Have you been to the circus lately?
I know it’s an odd question to ask in a self-development article but be patient. In the circus, you’ll find clowns, gymnasts, and animals of all sorts and sizes, but there is one animal that you’re almost guaranteed to find. It’s the elephant.
If you think about it, you’ll find that the elephant is a huge animal. If it ever decides to run away, it could cause serious chaos and disruption in the whole neighborhood. The question is: Why doesn’t the elephant try to escape?
Whenever a new elephant is brought to the circus, it is chained to a heavy iron ball. The elephant struggles in vain to escape. Every day, the elephant repeatedly tries to escape until it finally loses hope of ever being free. The elephant has built up a false belief of the impossibility of escaping. Even when the chains are removed, they will never try to escape again.
You’ve Been Brainwashed.
All of us have been in that elephant’s situation at some point in our life. We don’t believe that it’s our fault. We’re being brainwashed every day by our friends, colleagues, and the media. Society is always creating certain ‘barriers’ that are supposedly impenetrable to any normal human being. They are simply out of reach, except if you’re a genius or very lucky. Here is a list of some false beliefs that you may have acquired throughout your life:
- I can’t learn a new sport now; I should have started when I was a kid.
- It’s tough to find a decent job these days; there is no way I could ever have a proper job.
- No one gets everything in life. You have to choose.
- When you get married, you won’t have time for any activities.
- I can’t quit smoking. Even if I could, it will only be temporary.
- I’m not lucky. If I had been lucky, I would have had everything that I wanted.
- Luck DOES exist!
How false beliefs change people’s lives
If you’re still taking the issue lightheartedly, let me tell you a story that will change your perspective. It revolves around two friends: Joe and Bob, who regularly hang out and play basketball together.
Joe, in particular, was taught by his parents that no one gets everything in life.
Joe and Bob started applying for jobs, and – by coincidence – they both got an interview at the same company. After passing the interview, they were told that the job requires them to work 12 hours a day with only one day off per week. This meant that whoever accepted the job would have to quit playing basketball because he won’t have enough time. Joe thought: “Well, I can’t get everything in life. I’ll accept the job and give up a basketball,” and so he took the job. Bob, on the other hand, though: “No, thanks. I’m sure there’s a better job somewhere that suits my schedule. After all, I don’t want to give up my favorite sport.” and didn’t accept the job.
After few months, Joe started to feel that something was missing in his life. He got used to the good mood that accompanies regular exorcising, and his brain got used to getting more oxygen.
As a result, Joe started to feel depressed without knowing why. He even left his job, thinking that its the reason for his unhappiness.
When people live in a Virtual World
Stories such as these happen every day because there are people who have similar false beliefs. Most people are unaware of their powers. Some people are held back only by these false beliefs, even though they have many abilities and opportunities for advancement. They convince themselves that they are fine and that this is the way life was meant to be. Those people describe life from their own unique perspective without paying any attention to the real reality.
Lots of people do not take enough action to improve their lives.
Some people do not try to learn anything new, and they believe that it’s so hard to get a decent job, regardless of how well you’re skilled. They indulge in bad habits like smoking and drugs and think that they can never give it up. Some people quit sports and get fat, thinking that their marriage and career should consume their whole time. “Well, you can’t get everything in life, can you?” they say.
Some people even go a step further and stay broken for years after breaking up just because of false beliefs. False beliefs like “He is the one” or “He is my soul mate” can prevent you from recovering fast. A key element in getting over breakups in a short period of time is identifying these false beliefs then dealing with them.
Challenge Your Beliefs
It gets hilarious when people start spreading false beliefs without even TESTING them. I was once seeking a certain computer certification, and whenever I asked someone about it, I was told that it’s tough to pass the exam.
I admit that I was about to believe them at the beginning, but then I decided to ask those people, “What is so difficult about the exam?”. You’ll be astonished by the reply: “We don’t know. We never tried to take it.” These people believed that the exam was so hard just because other people told them so!
So most people say things and spread beliefs that they haven’t even tested!!
What’s the correct action to take when you get to deal with such people?
First, you should test those opinions. If someone told you that you couldn’t lift that box over there, then don’t just take his word for it; go and try it by yourself. Just because he couldn’t lift it doesn’t mean that you can’t either. Similarly, if someone didn’t have the qualities required to land a job, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have these qualities. People differ in their qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. To sum it up:
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
— Henry Ford.