Stale beliefs cause bad habits, unhappiness, depression, anger, and exposure to negative environments or unsafe people. Energy is wasted to sustain stale beliefs. By identifying and addressing them, you free up time and energy to learn, grow, and evolve.
This entry is the conclusion to the Stale Beliefs series. Previous parts of this series are:
- Stale Beliefs (Part 1: Definition), which presents how beliefs are formed and what constitutes a stale belief.
- Stale Beliefs (Part 2: Identifying), which offers ways to recognize stale beliefs.
Why Address Stale Beliefs
As described in Part 2, stale beliefs drive unnecessary and often destructive behaviors. By holding on to stale beliefs you put your mental, emotional, and physical health at risk. Whether it is the behavior the stale belief causes, the situations you find yourself in, or beating yourself up for these, a toll is taken on your health.
In addition, unnecessary beliefs take time and energy to sustain. Ridding yourself of stale beliefs frees up space to discover new ones or concentrate on existing, positive beliefs.
How to Address Stale Beliefs
Once you have identified a stale belief by using the techniques offered in Part 2, you can eliminate or alter it. Both take observation, awareness, and commitment to avoid falling back into old patterns of belief and behavior. Eliminating a belief requires observing your behavior to recognize when the belief is present so you can consciously stop the behavior and remind yourself the belief is no longer true for you. It helps to adopt a mantra. Some examples of useful mantras are I am worthy to get out of an abusive relationship or I am debt free to eliminate credit card debt.
Altering a belief is to change it to be beneficial versus destructive. For example, you are a workaholic because you believe, I am valued for all the work I do. It’s not bad to have a good work ethic, but it is destructive when it is at the expense of yourself and others. One solution is to ask family and friends what they admire about you, other than working. Add whatever that is to your belief. So, if they value you for being a good listener, alter the belief to be, I am valued for my work, and I am also valued for being a good listener.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When eliminating or altering a belief, it helps to ask yourself some questions:
How does this belief serve me? Beliefs form to serve a purpose in our lives. They are necessary for survival, whether by making sense of our world or fitting in to it. Knowing how a belief has served you prepares you for what will be missing when it is eliminated or altered. Even if the missing thing is bad for you, it is a change to your “normal” world.
How did this belief form in the first place? Although not always easy or possible to answer, knowing the source of a belief helps you to understand why you have it and why it is no longer required.
What will happen if I give up this belief? Even beliefs that cause you to behave in unhealthy ways can be hard to give up. Stale beliefs are familiar and the results are expected. Discarding a stale belief can be scary when you do not know what will happen or fear what you know will happen.
(For more information on these questions, see Challenging Belief to Change Behavior.)
What you think, hear, feel, and say are all clues to your beliefs because your behavior is a reflection of your beliefs. When a belief becomes stale, the behavior it drives is unhealthy and often destructive. Stale beliefs prevent you from learning and evolving, so they must be identified and challenged.