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Values & Education

The Power of Beliefs


I was seven years old, when my Mathematics teacher scolded me. I clearly remember her words, “You are weak in Maths”. My dad checked my answer paper and said, “You are very poor in Maths”. Few days later I heard my dad say to my uncle. “She is very weak in Maths.”

As days passed, I started losing interest in Maths. The moment I opened my textbook to practise the sums, I heard the voices of my teacher, dad, my uncle and friends saying how weak I was in Maths. No matter how much I tried to mute these voices, I couldn’t. They kept on playing like background music in my head. I couldn’t concentrate and gradually developed hatred for Mathematics. Every exam, I hardly managed to pass in the most scoring subject, and my belief that I was weak in Maths, kept growing stronger. This belief of being weak limited my overall performance, though I had enough potential. I wasn’t much bothered with this, until my daughter reached First Grade.

My hands trembled with fear when I opened her Mathematics textbook. Numbers haunted me and I feared that like me, my daughter would also become weak in Maths. When I believed I was weak, how could I enhance my daughter’s skill in that subject, I thought. That was the time I realized the immense power of beliefs.

Take an example of a child who broke a vase. Now the immediate reaction of most parents would be, “I told you, you can’t carry it.” Now the child is already in a vulnerable state and this phrase, “you can’t carry it” leaves a lasting impression on his/her subconscious mind. Parents unconsciously sow the seeds of limiting beliefs using certain words or phrases to label their children. The most common ones are ‘naughty’, ‘hyperactive’, stubborn’, ‘slow learner’, ‘you can’t handle this’ or ‘this is not for you’.

As the child grows, these seeds of doubt grow as a deep rooted belief and affect a child’s behavior and influence their identity. These beliefs control the decisions that a child makes and highly influences their perception of the world.
As parents it is our responsibility to instill empowering beliefs in our child. But how can we do that, if we ourselves are chained to limiting beliefs? Now what is the difference between a limiting and an empowering belief?

Limiting Beliefs
‘I am incapable’, ‘I can’t succeed’, ‘No one loves me’, ‘I am a slow learner’, ‘I am weak in Maths or Languages’, ‘I am a poor speller’ – these are some of the limiting beliefs that can hamper the holistic development of a child. If left unattended, these beliefs will shape the identity of the child.

Empowering Beliefs
An empowering belief acts as an important tool to enhance the quality of your life. Some good examples could be – ‘I may not be good in Maths yet, but with consistent practice and guidance I can excel’, ‘there are no failures, only feedback’, ‘Each situation helps me grow and learn more.’

We want our children to get the best of everything and for that, we need to step back and watch our beliefs. If we are living in the shadows of limiting beliefs, then it is high time we embrace the light of empowering ones. Once we are successful in doing that, we can build a powerful emotional foundation in our children. Social Media, peer group and teachers do influence our children. As parents it is our responsibility to monitor our beliefs and instill useful beliefs in our children which will empower them to lead a blissful life.

I leave you all with a very powerful quote by Henry Ford,
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

What are some of your beliefs? Are they limiting you or empowering you? What are the beliefs you are instilling in your child? Are they limiting them or empowering them?
Time to step back and reflect, now!

Gayatri Aptekar is a freelance storyteller, writer, blogger and a mother to her eight year old daughter. She believes in the power of Dreams. She quit her nine year corporate career to follow her passion. A Master Practitioner of NLP, she works with children to accelerate their learning, getting them into peak performance states and coaching them to deal with the everyday challenges.
When she is not counseling students, individuals or couples, she can be found at her blog, “Outside the Kitchen Window” wielding her magical wand to pen her thoughts, poems, fictitious stories, mouth-tingling recipes and book reviews. Apart from these creative adventures, she enjoys reading, dancing, cooking and photography.