Here are a few questions to ponder. Their answers are important.
- How often do you think about your beliefs and ideas?
- Have you assessed whether your beliefs are helping or hindering you in life?
- When was the last time you tested the conviction of those beliefs?
- Do you know where they came from?
- Are they yours, or someone else’s?
- Have you thought about if they are even true?
- Are they supporting your ability to learn, grow, and thrive in life?
The answers to these questions are at the heart of your health, happiness, performance, and ability to thrive in life.
Sadly, few people take the time to answer them.
This topic is close to my heart since I’ve fought hard to overcome numerous self-limiting beliefs in my life, and because I see so many clients held back from the success they desire because of their limiting beliefs.
Self-limiting beliefs are like driving through life with the emergency brake on. You can make some progress, but it’s damn hard, and you end up with a lot of stress or damage in the process.
So how can we change this and use beliefs to our advantage?
The first step is to understand what a belief is.
Whether self-limiting or self-improving, any belief is simply “an idea that has legs”.
By legs, I mean the idea has been supported by some type of “proof”. Like a tabletop supported by the table legs.
The more consistently and powerfully an idea is supported, the stronger the belief becomes.
We are continually forming beliefs throughout our life, but many were formed decades ago. Many people go through life on autopilot, letting these past “truths” shape our present and future.
The nature of our psychology means we rarely question a belief once it’s formed.
The good news is that beliefs are simply mental constructs that can be changed when we choose to make that change.
The key lies in finding support for our new ideas and contradictory evidence to refute our old ideas.
Sounds simple, but there is A LOT of emotion and habitual thinking involved with deep-seated beliefs.
It’s helpful to determine whether we merely have opinions, beliefs, or convictions.
Opinions are a judgment that is easily open to change.
Beliefs are strong ideas that have been supported by anecdotal evidence and can be changed through contradictory evidence over time.
Convictions are entrenched beliefs that tend to remain intact in the face of even strong contradictory evidence.
The process of changing beliefs is quite simple, though not always easy.
We must consciously “call out” an erroneous or limiting belief and actively search for information and circumstances to further call that belief into question.
At the same time, we are actively seeking out evidence that supports our new, more positive, and empowering beliefs.
This isn’t something that happens on autopilot.
We will sometimes have to deal with strong emotions throughout the change process, but the change that occurs will be transformative!
Many of our strongest held beliefs were formed during emotional events in childhood/adolescence, form part of our cultural values, or were handed down to us by influential people in our life (parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, etc.).
To help categorize and identify your beliefs, here are some of the categories they fall into, and some basic examples:
- Core (good vs. evil)
- Global (in general people are good and want to help/The world is a scary, dangerous place)
- Cultural (Politicians are corrupt, poor people are lazy, Asians are smart, the French are rude)
- Hand-me-down (You are…clumsy/smart/too tall to be a dancer/destined to be alone/pretty, etc.)
- Advertised (Carbs make you fat/Fat makes you fat/Do cardio to lose weight/Volvos are safe)
- Biological (I can’t control my emotions, I’m limited/blessed by a low/high IQ/HUmans are emotional creatures/habituation to environmental signals)
How do you feel about each of the statements? What emotions do they bring up? Do you believe they are “right” or “wrong”? Do they make you angry?
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The fact is, many people believe these things, and many people are also strongly opposed to them. They are just ideas that people have been told or learned and have found evidence to support them.
Since we get what we look for in life, what we focus on is extremely important to our results and success.
You can use this process to identify, change, or create any belief you want in life.
The important question is “how will you use this information to change YOUR life?”
Not sure? Reach out for our Success Coaching Session. Let’s identify your limiting and empowering beliefs together.