your personal experience has shown that this belief is true? What recent experience supports this belief?
5) Notice which beliefs stem from personal experience (both past and recent) and which ones come from outside sources (such as school, society, parents, friends, etc.). We are highly influenced by our environment and those around us. How much of what you believe comes from you or others?
6) See if the opposite is true. Continuing with the work example, if you notice that "lack of confidence" is a strong theme for you, ask yourself, "Where in other areas of my life do I exhibit confidence?" Perhaps you are confident in front of the youth group you lead at church or you feel really confident standing in front of your backyard barbecue pit.
7) Send for reinforcements. Talk to your mentor, your best friend, your life coach (people who support you, listen to you, brainstorm with you) about what has come up for you. You don't have to go at this alone.
8) Let it marinate. Give yourself the time and space you need to process. In today's environment, we are used to instant gratification. Unfortunately, when it comes to personal development, slow and steady wins the race. As you peel back the onion to get to the root of your beliefs, you may experience frustration, sadness, anger, doubt, etc. It may make you want to back off. This is normal. Meditate. Pray. Journal. Go for a walk. Shake it off. When you're ready, get back to it. If you walk away, come back. Keep coming back. The process of coming back is where the good stuff is.
Your soul is rooting for you and so am I.