These are questions that plague people in their mid-twenties to early thirties. Do I go travel the world? Well, that’s expensive; I’ve got bills to pay. Do I start reading books and answering a set of questions? That might help. Experimenting. That is how you find yourself. If you want to find your voice and learn what truly matters to you – you must explore by experimenting.
How do you do this? One way to experiment is to reject your beliefs. You take a “belief” you have about an area of your life, reject it and do the opposite for a period of time (recommend a minimum of two months), then see how you feel about the new you after this period is completed. For example, if you believe you enjoy eating out. Try not eating out for a period of time to see how much of an impact eating out really has on you. During this period, you should explore other activities – such as cooking a variety of meals at home or hosting people at your house.
This period is really a test to validate if what you believe about yourself is actually true and it also helps you discover why that belief is so important to you. You may discover that you don’t miss eating out at all or you discover how important the social experience you get from eating out with your friends is to you. You may conclude that the satisfaction you get from eating out can be achieved in several other ways.
For the longest time, I was an avid watcher Bravo channel. Every week, I would watch every TV show that was on Bravo. I never considered canceling my cable because I had a strong belief that the real housewives series or million dollar listing was needed for my entertainment. Well, one day I decided to explore this area and see if I could survive. Inside, I was cringing at the thought of not having cable. Several thoughts crossed through my mind like what would I do on the weekends? How would my friends feel if they came by my house and I did not have Cable – will they think I am cheap or broke? Will my son have social problems in school because his peers can sing the Mickey Mouse song and he can’t? Well, we pulled the plug and cut off cable. Guess what? I never missed it. I started watching Netflix instead whenever I wanted to be entertained on the weekends. I discovered that Netflix also has an amazing catalogue of kids’ shows. I also picked up reading. So what did I learn about myself? Many forms of simple entertainment can be satisfying to me.
I also recently rejected the idea that a female engineer should wear pants always. Since I started my engineering career over eight years ago, I always wore pants because it was convenient for my work environment. The truth is 90% of my time was spent working on my laptop in the office, so I’m not sure why I strongly held on to that belief and did not change. I would often go to the store and see beautiful dresses but convinced myself that I should not buy them because I could not wear them. I convinced myself that it could be a potential safety issue on the manufacturing floor. Whereas, if I really wanted to, I could easily have placed some extra clothes at work to change if needed. In the last year, I rejected that belief and started wearing dresses to work. I thought it would be a big deal but nobody cared. I learned that as long as your clothing was appropriate for work, no one cared if you wore a dress or pants or skirt.
This past year, I took up coaching people on how to lose weight and after losing over 60lbs post birth of my son. I knew it was really a mental game. I tell my clients this, yet again and again, I heard people say “I can’t stop eating jollof rice”. To become healthy, you really have to reject that idea for yourself and see how far you go in two months. If you want to become a healthy individual, you have to reject your current beliefs and change it from “I can’t eat jollof rice every day” to “I am a healthy person. I will eat other nutritious foods and eat rice once a week”. I would love to see how much difference it makes in your life. You will discover other foods that you love just as much as jollof rice. You will feel lighter and build more confidence in yourself, and finally, you will increase your chance of a longer life.
We build up certain beliefs about ourselves that make our lives easy in our decision making. The brain of an adult has to make about 35,000 decisions a day; so these beliefs helps our subconscious mind make decisions faster. The problem is that these beliefs can also limit us in our progress in life and so it is necessary to challenge them often to see how true they are. Rejecting your beliefs to explore will help you discover a more concrete version of yourself.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime |Diana Eller