Limiting Beliefs — Influence of Education: Part II

Education is a great thing for many reasons, it helps build social skills, teaches the basics of reading, and brings consistency to our communities.  However, it also can create difficulties for many people.  It isn’t intended to be this way, however unwittingly it does present some challenges for many people.  There are three areas of concern.

      1. Elevation of or de-elevating areas of study
      2. Having unique and different ideas
      3. Problem-solving and how it can be discouraged.

First, the trouble starts, when different subjects are elevated or “de-elevated” as having more or less value.  If you are lucky to have your gifts in the “elevated” subjects, life seems good.  However, if your gifts lie in subjects that are “de-elevated” you may pick up some beliefs that your gifts are not valuable, and even worse that you are not valuable.

Take, for instance, your talents lie in the arts.  When asked to draw a picture, yours is awe-inspiring.  Or, when you’re asked to play some music, your fingers glide over an instrument creating sounds of beauty.

You have great talent; however, you are in an English class where spelling is being taught. The art of spelling just doesn’t come easy to you.  If the ability to spell is viewed as being very important, yet you struggle with it, this is where limiting beliefs may develop.  You start to believe there is something “wrong” with you which may lead to a belief of “I am dimwitted.”  This isn’t true at all. It is only that your gifts do not lie in spelling.  And if the teacher points out your inabilities you again develop other limiting beliefs about yourself, such as “I am stupid.”   Does this sound familiar?

Now, let’s look at it in a different way.  Ask a person whose gifts lie in spelling, to draw a picture.  What you might find is that they draw stick figures very well, but that is all.  Are they “dimwitted” or “stupid?”  No, their gifts are just different.

It is important to recognize and value every persons’ gifts and skills.  When an artist is faced with spelling, they can ask others to edit or proof something.  And when the person who can spell is needing to have a visual piece, he can ask an artist to illustrate the idea.  This not only creates value for each person but also enhances how a true community operates.

One of the ways we elevate subjects over others is by some of the common phrases.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the starving artist, rocket scientist, bean counter, or the trash man.  All of these phrases either elevate or devalue someone.  This inherently creates a belief about that person. It doesn’t mean that they are true, but it can impact a person in how they feel about themselves and how they may react in life. Don’t let “common” phrases or beliefs influence you, look beyond them.

The second area of concern is when you have a different or unique idea.  Have you ever had your idea ignored or even squelched while in school?   When something doesn’t agree with what is being taught, it can be viewed as the person “doesn’t know what they are talking about” or even considered to be “a dumb idea.”  This does not happen all the time, however, it happens more than it should.

If you are the one with the novel idea, you may feel undervalued or become disenchanted.  This also can set up some limiting beliefs.  It can lead you to devalue your inherent gifts and/or become disillusioned with the world.  It may create beliefs such as it is “not safe to speak up,” “present new ideas” or “my ideas are bad.”  This in effect can limit how you see yourself and how you interact with the world.  For example, when an opportunity to bring forward an idea you have, your inner voice might say “remember what happened before, do not suggest it” or you think “no one will listen or believe me, so why should I try.”

If you find yourself thinking these or other negative thoughts, there are things you can do and they are outlined at the end of this article.

Lastly, problem-solving can be discouraged in education.  “How?” you might ask. It happens when the emphasis is on memorizing and knowing facts.  We become used to having the “correct” answers, encouraging you not to “make mistakes.”   What happens when we get the “wrong” answers?  We are penalized for it!  This inadvertently creates a belief that there is only one way to do something and blocks our ability to look at a situation in a different way, hence new solutions or ideas are not encouraged or brought forward.

In having a belief such as, “it is important to have the right answer,” your inner voice cautions “you might fail if you try something different” preventing you from attempting anything new.

What can you do?

In addition to the suggestions in my previous blog article: Limiting Beliefs and the Influences of Culture: Part I the following are some other things to consider.

      1. Follow your heart. Find the courage to listen, and take action.
      2. Look at the consequences of your belief. How is it preventing you from living your life fully?
      3. How has the belief become your expectation of the future?
      4. Identify what you want, and look at how you may be blocking it by beliefs you have acquired.
      5. Identify the excuses that you indulge in. What negative or pessimistic thoughts do you have?  How do these thoughts and excuses impact your actions?

Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed.  By taking one step at a time in following your heart, I’m sure you’ll find your way to happiness.

Image by: Grant Durr

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