Lately I’ve been working my way through Stephen Covey’s classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although it’s older, it’s full of timeless advice for everyday life that can be applied to almost any career, relationship or lifestyle.
So far, one of the lessons in the book that has stood out to me is the idea that we all live our lives according to our paradigm. In philosophy, a paradigm can be defined as:
“A worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject. The discovery of universal gravitation became the paradigm of successful science.”
- Write down 5-10 beliefs you have about people, relationships, careers, money, family, and anything else that takes centre stage in your life. Don’t question yourself too much, just feel your way through and write down the things that stand out to you most.
- Look at each of these beliefs and consider whether they are helping or hindering you. The way you can determine this is to read the belief out loud and ask yourself if you would want this to be true in an ideal world.
- If your beliefs are helpful and positive, great! If some of them aren’t, take a moment to write down counter-beliefs. For example, say you believe “most or all relationships end in divorce” your counter-belief could be “I know lots of happy couples who have been married for years and are still going strong. The divorce rate may be high, but surely not every relationship ends in divorce.” When crafting the counter-belief, the key is to make sure it feels true to you and you have real examples to back it up with. If your counter-belief is too unrealistic to feel true to you, then you will probably just end up resenting this exercise.
- Whenever you feel your old negative beliefs or thought patterns running in your mind (and they will keep running because they’ve been on repeat in your mind for years!) take a moment to notice it, breathe, and remind yourself that it’s just an old thought pattern and you do NOT have to subscribe to it or believe in it anymore. You’ve countered it with something more constructive, and you know the old belief is just there out of habit to try to protect you and keep your worldview secure.