Yesterday, I was vacuuming so quickly that I inadvertently picked up some valuable coins in the dirt. It reminded me of times when I have been quick to judge and dismiss something that appeared completely useless or unwanted because I was not looking for the good or opportunity presented. I was only focusing on the surrounding dirt.
Limiting beliefs are what drive this behavior, and they also permeate our political sphere. We do this to each other before, during and after elections to justify our actions. Campaigns capitalize on it as they surround the coins with as much dirt as possible hoping it will all get vacuumed up. The irony is that the coins are valuable even to those piling on the dirt, and everyone loses when the vacuum blindly runs.
Why did I subject myself to public scrutiny as an admitted undecided voter through CNN.com? It isn’t just about being undecided in a polarized election; it’s about looking beneath and helping us to move forward past the elections. Click to Tweet
Last summer, I was inspired to write a series of articles on how our national conflicts are mere reflections of the conflicts that each of us has internally, spawned by limiting beliefs. Our minds and the government operate in the same way. My intent was to engage Americans in a meaningful conversation away from the typical political discourse, which is so polarized that it’s completely unproductive.
The basic premise is that limiting beliefs are what hold us back; no amount of policy analysis, number-crunching or debating is going to propel us forward to create solutions that benefit everyone until we face and shift our own limiting beliefs. Click to Tweet These illusions also keep us from talking to each other, which stunts the creation of true solutions as a country.
As humans, we all have them, usually without realizing what they are. In simple terms, they are negative beliefs about us that are false. They reveal themselves in a myriad of ways: negative emotion, pain, chronic medical conditions, conflicts, anxiety, lawsuits, etc.
In the last few years, I have been honored to see and help shift limiting beliefs inside the hearts and minds of many people. I wondered how I would reach more people to create a positive dialogue with our nation. Then, Jessica Ravitz, from CNN.com, magically appeared in Virginia looking for an undecided voter in the category of single, professional female. Although I am undecided and fit this category, initially I turned it down and vacuumed it up because a) throwing myself in to the national public lime-light felt scary; b) I didn’t want to be misconstrued as the traitor republican or placed in any political box; and c) airing my personal journey to the world was unappealing. Then, I spotted the coin.
It occurred to me that the same sort of fears that I urge our leaders and each other to face and shift were holding me back from an opportunity to create this dialogue. Not wanting to be a consultant hiding behind my computer encouraging leaders to do what I’m unwilling to do myself, I called her, and the adventure began.
By using this experience as an example, I take the opportunity below to respond to some of the article comments, show how limiting beliefs manifest themselves into our experiences and explain how to spot and release them. Regarding the commentary that depicted a misperception of my position, I asked myself: How did I create this into my life?
The answer was simple: I still held some limiting beliefs about myself somewhere in the subconscious. Metaphorically, I find it fascinating that some of the comments in social media generally, sitting at the bottom of articles, are often irrational and somewhat hateful. This negativity generally mirrors at least a small sliver of the subconscious mind of most people. Yet, we rarely look to our minds for an answer and instead often assume that when we feel bad it’s someone else’s fault. Click to tweet.
I realized that while the opportunity presented by the article wasn’t “perfect,” it was perfect. It created a small experience of what our public leaders go through, so I could have a deeper understanding of how our public political discourse has developed. How did my experience unfold?
- As much as most of us are suspicious of the media, I must admit that Jessica went out of her way to create the most accurate story she could, and the videographer did her best to match the effort. Nevertheless, I was a little worried that something would be wrongly portrayed.
- When the story and video were released, my lawyer-trained monkey mind instantly spotted a few things that could be misconstrued. It is amazing how quickly and easily I was able to discount that the overall article captured my journey and reason for indecision very well and was, frankly, flattering. I felt anxious, frustrated, angry, embarrassed and totally off-center. Coin: vacuumed.
- I received multiple texts and emails from people who saw the article right away and thought it was excellent. When I pointed out the imperfections to a few, I was quickly put in my place and told that the powerful, positive themes expressed far outweighed the negative. Stop being a perfectionist. Stop vacuuming up the coins.
- When I read the comments, I initially felt embarrassed and frustrated because they did not reflect what I knew to be true. Temporarily, I wanted to hide the article and not promote my blog with it-positive message and all. I didn’t want to empty the vacuum and pull out the coins.
My response to some of the comments, some of which I realize weren’t directed at me:
1) I agree that my status as a single woman is not particularly special. My viewpoints can apply to anyone who shares them. My decision is based on how it affects our nation, not just my personal world. The only relevance my status holds is that it granted the opportunity for me to present my blog series to a larger audience, which is my effort to help change our dialogue.
2) While I respect the Libertarian perspective and think that it, like all perspectives, should have a place at the table when deciding on policies, I am not actually Libertarian; I’m a registered Republican (per when I voted in Alabama and could register). However, I do not agree with every view that is officially proposed by the party. Similarly, I agree with some of the views proposed by the Democratic Party while I disagree with others. Since, some of my social views can be classified as “liberal” and some of my economic views can be classified as “conservative,” superficially I sound like a libertarian.
3) The whole premise behind my perspective is that if we look closer at what’s driving the division, we have more choices to turn this ship in a direction that helps everyone. The division is within us, and it’s based on illusions. I know that I’m choosing between Romney and Obama and that they represent polarizing views. However, while their external extreme views may be polarized, the underlying limiting beliefs represented are the same, and they perfectly mirror each other and us, as individuals. They also both hold valuable views that could be brought together to compliment one another-losts coin in the dirt.
I have worked with enough leaders, who at one time shared the same sorts of limiting beliefs that I see surfacing in our country, to know that either candidate is capable of making the kind of shift that is needed to bridge the divide. It’s not as hard as it may seem, and you don’t have to be Dalai Lama.
4) For me, it’s not about picking a leader who has the solutions in the palm of his hand or can make promises specifically aligned with particular policies or party lines. It’s about electing a leader who will hold the space for a diverse group of leaders and experts with differing view points to come together to create solutions that will benefit our society as a whole. I believe that both candidates have the capacity to do this. Question: Will they?
The only way to do this is to step away from their party lines and genuinely face the other side. It’s an illusion that one party is completely right or completely wrong about everything on every issue. When we act on this illusion, we are just vacuuming up coins. If we bring both parties together and rummage through the dirt for the coins, we will be able to bring out the best in each and create solutions that allow our nation to expand on every level.
For a more pragmatic and deeper understanding of why this makes sense, please read my positive politics blog series here.
Are there coins in your own life that can be salvaged from the vacuum? Leave a comment to promote a positive dialogue.