Paradigm Shifting Journal Exercise

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.”
You may not realize it, but every single decision you make, action you take, and thought you think stems from your personal paradigm. Covey defines a paradigm as a subjective “map” while the “territory” of said map is made up of objective or natural laws and principles that are fundamentally true across society.
I always find it such an enlightening experience to really sit down and examine my own fundamental beliefs, and how they have contributed to my life experience so far. It can be shocking to uncover some of the ideas and perceptions you’ve unknowingly held about the world around you for years, especially when you realize that some of these beliefs may not be serving you anymore.
Beliefs are really just a bundle of chronic thoughts that have run through our minds so many times they’ve become ingrained in our psyche. The more we think them, the more we look around our reality for evidence to support them, and the truer they become for us.
If you don’t stop to check in on your chronic thought patterns once in a while through inner reflection, meditation and journaling, they can easily take on a life of their own and snowball into a paradigm that ultimately shapes your life. After all, our thoughts create our beliefs which create our actions and behaviours, which ultimately form your entire experience and outer reality.
After reading this chapter, I remembered how easy it is for negative or unhelpful thoughts to sneak past and form into beliefs, so I did the following journaling exercise to begin to unpack them:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
I found this paradigm-shifting journal exercise to be so freeing and uplifting. You’ll likely still witness your old beliefs and negative thoughts running in your mind often (I know I do!), but by taking the time to witness them and separate yourself from them, you will feel their grip beginning to loosen on you and their power lessening.
What do you think of this exercise? Let me know how it goes for you!

Published by Kenzie Patterson

Hi! I'm Kenzie: a lover of wellness, lifestyle and so much more. Thanks for visiting my little corner of the web.

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