I acknowledge this great cartoon from The Hindu, Chennai, India.
Good coaches focus on re-framing undermining belief systems.
We remain what our beliefs are. Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads, said 5000 years ago: ”Thoughts lead to actions. Actions lead to behavior. Behavior leads to what we are’. Buddha echoed this 2600 years ago: Thoughts make the man.
Unfortunately, most beliefs arise out of inner energy conditioning,. From childhood, caregivers, elders and teachers guide us and command us on what to do and what not to do. They themselves inherit much of this from their caregivers, elders and teachers. The vicious cycle goes back to our religious and social roots. We inherit our beliefs from the commandments and scriptures of our religions and cultures.
Any one reflecting on the Ten Commandments from today’s context would find most of it impractical. What fraction of the world’s population observes Sabbath? The same is true of the rules and regulations laid down by most other religions practiced today. While followers may swear undying loyalty to the word of their scriptures, most of what they swear by remains in word, not in action.
For instance, some cultural beliefs undermine the status of women and some undermine the status of people who work physically. People in these spaces in these cultures start to believe in not being equal. Such a belief blocks all activities to enhance their life style. Most Western countries did not allow women to vote till a few decades ago. Even today, sexual inclination remains a limiting belief in many cultures.
How do we rise above such limiting and undermining beliefs and help others rise above them? How do we regain our true inner energy?
Where do these beliefs reside and how do they work?
Freud classified our mind in three parts, Id, Ego and Super Ego. Freud defined Id as the unconscious part of the brain, where distant past memories reside. The triune model of the brain refers to this part as the reptilian part, which stores memories as old as the reptilian stage of our evolution. Id represents the instinctive operation of the brain and the mind, comprising actions triggered by flight and fight responses. These represent primal survival instincts.
The unconscious part of the mind operates millions of times faster than the logical conscious part, as it indeed should since its responsibility relates to our survival. The triggers or memories embedded in this part of the mind remain deeply furrowed. We invariably get caught in these embedded triggers unconsciously when we think and act. However rational our thoughts and actions may seem, the unconscious triggers them.
In addition to programmed instinctive triggers of survival, the mind accepts early childhood memories of conditioning based on cultural, tribal, religious and societal values in its unconscious. Our parents, elders and teachers ensure this through repeated admonitions. In the face of such deeply embedded conditioned beliefs, we have little chance of independent logical action, unless we become aware of these beliefs and take conscious action to overcome them.
Let us look at one deep undermining belief that has undermined our society for centuries. Society figures the dark skin as inferior to the white. All conflicts arising from slavery through forcible kidnapping of people from Africa by white colonizers arose from this single belief. This belief still paralyzes Western thinking. However much public emancipation seems, private beliefs seem to still revolve around this belief in a significant part of the population. Even a President of darker skin has not eliminated this prejudice in many.
In countries like India, this prejudice still operates viciously. A woman getting married depends on her skin color, or the tones of her skin color. A dark skin can never be dark, Indian lingo calls it ‘wheatish’ to pass muster. The dowry, bride price, her parents would pay increases proportionate to darkness of color. This happens today despite laws against such practices. Multinational consumer goods companies make hay with dark skin by selling skin whitening products. What price women’s emancipation?
At least some one benefits from an undermining belief!
How do we overcome such beliefs through coaching?
Some gave their lives to coach and inspire others! Gandhi coached Indians to get rid of their colonial legacy. King did that for his race in the United States. Abe Lincoln initiated that process. Mandela did that to South Africa. These greatest of great leaders set personal examples and coached others. They helped others re-frame their undermining beliefs to get rid of them.
Every coach can do that!
Every coach can become aware of their undermining beliefs, re-frame and rise above them, and inspire others through their example. They use their inner energy to help others discover theirs.