How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Navigating Through Life
Guest articles > Navigating Through Life
by: Ronit Baras
A journey I just don't have a map for
– Darren Hayes
As you all know by now, I love quotes. In one of his songs, Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) sings about “a journey I just don’t have a map for”. I realised that I also talk about “the journey” and about finding the map to navigate it with. I think this phrase describes the way most people feel about life – confused, like they’re on a journey without a map, with circumstances that control their lives, without the ability to choose their path.
Every person in the universe is searching for happiness. Looking for that one “map” that everyone else is looking for, the one we think will fit us all. But we all have different things that make us happy. Therefore, we each use a different map to guide us to our “happiness”.
In our journey toward happiness, we take roads, stop at stoplights, drive through dirt roads and encounter round-a-bouts. Some roads are longer than others, some are shorter. In some, we face junctions, some in which we get stuck at, not knowing what’s stopping us.
Our internal map is made of things that happen to us during our lifetime. This is why there are as many maps as there are people on Earth. Our beliefs are the roads on this map. If I believe that “people can’t be trusted”, then I will ignore the road called “people are doing the best they can” and never ever set foot on it. If I believe that “I have wonderful children”, I will ignore the road called “my daughter wasn’t nice to my son”, even if I cross it many times. People like to take the roads they know, even if they are slow, long or even painful. And the more they take a road, the more they ignore other roads.
We start drawing our maps from childhood. We draw nice and not-so-nice roads, long and short roads and use our beliefs as the pencil. We draw roads and signs to allow us to navigate our life in the future. It is the certainty we draw, the same confidence you have when you hold a map and try to find a friends house in an unknown city. How do we actually form our beliefs?
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination
– Tommy Lasdora
There are 5 sources we take our beliefs from: Education, Environment, Media, Past Outcome and Creative Thinking.
Mum, dad or a teacher said something when we thought they were gods, so we created a road. The more they said it, the more defined my road became. “You are very responsible child”, they said and, sure enough, whenever I have to choose between being responsible or not, I take the road of “responsibility”. If they said “you’re forgetful”, many years later, the road of forgetting would be the road I would take, without stopping to really choose. My road just seems like the only one there.
We look at the people around us, the way they dress or do their hair and we create roads like “only girls have long hair” and eliminate any trace of “long hair looks good on guys too”. We grow up in a certain type of neighborhood, where the houses are made of timer, and learn to believe that it’s like that everywhere, not ever being able to imagine tall buildings made of bricks and concrete. We hear a certain language spoken by everyone and expect strangers to be speaking the same language when we meet them.
TV and newspapers have the ability to shape many of our beliefs. Millions of people take roads they only see on TV, like drinking roads or smoking roads. Do you know how many women around the world take the road “if I use Revlon’s moisturizer, I’m going to look as pretty as the model on TV”? Other roads like “all moisturizers just add water to the surface and a $3 moisturizer can do the same” are ignored, since the companies selling the $3 product do not advertise on TV (If they did, their product would not cost $3, would it?). Media has a huge effect on our belief systems. We are taken on certain roads so many times that, after a while, these roads become familiar and comfortable to us.
During our life, we experience many things ourself and draw conclusions from them. We smile at people and they smile back, so we decide, “if I smile at somebody, they will smile back at me”. We say some nasty things to our sister and get chased around the house and finally caught and we decide “it hurts to be nasty to big sisters”. In much the same way, we form beliefs about what we are good at, what we can and cannot do, how others respond to things we do and so on.
Our goals for example, come from our creative thinking. This is a source where we create the belief in our own mind. We imagine it will happen and force our subconscious in that direction. Many athletes successfully use this technique in their training. Since the brain cannot distinguish 100% between imaginations and reality, we use our imagination to pretend it is a road that is possible to take.
The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants in life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it’s possible
– David Viscott
We form many of the beliefs without being aware of having formed them. We adopt them from our parents, teachers, circumstances, observations and imagination. If we look into them and the time when we adopted them, we will find that at the time we were young, with a different mindset, in different circumstances and with less knowledge. It may have been in a different culture or a different financial situation.
The circumstances may not be the same now, but that’s irrelevant, because every belief we make, we keep until we choose to change it. For example, when I was young and it rained, it was cold and I formed the belief that it always rains when it is cold. Now that I live in Brisbane, it rains when it is hot, yet I dress warmly. I have confused my body with my belief.
Some of our beliefs are so strong that we do not notice other roads, which could set us free. To explain what I mean, I will tell you a story (I love telling stories):
The Little Elephant
One day, a boy went to the circus with his father and saw a huge elephant tied to a tiny stake with a rope.
“Daddy”, asked the boy, “This Elephant is so big and strong and the stake is so small and short, he could set himself free just by taking two steps to the side. Why doesn’t he do it?”
And his father said, “My son, when this elephant was very small, just a baby, he did try to break away from this stake, but he wasn’t strong enough. He tried and tried for months, until he finally gave up, believing that it is impossible to break free. Now, he does not try anymore, because he does not believe it is possible. We are the same, my son. Many things happen to us at childhood, which we try to change, but then stop trying. Many of us are still tied with ropes to tiny stakes, just like this big elephant”.
I am sure you’re asking yourself “Well, does it mean we have to try again and again? When do we learn that certain things are simply impossible and shift our energy to other things?” The answer to that is “Never! As long as something is important to you, it’s possible and you should try to get it again and again”.
You see, Thomas Edison tried 1,500 different types of wire to use on the light bulb. 1,500! Do you understand that if Edison thought like us, we would never have light? In a sense, if we do not think like Edison, we stay in the dark.
Success is determined by those who prove the impossible possible
– James W. Pence
In coaching, we learn to examine our belief systems. We learn to review our beliefs and leave only the ones that are good for us to have. We learn to revise them to suit our new age, culture, role, circumstances and mindset. In other words, we bring our beliefs up to date. We learn to choose the roads of acceptance, love and motivation, roads that are easy to navigate, where happiness is part of our daily life. We choose roads full of light!
May the light shine on you and may you find your way even in the darkest moments.
Even the sky is NOT the limit
– Ronit Baras
Be happy in life!
Ronit Baras is an Educator, Journalist, Author, Life Coach and a presenter specializing in Emotional Intelligence. Ronit is the founder of the Be Happy in LIFE program
Contributor: Ronit Baras
Published here on: 18-May-08
Classification: Development, Beliefs
MSWord: Navigating Through Life.doc