I gave a talk on Reiki several years ago and an encounter with a lady in the audience gave me food for thought. During my talk I was explaining the difference between our internal values, and our limiting beliefs. She provided me with a brilliant example.
Here is her story: She is a Singaporean but spent much of her life abroad. When she came back several years ago, she experienced a big culture shock. She decided that the only way to really live happily was to try to ‘fit in’, when in Rome….. Her examples were mainly to do with courtesy, she seemed to feel that people here are not very courteous – they don’t acknowledge you, say thank you, say sorry when they bump into you etc. This perplexed her, but her reaction was to follow the crowd. So now she also does not acknowledge, does not say sorry, does not give thanks. What was interesting about her story is that while she was telling it, she was obviously not very happy about who she had become. In order to become what she viewed as ‘Singaporean behavior’ she had lost sight of who she wanted to be.
As you can imagine, her comments erupted a lot of heated discussion – not least from those who disagreed with her view of Singaporeans! My point here is not whether her belief is right or wrong, but how damaging that belief is to her happiness. If we look at her internal values – she feels that being courteous, kind, giving thanks, and acknowledging people is very important. Yet her limiting beliefs are:
1) Singaporeans are not courteous.
2) People only deserve my acknowledgement if they acknowledge me first.
3) In order to be happy I have to act like other people.
In my eyes, and in yours I’m sure, all these beliefs are limiting because they are all inaccurate! In being true to yourself, you need to decide how you are going to behave in this world – then behave like that, no matter what. We need to figure out our values, what is important to us and then make sure all our beliefs align up with that.
So if we were to review her beliefs, and align them with her values (to be courteous, to acknowledge others, to be kind), we could say:
1) I am courteous.
2) Acknowledging others makes me happy.
3) I am responsible for choosing my own actions.
Notice that values are things that come from deep inside, they are not ‘needs’ from other people. They are ways we want to behave – no matter what others are doing. If you think your value is based on what others think about you, or how others behave around you, then you are mistaken in where you are placing the importance of your reflection. People do what people do, they will not always reflect back what you want to see. Only you know what you are doing; only you reflect an accurate picture of your thoughts and actions – and it hurts when you go against your own values.
Being true to yourself requires courage, and it may require feeling a bit ridiculous. I smile at people when they look grouchy – and 9 out of 10 they just glare at me. But the one person who lights up and smiles right back makes all the other grouchy responses worth it. In that moment I see my own value shining right back at me and it reaffirms it is a good one. Even if it was 10 out of 10 who gave my a grouchy look, would I stop smiling just because noone else was? I really hope not, I hope my own desire to smile over-rides any external grumpiness.