Here’s a topic that I have rarely seen written about…One of our biggest fear-causing mental habits is that we GENERALIZE. Here’s a few examples:
1. I’m afraid of failure
2. Republicans are heartless
3. Democrats are big government spenders
4. That’s bad
5. That’s good
Now, on the surface, these might come off as sounding pretty true…but they’re not!
You can always ask follow-up questions, when you hear such generalizations, to find out how these kinds of statements/generalizations are not serving you.
Here’s some example questions you could ask to get to the bottom of things to destroy your limiting beliefs that are causing your fears for each numbered statement above:
1. What is failure? How do you know when you’ve failed?
What if we didn’t have a word in our language for what is commonly called “failure”, how would that change our ideas of ourselves? I have an idea that people would just pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and go about working on something else or get back on the horse…with none the worse for having given it a shot.
Do you think that a baby trying to walk and then falling down thinks he has “failed?”
2. and 3. All of them? Every single one of them are heartless, or a big spender?
Of course, that isn’t true but look at how that type of generalization causes us to lose our rational thinking. That loss of rational thinking is what leads to fear. There are plenty of people who live in fear of the opposing political party gaining power and it literally adds to the overall stress and fear they put on themselves every day. Fear is cumulative. It builds and builds from multiple beliefs and slowly eats us away from the inside out.
It’s fine to go out and campaign for your favorite politician or party…just leave the fear out of it for yourself. The fact is, if you look at the past elections, your life probably didn’t dramatically change much whether your party won or not. Be specific with your criticisms and projections about the future and you’ll be training your mind to see things in other ways that keep the fear out.
You can apply this error of generalization to all sorts of types of people, races, creeds, etc.
4. and 5. Good or bad for whom or what? When?
Good or bad is probably the biggest mistake we make. Along with that we use the words “right” or “wrong” and they are equally potentially destructive. There is no good or bad or right or wrong. I would encourage you to change your wording to “useful” or “non-useful” or “helpful” and “not helpful.”
What are you talking about now Craig? What I’m saying is that everything is relative. Whenever we make a judgement, it always relates to something else. When we say “good” or “bad” it’s like putting on a straight jacket of fear. There’s nowhere to go and you can’t get out. You’re done. It’s like a final conclusion that you can’t undo or look at any other way. This is a prime cause of fear because there is no possibility to reframe or find a better story from our difficulties. How many times have you had something “bad” happen that ended up turning out to be a blessing? Give yourself that opening so that you don’t fear those “bad” things anymore.
Start listening to others’ speech and see if you can pick out the generalizations they use and notice how they keep that person from discovering truth. The truth will set you free…