Liberating Truths: Free Yourself From Your Limiting Beliefs!

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Did you brainstorm your limiting beliefs about your family?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. It turns out it’s been on my list of things to do for a month and when blogging the idea finally forced me to sit down and do it I realized how scared I was of the exercise.

I was afraid that some of my thoughts about my family would turn out to be true.

I was afraid I’d discover I’m a bad mother and wife because sometimes I have some pretty terrible thoughts about my family.

But when I actually sat down and forced the first few thoughts on paper they no longer seemed so ugly. Seeing those thoughts in black and white helped me see how ridiculous they were – or at least that they were exaggerated.

My Limiting Beliefs

I wrote everything that came to mind as a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think this way all the time about my family, but sometimes these thoughts do haunt me (and I’m not sharing the worst).

  • My kids are spoiled.
  • I don’t know how to teach. My oldest taught himself everything and doesn’t like learning from me.
  • My kids can’t learn what I don’t know myself.
  • I’m poorly educated.
  • Kids are a burden – they keep me from work I care about.
  • My kids don’t care about the things I care about.

If I think this way, why do I homeschoool?!?

Time to replace our limiting beliefs with liberating truths!

Take a moment to think of just one limiting belief you have about your family.

Got it?

Good, now let’s make a liberating truth to replace it. Here are some examples to get your creative and liberating juices flowing.

  • My kids are spoiled.  Growing up in relative abundance, our children will have to work harder to develop gratitude and selflessness.
  • My oldest doesn’t like learning from me.  My oldest enjoys learning from me if I am sensitive to his needs and don’t force it.
  • I’m poorly educated.  I can learn anything I need to.
  • Kids keep me from doing work I care about.  There is nothing I’d rather be doing than sharing the exciting world with my bright and beautiful kids.

Here’s an example from the brave reader who commented last week with her limiting beliefs.

I don’t have time to facilitate project time well.

I have all the time, resources, and knowledge I need to get started with a simple version of project time.

OR

I have enough time to be still and observe my kids for a few moments and write down one idea that comes to mind of how to support them.

OR

Facilitating project time isn’t exhausting because I’m not the one in charge!

Since it’s not my own limiting belief, I don’t know exactly where the hang-up lies so my ideas may not be truth and they may not be liberating.

Only you know which liberating truth gets to the heart of the issue.

Remember the limiting belief you came up with as the start of this post?

Really ask yourself what you’re afraid of and how you could re-frame your thinking to help you move forward.

Have you thought about it?

Good! Now don’t forget it and go change your life!

Right. It’s not that easy to replace long-ingrained ideas. Next week we’ll learn how to make our new liberating truth part of who we are with very little effort.

Share your liberating truth in a comment or write it down somewhere else so we can use it in next week’s exercise.

Limiting Beliefs: An Easy Place To Start Improving Your Family Culture

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Last week we finished the Culture Making series and it’s time to get back to earth and do something practical. I have an easy way to start!

“Only a small group can sustain the attention, energy and perseverance to create something that genuinely moves the horizons of possibility – because to create that good requires an ability to suspend, at least for a time, the very horizons within which everyone else is operating. Such “suspension of impossibility” is tiring and taxing. The only thing strong enough to sustain it is a community of people. To create a new cultural good, a small group is essential.” -Andy Crouch

Suspending disbelief is hard work. In the home it’s hard to look at the good and not the bad in our family life. It’s hard to envision where children are heading and not dwell on where they are lacking (kitchen mess and tantrums anyone?).

Yet training our kids has everything to do with our ability to envision an unseen future of our kids as competent, confident, and caring adults. We believe they can grow, so we guide them with our expectations that they can do and be more.

Stuck in a rut

In the first years of parenting we were figuring everything out and I felt forced to be creative in my techniques just to keep up with my child’s growth.

As the year pass, I increasingly realize I get stuck in a rut of what’s possible. The kids wipe their faces and hands after meals because they always have, not because they can’t use the sink.

I helped my third child with putting on his shoes much longer than I did with the others, simply because I didn’t have a baby to take care of as well.

Our kids absorb our expectations and our limiting beliefs about them. How do we notice where we’re stunting our family’s growth because of a poor imagination?

One great way is to notice other families and have our idea of what’s possible at a certain age to be shattered, but this can also lead to tremendous guilt and frustration rather than inspire us to action.

Another way is to replace our limiting beliefs with liberating truths.

Limiting Beliefs and liberating truths

I learned this idea from Michael Hyatt and have found it to be a powerful and almost effortless idea.

First, here’s an example of how the idea of replacing limiting beliefs helped me get better sleep with no effort at all.

I used to go to bed each night and scold myself for not going to bed earlier. I’d wake up and think, “Ugh, I didn’t get enough sleep.”

I decided to try to change my limiting belief about how much sleep I needed. Maybe seven hours of sleep (even with kid interruptions – but I don’t have a newborn) is enough for me.

As I went to bed I would tell myself “seven hours of sleep is more than enough for me to have the energy to do everything I have to do tomorrow.”

I probably get about the same amount of sleep, but I’m not constantly stressing about the time I get to bed and I have more energy than I have in years (but remember, I’m coming out of the baby years!).

At this point in my life, replacing my limiting belief about sleep was just what I needed.

Ready for an almost effortless way to improve your family culture?

I thought so!

I know that I have plenty of limiting beliefs about my family that if replaced with liberating truths could have a significant positive impact on my family culture.

I bet you do, too!

Let’s take 15 minutes to brainstorm all the many “impossibles” we believe about our families. Grab a pen and a cup of tea and shut yourself up with a “back in 15 minutes” sign and write down everything that comes to mind.

After a few minutes the ideas will flow and you’ll be amazed how liberating it is just to name the many negative and limiting thoughts we have about our families.

Pick one or two to share in the comments and we can help each other come up with liberating truths.

Culture Making Part XIII: The Powerful Alongside the Powerless

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Today I’ll wrap up the Culture Making series. There is so much more in the book, especially for Christians, but I think the series has gone on long enough and it’s high time we got back to practical applications.

As promised, I’ll share an inspiring example of the powerful working alongside – and not on behalf of – the poorest of the poor, and then share a few quotes to give you a taste of what treasures await you if you read Andy Crouch’s book.

Surprising Life in a Garbage Dump

“When I feel frustrated with the limits of my cultural power, as I do more often than I would like to admit, I like to think about the inhabitants of Smokey Mountain [a garbage dump in Manila]. . . There is no reason to think that they have any less innate capacity for cultivation and creativity than any other group of human beings made in God’s image, but they were born in a place where, instead of cultural goods being proposed and going on to reshape their world, the detritus of culture is brought to decompose and die.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tried to increase my gratitude by thinking of those less fortunate than myself, but Crouch takes a surprising turn:

“I know just enough about this community to know that they neither need nor want my pity. In 1980 a Catholic priest named Father Ben relocated to Smokey Mountain from the seminary where he was a promising young scholar. He brought the residents there the good news about Jesus. And he began to instill in them the confidence that God had not forgotten them – indeed, that God was ready to breathe life into their efforts at making a better life for their families. The community of garbage-dump workers persuaded the city to provide them with water and electric services. They have built modest but dignified concrete homes at the edge of the dump, replacing shacks of cardboard and tin. They even built a community center where children play games and older people gather to pass the time.”

“The residents of the Manila garbage dump are not primarily a moral object lesson in my relative affluence. Rather, they are a reminder of the inexhaustible human capacity to cultivate and create.”

Good News To The Poor

“Perhaps that is the truest sense of the “good news to the poor” that Jesus came to proclaim: the poor are not as poor as they, and we, think they are. The creative God of history has made his resurrection power available to them. He has made his power available to us if we will become poor in spirit – no longer simply accumulating power but freely sharing it.”

“When we put our power [to other’s] service, we unlock their creative capacity without in any way diminishing our own – and in this way, spending power is very different from spending money. When we transfer money to another person, their net worth increases while our s decreases, but the power to create cultural goods rarely has this zero-sum quality.”

This goes for spending our power alongside our children, too. It in no way diminishes our own power and authority. If it does, we’re probably not giving them power to create, but power to destroy.

Where Do You Have Power?

As a foreigner, I lack a certain kind cultural power, and I know what a blessing it is to have someone come alongside me with their cultural power to allow me to unleash my creativity in a land that was not originally my own. Most people who serve me in this way probably aren’t even aware of it or what an impact it has on me (husband, are you listening? Thanks!)

In the same way, the power we take for granted could have a huge impact if we spend it alongside those who don’t have that particular kind of power.

Still don’t think you have any power? Think of it this way:

“Most of us have experienced being in a context where our jokes were funny, our ideas provoked interest and excitement, and we felt light and quick on our feet, able to realize our vision with little sense of friction – and then being in another context where the same jokes and ideas fell completely flat and we found ourselves tongue-tied and embarrassed. The difference was, in a word, power. Power, in this sense, is deeply and absolutely dependent on the nature of the particular public we find ourselves among . . . To leave the circle of one’s power is a deeply, existentially unsettling experience.

I’m tempted to say “See how hard life is for us expats!” but that would defeat the point that everyone, everywhere has some kind of power even if it’s not where we want it most.

“Honestly and gratefully assessing where we already have cultural power is also an essential antidote to the futile process of desperately trying to amass more.”

With whom am I sharing my power?

So let’s ask ourselves, “How can I become a steward, investing my cultural power in the dreams and plans of those with less cultural power than myself?”

Culture Always Starts Small

“No matter how many it goes on to affect, culture always starts small. And this means that no matter how complex and extensive the cultural system you may consider, the only way it will be changed is by an absolutely small group of people who innovate and create a new cultural good.”

“When I was twenty-nine I was just beginning the most important cultural calling of my life, shaping the culture of a family that today includes just four people, which, if we are blessed, will widen over the generations, just as my family of origin began with four but now cannot even fit around the large dining table in my parents’ home. Scaling down can be as important as scaling up – I never expect to have better partners in shaping culture than [my wife and children]. Small things can become greater over time – those who are faithful with little are sometimes, just as Jesus said, given the chance to be faithful with much – but small communities can always create things that are out of reach of wider, thinner network.”

 

Bonus quotes for Christians:

“To be Christian is to stake our lives on this belief: the only cultural goods that ultimately matter are the ones that love creates.”

“Grace is for the poor in spirit, and the disciplines bring us, no matter our ascribed power or actual wealth, to keen awareness of our fundamental poverty.”

“Any experienced farmer can inspect the ground, note where the path, rocks and weeds are, and direct his attention to the best soil. But there is no way to similarly inspect the human heart. . . . What we can do, however, is pay careful attention to the fruit of our cultural work. Do we see a divine multiplication at work after we have done our best? Does a riotous abundance of grain spring up from a tiny, compact seed? This is grace: unearned, unexpected abundance that can leave us dizzy with joy. It is a return on investment that exceeds anything we could explain by our own effectiveness or efforts.”

To me this describes work in the home perfectly. It isn’t efficient or glamorous, but it yields this kind of dizzying abundance that can’t be fully explained or quantified – and the joy, oh the moments of joy!

“So where are we called to create culture? At the intersection of grace and the cross. Where do we find our work and play bearing awe-inspiring fruit – and at the same time find ourselves able to identify with Christ on the cross? That intersection is where we are called to dig into the dirt, cultivate and create. . . For my friend Elizabeth the intersection of grace and cross is found in raising three children who sometimes tax her to the very limit, creating a family culture of forgiveness, play and prayer.”

What we create in the family cannot be accomplished by schools, social work, government programs, or any other organization or network the world can offer.

Soldier on, my friends! It’s a great secret that what we make in the home cannot be made anywhere else and is of utmost importance.

Culture Making Part XII: The Counterintuitive Key To Successful Culture Making

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“Of all the creators and cultivators who have ever lived, Jesus was the most capable of shaping culture through his own talents and power – and yet the most culture-shaping event of his life is the result of his choice to abandon his talents and power. The resurrection shows us the pattern for culture making in the image of God. Not power, but trust. Not independence, but dependence.” – Andy Crouch

Last week in the Culture Making series we left off with the question,

How can we use our talents and cultural power for creating and cultivating with maximum and long-lived results?

The answer? Humility.

That’s the simple answer, but of course there is more to it.

First, we have to acknowledge the full extent of our limitations and realize those we think of as powerful are almost as limited as the rest of us are.

The Limits of Power

“All true cultural creativity happens at the edges of the horizons of the possible, so by definition our most culturally creative endeavors have a high risk of failure. No matter how much I try to gauge the changes of success beforehand, there is simply no way to tell except to try.”

“At the relatively small scale of my family’s life together, there are many ways in which I profoundly shape our shared world . . . Within the walls of our house, all four of us have real power to shape the very real culture we, and we alone, share.”

“My ability to make small changes in my local world is dwarfed by my dependence on the changes other people make at larger scales of culture.”

“The truth is that culture, precisely because it is world-sized, is simply too complex for anyone to control or predict. And this truth is cruelest to those who have momentary cultural success – the “survivors” toward whom the system is biased.”

“Our inability to accurately anticipate the direction of cultural change is one of the most commonly affirmed realities of human existence – and one of the most commonly ignored.”

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” -Mark Twain

We can’t control our creations – we can’t even control ourselves!

“Indeed, over time, the unintended consequences of a given cultural good almost always swamp the intended consequences in magnitude, as people continue the culture-making process, making new culture in response to the changed horizons.”

“If there is one thing culture creators cannot do, it is to control their creations.”

“Changing the world sounds grand, until you consider how poorly we do even at changing our own little lives. On a daily basis we break our promises, indulge our addictions and rehearse old fantasies and grudges that even we know we’d be better off without. We have changed less about ourselves than we would like to admit. Who are we to charge off to change the world?”

“Beware of world changers – they have not yet learned the true meaning of sin.”

“Is there a way to change the world without falling into one of the many traps laid for would-be-world changers? If so, it will require us to learn the one thing the language of “changing the world” usually lacks: humility, defined not so much as bashfulness about our own abilities as awed and quiet confidence in God’s ability.”

A Warning For Christians

There’s quite a bit more in the book about the Christian perspective, but up until now I haven’t included much because I believe many of the principles remain the same.

This time I’ll share some of what Crouch has to say to Christians since I know many of my readers are Christians. If you appreciate this snippet, then go read the book! He has much, much more to say to us – and it is quite humbling and encouraging and includes a vision of what we might do for eternity in heaven.

“[W]ise Christian culture maker will abandon the hope for Christendom – a culture in which the gospel is at the center rather than at the margins of possibility.”

“But just as the gospel never is comfortably contained in the realm of the culturally possible, it also never disappears from the horizon altogether. God’s grace and mercy, his endless inventive capacity to respond to human waywardness, ensure that every culture can be reclaimed.”

“Culture – making something of the world, moving the horizons of possibility and impossibility – is what human beings do and are meant to do. Transformed culture is at the heart of God’s mission in the world, and it is the call of God’s redeemed people. But changing the world is the one thing we cannot do. As it turns out, fully embracing this paradoxical reality is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian culture maker.”

“[W]ether you feel powerful or powerless, you are exactly the sort of person that God has a track record of deciding to use.”

“When God acts in culture, he uses both the powerful and the powerless alongside one another rather than using one against the other.”

So the more complex answer to the question of how we can use our cultural power effectively lies in the idea of the powerful working alongside the powerless.

Next week, we’ll took at an inspiring example of the idea of the powerful working alongside the powerless and what that means for us and our culture making endeavors.