“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” ~Adyashanti
To some extent, everyone seeking change and peace are initially guided by ideas. But it’s important to come to realize that the real change happens when you let go of ideas, as opposed to following new ones.
I have found that the nine beliefs l describe below are what we often hold onto unconsciously.
I have also come to the understanding that training one’s mind to “be present” or “be calm” can only get you so far. While you can have many fleeting moments of peace, they can often feel as if they come on top of a background of noise and confusion.
When you start to let go of these ideas, the inner peace becomes the background, and the noise becomes what will visit and leave.
Here are nine unconscious beliefs about life that get in the way of our inner peace.
1. “I need to be doing something right now.”
This is an incredibly subtle belief that most of us don’t even realize we are holding onto. It stems from our obsession with productivity and achievement, and it manifests as a constant, itching discontent.
Though our ego tricks us into believing we need this feeling to get things done, when we can let it go we see a lot of our anxiety dissolves and our relaxation deepens. We’re also much more likely to enjoy what we need to do without the constant internal pressure of feeling that what we’re doing in this moment is never enough.
2. “When I get what I want I will be happy.”
This is another cliche that I’m sure most of us are aware of. But despite acknowledging that we don’t need to get anything to be happy, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the chase.
To overcome this, we need to be mindful of when we have the feeling that we need something before we can be happy. When we see we’re doing this we can practice letting go of that need, even if only for a brief moment. The more capable we become at doing so, the more we will naturally experience happiness in the present, and the less our minds will fixate on ideas of the future for fulfillment.
3. “Finding inner peace is difficult.”
This is another myth that gets in the way. Many of us feel that we are far from inner peace, and we idolize those who seem to have found it. Because of this, we unconsciously believe that it’s a long way away from where we are in our lives, and we need to go on a long journey to find it.
Maybe we’ve read books that suggest that fundamental change in how we feel or act takes years of difficult training or some sort of pilgrimage. But often it is letting go of the belief that what we want is so far away, and understanding that when you stop striving so aggressively you will start to see the calm you’re looking for. It is this process of turning your beliefs upside down that becomes the journey in itself.
4. “If I express my emotions honestly people will think I’m weak.”
We’re often taught, as we grow up, to keep a lid on our emotions. This is common for responses that are considered socially inappropriate such as anger, fear, and sadness. Though in many ways we’re also taught to limit how much we show our positive emotions such as joy and excitement. This leads us, in adulthood, to believe that honest expression will be met with disapproval by others.
The irony in this is that as everyone is dealing with the urge to be authentic, those that actually do so are often met with respect and admiration.
5. “If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like it.”
This is similar to the issue we have with emotional expressions. We hide certain aspects of our personality, defining ourselves publicly by what we show and privately by what we’ve hidden. The reality is that you are a lot more than either of those stories, and people will gravitate toward the real you because they appreciate honesty.
6. “I should be happier right now.”
In our culture, we fixate too much on social comparisons between individuals. When we don’t feel good, we look at what we have and feel guilty for not being happy enough. Or, we look at what we don’t have and wonder why we’re not as happy as the next person. Happiness isn’t something you need to have all the time; it comes and goes, like any experience, but it’s not a prerequisite for being human.
7. “Not being the best me isn’t good enough.”
There’s been a huge movement in the last twenty years toward personal development. Though a lot of these ideas are healthy, they can be driven by toxic motives. Most people don’t feel they need to better themselves out of a genuine need to improve their community, but out of the feeling that they’re not good enough in the first place.
When you can strip yourself of this idea you’ll soon realize that the chase to being your best self is infinite and anxiety-inducing. You’ll see that you can love and appreciate yourself now, as you are, without needing to be someone else before feeling okay.
8. “I owe the world.”
This is a tough one and is related to the feeling of needing to be your best self. Though gratitude is important, it doesn’t mean we should walk around with the feeling that we’re in debt to the universe. We see this when people pathologically try to prove their worth to others. When we let go of the deep feeling of debt and obligation, we can then really start to give people what we have to offer.
9. “There was a time in my past that absolutely sucked.”
Often we become so identified with bad times in our past that they get in the way of us enjoying the present. We define ourselves with these past experiences and feel we need to share them with everyone we know before they know the real us. But when we come to realize that they are far less significant than we initially thought, we stop feeling like imposters and we let old memories fall away.
Sometimes these beliefs can still come up in day to day life. Other times we find ourselves tired, or sick, and there’s an itching feeling that we should be happier, or we should just be doing more with our time. And like many normal people, we still need to work on expressing our emotions honestly, without the fear that others will see it as a weakness.
All of this is okay. These beliefs took a lifetime of conditioning to cement themselves in our minds, so it’s only right they should take a little time and effort before they’re able to be completely let go.
Fortunately, these constructs don’t have to have the same kind of grip over our psyche that they once had. In time, anxieties can fade away and we can be able to ruminate less over unnecessary questions.