You Have the Power to Transform Your Beliefs — Here’s How
Every ending allows for a new beginning, just as every obstacle presents an opportunity for redirection.
You probably said or thought something this morning along the lines of “I should do this”, “It should go this way”, or “Things should be different.” And in many cases, your should statements may be valid.
But, have you ever considered that your shoulds (a.ka. your beliefs) might be more than just statements or wishful thoughts? That they could be covertly manipulating your perspectives, decisions, and actions? That they could be doing more harm than good in your life?
This may sound contrary to everything you’ve ever learned or said, but that’s the point of this article. So, let’s explore the true power behind your shoulds, and how you can redefine them.
Defining and Understanding the Word Should
In daily speech, should is often used as an auxiliary verb, which accompanies another to assist in making a distinction between mood, voice, tense (past, present, future), and more.
When defining should in this way, it’s used to express a conditional or contingent act or state of being. It can also be used to convey a belief (whether certain or uncertain), and to communicate a moral obligation or something that you feel “ought” to happen.
Two things I want to break down here:
1. What is a conditional act or state of being?
Something conditional is subject to, based on, or dependent on something else. It is often used as a boolean expression, meaning it can be based on a binary true or false condition.
When it comes to beliefs, (something that can be expressed via a should statement) your conditional clause can be rooted in the idea that for something to happen, it has to occur in X way. Or, to feel a certain way or achieve a certain thing, X condition has to be met.
These beliefs can be something you created for yourself or that were influenced by your external environment from the day you were born until now.
This is called programming, and your programming or belief systems are stored within your unconscious mind, which seep into the subconscious mind and are later expressed through the conscious mind as you do, say, think, and so on.
Here are some examples:
- “I should work harder so that I can make more money.”
- “I should save my money instead of going on vacation.”
- “I shouldn’t date right now because I am trying to heal.”
- “I should be detached in a relationship to avoid being vulnerable or misunderstood.”
- “Things should go this way so that I can feel at peace.”
- “I should wait to go back to school because I don’t have enough time or energy.”
- “I should be nice to be well-liked by others.”
2. What is a contingent act or state of being?
Similar to something being conditional, a contingent act or state of being is “dependent on or conditioned by something else.” To add, that something else could change, be unpredictable, not happen, be intended for something else, and so on.
This part is interesting because it incorporates the unknown and your free will.
Meaning, from an example provided above, if you were to release the belief that “I should work harder so that I can make more money,” this makes the primary focus of that statement — being, making more money — no longer contingent on how hard you work. In this instance, you have freed your mind from the condition (programming) of hard work equaling more money.
When you understand the mechanics of how a conditional should statement works, you can then ask yourself how your shoulds are being used to manipulate your life in the way that you believe it has to be done.
Activity #1: Flipping Your Should Statements into Affirmations
Before we go any further, I invite you to begin listing out any of your should statements and flipping them into positive affirmations. Here are some examples from the samples listed in the previous section:
“I should work harder so that I can make more money.”
I am happy and grateful for the money that comes to me easily and effortlessly in increasing quantities from multiple sources.
“I should save my money instead of going on vacation.”
The money I spend returns to me 10 fold. I am financially stable and able to take time to relax, explore, and celebrate myself on a vacation.
“I shouldn’t date right now because I am trying to heal.”
I trust that I attract the right people into my life that respect and support my journey and honor my greatest and highest good.
“I should be detached in a relationship to avoid being vulnerable or misunderstood.”
I show up as my authentic self in a relationship. I allow myself to be engaged, intuitive, intentional, and aware in a relationship. I trust and follow my intuition. I allow myself to be seen and heard. I trust that all will be well and I will be at peace no matter what happens in a relationship.
“Things should go this way so that I can feel at peace.”
I allow myself to trust that the unknown is working in my highest favor. I am at peace no matter what happens.
“I should wait to go back to school because I don’t have enough time or energy.”
I have limitless amounts of time and energy to pursue my passions and do what brings me excitement.
“I should be nice to be well-liked by others.”
I show up as my authentic self. I honor and integrate my shadows and light. Being my authentic self honors my truth and attracts the people who honor my greatest and highest good to me.
How Your Shoulds Can Impact Your Work
Outside of how you use should in your personal life — to achieve X or do Y — you should also consider how your conditional shoulds show up in your work.
For example, let’s consider how the belief system of a decision-maker may impact how a community addresses climate change.
When combined with a moral obligation to prioritize the wellbeing and justice of a community, qualitative and quantitative evidence, and the flexibility to alter course if matters evolve, how a decision-maker believes how climate change should be addressed could be very useful and even save lives.
On the other hand, there could be decision-makers, policymakers, or actors on the ground that could express conditional beliefs on how climate change should be addressed based on their expertise only.
But, their motivation may be short-sighted, non-inclusive, unflexible, ill-motivated, unintentional, unempathic, not well researched, and/or rooted in an unwillingness to genuinely collaborate and support the longevity of a community.
What we see here is an attachment to belief systems of what should happen that excludes the voice of those impacted, ultimately harming the long-term stability and holistic wellness of a community and their environment.
This is just one example, however, we can briefly see that the shoulds — better yet beliefs — that you hold on to can have significant impacts on the people, places, animals, things, etc. that you may be working with in your day-to-day.
Another example of how your shoulds could get in the way at work:
Let’s say you’re the marketing director at a corporate firm. You’re great at your job, and based on your expertise, you feel as if you know how things should go to reach the firm’s marketing goals.
However, there’s been a recent hire in the department, and they have an idea on how to engage a larger audience.
There are a few ways you could approach this employee’s ideas: not hear their ideas, hear their ideas and do nothing about if you believe it could be too “risky” or doesn’t follow your tried and tested methods, or collaborate with their idea.
In this case, your shoulds (or beliefs) could be subconsciously influencing whether you’re open to their ideas or not. Yet, their ideas could revolutionize your firm in ways beyond your imagination. Here is where you have to check in with why you may be against their idea.
Is it really too “radical” or “far out there” or “uncharacteristic”, or does it just not follow your belief system?
In this case, it could serve you well to bring awareness to your beliefs and consider expanding past them, especially when someone else’s ideas may be a bet worth taking.
Ultimately, you should take time to learn what your shoulds are so that you have a better understanding of how your beliefs may be hindering or impacting your life, your work, and others.
I advise you to follow your intuition, but it’s also important to discern whether your intuition is talking or something else is. This is where self-inquiry helps bring clarity to the muddled places of the mind.
Activity 2: How to uncover your shoulds
So far, you’ve come to understand that your shoulds are just one way you could be manipulating your life or someone in some way.
Perhaps not ever conditional should you have is meant to be controlling. Perhaps some of your conditional shoulds highlight the difference between right and wrong and uphold your moral and ethical compass.
I won’t get into questioning morality and dissecting how right vs. wrong is speculated differently by each of us, but I do have some prompts that can you help learn about your shoulds and understand how they may be limiting or impacting your life.
This activity comes from the mind-altering audiobook by Gabrielle Bernstein titled, “The Universe Has Your Back.”
There’s a chapter dedicated to exploring and changing your perspective of your shoulds from limiting obstacles to opportunities for expansion, ultimately releasing those beliefs.
To start, this practice uses self-inquiry in which allows the self to become aware of conditions, beliefs, thoughts, and more that you may have about yourself, life, and others. It is that awareness in which nothing of the self can hide, thus, allowing you to peel back limiting or fear-based layers that may be keeping you trapped in cycles.
With this practice, you can experience the true Self and radically accept, forgive, and love yourself each step of the way.
Grab a pen and paper or the notepad on your phone and ask yourself these questions:
- Is the word should blocking my flow?
- In what way is my should or shoulds mentally co-creating obstacles in my life?
- In what areas of my life am I using shoulds and thus manipulating the outcome?
When answering these questions, take your time and allow the answers to come to you. They could come quickly or over time. Simply allow them to come as they will without the use of concerted effort.
Allow yourself to be open and brutally honest as the answers come. There could be a chance that you may want to resist an answer because it can “feel” out of alignment with what you think you believe about yourself or who you think you are.
However, do not suppress, repress, or ignore this side of yourself. Send it awareness and allow it to flow out. Here is where you get to practice radical self-acceptable for what is and what comes.
When I wrote my list of shoulds, it ended up being way longer than I expected, including things I never knew I believed. This allowed me to see how I have been trying to control my life and outcomes based on my beliefs. It provided me the opportunity to visually see where I created obstacles in my life and, thus, release them.
Practice the following visual meditation:
Allow yourself to sit, stand, or lie down in a comfortable place.
Minimize noise and/or other distractions and close your eyes as you’re willing to.
Take 3 deep breaths, allowing the belly to expand on your inhale and contract on your exhale.
When you exhale, breathe all of the air out of your belly/lungs.
Once you feel calm, using your imagination, notice there is a golden transparent orb in front of you, effortlessly floating. This is where you will place your should/belief.
Now, feel the should you have in question, the should you want to release.
Notice what emotions, tension, or feelings come up for you as you think of it. Let them move freely through your body, allowing the energy to express itself as you sit back like an observer watching a play.
Now, imagine an angel or a helpful spirit that loves you comes behind you and places a loving hand on your shoulder. They will take this should away from you, releasing you from its confines and conditions.
Inhale in and exhale out that should and imagine it, like a gray smoke, leaving your body filling the golden orb in front of you.
As the angel or helpful spirit sends you comfort and love as you release, allow them to take that orb. Watch as they fly off to the ends of the universe completely releasing you from the should that you placed into it.
Now, know that you are free, and say this prayer:
Thank you, God, for helping me see this obstacle as an opportunity. I step back and let you lead the way.
You can repeat this meditation and prayer for each should you become aware of.
On the journey of self-acceptance and self-liberation, there can be much to explore. Yet, I encourage you to take your time and not see yourself or past beliefs as obstacles, but as opportunities to move beyond them.
In many instances, your beliefs shared a purpose in keeping you safe at some point in time. So, when bringing awareness to them and releasing them, it’s important to send them gratitude for the work they’ve done in the name of self-preservation.
You always know when you’re ready to move on, and when those conditional beliefs are no longer serving your journey forward.
So, with the power you have as a conscious creator, you can now transmute old limiting beliefs and patterns and embrace a new path — destined for growth, love, and prosperity.
Simply give yourself the chance to evolve and go beyond.