Everyone has some of these – beliefs that undermine what you want to do and cause you to hesitate, stop and turn back when you want to move forward. You need to excavate and mine for yours and get rid of them. For example “people like me don’t get to have or do X”. I guarantee there is someone just like you who has had or done X, but if you have this belief you will stop yourself, you will hold back from giving it your best shot because of a belief. Not a truth, not a fact, just a belief that isn’t true.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” ― Henry Ford
For years, people believed the world was flat. It’s not. They just didn’t know any better. For years, I believed that Duran Duran were the best band in the world. Then I changed my mind. Beliefs change all the time – some change with time and age, some change in an instant. Like when you meet someone who wrote a book and you realise that people who write books aren’t magical and sparkly, they’re just normal people who happened to write a book.
Beliefs can be insidious little buggers who hide behind one another – they’re like weeds – you pull up one, thinking that’s it, but if you haven’t pulled up the root, it’ll be back, perhaps with a different face on. They can be a blasted nuisance. Nevertheless, just as obstacles can help you make life better, by getting rid of everything in your way, so can beliefs.
If you believe you can’t write a book or start a business or run a marathon or travel the world, you will either find it harder to do it or you won’t try at all. So you need to find the beliefs that don’t support your dreams and zap ’em, so you can move forward with confidence.
Often a belief will be formed based on experience, but just because your business failed or your book flopped or someone didn’t appreciate you yesterday, that does not mean you cannot succeed in every way today. Beliefs form from all directions – society, friends, family, our own lives, and we cannot stop these weeds from ever growing. Like every vigilant gardener knows, you have to keep an eye out for weeds or they will take over and kill the healthy plants.
In this case, the healthy plants are the beliefs that do support your vision – don’t let the ivy of unhelpful beliefs take hold and kill the mighty oak. Get your axe out and chop the ivy off the tree. I could write a whole book on the subject of limiting beliefs alone, there’s so much to be said about it. Happily, Auntie Google has a wealth of information on the subject. So if you want to do some work on your limiting beliefs, google “limiting beliefs” and check out some of the excellent articles and resources on the subject.
Go on a journey of exploration to find your limiting beliefs. What do you believe about yourself, the way life is, or about having what you want? Find the beliefs that might get in your way. E.g. I am not good enough, people from my background don’t X, having a great life is a nice dream, but it’s not real. One way to find these beliefs is to write about how you feel about having dreams come true, living a happy life, success, money, etc. and pick out anything that isn’t positive and empowering.
Another good way to uncover limiting beliefs is to ask yourself why you can’t do something – why you can’t travel the world, start a business, write a book, and check if those reasons are true, or if they are limiting beliefs (they might feel true…that doesn’t make them fact). Sometimes we’re not the best people to spot our limiting beliefs, because we believe them! So you may want to involve friends or a coach to help you find beliefs that aren’t supporting you and your dreams.
Once you’ve found a few thoughts, start questioning them – where did they come from? Have you heard, seen or experienced this? Have you picked it up from someone you know? Is it what society believes? Did it come from your childhood? Have you made it up to protect yourself? Get to the roots of the beliefs. This can be a really eye-opening process, and send a pile of limiting beliefs tumbling to the floor at once when you realise they’re just not yours.
Do whatever you can to get rid of those beliefs that are holding you back from living the life you want to live. There are so many great ways to do that, and Auntie Google will help you with that search, but my favourites are: The Work by Byron Katie and a process of reaching for a better belief.
To give you an example of this: If I believe that I can’t do something, a better belief might be “maybe I can”. Even better might be “I could try”. Better still might be “X has done it…so if they can, I can”. Take your limiting belief and think of something a bit better, and a bit better, and a bit better. It takes just a few minutes, and if you keep doing it regularly, you will find your disempowering beliefs start to change over time. The process is explained in depth with lots of examples in “The Astonishing Power of Emotion” by Abraham Hicks.
Now, while I do believe that finding, questioning and uprooting your limiting beliefs is useful and sometimes necessary, it’s not the only way to go about it. You can also choose to believe something different. Pick something you’d like to believe – like writing is easy, people like me can make their dreams come true, getting fit is fun, lovely potential partners are everywhere – and practice that belief.
Abraham-Hicks said “a belief is merely a thought you keep thinking”. If you think a thought for long enough, it will become a belief that will look like a fact to you. It’s not, it’s just a thought you’ve been thinking for a long time. So think some new thoughts. Think the thoughts you want to think, think them over and over, contemplate what you might do differently if they were true. And start to replace those pesky weeds with beautiful flowers.