Burn Your Beliefs.. Literally

burn your beliefs

Are you a belief-hoarder? I most certainly am.

I found myself listening to some speakers who had a few things to say about replacing old, negative beliefs with positive ones. “We construct our own reality. We are what we think. Blah blah blah.” I had heard it all before. They were right of course, but after a while, we begin tuning things out – especially when we hear it too many times without implementing it.

Oddly, I think listening to too many gurus can actually desensitize you to action – the very actions you want to take.

It’s one thing to tell someone, “Replace your car tire. It sucks. You need a new one because this one stopped working.” You’d say, “Ok. I know exactly how to go about that. It’s straightforward. Everyone changes their car tire the same way.”

But when someone says, “Ok, now take the limiting beliefs that you’ve had since childhood and replace them with something else,” your response would probably be, “Uhh… How?” How does someone live their whole life believing one negative thing, for example, “I’ll never have enough money,” and suddenly wake up one day thinking, “I’m rich!” It doesn’t work. Why? Because you don’t actually believe that. You still believe the old thing. Our brains aren’t so dumb as to be fooled that easily.

So again, how do we replace that negative junk effectively? While I can’t say I know for sure, I think these ideas will get you started.

1. Repetition

This is along the lines of “faking it till you make it.” Negative beliefs are habitual, so changing them should also be a habitual practice. It has to be. Maybe you won’t wake up one day believing you’re rich, but after weeks of reminding yourself that you’re done with “I’ll never have enough money,” suddenly the idea of “I get by just fine with my income” seems plausible. You are slowly replacing that old, habitual, useless thought with one that’s both reasonable and more positive. At that point, pursuing more money may also begin to feel less daunting.

2. Perform a Ritual

Maybe I’m weird, but I’m a fan of rituals and routines. I think they are useful if done appropriately – not for superstitious reasons, but because physical action can help solidify something in your brain. Simply pondering how you want to change a belief will not have a bold impact.

One night I was pondering just that. So I decided to write down every negative belief I had about my life. After listening to all these gurus, I thought it might be interesting to see what I had bottled up.

Honestly, it was a bit shocking. I easily filled an entire page with relentless downer-talk. I scrolled through it after finishing and immediately thought, “No wonder I’m having such a hard time with optimism lately. Who could possibly ignore all of this and stay neutral?

Suddenly, I kinda wished I did just have a tire to replace (Although, I don’t know how to do that either).

Anyway, now I had all of these horrible beliefs on a page, and they felt like trash. I wanted to rid myself of them. So I went downstairs with a lighter, my phone (my ritual jams streaming through Youtube), and the page. I went outside so as not to make anyone believe the house was on fire (That would just be another false negative belief I was creating :)

Then, I lit the page.

I got scared as the flames licked closer to my hand, and I threw the burning page into a puddle. Then the lighter ran out of fluid, and I had a half-wet page of 1/2 of my negative beliefs. So much for that plan. So I went back inside and burned the rest at the stove as best I could, tossing the ashes down the sink drain.

I tried to feel different; renewed. But I felt pretty normal, so I shrugged and went to bed.

Did my burning session “work?” Can a ritual solidify a change in your life that’s hard to stick with? It’s difficult to say.

There is no one particular thing you can do to erase a lifetime of baggage. However, you have to start somewhere. By doing whatever action you prefer, you are starting. It doesn’t mean you won’t need to sustain your effort each day after that, but it’s part of the process. You can’t have a middle or an end without a beginning – even if that beginning seems silly.

Making changes doesn’t have to be all hard work and practical misery. So if you want to have fun with it, go ahead! Do whatever you believe will help solidify the change. Just make sure the neighbors don’t call the cops on you if backyard fires are involved.

Are there any unusual activities that have helped you make a positive change?

Photo by Derek Gavey

burn your beliefs

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8 thoughts on “Burn Your Beliefs.. Literally”

  1. It’s hard to change old habits , but change is what life actually is . Our life span is all process of changes , and dear,every thing has a certain time to get retired . Progress comes with chang,you see from stone age to technical age😃so,have guts to welcome change , as,it’s rule of nature .

    1. I think you have given some excellent advice. Too often people don’t combine self realization with the art of practice to bring about change. I, for one, often visualize changing something, and after a few tries, forget all about it. That’s where documenting what you want to change and repeatedly practicing for this change turns visualization into action. I love your process and am bookmarking this page!

  2. I also try repetition when attempting to make a lasting change in how I think. Usually I’ll travel somewhere unfamiliar so that I’m forced into a change-rich environment, then try to become my desired self. But like you I find that, even with repetition, I eventually float back into my old ways of thinking. Change is difficult to maintain.

  3. Hello Brianna,
    So glad you were not arrested for arson and you are here to remind us of useful things. Thank you!
    I used to despise rituals, good habits, scheduling things – don’t need them yak, yak, yak. Now, of course, having fallen flat on my face more times than I care to remember. all of these things are important help-mates in my life.
    They do say, that to effect positive change, it’s usually best to begin with small but regular beneficial habits which replace silly or redundant ones. Do them for long enough and seamlessly we have positive routines and without the pressure of making for instance, New Year’s Resolutions.
    So thank you again and please accept my kind regards.

  4. Brianna
    We certainly need to replace beliefs that are unhelpful and are holding us back.One way is to get some new voices and ideas – don’t just listen to/read the same old gurus.

    Another is to really question and appraise everything – deep self-analysis if you like. This takes a lifetime I guess!

  5. Your post reflected the truth of changing old habits! It was really nice of you to actually elucidate your way of evolving your self-beliefs by burning the paper which was written with negative thoughts and ideas; apparently this was what I actually did too! A lover of rituals as well, I used to even make a concoction of fluids by mixing bath soaps, hand soaps and medicated oils in a old, used cup and stuff the paper scribbled with negative connotations in it, soaking it for a while. Then as the piece of paper was considerably “Soaked”, I removed the liquid but retaining the pieces of the paper in the cup, then at last threw the paper into the bin. I call this the “Wash the thoughts away” method. Glad that I have found one person who favors the use of rituals, however I actually started dropping that habit and adopted meditation instead.

  6. I like your article, especially the ritual. But, personally, I find that most “New Age” people are too quick in condemning negative beliefs. First, I think, is the need for acceptance, of what ever comes up, even the negative. Those beliefs are there for some reason. Why? Only when I fully accept myself as I am in the present, with all of my imperfections, can I begin the process of change.

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