March 17 – 19th I was fortunate to attend Living Life the Happy Way’s Reset and Renew Women’s Retreat. Rachel Stokes booked out the historic Lasker Inn in Galveston, Texas. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Richard Conner, our host, and his amazing staff. The rooms were beautiful, the food was marvelous, and the grounds were peaceful. On that same note, Rachel Stokes, a certified Life Coach, developed an extraordinarily healing retreat. Everything was well thought out and planned. I am still in awe at how the activities and discussions flowed to produce healing for everyone. I can’t forget to mention the ten extraordinary women who I would forge “soul” friendships and walk the healing path with during those three days. Now, I’d like to share with you a few of the activities and profound, life-changing moments from the weekend.
“If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.” – Louise Hay
The first night the women and I were introduced to the concept of limiting beliefs. I will admit that I had a rather “limited” definition of what a limiting belief was or how destructive they are. Limiting beliefs are statements made by others or even yourself that prevent you from making different choices in your life, seeing new opportunities, and recognizing your talents. They prevent you from acknowledging the good things that occur, but instead train you to focus on negative aspects. As I walked into the Lasker Inn, I noticed that there were stones scattered throughout the rooms. At the meet and greet, Rachel requested that we write our limiting beliefs as they came up through the weekend on the stones and place them into a pail that we carried everywhere. She also stated “We are going to do hard work, and you need to trust the process. Your authentic self is buried under all the limiting beliefs. It is time to grab a shovel, and I will help each of you dig out from under their weight.”
During the retreat, I learned that limiting beliefs can come from family members, the church, teachers, and society, and they were mostly taken on during childhood – although you can adopt limiting beliefs as an adult. The child repeats those thoughts and accepts them as fact. Children’s brains are not fully developed, and it is easier for them to grasp onto a limiting belief from people they are close to. It is hard for them to know the difference between what is real and what isn’t, so a child has an experience, an interpretation of that experience is made that leads to making a meaning, and a meaning leads to a thought that is believed.
As I progressed through the weekend, I realized that I had a few limiting beliefs that had greatly impacted my life. One limiting belief I carried was “no one will do for me what I do for them.” Less than an hour after writing that on a stone, my husband drove 45 minutes to bring me allergy medication and a headset so I could listen to my music as I slept. After that, he drove to Manvel to print out copies of a presentation that I needed for Monday morning. I learned that limiting belief was a lie. There are people in my life who do go the extra mile for me. It may be that I don’t pay attention or take the time to pause in gratitude, and this is something that I have pledged to be better at in the future. Everyone needs to know they are appreciated.
Another limiting belief I had was that “no one would love me if I am overweight.” This one was painful because it has impacted my life since the words were spoken over me. Someone that I respected and admired said this to me when I was 18. I am not going to attack her in writing because I don’t believe that her intent was ever for those words to direct the decisions in my life, but I latched on to them. At the age of five, I had been sexually abused by a neighbor, and then at the age of 15, I had been sexually abused again by my stepfather. After each abuse, I put weight on, and, after each abuse, no one in my family ever talked about what had happened. “No one will love you if you are overweight,” was spoken by an adult who was cognizant of what I had been through. After journaling both limiting beliefs, Rachel had me ask myself what do I know is true.
I know that the struggles with my weight came from a reaction to sexual abuse. My family never spoke about the abuse, so I felt shame and that in some way I caused what happened to me. I would binge eat to repress those feelings, and I put weight on. I became a chubby child. I started dieting at the age of 11, which led to anorexic tendencies and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting. By the time I was 18, I was showing signs of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which made putting on weight very easy and losing weight a little more challenging. The thought that no one would love me unless I was thin led me to lower my standards, and I believed that I was incapable of finding someone to love me for who I really was. Through a journaling exercise, I was able to trace several key life choices that had been made with those words, “no one will love you if you are overweight.”
“Breaking free of limiting beliefs is like breaking the chains that bind you.’ – Jasmin Lee Cori
The last morning at the retreat, we made mandalas with driftwood, sea glass, flowers from our rooms, and shells. The purpose of the activity was to let our inner child out to play and connect to the Divine. At the end, we each swept our designs one-by-one into the middle of the floor, and it symbolized that nothing is permanent, not even our struggles. Life is always changing. I had another insight. I looked at it as these ten women and I were sweeping our creativity together. In my mind it wasn’t a pile of trash, it was a part of my creative spirit joining with theirs. That was powerful for me, but Rachel had planned something even more profound – a release ritual.
Next, we were asked to get our pails with our limiting belief stones. Each one of us approached the center pile, and we laid our limiting beliefs – our burdens – in the pile. As I watched each woman, including myself, lay the rocks down and let go, it was powerful and surprisingly a struggle. Those beliefs are words that were nurtured in our minds, and they were a part of us that we needed to let go.
Through this release ritual, I started to evaluate the words I had spoken over others. I thought about my children and words that I have said to them when I was angry. As a result of this exercise, I am going to be extremely careful about the words I say because I don’t want to be a woman who speaks words that become limiting beliefs for anyone – especially those close to me. I want to leave people better than how I found them. Words are powerful, and they should be spoken wisely. I have released in love the words from the woman who spoke the limiting belief over me; I knew and loved her well. I also know that she would never have wanted those words to influence my life in the way that they did. At the end of the Reset and Renew weekend, ten fabulous women and myself, severed the chains from the limiting beliefs we held onto, and I would say we took a step towards freedom – freedom to choose our destinies minus the words that had hindered our individual journeys. To those brave women and Rachel Stokes, I celebrate you.