https://shiftworkplace.com/podcasts/leading-without-power-unconscious-belief-reading-reality/

S3 Leading Without Power – The Power of Unconscious Belief and Reading Your Reality

Creating Reality

We become what we think we are – our lives are a reflection of what we believe they should be. That means you unconsciously create your reality, and your unconscious beliefs limit you from discovering what your life could be. This doesn’t mean that you are responsible if you were born in poverty or in a war-torn country. However, the actions you take to create your life will always be guided by your unconscious beliefs about the world and your place in it. Even in the face of research or evidence to the contrary, you could deny the obvious, like beautiful women who believe they are ugly and act that way.

Unconscious Culture

Someone I knew was facilitating a cultural awareness training in Asia for two groups of trainees – people born in China and surrounding Asian countries, and people from Europe. Both groups were given a list of behaviours which they had to rank for ethics – on a scale from most to least unethical. The people from in China and surrounding Asian countries rated those behaviours as most unethical, which had to do with breaking a promise within a relationship and therefore losing face, like refusing your friends a favour or betraying them. The people from Europe ranked crimes as most unethical, like cheating on your spouse or vandalism.

After the debriefing, both groups were made aware of how their cultural background determined their beliefs on what was ethical. Even though they clearly understood the other group’s point of view, they remained steadfast in their beliefs. Beliefs are internal commands which help people interpret the world. When we change our beliefs, we can change our behavior. If we change our behavior, we begin believing differently about who we are.

Powerful Expectations

Expectation is a powerful force. If you believe people always perform poorly and that you need to correct them constantly, you will face more poor performers who make more mistakes. If you believe you can only move up at work by pushing others down – winning only by making others lose – you will find that there is no other way to progress. If you believe that the world is a competitive place, you will attract competition. If you believe people are cooperative, so they shall be.

My friend was on a bus with two women her age. They were discussing how young people were impolite, discourteous and inappropriate. However, my friend had never experienced young people this way because she didn’t hold those beliefs, despite taking the same bus.

The Fault in our Beliefs

If you find yourself in a bad work situation which is not in your control, don’t focus on whose fault it is. Ask yourself what you can learn from the situation and what you believe as a result of it. What we believe is likely to happen determines the outcome or interpretation of it. What you resist, persists, and what you accept, transforms. Unless you find a way to learn from the situation, you will be made to face similar challenges.

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Beliefs are so powerful that they can even change hormonal messages from your brain. In Afghanistan, if a family didn’t have a son, they would raise a daughter as one. Half these girls did not develop female secondary sexual characteristics even though there was clear evidence that they were females. Because of their beliefs that they were boys, their bodies imbibed those hormonal messages from their brains. Their brains created bodies which would assist them in their lives as men.

Unearthing the Truth

Your core beliefs are unconscious – you grew up with them and developed them in response to your environment. So, how can you discover what you believe about yourself? Mindfulness Muse recommends a technique called laddering down. This involves a series of questions to uncover the core belief that affects your leadership and colours how you see the world. It can also help you reclaim power in a situation where you feel powerless.

Begin with a strong statement about any important area of your life – money, health, relationships, work, managers or jobs. Then make referring statements to unearth its meaning. Once you find your belief, you can examine if it is serving you and if that is the story you want to tell yourself. If you change that story, you will change your belief, and hence, your behavior.

Laddering Down Scenarios

Scenario A

Strong Statement: I have no control over my workday.

Questions to ladder down:

  • What if I have no control over my workday? What does it mean?
  • It means I am in firefighting mode all day.
  • What if I am in firefighting mode all day? What does it mean?
  • It means I will jump whenever my boss, my crew or my customers want something.
  • What if I jump whenever my boss, my crew or my customers want something? What does it mean?
  • It means I will lose my job if I don’t please them.
  • What if I lose my job? What will it mean?

At this point, you may say – I’ll be relieved – in which case you should re-examine why you are there.

Or you may say – It means I am incompetent. It means no one will respect me. I means I must please others to be worthy – I am unworthy unless I please other people all the time.

Ask yourself if that is true, and if that is the story you want to tell yourself.

Scenario B

Strong Statement: I have no control over my workday.

Questions to ladder down:

  • What if I have no control over my workday? What does it mean?
  • It means I am in firefighting mode all day.
  • What if I am in firefighting mode all day? What does it mean?
  • It means I will jump whenever my boss, my crew or my customers want something.
  • What if I jump whenever my boss, my crew or my customers want something? What does it mean?
  • It means it isn’t my fault if things don’t get prioritized, finished or done correctly.
  • What if it isn’t my fault if things don’t get prioritized, finished or done correctly? What does it mean?
  • It means I avoid blaming myself or getting blamed because I didn’t do anything wrong and don’t have to change anything.

If you believe your job is to avoid getting blamed and keep everything the way it is because you are comfortable that way, that will be a big revelation for you to work on.

Leading with Power

When you are conscious of your unconscious beliefs, you reclaim your power. You can become the master of your beliefs and prevent them from driving you unconsciously. When you start telling yourself a new story, your core beliefs will change. Try it yourself! Here are some strong statements for you to get started. Keep laddering down till you reach your core belief.

Wealth/Money
  • I am always in debt.
  • It is hard to make money.
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • Rich people are not kind.
Health
  • I can’t lose weight.
  • I don’t have the discipline to eat healthy food.
  • My health is hereditary.
  • I always fall ill in the winter.
Relationships
  • There are no good men/women out there.
  • After age 30, all the best ones are ‘taken’.
  • I always fall into the same trap with relationships.
  • I am unlucky in love.

This is the final installment in the Leading Without Power Trilogy. I hope you enjoyed the series and are making steps towards gaining power internally. If you missed the first two, check out Solo Podcast 1 and Solo Podcast 2 on the website.

If you have faced incidents at the workplace or have some ideas that you would like me to discuss on the podcast, please write to marie@shiftworkplace.com. Also, don’t forget to rate and share the podcast to help others find leadership and cultural insights like you just did!

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