The Treasure Chest

“Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.”

– Yogi Bhajan, spiritual leader who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States

“I can’t find it!”

When I was a kid, I kept two small cardboard boxes hidden under my bed. One box was for “stuff,” while the other was for “treasure.” Stuff included items like bottle caps, bubblegum cards, paper matches and penknives. Only the best stuff ended up in the treasure box. I remembered as a child spreading items out on the bed and scrutinizing each. Some things had obvious value, like old coins, jewellery or a cool Hot Wheels car, while others held emotional value – reminding me of a particular time or person. (My wife considers this the origin of a mild tendency I have to hoard things.) It was now 30 years later, and I was scouring the old family farm home for the box of treasure.

Our belief system is a lot like that old box of “stuff”, with one exception: we didn’t choose many of the items that comprise our belief system. When we arrived on this earth, well-meaning individuals like our parents, teachers and the like began to fill us up with all sorts of “stuff” that we accepted as accurate without examination. We had little option, as we were initially dependent on those around us to survive.

Unfortunately, once we could think and reason for ourselves, many of us never looked back through our box of beliefs. Without awareness, we built a life on a borrowed foundation made up (in part) of fear, guilt, envy, greed, regret, and countless other self-defeating ideas. Over the years, we continued to build upon this false reality.

What might we discover if we spent some time today sorting through the contents of our belief system? This box of stuff would likely contain family traditions and cultural leanings, insights and ideas crafted to keep us safe, along with beliefs and values held in high regard by those who were important to us. Indeed, many of these items are worthy of the term “treasure,” while others are little more than obsolete notions.

If you haven’t already done a little investigative work, then start today. Think of your current belief system as that box marked “stuff.” It is filled with the items you acquired during your formative years and beyond. Start sorting through your beliefs, scrutinizing each, turning each over in your mind. Your belief system is far too precious to be filled with anything but treasure: loving thoughts and empowering concepts, ideas that you have personally chosen for inclusion that build confidence and personal power. Sit down and start sorting – keep only that which is truly valuable.

The individual who chooses self-awareness and esteem-building as goals will welcome the task of sorting through his box of beliefs – emptying himself of the unwanted and unwarranted. It’s not a simple process or one that we move through once and then never revisit. Situations change, and a set of beliefs and values that once served to protect us can harm us if left unexamined for years. Think of an abusive family situation where we believe that keeping our head down and mouth shut is the best way to ensure survival. Once removed from the situation, such a belief could quickly become counter-productive and life-limiting. Ongoing assessment is required.

Here’s one way to start. Choose a belief statement such as, “I’m not deserving of happiness and success.” Ask yourself, “Is the statement true or just someone’s opinion?” Push further, asking, “Does this belief help me to learn, grow, and succeed?” and, “Who would I be without this belief?” Finally, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

We must empty ourselves of old self-limiting beliefs to grasp new and healthy, life-affirming concepts. It’s the only path to permanent change.  

I spent most of one afternoon searching the old farmhouse for my two boxes. I had found the box of stuff but not the treasure. Eventually, my mother and wife became frustrated and told me to stop. I felt dejected – convinced that the box of treasures had either been tossed out by accident or ransacked by neighbourhood kids.

“Is this what you’re looking for?”

I looked up to see my wife holding a small cardboard box.

I have always marvelled at how most women can find things in five minutes that most men will have looked for all afternoon and not seen. When I compared the contents of the two boxes, I made an interesting discovery. While the “stuff” box was filled primarily with an assortment of low-value, practical things not worthy of the treasure classification, there were a few things that I would now (as an adult) consider truly valuable. In the treasure box, I found the coins and cars and even a note from a teacher complimenting me on a short story I had written – treasure in the eyes of a small boy. However, other items left me pondering why they had been considered worthy of inclusion. It struck me that as we grow older and have more life experiences to draw upon, our concept of what is of value changes. Again, reassessment is necessary.  

“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working.” These words were written by American philosopher and psychologist William James, who went on to say, “To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now and dissolve the fear in our minds.”

We had little choice as to what initially went into our belief system. Choose now to empty yourself and open yourself up to what is accurate and beneficial to you.

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