“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain
Limiting cultural beliefs operate in much the same way to limiting personal beliefs. A lot has been written in the personal development and self help fields about overcoming perceptions in the mind that hold you back from achieving your goals.
Negative self talk such as “I’m not brave enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, dedicated enough…”
Self imposed limitations are self fulfilling prophecies however they can be overcome with the right mental attitude.
A cultural belief is exactly the same, apart from the fact that it is harder to spot because it is a shared belief.
The cultural belief that a woman’s place was in the home oppressed half the population for many centuries. The cultural belief of the racial superiority of whites has oppressed many other cultures for a long long time as well.
We have broken the shackles of many of these false and limiting beliefs, but as a culture we still live under many delusions.
The Importance Of Breaking Free
Overcoming self imposed limitations in your personal life opens up many new doors in development and quality of life. The same is true of a culture. Embracing racial and gender equality opened up new directions for us as a culture and has enriched us.
Shedding oneself of false impressions allows one to follow a path that is true to the soul.
The direction of a culture is driven by the people within it, not from the leader who stands out front. It is the collective mind that counts. The leader can only drive change when their direction is accepted by the collective mind.
By identifying a limiting cultural belief and understanding why it is flawed you can become an agent of change. By communicating the message you can shape the thinking of the collective cultural consciousness.
This is what all great people in history who have been agents of change have done. Ghandi identified that loyalty to the British Crown was not in the best interests of the Indian people, self determination and independence was. Martin Luther King took the long held idea of racial equality and turned it into a movement that changed America and the world.
These people changed the collective consciousness and freed a culture from holding onto a belief that was holding them back.
They did it for justice, freedom and truth in their culture. Just in the same way that you should seek justice, freedom and truth in your personal life. Because ultimately the journey of self improvement in your personal life must always include your contribution of something for the betterment of mankind.
How To Break Free From Limiting Cultural Beliefs
1. Identify a Limiting Cultural Belief
This is something that is likely to happen because you have a nagging feeling that something is not right with the world, and in a moment of inspiration you finally understand why.
It is hard to go looking for limiting cultural beliefs, more often they find you. That is because if we knew what they were we wouldn’t be captivated by their spell.
2. Read Widely
The more you read about the world and the state of mankind the more insight you gain into the way of the world. The more you read the more you are exposed to other views and you will always come across something that challenges your world view.
3. Have An Open Mind And Do Not Succumb To Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that comes from holding two conflicting beliefs, ideas or values. This happens when people find out new information that changes their fundamental world view. When confronted with this situation many people come up with strange explanations of justification or just ignore one side altogether.
You need an open mind and need to be open to changing your beliefs if you find out they were flawed. Always seek the truth.
What limiting cultural beliefs have you encountered? Please share them in the comments below.