The problem is, that your operating manual containing the rules and values that you live by—including the subconscious messages that drive your choices, your actions, your behaviors, and your thinking patterns—may not be serving you anymore. It may not be correct or appropriate anymore, and it may never have been. Yet, it still guides your choices and your behavior, and causes you to stand in your own way of achieving exactly what it is you desire.
We often stand in our own way, not realizing we are doing it. In my case, raised in a household that believed in their “station in life” (part of the old English Class system), I was taught that “people like us” don’t go to University, don’t become managers, don’t own their own businesses. So guess what? I didn’t do any of those things—until I became aware of my internal operating manual and realized just how ridiculous that particular chapter was!
I was also taught that in order for people to like you, you have to be perfect. Well … you can imagine the pressure that puts on a child. It wasn’t until I was 32 years old that I figured out that “rule” was wrong and, not only was it not serving me anymore, but it never had been of service to me. It, as well as many other parts of my internal operating manual, had enabled me to stand in my own way.
So here’s my question to you: What does your internal operating manual say?
5 Steps for Updating Your Internal Operating Manual
- First, recognize that you have an internal operating manual. We all do. It’s those deeply held values and beliefs that drive your everyday behavior. Start to watch yours.
- Identify what is in your internal operating manual. If you can practice “dual awareness” and watch and listen to yourself as you go through the day, you will begin to identify some of the unspoken rules that you live by. Perfection? Control? Fear? Self-loathing?
- Once you have identified some of the principles of your internal operating manual, ask yourself: “Are these rules or beliefs serving me? Or are they getting in my way?” For example, my deeply held value of freedom serves me well. My deeply ingrained beliefs that I have to be perfect and I have to be all things to all people all the time do not serve me. They get in my way, and they make me ill both emotionally and physically.
- Next, prioritize your beliefs. Which are the beliefs or rules that get in your way of finding happiness, peace, and success?
- Tackle your beliefs one-by-one. Find evidence of why a belief is wrong, change it from a negative to a positive, or just refuse to allow it to guide you anymore. I know the first one I dealt with was a belief that I was worthless. I looked for evidence every day of why this wasn’t true. I refused to believe it anymore and, eventually, it stopped guiding my choices. Fake it till you make it is the saying, and it works.