Olive Von Topp
We Get to Choose What We Believe
Sometimes I think we forget that we get to choose our thoughts.
Okay, yes, that is an oversimplification.
But, sometimes we make things overly complicated for ourselves- and we forget that we actually DO have control over many things in our lives, including our thoughts (and therefore by some extension, our feelings, actions, and outcomes).
We have our daily thoughts (more than 6000/day), many of which we may not even be aware of.
Then, we have our core beliefs that likely influence our daily thoughts. These are those deeply ingrained beliefs (often negative) that we have been socialized to believe. We get these messages through our families of origin, through our interactions with peers and in the world, through media, etc. And they continue to be reinforced throughout our lives.
So often we accept our beliefs (and thoughts) at face value. Or even as truth. The gospel. They determine our decisions. How we view ourselves. How we feel. And what our lives look like.
When in reality, our core negative beliefs are learned thoughts. And therefore, they can be unlearned. And when we remember that (and when we notice our thoughts) we get to have more agency over them.
We actually get to CHOOSE what we believe.
Just because we have been raised to believe we should look or act a certain way, or have certain things or reached certain levels of “success”, doesn’t mean we actually have to subscribe to those beliefs.
It may sound simple, but we forget that we have agency over our thoughts and we get to decide whether we subscribe to the beliefs we grew up with.
Let me give you an example.
Recently in a class I was teaching on confidence, I used an example of a thought that has been coming up for me lately: I'm old (or any similar thought that extends from that- I’m unattractive/gross/unwanted/unworthy). Which usually leads to me feeling sad or ashamed. Usually it will come up after I notice something benign like a new wrinkle or some saggier-than-I-remember skin, etc. And even though I do this work, and even though I have a lot of critical awareness of my thoughts, these messages still come up. Because this messaging about the undesirability of ageing is pervasive. It's everywhere. We are bombarded with it. It's almost impossible to grow up in North America and miss that message. But the reality is the belief that ageing is bad is totally subjective. In fact, in some cultures, it’s not seen as a bad thing at all. Ageing = bad/gross is not an absolute truth. And I get to decide whether I want to buy into it or not.
So now, when these thoughts come up, I stop and notice and ask myself these questions:
What is the thought?
Who's thought is this? (Society, patriarchy, beauty industry, etc.)
Who benefits from me having it (beauty industry)
Do I want to have it? (No)
Then, if I don't want to have it, I can introduce a new thought, which I've talked about many times (you can check out this free worksheet for help).
So now when I notice some version of "ugh, you're getting old" thought comes up, instead of spiralling down a hole of shame and despair, I reply "So what?" and get on with my day (some days it comes easier than others).
For me, this is an act of resistance. Choosing to not subscribe to the beliefs I was socialized to believe; An ultimate FU to a system that profits off people hating themselves.
When I choose different thoughts, I get to say “no”, I don’t subscribe to your BS. I will not be made small. I will not hate myself.
When I choose different thoughts, it becomes a reminder of what is possible. What kind of life is possible for me with kinder thoughts. And what kind of life is possible for future generations if we all chose kinder thoughts, instead of subscribing to “never-enough” culture.
We get to choose our thoughts. And when we choose loving ones, it is no small act. Each time we choose loving thoughts over hateful ones, it is an act of rebellion.
***If you're wanting more support in challenging our core negative beliefs and in choosing self-loving (or even accepting) thoughts instead, that's a whole lot of what we do in my course F Perfect, which starts Jan 26th. You can learn more here***