Today I want you to really look at the beliefs that you hold on to about yourself, and to explicitly acknowledge their existence. Why? Because you and I both know that many of those beliefs are the exact ones holding you back from having what you really want in life, and from achieving your most fervently desired outcomes. And a basic fact about the human brain is that you cannot change something – belief or behavior – if you are in denial about its very existence!
So…take a deep breath, fasten your seat belt, and travel with me as I take you through a process that can help you start to make limiting beliefs a thing of the past!
First, here’s what you need to know about the hidden beliefs that sabotage you:
Contrary to a sort of superstition many of us hold about bringing our “gremlins” out into the light of day, admitting to your beliefs will not make them stronger! In fact, saying them out loud, and especially writing them down, is the first step in being able to put them in perspective.
You may be surprised, however, what an effective job you may have been doing of hiding them from yourself! So the first thing you need to do is pull them out of the “background noise” of your mind, and look at them in the light of day. That’s Step 1:
1) Identify your beliefs, both supportive and self-sabotaging.
There are two ways I recommend doing this. The first is to start with general questions, such as, “What important rules and instructions about how to live my life have I been taught? What was I taught NEVER to do?”
Then think about all the ways that rule or instruction shows up in your behavior and state it as a belief. For example, you may realize that “Always be considerate of others” in your day to day life may be showing up as the helpful belief, “When greeting my older relatives, be sure to ask them how they are feeling today.”
It may also have turned into the often unhelpful belief, “I should keep my opinions to myself,” and/or “My feelings don’t count.” Keep looking and digging; you may be surprised what you turn up!
The second way is to look at where you are successful in your life and where you are stuck, list the actions that led you to that set of circumstances, then identify the beliefs that supported you in taking those particular actions.
2) Write your beliefs down, and give yourself time to look at them.
YOU get to decide which beliefs are worth keeping, and which ones you’re ready to toss in the trash (and I DON’T mean in the recycling bin! You want those old limiting beliefs gone for good!). Put a check next to the beliefs that support you, and a big asterisk next to the ones that are telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something.
TIP: How to Clearly Identify Limiting Beliefs vs. Supportive Beliefs
If you uncover a belief that seems neither supportive nor limiting, here are some great questions to ask to determine whether that belief helps or hinders you:
- What does it do for me? How does this belief influence my choices and behavior in a way that enhances or benefits me in my life?
- Who am I when I hold this belief? When I assess myself acting on this belief, do I see someone I admire? Am I being heroic? Successful? A failure, a wimp?
- What feelings does this belief bring up in me? Do I feel strong and assertive? Confronted? Sad or ashamed?
- Does this belief support me in knowing that who I am is enough? Or does it encourage me to feel weak, scared or unsure of myself?
3) Focusing on your limiting beliefs, sit with them for 10 minutes and allow yourself to feel the discomfort they bring up.
It’s inevitable that you’re not going to feel thrilled by the limiting beliefs you’ve identified, and that’s actually perfect! So whether it’s frustration, annoyance, shame or some other feeling, just let yourself feel whatever comes up for you. Take several slow, deep breaths.
4) Now pay attention to how you relate to yourself when these beliefs are present.
Are you loving and supportive, or critical and harsh? Do you feel compassionate towards yourself, or annoyed and disgusted with yourself? If you feel less than kind toward yourself, where did this disrespect for your own feelings come from? When did it start? You’ll probably realize these negative messages about yourself and your feelings have been with you for a long time.
Also know that when you’ve been taught to dislike, disrespect, deny or even hate your feelings, then what I am asking you to do by sitting with them, acknowledging them and even feeling compassion for yourself for them might feel weird, or maybe absolutely wrong or crazy!
How do you embrace something that feels so awful?
Yet, embracing the belief is exactly what you have to do! You can’t change, overcome or deal with something that you’re afraid of, or that intimidates you, or that you feel you have to reject!
So I am asking you to literally embrace the very thing that has held you captive.
Understanding where these beliefs came from, then embracing them and the feelings they stir up with compassion for who you were when they were formed, and what your life experiences have been, is the only way you can really transition from the beliefs controlling you, to YOU controlling the beliefs.
So for now, pick one belief that feels strongest or most challenging. It might be “I’m not enough.“ Sit with the negative belief and the feelings associated with it. Take a deep, loving breath in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Sit quietly, and connect with your memory of when this message first came into being. Allow the person you are today to send understanding and compassion flowing through you to that memory.
No judgments. Just awareness, and openness to the possibility of change.
Acknowledge to yourself that today you took an important step: You started to look at the beliefs that have been guiding you in your life, and to decide whether or not they are valid, helpful or beneficial to you. Trust that today you, as an adult, can make new choices. And you can choose to respond to yourself with love, respect and compassion in any circumstance.
In the next post I’ll give you my step-by-step formula for releasing your limiting beliefs so they no longer interfere with your progress toward achieving your desired outcomes.
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NOTE: Did this article bring up more questions than answers? Sometimes our minds create a state of “confusion” in an attempt to protect us from painful feelings. Did it stir up feelings that you can’t seem to resolve, but that you want to work through to find more peace and understanding? Reach out and I’ll help you gain some clarity and support: Loren@beingwellwithin.com