I have experienced some major lows in my life and in turning them around have learnt important life lessons. Here’s one I’d like to share about the power of letting go of limiting beliefs and taking responsibility for your life.
The Impact of Negative Self Belief
I was born and raised in a traditional Indian family in America’s Deep South. Georgia was one of the original seven Confederate States heavily dependent on the labour of enslaved African Americans. It was and still is, a highly racially charged environment.
Although my family wasn’t the main target of racial inequality, we were definitely caught in the mix.
My mother came to America having grown up in a traditional Indian village.
Separated from her family, she held fast to her traditional Indian beliefs and focused heavily on the success of her children.
My father was an esteemed University Professor. I grew up surrounded by academic achievement, it was the only yardstick which mattered.
Once I entered school, it soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to meet the high bar set by my older brother, the family’s academic superstar.
My response was to not try at all. I slacked off at school and drifted into bad company, which earned me the status as the ‘bad son’.
I can still recall my frustrated parents’ appeals: “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Even though my parents always hoped for my success, I had no belief in myself. I just didn’t fit with my family’s values of academic success.
Confronting the Question of “Who Am I?”
And my Indian name and ethnicity meant I didn’t exactly fit into the world I was born into either. This question of “who am I” dogged me for years and was strongly brought home to me when, years later, I made a trip to India.
I was sitting in a beach cafe, and two Indian couples were seated at the table next to me.
Having heard me speak to the waiter, one of them leaned over and asked: “Where are you from?” I replied, “I come from an Indian family, but I was born and raised in the States” to which he replied, “Oh, you’re American then!”
Always the smart mouth, I responded with “Oh, thank you! I came to this country to try and figure that out, but you’ve just solved my problem in ten seconds!” “I didn’t mean any offence,” came the reply. But it was this question of “Who am I?” that had really affected me.
This confused sense of identity, not knowing where I belonged, and my lack of self-worth messed with my mind and led me down the path of trouble. By my mid-teens, I was experimenting with drugs. And by my early twenties, I was homeless and hopelessly drug-addicted.
Anger and resentment were my constant companions. Like the drugs I was addicted to, my negative beliefs had become my crutch without my even realising it. I blamed others for my plight. In my mind, someone else was responsible for the way I felt and for what was happening to me.
Life is now very different for me. I’ve achieved freedom from addictions, built a successful business, enjoy a wonderful marriage and family, and have been blessed with amazing teachers and clients. It’s a life I love and value. I’ve achieved inner peace – at least most of the time!
One of the most important developments in this remarkable transformation happened the day I decided to stop blaming others and take responsibility for my life.
I clearly recall the day. After trying and failing on countless occasions, I made a real commitment to change. Exactly how it was going to happen I did not know at the time. However, that day there was no doubt that it was now or never to commit to taking full responsibility for my life. And I’ve never looked back.
I have been asked many times by clients and friends how I was able to find the commitment to stop using drugs and turn my life around. While it is hard to say what helped me to finally make the decision, it was most likely a combination of factors.
Identifying Limiting Beliefs
As long as I held on to resentment and blame – even subconsciously – I seemed to attract more and more negative circumstances. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out of a downward spiral.
From the moment I became willing to stop blaming others and took responsibility for my own outcomes, the world responded in kind.
That single life-changing decision was the key that unlocked the support I needed to ensure my success. Amazing people started coming out of the woodwork to guide me on my journey from destitute drug addict to a fulfiled human being with the potential to help others.
It is with the utmost gratitude I can now reflect on my life and see how the moment I decided to take responsibility for my life things began to change for the better.
As if by magic, insightful teachers appeared at my side to lead me in the right direction. This guidance continues to this day, as long as I remember my end of the bargain: to take responsibility for what I was thinking, feeling and doing and not project onto others.
Life Lessons That Make a Difference
One of the most important life lessons I received is the understanding that my suffering was not caused by any person or situation, but rather by what I thought and perceived.
By re-framing my perspective, I was able to free myself of those limiting beliefs. And in doing so I became truly grateful for what I had previously resented.
These past experiences have provided the knowledge and good fortune to help others break through their limiting beliefs to take responsibility for aspects of their lives they previously hadn’t.
Unlocking Our Best Self and Fulfilling Potential
Life throws us curveballs. At some stage, we will all experience the passing of a close friend or family member, relationship problems, maybe even betrayal, severe criticism or physical attacks. Though we are not responsible for everything that has happened to us, we can take responsibility for what we think and feel about them.
By changing our mindset we grant ourselves freedom from ongoing personal torment and negativity.
I regularly see clients unlock their best selves after living a lifetime with paralysing beliefs. Changing their mindset to eliminate limiting beliefs was a catalyst for life-changing transformations.
In my experience, there isn’t a person on the planet who cannot find full inner and outer success and potential.
There is no difficulty that can’t be dissolved with the realisation that there is immense power in introspection. While we may not be able to change what happens, we have every ability to change how we perceive it.
This perception is the basis for everything.