Trapped By Belief
Almost daily, we hear about some tragedy happening around the world or a few states over. Some country was struck by a devastating earthquake. A girl who was kidnapped and held in captivity for years was finally released. A car accident ended a teenage boy’s life. A shark bit off a child’s leg. Terrible, terrible things happen every single day, and still, we think they won’t happen to us. We believe automatically, that we will certainly live to see tomorrow, that this one quick trip to the grocery store will just be one quick trip to the grocery store, and that we will lose nothing but dignity and perhaps a debit card during tomorrow night’s barhopping marathon. We believe we are safe, because we have to.
Imagine if we believed otherwise. Imagine if we believed each time we got into a car, we would get in an accident. Or if we believed that there was always a shark lurking near the shore, ready to attack. What would our lives look like if we believed, truly believed, these things would happen to us? I know I would ride in cars way less often. I probably wouldn’t swim in the ocean, and I would constantly be reading about the latest cancer preventing super foods. I would live cautiously, fearfully, differently, and most of all, I would live smaller. We all would. We would live in a tiny, safe bubble so as to avoid all of the tragic things we believed would definitely happen to us if we didn’t. Can you picture your life like that?
The truth that we all know is that no one is safe from things like that happening. Lightning can strike you at any moment. A car can swerve into your lane in a split second. A shark could randomly approach shore. Freak accidents happen often enough to be possible, but not often enough to rid themselves of the title “freak accidents”. Although we know deep down we aren’t safe, this truth is buried deep enough to allow us to live freely enough to enjoy the ocean and a night on the town, virtually worry free. In this case, it is then a good thing to believe we are exceptions. Believing that “those” things happen to “other people”, actually allows us to live pretty largely.
But if we believe we are exceptions to the tragedies and accidents of life, we also believe we are exceptions to the wonderful lives we dream about. Just as we believe cancer or a car accident won’t happen to us today, we also believe that our wildest, happiest dreams won’t happen today either. And instead of allowing us to live freely, like we do when we believe bad things are for “other people”, these beliefs actually root us, ground us. We are planes full of lofty dreams, grounding ourselves in the worst way possible when we believe that good fortune and pure happiness are also reserved for “other people”.
When I was honest with myself, and when I knew no one could hear or detect my thoughts, I envisioned the life I wanted. I made sure no one ever heard of these dreams though, because they were silly and, again, reserved for “other people”. I wanted to write, to share, to speak, to teach. I wanted to inspire by books and speeches and change lives. But I knew that I was an exception, that these things wouldn’t happen for me. Why would they? I am no one special.
And so I sat, rooted, grounded, going no where because I believed truly that I couldn’t/wouldn’t go anywhere, just as I believed that cancer and a shark attack wouldn’t happen to me. Our belief that our dreams are just dreams causes us to live differently, just like we live differently when we believe only “other” girls get kidnapped.
But this time it’s not a good different. This time, we begin to live as if those things are impossible, so we don’t try for them, because why would we? If those things are never going to happen anyway, then what was the point of embarrassingly pursuing our dreams in front of the whole world, only to come up empty?
Remember what I hypothesized would happen if we lived with the belief that car accidents and kidnappings were definitely coming for us? I said that I think we would live fearfully and most of all, smaller. Let’s hypothesize about what would happen if we lived with the belief that our dreams and hopes were the things definitely coming for us. Let’s imagine what life would look like if we lived with the belief that all the great, big, awesome events of the world COULD and WOULD happen to us. How would our lives change then? I hypothesize that something magnificent would happen.
For me, I would write furiously, post and talk about my ideas fervently, teach relentlessly, because I knew that I would one day rise to a place I called success, the place of my dreams. I would live larger. Once this thought occurred to me, I felt silly believing otherwise. Why would I choose to live in the belief that my dreams were reserved for “others”, if I could just as easily believe they weren’t? Especially when I saw how living under a different belief would change my life.
I urge you to do the same. Quit believing you are an exception to magnificent things, that your dreams are just dreams. Quit believing that you can’t. There is a terribly cheesy quote hanging on a plaque next to my bathroom mirror that reads: “Believe you can and you’re half way there.” (Like, painfully cheesy, but painfully true.) If you don’t believe you can do it, then you won’t do it. Simple. But take heart- if you are already on the road to trying for something, then you already believe- even if just a teeny tiny bit- that you can do it.
Keep believing. There is no point in living otherwise. It is not easy, and it involves being totally vulnerable, but these are your dreams we’re talking about here. Won’t you do that for them?