Have you ever gotten a knot in some thread or yarn you were trying to work with? Or worse, in a chain necklace?
You can’t untangle it by diving in and tugging and pulling on it. That will just make the knot tighter than it already is.
It’s a delicate process.
You need to go slowly and work your fingertips into the barely-visible crevices.
It’s a process of making tiny movements. And if the knot is really tight, the movements will be so small that you’ll be convinced that what you’re doing isn’t working.
But that’s when you need to keep going. Even though you can’t see or feel the difference, the knot is loosening. Even if it’s just at the microscopic level.
Eventually, you feel that fabulous sensation of really being able to grab hold of one part of the knot. From there, it’s a cakewalk. You might have been struggling with that knot for hours, but once you reach the point of the first major shift, it only takes a few more minutes for the whole knot to be gone.
It’s the same with shifting a belief that holds you back.
We all have them. I’ve got tons – tons! – of them.
Here are some of mine:
Other people know what I need more than I do
My ideas aren’t very good so I should wait until I’ve developed them more before talking about them
I absolutely must Get It Right
Noticing the belief-knot is the first step. But once you’ve become conscious of it, you can’t force radical change.
If you’re like me and believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs, the step that comes after realizing the belief isn’t helpful is not to go out and make the biggest mistake you can possibly think of.
Or if you believe that other people’s projects (OPP!) need to come before yours, running out and telling everyone you come first is probably not a wise move.
Doing either of those would be the knot-equivalent of tugging on the ends and making everything tighter because all your resistance will get triggered.
The belief is there because it’s keeping you safe from some perceived danger. It doesn’t matter if the danger is real or not.
You need the safety of those tiny movements to loosen the knot gently.
(To bring in another metaphor, when you’re learning to swim, you don’t start in the deep end, right?)
If you grew up witnessing a family member fail at one or more entrepreneurial ventures, you might feel that starting your business or leaving your job is too risky.
The knot-tightening method would be to invest all your savings right away or quit your job with very little savings in the bank.
But what would the knot-loosening method look like?
A few possibilities would be to start your biz with as little up-front cash investment as possible, or to start socking away several months of savings, or to go part-time rather than quitting outright.
What’s important is that you’re taking small steps toward what you want, in ways that feel safe for you.
If you believe that failure is catastrophic, you don’t just wake up one day willing to take all sorts of risks. You need to learn that failure isn’t actually dangerous, and that you can survive it without sacrificing too much.
The way you do that is by building a body of evidence that supports your new belief.
The best evidence is when you try something and experience for yourself the fact that you survived just fine. And that goes right back to safety – it’s crucial to find ways to take steps without freaking yourself out so that you can experiment with your new belief.
Will failure still hurt, or will you still feel scared? Yes. But the amount of emotional management required before taking a risk will decrease. And the time between getting an idea and acting on it will shorten.
Some beliefs are knotted more tightly than others. They’ve been part of your reality for longer, or there’s more pain associated with them.
If you’ve got one that’s really tight, it could take a long time for it to unravel.
It might not feel as though the tiny steps you’re taking and the evidence-gathering you’re doing are making a difference, but I assure you, they are.
(Yet another metaphor: Just like a seed that’s been planted, lots of stuff happens underground before you ever see the green above the surface.)
Remind yourself why you want to shift the belief. And what you hope to achieve as a result of choosing a new belief instead.
Keep working at loosening the knot while being gentle with yourself along the way, and soon it will unravel.
Image credit: turbo.beagle