Groundhog Day Shadow Beliefs

Oh boy, this holiday is just begging for me to talk about shadow beliefs.

Life coach Debbie Ford coined the phrase “Shadow Belief”. A shadow belief is an unconscious belief that influences our entire lives, tells us what we can and can’t do, and drives our behaviors.
These are beliefs we have that we don’t even realize we have.
They shape us.
But since we don’t usually know we have them, it’s hard to change them.

Example? Of course I have an example.
I recently figured out that I have the shadow belief that I think my role is to be a “tough gal”.  That means I am the one you can always rely on.  If I say I will serve on your committee or meet you for coffee, my word is my bond.  I will be there or die trying.

While this normally seems like a really good quality (that’s why we often have beliefs) I can see now that sometimes it’s been my downfall.

If a better solution to a problem comes along, I am unlikely to take it since I have already made a commitment and changing might upset someone else.
If I realize I have overcommitted, I will soldier on through (thus the phrase “or die trying”) rather than risk someone thinking less of me, and tarnishing my reputation.
And the funny thing is, they may not even mind… they may be relieved too… or they may be very balanced and know that sometimes people have to set boundaries and change their plans. (That’s obviously not me.)

I am merely guessing at what someone else thinks or believes.  I don’t really know.

I can only take care of myself.  And be compassionate and kind to everyone involved.

A few weeks ago I had the flu.  It turned out to be the bad kind (flu A… who knew there were letters?).  I had a job that morning with the Center for Intentional Leadership.  Fun people.  Didn’t want to let them down.  Normally I would have shored up all my reserves and pushed on through.

But luckily for all, I didn’t.

I apologized to them, and went straight to the Urgent Care.

I am so proud of myself for canceling.
I probably would have given the flu to the eight people I was working with and they would have each missed several weeks of work.

OK… actually, I still feel a little anxious for canceling, but I’m a happy work in progress.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What a relief to let myself off the hook.
I don’t have to be the tough gal.
It doesn’t mean I won’t still be reliable.
It just means I may be a little more human.

So there you have it. If you have hit a wall and can’t seem to go over it or get around it, it’s probably a shadow belief.
Go find your shadow beliefs this Groundhog Day.

If you can name it, you can change it.


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