I find it so amusing listening to children who have reached the ‘why?’ stage in development!
‘Can you please get in the buggy?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Harry we’re going to Sainsburys now.’ ‘Why?’ If you’re the adult on the receiving end of a childs innocent interrogation it usually elicits an irritated response like, ‘because I said so’ or ‘can you just do as I say please?’ Observing these interactions, and remembering my own, gets me thinking of when did I stop asking why and start to blindly accept other people’s beliefs to be the ‘truth.’
I have a lot of beliefs I didn’t even realise I’d stopped questioning, until I started working with my life coach. I would say, “well you know it’s quite hard to find a job at the moment” or “yeah but it’s so hard to get motivated.” Instead of nodding in sympathetic agreement like most people, she responded “really, why?” And when I stuttered with a bewildered look on my face she says, “No, really why? For me that’s just not true, so I want to understand why.” I never have a solid answer to her question. I guess I had heard it so many times that I accepted it as an objective truth.
The psychology behind transitioning from questioning to blindly accepting, is that repeated statements become beliefs in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the part of the mind that is consciously thinking, it’s the voice that we hear in our head. Whereas the subconscious contains beliefs and knowledge that we aren’t necessarily aware of. For example, when someone arrives at work with no recollection of the last few minutes of the drive, that’s the subconscious mind taking over. When statements are accepted into our subconscious, we unknowingly believe them to be true. Now these beliefs could be amazing, but there could also some that aren’t beneficial. These are often called ‘self-limiting beliefs.’ They can become clear in throw away statements such as my ‘in the current climate it’s impossible to find a job’ or ‘all the good men are taken.’ These are not usually thoughts that have been pondered over before sharing, it is usually just chucked in the conversation with the expectation that those around us will agree. Meanwhile the intrigued child within us is whispering ‘WHY?’
Why not let the intrigued child within you run riot for a bit? I can’t help but feel like something went wrong since I went from telling my parents I wanted to be an actress or vet to believing I needed to make a career out of the first job I ever got, even though I knew it didn’t fulfil me. So ask yourself, as I have asked myself, what are you accepting as ‘realistic?’ Ironically ‘realistic’ is word with highly subjective definitions. What is realistic and possible for me is different in comparison to that of a millionaire. Your beliefs can be bent and moulded into something quite different from what you ever imagined, but only if you dare to question what you already know to be ‘true’. As Jim Kwik (a coach who teaches people how to train their brain) says, “The first step to learning is to forget everything you think you know on the topic”. If you go in cup half full then you limit the knowledge you can learn moving forward.
Since I started to question beliefs I had previously accepted, I’ve learned how important it is to select my thoughts and beliefs. Not only has it had a huge impact on my mood and outlook on life, I’ve welcomed people and experiences I previously didn’t have the space in my mind to fathom. Once I notice a belief I haven’t given much thought to I start to question it, if it doesn’t hold up against the interrogation of my inner child then I take what I previously believed and switch the sentence to have the opposite meaning. For example, ‘all the good men are taken’ to ‘I will meet the perfect man, at the perfect time.’
Our subconscious mind is fed a lot of different information, not only the thoughts we consciously choose, such as the mantras explained above. I find that this really comes into play around family. When I speak to my incredible and loving, but very pessimistic father, I have to remind my gullible subconscious that I disagree with some of the things he’s saying. One I found particularly amusing was that I should ‘be careful’ because my job may be at threat if my boss was to prefer the person covering my shifts whilst I’m on holiday. Although I found it really amusing and didn’t resonate with it at all, I still believe it was important for me to tell my subconscious ‘I don’t agree with that. I always have everything I need.’ Because as Albert Einstein said, ‘imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions’ so giving energy to a limiting belief like that would have had no good implications for my reality.
I believe that we neglect so much of our inner voice as we get older. The ‘why?’ is a part of ourselves that is silenced and squashed, till we no longer know who we are or what we want. But by asking questions from a place of innocent naivety, with an open mind and something to learn, you will watch as broken pieces of the puzzle fall away leaving space for a new picture to emerge, just as spring washes away what is dead from winter in preparation to blossom for summer.