Most of the world is facing uncertainty now due to the coronavirus pandemic. We can go through uncertain times with relationships, family, finances in addition to our health. When there is a shock in our lives, we can feel stunned and confused. Normal routines and familiarities can be disrupted, and we can feel foggy and uncertain about the way forward. In these types of circumstances, people need to adapt and regain their sense of empowerment.
In this article on how to empower yourself, we explore:
- How we rely on our beliefs about the world to give us certainty
- How our beliefs help determine our level of empowerment
- The role of fantasies and how they can create “nightmares” in times of uncertainty
- How to adapt our beliefs to changing times
A belief is something that we assume to be true. Our beliefs are influenced by our experience, our environment and our social conditioning.
Beliefs get stronger the more personal evidence we have that backs our belief. They also get stronger if other people concur with our belief. For example, there was a time when everyone thought the world was flat and at the time there was a lot of sound evidence that this was true!
Our beliefs determine what actions we take, and they can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if we believed as a child that we were stupid, it is unlikely that we would have done the school-work to get good grades and therefore it is more likely we would have failed our exams. Failure of exams would be further evidence that we are stupid, and the belief is reinforced (self-fulfilling).
We are unconscious of most of our beliefs. Many people state their beliefs as facts and struggle to tell the difference between a fact, a belief and an opinion. For example, someone might say “I am a hard worker” and believe it is a fact (although as it involves a comparative it is an opinion), they might say “I am overweight” (where it’s difficult to say whether it’s a fact or opinion without further data) or “My ex-husband is an idiot!” (which is a belief or opinion).
We can recognise a disempowering belief when we become aware of a negative emotional charge that accompanies it.
Beliefs give rise to the rules and habits we operate by. If we are not able to control or influence our own beliefs, when a shock occurs (like a pandemic or relationship breakdown) we find it harder to adapt.
The more your beliefs can adapt as your reality changes the more relaxed and empowered you will feel.
Fantasies and nightmares
Fantasies are beliefs not aligned with reality, and every fantasy has an associated nightmare. Fantasies eventually create disempowerment when the opposite “nightmare” arises.
It is wise to align yourself with reality by identifying and dissolving your fantasies. If you are living in a nightmare right now, it is wise to figure out what fantasies you have about the situation, other people or yourself.
In the current climate, an example of a fantasy we might hold is that “this virus should go away” (the associated nightmare is circulation of the coronavirus). Another example could be “If my husband loved me, he should know what I want” (the associated nightmare is that he doesn’t love you). You can identify your own fantasies by identifying where you have a significant emotional charge (“the nightmare”).
The three levels of empowerment
Broadly speaking there are three levels of empowerment that can exist within a belief system:
- Level 1: Things happen to me and I try to deal with them as best I can.
- Level 2: Things happen to me, but I can choose how I react to them.
- Level 3: Things that happen to me, I have created through my actions or my non-actions.
There are benefits and drawbacks from operating at each of these levels. No one of these levels of empowerment are necessarily true – you can think of them as filters for how we create meaning from our events. The coronavirus has pushed many people to Level 1. It is worth being aware that the benefits of operating at Level 1 include the ability to relax and let go.
To empower yourself when you believe you have lost control, it can be useful to nurture and strengthen beliefs like:
- I adapt my beliefs based upon the reality I see
- It is wise to figure out what I can influence and let go of things I can’t
- I can handle whatever comes along
- There are benefits to this situation that I will discover
- All is well, things will turn out for the best
- The Universe/God/Higher Power will look after me
How to change your beliefs:
In order to change a belief, there are three elements required. Firstly, you need to be aware that it is a belief. Second, you need to be motivated to make a different choice. Third, you need evidence that an alternative belief is real.
As an example, if you are currently not sure if you can handle whatever is going on with the coronavirus pandemic then you may want to introduce a belief “I can handle whatever comes along”:
Step 1: Recognise that you have chosen to have your current belief, based upon perceived evidence
Step 2: Recognise there are many benefits of adopting a belief that you can handle anything that comes along. For example, your wellbeing will improve as you will feel less anxious about the future.
Step 3: Find evidence to support the new belief. Look for examples in your past where you have handled difficult situations or read motivational books where other people have handled difficult situations (check out our book review: Man’s Search for Meaning which is a story of a man overcoming the challenges of being held in four different concentration camps during the second world war).
If you are looking to empower yourself during times of uncertainty, now is the time to adapt and take control of your beliefs, so they nurture you and better match reality.
We suggest you dissolve your fantasies by identifying how they are false and use the three steps to belief change to have more control or influence over your level of empowerment.
We are currently holding a special free and live webinar entitled “Empowering Yourself in Uncertain Times” which covers the contents of this article in more depth and gives you the opportunity to ask questions.
If you want to accelerate the process of belief change to empower yourself then check out our transformational coaching offering (now also available online). In transformational coaching, the coach helps you to uncover key hidden unconscious beliefs, and release them and the associated emotions all in one session.