Carrying our Belief Systems
Over the past few years, I have spent an incredible amount of time and energy getting to know the deep, dark, juicy parts of myself in an attempt to become more mindful about my life choices. I am of the philosophy ‘No stone unturned’ so I am constantly waking up old parts of myself from their slumber. I have been shocked and sometimes mortified by the enemies I have ‘slept’ with over the years, and my incredible love and loyalty to beliefs that have caused me to repeatedly self-sabotage. Witnessing myself in this way, I have found that these beliefs are largely dictated by the systems I belong to: my family, community, society, and my gender. These are some of the pieces we carry in our backpacks.
Our backpack carries all of our belief systems, patterning, and life experiences, shaping our perspective on reality.
I spent a long time completely unaware of the backpack I was carrying, unconscious of the beliefs and patterns I was living out as a result of my backpack. I would wonder, “Why does life feel so hard?” Any success I had never felt like my own, always for the benefit of others, and my hard work to get there always came at the price, sacrificing my own needs in the process. While I tried to prove my worth to others in my outer world, I created suffering in my inner world. I saw the story of my life unfolding but I didn’t feel like I was the one authoring it. Have you ever felt frustrated by the way you see your life unfolding, and wondered how you could change it?
Lewis Caroll once wrote “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Interestingly, I have always been obsessed with figuring out where I am going, but it was only when I made the decision to understand my past that my life’s direction became clear to me. By untangling the conflation of attitudes and beliefs I was holding in my backpack, many of which had been collecting dust since my childhood, I began to see them with some objectivity. I started making better choices for myself, filling my life with love, purpose, and authenticity.
Read more blogs by Kenya Brading
With the guidance of a therapist, I began to see that my beliefs were birthed from the various systems I have belonged to throughout my life, many of which were based on assumptions I had made as a child. I’ve often found myself mirroring and magnifying the beliefs of my parents in an attempt to belong in their system. The negative patterns I inherited, along with many of their unconscious beliefs, have taken the strongest hold in me as I have unconsciously tried to make my parents feel that they are not alone in their struggles. Breaking through these patterns has been my greatest challenge because of my love and loyalty to them, coupled with my fear of being rejected. As children we fear to go places our parents never dared; to shine more brightly than they ever could; to embrace the feminine in ways our mothers never dared.
As women, we naturally want to feel that we belong because of our evolutionary story. While the men hunted, women would gather. Staying together was essential for our survival, so leaving the systems we belong to is terrifying for many of us. Throughout the ages, women have been punished for stepping into their power and defying the systems they belonged to. Perhaps this deep-rooted fear of punishment is why our gender is a huge piece of our backpacks that many of us fail to explore. Societal systems are extremely powerful and play a huge part in the stories we write about ourselves, as well as our collective story as women. We are all affected by the unconscious stories taking place about what our society deems ‘acceptable’. How many times a day do you worry about what other people think of you?
Read our blog “Unconscious Beliefs: Playing Small”
Seeing the systems we belong to with objectivity is extremely challenging because they are so normal to us. Other people give us the beautiful opportunity to see ourselves through reflections, allowing us to see ourselves from a distance. Though therapists can be truly wonderful at this, we can all offer the gift of reflection if we are open to it. I think that it is vital for us to start doing this for each other, from a place of receptivity and non-judgment. Our freedom as women comes from our connection, which has been so badly damaged and yet is so vital to our survival as ‘gatherers’. When we support each other in this way, our backpacks feel less heavy and we begin to see all the positive attributes we hold in our backpacks. Our greatest struggles can even become our greatest gifts.
Read Kenya’s blog “Giving Birth to My Fullest Potential”
Becoming mindful of the systems we participate in empowers us to choose our own belief system and how we want our backpacks to shape our lives. We become more aware of our life story and how we can become the author of our own lives.
When we see ourselves reflected in others, we can see ourselves more objectively, helping us to break old patterns and beliefs. Through this process, we can also become curious about other people’s backpacks, which are often very different than our own. This knowledge can help us see past our own story so we can become more compassionate towards others.
Photo Credit: Steven Lewis