What are you hanging onto?

“LET GO OR BE DRAGGED”  That’s what the magnet on my desk lamp states in all caps and rainbow colors.  My sister sent it to me because she thought it was funny.  To me it’s a reminder.  Unfortunately, I’ve been dragged a number of times.  Once literally (by a purse snatcher on a motorcycle), and multiple times figuratively by self-doubts.

The literal experience required x-rays and stitches in my scalp.   My bruises healed, the stitches were removed.   Self-doubts are harder to tackle.  I had a belief system that I wasn’t smart enough, good enough, (fill in the blank)  enough.   I’m not as smart as my younger sister, the scientist.  I’m not quick on my feet with a ready quip and infectious laughter like my older sister.  And I’m definitely not a walking encyclopedia like my older brother!

That’s just the assessment I made of myself compared to my siblings.  Imagine the comparisons I’ve made over the years with fellow students, co-workers, friends.  I thought I wasn’t “enough” of whatever I “should” be.  This meant that I compared myself to others on a daily basis, as if there were a Universal measuring stick, and I didn’t reach some arbitrary mark.

The consequences of hanging on to this belief structure were much more damaging than being dragged behind a motorcycle.  Comparing myself to others and their real (or my imagined) skills, abilities, experience, talents, etc., meant that I was never satisfied or comfortable with myself.

That belief system meant that each time I determined someone else was “better than” I, the neural connections in my brain associated with “I’m not good enough” fired again, and again, and again.   There’s a saying in neuroscience, “brain cells that fire together wire together.”  In other words, the more you practice a skill (piano playing), or a negative belief, (“I’m not as smart as……”)  the stronger the connections are in your brain.

In fact, the brain begins to create protective packaging, called a myelin sheath, around those neural pathways to support and protect them.  Think of it like smearing sunscreen on your body to protect your skin.  (Isn’t the brain amazing!)

The stitches in my scalp were removed in 10 days.  The “I’m not good enough” belief system stayed with me for decades.  It has taken dedicated effort to confront that belief, recognize the negative impact it has had on my happiness (not to mention the strain on my relationships), and to build new neural connections to reinforce that I am smart, accomplished, and “good enough.”

Our bodies are amazing when you think about it.  We can generate new cells to close open wounds, and develop new connections in our brains.  We are constantly changing at the cellular level.  We can develop new habits.  We can change old beliefs.

LET GO OR BE DRAGGED.  I don’t know where my sister found that magnet, but I’m very grateful she sent it to me.

What belief are you hanging onto?

What would happen if you let go of a belief that doesn’t serve your greater good?

What new neural connections do you need to build?