Style Disappointed? Frustrated? Are You Making This Common Mental Mistake?

Do you find yourself repeatedly running into the same disappointments, roadblocks, and frustrations? Does this make you think that’s just the way life is for you? What if the reason for your poor results is a common mental mistake? In this article, you’ll learn this Primary Mistake we all make and how you can fix it.To help you understand this mistake, I’d like to share a short anecdote from my own life.Lessons from GrandpaAround age 10 (about the age of my picture at the beginning of this chapter), my Grandpa called me into his living room and sat me down for a chat. I could tell by the stern look on his face that he wasn’t happy. In his hand, he held a rolled-up magazine.Once I sat down, he unrolled the magazine and showed me the cover. I immediately recognized it as one of my own music fan mags, and he said, sharply, “What is this nonsense?”He went on to yell at me, saying that reading this magazine was unacceptable in his house and so was my long hair! What was I? A girl?He tore the magazine up and told me to go to my room-which I did, at a run.In my room, I sat on the edge of the bed in shock.My Grandpa was someone I looked up to. He was the one who taught me how to make jigsaw puzzles, let me sit at his bar downstairs and have a soda pop with a maraschino cherry in it, took me out for ice cream in his VW Beetle, and brought me in to work at his office to earn spending money. He taught me invaluable lessons about being on time, working hard, doing my best, and treating myself when the work was done.Looking back on that shocking interaction from my adult point of view, I can understand that, from his perspective, he probably saw his lessons about “the magazine” and “the hair” as helping me grow up to do things “the right way” and be successful. Yet, back then, at that moment, I wasn’t exactly sure how to compute what happened.

Because my Grandpa’s critique came as such a shock, I shut down emotionally and was unable to consciously process my experience. Subconsciously, I absorbed his judgments. I rebelled against them, identified with my rebellion, and formed beliefs about myself and life based on them. This greatly affected how I viewed myself and my possibilities, how I viewed others, and how I viewed my place in the world.From my youthful perspective, a couple of messages came through loud and clear: my interests were wrong and so was my personal style. If I wanted to be loved and accepted, I had better shape up. If I didn’t, I would be shut out and left alone. Mostly, what I took away from that day was that “I was somebody who just didn’t fit in.”One result of this revelation was that I became somewhat of a silent rebel. Since my perspective was unacceptable, I mostly kept it to myself. This reinforced my already “quiet and sensitive” nature.On the inside, I became highly critical of the culture in which I lived and committed to not fitting in. This time period coincided with the end of the Vietnam War and Watergate, so that cultural critique seemed well-justified.I also developed a belief that, since I wasn’t one of those who fit in, I would have to work really hard and suffer a lot to make it here in this world. I came to believe that this planet was just a harsh place for someone like me to be.It took me years to recognize the impact of that early experience, heal it, and grow beyond it.The Primary Mistake We All MakeWhen we have any experience, the primary mistake we all make is to think that “the way we experience things is the way things are.” Intense or often-repeated experiences create strong beliefs about the way things are. We absorb those beliefs, attach to them, identify with them, and live from them as if they are true, as if they accurately represent Reality. We then tend to think these beliefs will always be true and continue to act in alignment with them. This, in turn, produces results in our lives that reinforce those beliefs.We say to ourselves, “This is the way I am. That is the way the world is. And, I can back it up with that intense experience I had-and all the other similar experiences I have had since.”Most of this process of perception and justification happens subconsciously. On the surface, we just find ourselves looking at life in certain ways and thinking that’s the way things are.So, what’s the big deal? Why is this so important to realize?The big deal is that this Primary Mistake leads us to attach to beliefs that severely limit us and create conflict with others. It leads to “Black and White Thinking” and rigid prejudices that tremendously over-simplify life.As we hold tightly to these rigid viewpoints, we tend to judge ourselves and project judgments onto others. We see ourselves and others conditionally. Only if people behave in certain ways, have certain preferences, or conform to certain beliefs and values, are they worthy of being loved, cared for, and rewarded. Otherwise, they are excluded or punished.What Limiting Beliefs Do You Hold?Depending on your own personal circumstances and interactions growing up, you may come away with any number of limiting beliefs such as:

-I am not safe. I need to be on guard. The world is a dangerous place. Life is overwhelming.-I am responsible for how others feel and must make them feel better.-Others only love me if I do what they want me to.-I can’t trust anyone.-I am not capable or worthy of having what I want or getting what I need.-I am unlovable as I am. I need to be different than I am.-It’s not safe to speak up or express myself. No one wants to hear what I have to say. No one gets me. I don’t fit in.-I don’t know what to do. Life is chaotic and confusing. I am unprepared for life.-I am alone. No one wants to be with me.Maybe you hold some of these beliefs, or related ones, at some level? If you’re not sure, a telltale sign is any situation in your life that is repeatedly frustrating. Is there anything you hope or wish for but haven’t been able to do, be, or have? A limiting belief is hiding there.Subconsciously, underneath your awareness, limiting beliefs shape the results in your life and how you relate to them. They inform your perceived choices and determine what you see as real and possible for you. These beliefs become Your World. They become your dominant perspective. They become lenses through which you look at yourself and others. They form the basis of your judgments, hopes, fears, enjoyment, and suffering-and create inner tensions that hold you back.As you learn to identify the limiting beliefs that hold you back, you can consciously let them go, so you can welcome the experiences you truly desire.