Removing limitations, bias and barriers

Our human experience provides context, definition, perspectives based on each interaction we have within our world. Additional data floods in from external sources because of our massive consumption of media and readily available information in real time at our fingertips.

Often, we use fear (uncertainty, potential judgment/punishment, lack of understanding) to assign labels, put people and things in known boxes, and even shape our beliefs.

One critical point of note, our sources – both internal and external – may not always be correct. Each point of the source is influenced by emotion, personal experience, or agenda. This in no way makes the source of information good or bad per se; it does, however, create limitations and bias. When we take the time to unpack and reframe how we view a situation, an encounter, a word choice, a label, or even an idea, we will be able to break down the barriers that create limitation and separation.

This exercise will help you to understand why, release attachments, create space for expansion and awareness, and allow for inclusion.

Tools needed: paper and writing instrument (individuals); whiteboard or post-it notes (group thinks)

Note: Once learned and understood, this exercise can be applied during your day to day thinking processes, in conversations, journaling, or problem-solving. Initially using the paper process is helpful for learning about your own bias, or for uncovering larger limitations you discover.

Exercise Instructions:

Step 1 | The thought creating the challenge: At the top of your paper, write down the word, label or barrier you find to a problem or idea.

  • These thoughts can be: words, ideas, issues, self-image, beliefs, or barriers to change.

Step 2 | Current thinking: Write out your understanding or perception of this word.

Include things like:

  • Known definitions or descriptions of words
  • Understanding based on stereotypes or bias
  • Pre-conceptions
  • Assumptions
  • Feelings
  • Experiences
  • Rules
  • Beliefs
  • Fears
  • What you have heard from others

Step 3 | My Why: Begin to ask yourself “why”. Continue to ask yourself “why” [you feel/perceive this way] until you hit the root of the issue you personally hold. This would also apply if conducting it as a group exercise asking the why from a collective set of views/whys.

  • Why do I/We believe this?
  • Why is this my/our context or belief?
  • Why am I/we biased?
  • Why is this my/our truth?

Step 4 | Discovery: Review steps 1 and 2 to uncover what YOU are doing to limit yourself; the current barriers (external influences); and, what you can do to expand yourself (new definitions, new insight, actions to take)

  • This is a critical step to understanding what false beliefs exist, where education is needed, what barriers should be removed, and how you are limiting yourself.

Step 5 | Removing the bias and limitation:

I/We can expand our awareness and become more inclusive and open in our thinking by understanding the following:

Complete the sentence: My/Our main attachment to this word/belief/idea is__________. Write out what your main attachment is to the word/idea/situation that is causing your block. Example: “I don’t have enough information.” “My current belief system hasn’t allowed me to think out of the box.” “I am afraid of others judging or punishing me for a different view.”

Complete the sentence: This limits me/us because ______________. Show yourself one major point of how the attachment of current thinking limits your ability to thrive, grow, succeed or ______.

Create an affirmation statement for yourself: I/We am/are _______________________. Use this statement daily until you see/feel your thinking and understanding shift into place replacing the old limitation.

Printable Exercise

For license and use information:

© 2011-2019, Jen Kelchner – CC -BY-NC-ND


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