INTRODUCTION

In life, our beliefs act as the silent architects, that shape the very contours of our reality. This week, we embark on a journey of self-reflection, examining the areas of our lives where our beliefs hold the key to satisfaction, or create invisible and unconscious barriers to success. Let’s delve into these realms of life, as we rate our satisfaction and work towards uncovering the beliefs that shape our experiences.

AREAS OF LIFE TO CONSIDER

  1. Finances & Wealth:
    • This area includes retirement plans, financial decisions, savings accounts, emergency accounts, stock plans and wealth creation activities.
  2. Career & Professional Development:
    • This area includes defining your path forward in your career, having a plan for that, and taking deliberate actions towards growth.
  3. Business:
    • Focuses on building a business, finding that right product market fit and growing it so that impacts you, your family and others in a positive way
  4. Health, Wellbeing & Fitness:
    • Prioritizing physical, mental, and emotional health for an increased health span so that it matches your life span.
  5. Social, Recreation & Leisure:
    • Identifying activities and hobbies that bring relaxation and joy and can put you into the state of flow.
  6. Fun & Adventure:
    • Embracing spontaneity, new experiences, and life’s adventures, doing things you have never done before to keep your brain active.
  7. Family Relationships:
    • Envisioning fulfilling relationships and identifying ways to contribute to the well-being of family members and learning to co-regulate.
  8. Personal Relationships:
    • Focusing on self-awareness and co-regulation for healthy relationships, being of service to others.
  9. Personal Growth & Learning:
    • Setting goals for continuous personal development and expansion of boundaries.
  10. Spirituality & Mindfulness:
    • Exploring beliefs, values, and practices, and consciously choosing empowering life contexts.
  11. Contribution & Service:
    • Considering ways to make an impact on others, give back, and leave a legacy, coach others and connect.
  12. Home & Environment:
    • Envisioning the ideal living space and creating a peaceful environment.
  13. Environment & Sustainability:
    • Setting goals for ecological responsibility, such as reuse and recycling, picking up trash.

RATE YOUR SATISFACTION

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied, evaluate your current satisfaction in each of these areas. This exercise sets the stage for introspection and identifies where beliefs may be either propelling you forward or holding you back. What do each of these areas feel like to you? What would you change, what is going well? What is not? For the areas you have rated on the lower side, you will usually have limiting beliefs that are running the show in that area.

THE GRAILS AT PLAY

Now, let’s systematically explore the GRAILS—Gremlin, Rigid Rules, Assumptions, Interpretations, Limiting Beliefs, and Stories—in the areas where satisfaction is lacking. Identify the narratives that may be silently shaping your reality:
  1. Gremlin (Inner Critic):
    • What self-doubts or criticisms echo in your mind about yourself that you constantly say to yourself? They would be things such as “I am not good enough,” “I am not smart enough,” or “I will never succeed.” Notice that you say these whenever you are confronted by something; it is an unconscious automatic response. Learn to catch it as you say it and then choose something else more empowering.
  2. Rigid Rules:
    • Are there inflexible expectations limiting your possibilities? For instance, I can only start a new exercise program on a Monday, or I must follow a specific career path chosen by my parents. I cannot express vulnerability or ask for help, or  must marry by a certain age, or I can’t talk to them as they do not follow my religion, and on and on they go. These are usually unconscious learned behaviours, but have you ever questioned them to see if they make sense for you given today’s day and age?
  3. Assumptions:
    • Have unverified conclusions colored your perceptions? Examples are all Asians are good at math, women are naturally more nurturing than men, older people are not as technologically savvy as younger people, couples who don’t have children are unhappy. What assumptions do you have about others that stop you connecting and building relationships with others, or have you diminish others???
  4. Interpretations:
    • How do you interpret events, and does it skew toward the negative? Look into and identify your own cognitive distortions that are going on here. Examples of cognitive distortions are:
      • All-or-Nothing Thinking (Black-and-White Thinking): Explanation: Seeing things in extreme, all-or-nothing terms without considering any middle ground or shades of gray. Example: “If I don’t get a perfect score on this exam, I’m a total failure.” 
      • Overgeneralization: Explanation: Drawing broad conclusions based on a single event or limited evidence. Example: “I didn’t get the job after the first interview. I’ll never get hired anywhere.” 
      • Mental Filtering (Selective Abstraction): Explanation: Focusing exclusively on negative details while ignoring positive aspects of a situation. Example: “I received positive feedback from my supervisor, but I made a small mistake, so I must be terrible at my job.” 
      • Discounting the Positive: Explanation: Minimizing or dismissing positive experiences, qualities, or achievements as insignificant or unimportant. Example: “I got an A on the test, but it was just an easy exam.” 
      • Jumping to Conclusions: Explanation: Making assumptions or interpreting situations without sufficient evidence or information. Example: “She didn’t respond to my message; she must be mad at me.” 
      • Magnification and Minimization (Catastrophizing or Fortune-Telling): Explanation: Exaggerating the importance of negative events while downplaying positive events. Example: “I made a minor error in my presentation; everyone must think I’m a terrible presenter.” 
      • Emotional Reasoning: Explanation: Believing that because we feel a certain way, it must be true. Example: “I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure.” 
      • Should Statements: Explanation: Using “should,” “must,” or “ought to” statements to impose unrealistic expectations on oneself or others. Example: “I should always be perfect and never make mistakes.” 
      • Labeling and Mislabeling: Explanation: Attaching negative labels or generalizations to oneself or others based on specific behaviors or mistakes. Example: “I made a mistake, so I’m a complete idiot.” 
      • Personalization: Explanation: Believing that one is responsible for external events or outcomes that are beyond one’s control. Example: “My team didn’t meet the project deadline, so it’s all my fault.” 
      • Blaming: Explanation: Holding others solely responsible for negative events without considering other contributing factors. Example: “I didn’t get the promotion because my coworker sabotaged me.” 
      • Fallacy of Change: Explanation: Believing that others must change for you to be happy or that you can change others. Example: “If my partner would just be more supportive, then I would be happy.” 
      • Fallacy of Fairness: Explanation: Believing that life should always be fair, and things should go according to one’s expectations. Example: “It’s not fair that I have to work harder than others to get the same recognition.” 
      • Fallacy of Control: Explanation: Believing that one has more control over external events or others’ feelings and behaviors than is realistically possible. Example: “I should be able to make everyone like me.” 
      • Always Being Right: Explanation: Insisting on being right in every situation, even at the expense of relationships or personal well-being. Example: “I can’t back down from an argument because I must always be right.”
  5. Limiting Beliefs:
    • What convictions are restricting your potential in the different areas of life? Examples are I’ll never be wealthy because I come from a poor background , I’m unlovable and will always be alone, ‘m not qualified for that job; they’ll never hire me, I’ll always be overweight; diets never work for me, I’m too old to learn new things; my brain can’t handle it, I can’t speak in public; I’ll embarrass myself, etc. Notice that these are self defeating and self perpetuating. They will stop you from taking action in that area of life. So what limiting beliefs do you have in which areas of life? Write them down.
  6. Stories:
    • What narratives do you tell yourself about your experiences with others of about yourself? so for instance, if someone says something to you and then their eyebrows raise when you answer, you might make up a story along the lines of  “they don’t agree with what I just said,” or “they think I am an idiot,’ or they must be an alcoholic'” etc. All day long we are making things up about what was said to us, peoples expressions and our interactions. Now for every 10 things you can think up for that experience, I bet there are another 10 other versions that someone else can make up too. Notice that you do this all day long and as a result, it keeps you separate from others, relatedness and connectivity are the price you pay. So catch yourself doing this.

INFORMATION PROCESSING AND THE RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM (RAS)

Our minds process a vast amount of information; approximately 11 million bits of information every second, yet consciously, we only process a fraction; 50 bits of information a second, so there is a significant disparity between the two. What happens to all that information OUT THERE? The Reticular Activating System (RAS) acts as a gatekeeper, filtering information based on our beliefs and hierarchy of needs, focusing on what’s important. It does this to stop sensory overload and to sharpen your focus on your goals. Change your beliefs, and you’ll alter the information processed by your RAS, ultimately changing the actions you take and your results. You will literally start looking for new information. So, the practice is to identify your grails, write them down and now start to practice looking for NEW EVIDENCE to support your new beliefs. Every time you catch yourself expressing your old belief, say no, my new belief is… and the look for evidence for that new belief. Play with this as if it were a game and start to retrain your brain. This is a practice and you have to do the work; it is not a once and done kind thing, it takes constant practice until that belief is shifted. You will know it is shifted when you have new results in that area of life.

CONCLUSION

Beliefs are the silent architects of our reality, shaping our experiences and influencing our satisfaction in various life domains. By systematically exploring the GRAILS and understanding the role of the RAS, we empower ourselves to identify and transform limiting beliefs. As we embark on this journey of self-discovery, let’s remember: changing our beliefs changes the lens through which we perceive and process information, ultimately leading to a profound shift in the results we achieve in our multifaceted lives. Embrace the power of belief, for in doing so, you unlock the potential for a more satisfying and purposeful existence.
Book a session online if you want some coaching on this for you, your life, career, business or family. I am a licensed coach with 20+ years experience in leadership, in New York, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, London & Sydney.