Written by: Marika Humphreys, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Do you ever wish things were different? Do you wish that you didn't have to see your partner in pain or that you could think of the future without a flood of anxiety coursing through your body?
Despite how it may seem, the frustration and anxiety you feel are not caused by the fact that your partner has cancer or seeing them in pain or your uncertain future. It's caused by your belief that it should be different. Wanting things to be different than they are is the belief that keeps us stuck and unable to move forward.
Arguing with my reality.
My husband was angry. Not all the time, but it seemed it was always under the surface. His first cancer was a tumor in his right arm, and after surgery, he was able to keep his arm but lost full function. He could no longer do certain simple things like reaching up above his head to change a light bulb or reach high up into a cabinet. He had trouble reaching forward to change the dial on the car radio.
These simple things that were now so difficult frustrated him. As he dealt with multiple cancers and his body failing him, his anger increased. For me, it was difficult to be around. I kept believing that he shouldn't be so angry. It's not good for him!
I believed he should be different than he was. I wanted him to cope with the loss of his body in a calm and accepting manner because if he could do that, then I could relax and not worry so much. My inability to accept how my husband was coping kept me stuck and frustrated. It wasn't until he passed away that I finally made peace with his anger.
I realize now, and I also see in so many of my clients, that beliefs about wanting things to be different keep us stuck. Even though it may come from a place of love, we argue with our reality by wanting things to be different from what they are. Only by finding acceptance with where we are can we find peace and move forward.
What is a Belief?
A belief is simply a thought you've had over and over again. You have thought it so often that it just feels true.
Picture a belief like a table. All tables have legs that support them and hold them up. Our brain likes to find “legs” to support what we already believe. There is a way to bust these beliefs, the beliefs that argue with your reality and keep you stuck.
5 Steps To Bust Your Limiting Beliefs
(modified from Byron Katie & Tony Robbins)
In order to bust a belief we need to take away the legs that support it. We have all this evidence in our heads to support what we already believe. The way to take away those legs is to start calling doubt to the evidence supporting our belief.
My limiting belief: My husband shouldn’t be angry.
Step 1. Question the “evidence.”
You want to question the evidence. Is your belief really and absolutely true? Can you absolutely prove that it is true? Is there any evidence that counteracts this belief? Start to remove the “legs” by questioning and causing some doubt in your belief.
Example: No, it’s not true that my husband should be angry because he is. It’s understandable that my husband is angry. My husband isn’t angry all the time, just sometimes.
Step 2. Understand how this belief impacts you.
Everything we do is because of how we think it will make us feel. Usually, we are either moving away from something or moving toward something. You want to really understand how your belief makes you feel and act. How do you feel when you think about it? What do you do when you believe this? How is this belief impacting your life?
Example: When I think that my husband shouldn’t be angry, I feel powerless. I try to comfort him and control how he is feeling.
Step 3. Explore life without this belief.
How would it feel if you didn't believe this thought? Really go into your imagination and try to picture how you would feel if this thought didn't even exist in your brain. This can be difficult, but really try to imagine it. You may find it easier to think of how someone else might feel who didn’t have this thought. How would your life be different if you didn't have this belief?
Spend some time on this step. Once you can truly see how this belief impacts you now and imagine how it would be if you didn’t have this belief, you have started to create doubt. You’ve shaken the legs of the table.
Example: If I didn’t believe my husband shouldn’t be angry, I’d feel so much more peace. I wouldn’t get so stressed trying to control his emotions. It would be freeing.
Step 4. Choose A Better Belief
Choose a new belief that feels better. There are a couple of ways you can do this. The first way is to start small. If a belief is really powerful and painful, you may be resistant to letting it go. Find a new belief that is less limiting and feels better.
Example: Anger is just how he’s coping right now.
Notice that I’ve shifted toward a belief that no longer argues with my husband’s anger and is accepting of it. It’s a small shift, but one that can bring huge relief.
The second way to choose a new belief is to go big! What is the opposite of your belief? Sometimes you want to go straight to the opposite.
Example: Of course, my husband feels angry.
Step 5. Find Evidence For Your New Belief
Once you find your new belief, you need to add legs to that table by finding proof for how that belief is true. Right now, think of all the ways it’s already true. Write your new belief down everywhere you can think of. Repete it in your mind as you take a walk or work out. Work it into your bones. Practice your new belief often!
What belief is keeping you stuck?
Any belief that argues with the reality you face is going to keep you stuck. Finding acceptance is the path to peace. Spend some time uncovering one of your beliefs that are arguing with reality so you can bust it and replace it with something that feels better and keeps you moving forward! It is so worth it!
Marika Humphreys, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Marika Humphreys is a Resiliency Coach. At the age of 40, while working full time and raising a 5-year-old, her late husband was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next 5 years, as her husband battled multiple cancers, she took on many roles, including spouse, employee, mom, and caregiver. Marika believes caregiving is one of the toughest jobs out there, and it’s easy to become depleted and feel like you have no control. Through coaching, she learned that she could still be in charge of her life, even while caregiving to her husband. Coaching helped her discover her own power, strength, and resilience, and now she helps her clients do the same. She believes that even in the midst of a challenge like having a spouse with cancer, you can build resiliency skills and take control of your life.