The Not Model

As we have been discussing, intentionally choosing models as a way to navigate ones way through the infinite incoming impulses and stimuli we each face every waking moment, is a powerful way to assert a clear intention and thereby increase the odds of getting to your desired goals. Some of us in the name of organization, attempt to begin with top level goals, missions or visions and drill all of the way down to specific scheduled tasks. For those of you who amazingly are able to perfectly line up their lives from top to bottom, congratulations, you are officially awesome.

There is however at least one other way to attack the entropy lying in wait to envelope us and that is through Not-To-Do Lists. We all have literally more than we can eat on our plates. Many of us want to shrink parts of us, physically and also in terms of commitments (two sides of the same coin). It can be worth while thinking about what not to eat and what not to do.

But that is not what I am going to talk about this morning. Instead I am going to kick things up a level to considering what not to believe in some ways a superset of what not to do. At a minimum this can function as a context within which we can discard lower priority activities.

We all begin to accumulate beliefs, models and understandings as soon as we could hear, see and sense, which is to say before we were conscious of what we were absorbing. Unconscious accumulation can be paralyzing for pack-rats never letting go of anything. Eventually we each develop filters and a filtering process by which we protect ourselves from indiscriminate acceptance whatever incoming we are standing in the way of. We begin to establish a sense of priorities and sense of what seems reasonable and what needs to be rejected.

But, how often do we take a deep look at ideas we have accepted as true, and attempt to revalidate them? Our to-do-lists become more manageable when we establish some Not-To-Dos. Our lives also make more sense when we get rid of ideas that are holding us back. Oftentimes these ideas entered into our belief structure before we set up protective filters. Some are useful and some are not. If you grew up in a family where everyone was an athlete or a musician or really great at making money, these positive preconscious beliefs can be worth carrying forward. Alternatively, if you grew up knowing love nor success would be forthcoming, those limiting beliefs could cripple an otherwise capable healthy person.

As a younger man I was attracted to people who had lived during developmental years in other countries, They seemed to have consciously determined which beliefs, values and tastes to hold onto and which to let go of, because they could not take it all with them. This was true of physical items and thoughts which made these people interesting as they seemed to have consciously considered through necessity what to care about and what to let go of.

The same phenomena exists within people who change physical locations, professions or social milieus. None of whom could take it all with them, having had to let go of things and beliefs. Could we voluntarily do regular dump runs on obsolete ideas and limiting beliefs? This would make room to grow and perhaps permit us to become what we always wanted to be to achieve our hearts desire(s).

As an example I grew up in a family who all believed we could not sing and therefore could not. Decades later I discovered that I could which felt pretty good. On the other hand, I was born with club feet and unable to walk until I was two. When I made the track team in junior high school no one in my family was surprised, but my orthopedic foot doctor was and his colleagues thought it was impossible. My parents were extremely physically strong making this seem much more reasonable than singing which pretty much everyone can do.

Most of us have accumulated limiting beliefs that we can let go of to great effect. Models put in place and accepted about strengths and weaknesses need to be examined, with some kept and some discarded. Outmoded societal values, like girls can’t do math persist in some circles in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Another is people become too old to learn or get in shape. An ever increasing army of high functioning eighty and ninety year olds beg to differ.

The bottom line is the largest input into all of our lives is ourselves. Our self talk is the dominant talk we hear all day long. If it is limiting, than we are limited. If it is positive, reinforcing and upward looking, we can change the world or at least change ourselves.

Be at least as careful about things you tell yourself, as you are about eating leftovers. Smell them first to see how old they are. If they have gone bad then toss them out and do not consume them. If you don’t, you may end up with a life-ache instead of a stomach-ache.