We came into the world as a blank slate. We had no fears and knew no limits. As we grew and developed, we acclimated to our surroundings by adopting and internalizing the norms and beliefs of our environment. Some of these beliefs were good (My life is an incredible gift) and some were not so good (The world is a dangerous place). Some were downright destructive (I’m not good enough).
By definition, a belief is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. It is trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something. For a belief to become a belief, we have to accept it. Whether we recognize them or not, we all have beliefs. They are embedded within us with an almost unbreakable bond. Our beliefs are so ingrained in every cell of our bodies that they affect every aspect of our lives: our relationships, our health, our financial position, our self-image and so on. They define us, shape our perspective of the world, and we will defend them with tenacity and vigor. And why wouldn’t we? They are our principles, values and opinions, and don’t forget…we have accepted them to be true! But are they really???
Some beliefs were installed by our parents, teachers, and other trusted influencers while others we installed ourselves through our own perception of reality. Where our beliefs stem from, although interesting, is ultimately not important.
What is important is what these beliefs are, because whatever they are, they are true for us. If you believe that life is a struggle, it’s because life is a struggle. If you believe that money is hard to come by, it’s because money is hard to come by. If you believe you are not worthy, it’s because you are not worthy. If you believe that happiness is just around the corner, then happiness will always be just around the corner. Conversely, if you believe that life is great, it’s because life is great. If you believe you have so much to be grateful for, it’s because you have so much to be grateful for. If you believe the relationship is the worth the work, it’s because the relationship is worth the work. If you believe that you can make the world a better place, it’s because you can make the world a better place!
If you find that you are persistently stuck or you constantly fall short of achieving goals, you could be hampered by limiting beliefs. These are the beliefs that keep you in your comfort zone and afraid to spend the money on the coach, interview for the promotion, or join the mastermind group. Limiting beliefs go beyond just doubt; they keep us trapped where we are – even though we may not be happy there. Interestingly, at some point in time, we will certainly challenge the beliefs of our friends and colleagues, but we allow our beliefs, for the most part, to go unchallenged. For proof of this, just check any twitter thread!
Everyone has negative recurring thoughts that come up, but when undesirable feelings come up to the surface, you need to know that you have two systems of thought at work:
The Subconscious Mind
The first one is your subconscious mind which acts 95% of the time with immediate thoughts and impulses without your even knowing it. It connects with your brain and shows you how to react based on similar prior experiences. Sometimes those prior experiences are not helpful; they are just limiting beliefs running on automatic and it sabotages your progress. It is like your brain is saying “This is the easiest way we know to avoid pain, embarrassment, failure, etc.”
The Conscious Mind
The second system of thought is your conscious mind which performs only 5% of the time, but that you can use to generate your own new thoughts, desires, beliefs, and behaviors. Every successful person knows that they need to discipline their conscious mind to support them in counteracting the subconscious’ automatic responses. They are able to replace their limiting beliefs with fresh thoughts, views, and ideas that are positive and creative. In doing so, they are able to make healthier decisions and live fuller lives.
Placing New Beliefs
One of the simplest ways to create a new belief is to focus on new thoughts and affirm them over and over. Too often, we tend to give negative thoughts more attention than necessary. It is the weight and importance you give your beliefs as well as their repetition that seals them into your subconscious mind. This is how they become automatic responses: you make them so important and think so much about them that they keep coming up for you over and over again. The worst part of this is that if you keep focusing on negative things, you will continue attracting negative people and situations.
Transforming Limiting Beliefs
The great news is that you can use these same rules and skill set to embed positive thoughts into your subconscious. You can put all the importance, focus, and time on ambitious, creative thoughts until they become automatic and replace the limiting beliefs.
Think of your brain as a computer. Computer programmers have an acronym that is applicable here: GIGO. Garbage in, Garbage Out. You see, whatever comes easily into your life with no effort shows up because there is a program that is already installed into your subconscious that allows it. In contrast, things that you struggle with and can’t seem to grasp reflect a subconscious program that is set to disrupt those efforts. Either of these scenarios could belie limiting beliefs: you could be programmed to generate negative and/or you could be programmed to repel positive. To get out of your rut, you need to modify these programs.
Overriding Limiting Beliefs
Consider these 3 techniques to transform your limiting beliefs:
Visualization is a fancy name for imagining. When you visualize, you are seeing what you want to become and achieve. You visualize with as much detail as possible, incorporating as many of your senses as possible. You also want to include your emotions. Feel the joy, excitement, and passion that you expect to experience in your desired reality. Studies show that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions, and mental images impact many processes in the brain, such as attention, perception, motor control, planning, and memory. In other words, your brain doesn’t know the difference between your visualization and your reality!
Affirmations are positive messages you can repeat to yourself or listen to. When you repeatedly say or think something, you are affirming it. Repeating affirmations over and over will dissolve your limiting beliefs and replace them with the new, empowering ones. Affirmations can be created to suit your specific goal, but be as precise as possible. For example:
- If you struggle with anxiety, consider I am prepared for change. I am strong.
- If you struggle with self-confidence, consider I am beautiful, successful, and confident.
- If you struggle with weight loss, consider I feel energized and happy when I eat well.
- If you struggle with abundance, consider I have many sources of income that flow to me.
- If you struggle with negative thoughts, consider I am unstoppable.
Always state your affirmations in the positive tense. The reality that you want is now not in some distant future defined by “I will.”
Take Different Action
Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone! This might feel scary, but act as if your new belief is true. When you have a belief, you will find evidence to support that belief. One of the ways to change a belief is to choose a new belief, find evidence to support the new belief, then begin to act as if this belief is true for you. In other words, if you really are the kind of woman men adore, how would you act at parties? If you really are capable and have learned a tremendous amount from past financial difficulties, what steps would you take? If you really are the kind of person who eats healthy food, what would you put in your grocery cart? If you avoid taking any steps based on your new belief, you will only feed your old limiting belief. Taking action, even the smallest step, will help solidify your new un-limiting decision. Your first steps don’t have to be perfect, just headed in the right direction.
Overcoming limiting beliefs is not too difficult, but it does take a significant amount of work. To live your best life, commit yourself to long-term change until it naturally becomes a part of you. Now that you recognize that your limiting beliefs got you to where you are today, how do you plan to change them for tomorrow? Remember, you are limitless and your thoughts should be too!!