Untangled: You are what you believe
By Maram Behairy
You know all those times you want to change a habit and fall short? All the broken new year resolutions and the unused gym memberships. There are so many self-help books on how to be more disciplined, how to not procrastinate, how to develop habits, and on and on.
At several turning points in my life, I would buy a new desk every time I needed to develop new habits. It’s almost comical when I look back at it now. But instead of man-handling ourselves into better habits, or in my case decorating ourselves into better habits, another perspective is to dig deeper. Find what is below the surface. What beliefs are driving us into a different direction than we desire?
Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change, based on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), is a powerful tool that clarifies the deeper navigators of our behaviors.
The pyramid below summarizes the levels. While the bottom does communicate with the levels above, the most profound changes occur when we alter the top of the pyramid. Dilts uses a metaphor of water flowing from the top and totally washing all that is below. He says that changes on the bottom are like trying to save the Titanic by rearranging the chairs on the deck. It won’t change the direction of the ship.
Most of us start to make changes by looking at our environments, though. When we want to diet, we get rid of all the junk food. We buy a gym membership. When we want to write more, ahem, we buy a new desk :-).
The next logical level of change is our behavior. We begin to track our calories, for example. Deny ourselves all carbs. Or, for writers, wake up early to write.
The third logical level of change is to look at our skills and capabilities. Maybe we read books on keto. We take a class to learn a new skill. We watch youtube videos on how to write.
The fourth logical level of change is more hidden. This is less charted territory. We don’t look here often. Our values and beliefs. For example, for my desire to write more, I struggled with a belief that everything worth saying has already been said. For getting fit, we may hold beliefs that it is hard. Those beliefs will impact the outer levels profoundly.
The fifth level of change is even more impactful, identity. What do you believe about yourself? Who do you know yourself to be?
If you believe you are a strong and resourceful person, your actions will look very different than if you believe you are a weak and incapable person. The results will be different as well. Then, you will use those results as evidence to confirm your identity. This level of change is where magic can happen. Small adjustments at this level of change can yield massive results in your behaviors and environment.
The most inner and deepest level of change is your sense of connectedness and spirituality. If we truly believe that we are the highest and most honored creation of Allah, then this forms the foundation of our identity as worthy, loved, wanted, and supported. A strong and correct aqueeda (faith) will transform us from our deepest parts and completely alter our reality.
So, next time you are struggling to make a change, dig a little deeper and find the hidden programming holding you back.
About the Author:
Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation
‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’
Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.