Ep. 49: The problem with belief (and how to rewire them) w/ Lauren Lowrey
March 7th, 2023
Welcome back to AMPstigator.
Today is an episode that started in my journal and felt so potent that I knew I needed to share it with you. So, I’m fleshing it out right here because with a title like this “THE PROBLEM WITH BELIEF”… I know I have to deliver – and I intend to.
So whether you pressed play because you were outraged by the idea that there would be ANY PROBLEMS with YOUR beliefs.. Or you said ‘okay, I’m intrigued,’ I’m glad you’re here because anyone who presses play on this episode has an opportunity to grow from this message.
So, pull out your journal - or if you’re an AMPstigator email subscriber - check out the sheet in today’s email. If you don’t already receive my emails, shoot me a note “lauren @ ampstigator.com” and I’ll forward you today’s email. It doesn’t matter if time has passed, just tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll send it on.
Allright let’s get started.
So, we know what beliefs are… they’re our acceptance that something is true. People have religious beliefs. Philosophical beliefs. Metaphysical beliefs. Or even a belief that beliefs are absolute nonsense. Whatever your beliefs… they’re true to you.
But I’m not here to talk about your conscious, personal beliefs.
I’m interested in your unconscious beliefs. The ones you don’t even realize are running your life.
Recently, Tonia my therapist who you met last week on AMPstigator, called me out on one of my unconscious beliefs. It was something so deep-seeded, so embedded, so much a part of who I am that I was completely and totally BLIND to it.
And I’ve said it many times before on this podcast.. we ALL have blindness when it comes to SELF. As clearly as I can see everyone else who I interview.. Or see the people I’m close to.. When it comes to seeing myself clearly, I fail miserably. WE ALL DO. This is why a therapy relationship can be so helpful. You’re going deep with someone who is trained to hold up a mirror TO YOU. And then help you dig out.
So she held up the mirror to me on something that was causing me some major problems because I was at a complete and utter loss on how to solve them.
And it all came down to an incorrect, unconscious, unhealthy belief that I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
It’s around the word: WEAK.
LITERALLY ONE WORD. FOUR LETTERS. W-E-A-K
To everyone else weak probably refers to someone’s physical condition. They aren’t strong, they can’t carry a heavy box, they gotta go pump some iron. Weak.
But for me, WEAK means something completely different.
WEAK MEANS “YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT.”
You can’t get that project done in time? Weak.
You have to say no to your schedule filling up? Weak.
You can’t work full-time, start a podcast, cook 3 meals a day from scratch, volunteer and raise 3 young kids all at the same time? Something must be wrong. You must be WEAK! Because if you were strong… you could continue doing all that and be totally fine.
For as long as I can remember “weak” hasn’t been physical. It’s always been the harshest of judgements I pass on myself to show everyone else that I can handle it. I can handle insults. I can handle bad bosses and toxic work environments. I can handle all of it. FEELING ANYTHING was weakness. Stopping mid-project and saying “no” was weak.
I realize now that working as hard as I have has never been about an inability to set boundaries. It was about showing everyone “I CAN HANDLE IT.” Because I BELIEVED THAT WAS STRENGTH.
But my distorted view of strength was not from a healthy place. It was out of revenge. It was from an “I’ll show your” mentality. It was from deep pain. It was from a very guarded place where I said to myself “I will never be a woman who can’t fend for herself.” None of that was from love or goodness or truth or wholeness. It was from a distorted view of what it looked like to be weak.
And if you’re saying right now “Lauren, don’t be crazy. You’re so freaking strong! No one would fault you for getting take out or canceling a meeting, or pushing the easy button.” But the problem is…. IT’S NOT WHAT I BELIEVED.
And THAT’S why I titled this episode the way i did… Because everything. And I mean everything… starts with belief.
We build entire unconscious belief systems around things that are just flat-out lies. Somewhere along the line I tried to avoid weakness by doing more. By proving how strong I was. And it became a well-worn neuropathway that my mind kept going back to over and over again. I don’t know who I was trying to convince more – me or other people!
Belief systems are defined as “a set of beliefs that help us interpret our reality.” They help us make sense of the world and tell right-or-wrong, good-or-bad. As we look deeper, we realize we have conscious and unconscious beliefs. The unconscious parts are where we get into trouble. Think about all the “unconscious bias training” companies are doing right now. It’s to show you that your impulse - your reflex in certain situations can often be wrong.. And can also hurt other people.
We have core beliefs that are so much a part of who we are that we don’t even realize how they’re holding us back. Most often we don’t know they’re there until someone holds up a mirror to us and says “yo — what IS this?!”
THOSE ARE SOME OF YOUR MESSED-UP BELIEFS.
Belief is the foundation of EVERYTHING. It shapes our thoughts, which influences our actions and predicts our future.
It creates a neural pathway. So that when I believe something.. It’s the lens I view everything from. As if – my lens about weakness is a shade of blue… so everywhere I look, it’s all blue because I’m looking through this blue lens. If I remove the lens, suddenly it gives me an opportunity to see the real colors – and shading of a situation.
Just a few days ago, I had a situation where my 4-year old was a mirror to me. He removed that lens that wasn’t helping me.
My two boys had to stay home from their little pre-school because they were **airquotes here** sick. They were running around the house like everything was fine, but they both had these terrible coughs – so, it’s the kind of thing where they would’ve been sent home anyway, so we just kept them home.
It was my turn to cancel things to stay home and take care of them. I had to cancel a story shoot that was VERY IMPORTANT to me. I also had to miss out on a cohort coaching session I’m involved in right now. Both of those things are things I care DEEPLY ABOUT and having to cancel them – say “I can’t” or “show I couldn’t handle it” was super triggering for me in this conversation about weakness.
I was actually feeling really sorry for myself… about to go down the rabbit hole of negative self-degrading emotions. When – in that very moment – my 4 year old sees a display of beautiful white roses. He bends down and smells them. And he yells so everyone in Trader Joe’s can hear him “MOM! SMELL THESE!”
In that instant, I was given a gift. I was given a way out.
My 4-year old, in-between talk of race-cars and super-heroes, told me to stop and literally smell the roses. He’s so loving and joyful.
And I realized in that moment I was looking at this whole situation entirely through the wrong lens. Through that distorted view of weakness. I was letting my wounded, old-patterns define how I was seeing this day that was actually a beautiful gift. I always say I want more time with my kids and I had just been given that opportunity and I was seeing it all wrong!
So, I bought an arm-full of flowers – and we took them home and we ARRANGED THEM.
You’ll see this video this week on Instagram. It was such a monumental moment for me because I realized that canceling things wasn’t weakness. Taking care of my two little boys wasn’t weakness. Those flowers brought me to the present moment. To realize this was my old programming that needed to be changed.
When I spell it out like this for you guys… it sounds OBVIOUS. But the truth is… you do the same thing! Maybe you have an entire belief system built around the word GOOD, like “good mom.” But you start measuring yourself with this untenable yardstick of MORAL DUTY, and its completely unfair to you.
Or maybe you have an entire belief system around the word “QUALIFIED.” Like ‘all the things you have to do or be before you’re qualified to speak on a subject.’ Or - my husband has to unravel this belief around this idea that he doesn’t get a say because his views aren’t valid. He won’t speak up. He won’t say what he wants.
It’s a lie. You guys. These unhealthy belief systems are lies.
When you’re reflecting back to someone else, it’s easy to be like “WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT!?!?” But when we’re trying to reflect to ourselves, it’s nearly impossible. Because we all have blindness when it comes to SELF. It all feels like truth. That’s when you know it’s deeply embedded because you don’t even know it’s a lie. You’re like “that’s what I believe” so you don’t even question it.
But that’s why this episode is dropping for you. That’s why you’re listening to it. Because you need someone to reflect back to you. You need a mirror.
Here’s what I know… old habits are hard to break because of how our brains are wired. And I want to explain it to you in the simplest way possible because you need to know.
We have 86 billion neurons in our brains. They form connections with each other – and those are called neural pathways. These are like patterns in your brain.. And they represent any thought you’ve ever had – it’s all just patterns. Those pathways light up when you think of something for the first time and then they either become dominant or fragile depending on how often they’re used.
So if I say “I’m a terrible, weakling and no one should listen to this podcast,” and then anytime I look at my number of streams and I don’t like the total, I repeat that phrase to myself. And then when I go to book guests on the show and I say “oh it’s a terrible podcast and no one should listen,” WELL THEN I’M NOT GONNA HAVE A PODCAST MUCH LONGER.
Its become a well-worn pathway and I’ve given everyone else the impression, too!
The important thing to remember here is that HOW YOU FORMED THE PATHWAY, is how you see it the rest of your life because if you think of it the same way over and over again, it becomes your dominant neural pathway.
So, if I have a negative association with something… it always lights up as negative because that’s the pathway. This is why people harp on FIRST IMPRESSIONS.. Because once someone formed a neural pathway about you…it’s very hard to change.
But that’s the important thing to remember…. Your neural pathways can be changed, it just takes time and focus. Your ability to change it is called NEUROPLASTICITIY.
You can actively and consciously rewire your brain!
It’s a hot topic about **how long it takes to do that**.
Some scientists say it takes years to do it. But There was a study in 2009 that showed an average of 66 days. Some people did it in as little as 18 days. But we know it all comes down to repetition. That’s what makes a pathway dominant. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
So how am I gonna rewire my issues with the word “weak?” Well, I realize that the problem is that I’m telling myself the wrong thing. I need to start giving myself a different message. I need to reframe everything. So I’ve created a new mantra I’m saying to myself all the time. I’m saying “MY STRENGTH IS IN SLOWING DOWN.”
I specifically crafted mine to include the word strength - to remind myself I’m strong. And I PAIRED it with words that remind me to do less. I’m gonna make it something I say every day for the next 30 days and see if I’ve started seeing any improvement.
I’m also going to reevaluate my calendar and see what can be canceled or moved. I need to be more intentional around specific things in my calendar. I’ve made a ton of improvements in this area since my hospitalizations, but there are definitely some old patterns that are still there that I need to get a handle on.
So here’s what I want you to do right now..
If you know there are some unhealthy, unconscious beliefs right now that you need to tackle. I want you to find someone who can be a mirror for you. I have a therapist who started this whole exploration for me.. But then I shared it with my husband. He and I had an open conversation about where we both have it wrong and he helped me write this episode.
Maybe I’m your mirror today. But I would highly suggest you find someone you love and trust – who makes you feel safe. Share this episode with them and then set a time to talk about it and ask each other “what’s something I believe that is flat-out wrong or unhealthy?”
I’ll give you a hint, here… often times our unconscious beliefs hide in the “have to’s”... like “i have to do this,” or “i have to get this certificate,” or “I have to drive this car.”
Really study your “have to’s” with each other.
Then you should craft a mantra that combats it. Mine is “MY STRENGTH IS IN SLOWING DOWN.” Every time I say it I remind myself to go back to peace and stillness. It’s the opposite of what I’ve been doing to myself lately.
Every week, I send an email that goes along wth the episode and this week, I’ve included two worksheets.
The first one is called THE MANTRA MAKER. I feel so strongly about how critical it is to create new messages, that I’ve helped you walk through exactly how to craft your new mantra to address those unconscious beliefs.
I’ve also put a crucial worksheet with the questions you should ask yourself and your friend when you’re trying to discover the unconscious beliefs that are totally sabotaging you.
If you didn’t get the email, just DM me “mantra maker” or send me an email to [email protected]. I’ll share the worksheets with you.
We have to remember, the best predictor of our future actions.. Are the past actions. And until we create new actions with new neural pathways, nothing about our future will change. So when you hear me talk about “DOING THE WORK” in other episodes… THIS IS LITERALLY THE WORK: ROOTING OUT, FINDING, HEALING, CHANGING AND MOVING ON. And this work doesn’t stop. But it IS WORK WORTH DOING.. Because when you improve… everything in your life improves.
As you go through this week, I encourage you to find your light. Lead with your heart. And live life purposefully. I’m Lauren Lowrey and this is AMPstigator.