When you hear coaches and therapists talk among themselves, the term limiting belief will be inevitably dropped at some point. This is ‘therapy talk’ for what I would describe as an unhelpful belief, or a self-sabotaging belief.
I can give plenty of examples of such beliefs being expressed from my own practice. Here are some classic ones:
- I can’t change this behaviour/habit
- I am not good enough
- I must/should do this
- My life is meaningless
- I can’t help doing this (unhelpful behaviour) because she triggers me
- I am not good at marketing, selling, networking, public speaking etc
As you might be able to spot from the above, these statements have a few things in common. For starters, they are generally negative regarding the person’s ability, skill or behaviour. They are not empowering. They focus on the problem and not on the solution of the problem. The locus of control is firmly placed outside of the person. And reading between the lines, they often contain comparative deletions (e.g. I am not good enough, compared to whom?) or unhelpful language (imperatives such as must, should, mustn’t, shouldn’t).
You may reasonably ask yourself, why then do we sustain and even nurture such negative beliefs in our lives? This is because, despite the fact they are unhelpful, they have a positive intention. They seek to protect us from pain and disappointment, keep us safely in our comfort zone and hold on to the status quo of our usual state by avoiding discomfort.
The good news is that such beliefs can be challenged and changed when we are vigilant and determined to get rid of them. Firstly, it is important to realize that they are typically situated on the unconscious level, so spotting them requires some effort. They are often recurring and repeat themselves in key areas of our lives. They tend to manifest themselves when we decide on some important change in our lives, which will require us adapting our habits and behaviours. They take us out of our comfort zone and straight into the fear zone. And they are usually accompanied by feelings of dread and powerlessness.
Once we have brought awareness of such beliefs within ourselves, then we can use a variety of techniques to remove them. You can choose to tackle them heads on, on the unconscious level via Timeline Therapy techniques and Hypnotherapy. Other therapy techniques such as Rapid Transformational Therapy also embrace many of the techniques used in hypnosis and trance to remove unhelpful beliefs.
There is also a lot you can do yourself in order to tackle negative beliefs. Repetition and consistency are key to any change and transformation, so once you are aware of the existence of such beliefs, you can do the following:
- Reframe them in the positive; I am not good enough, will become ‘I am good enough’. Create a short sentence containing the positive wording as an affirmation such as I know my worth and I am good enough to achieve my goals. Repeat this daily, ideally first thing in the morning. A habit usually takes a month or so to be installed, so doing this consistently every single day for at least this period, will start yielding results.
- Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Instead of saying to yourself ‘my life is meaningless’, ask yourself: ‘what am I doing every single day, to make my life meaningful?’ This will require accepting that the locus of control is within yourself and not outside of you. The change will take place when you decide to do so and take action, rather than waiting for the universe to be aligned and create that change for you
- Remove unhelpful language such as I should/must. Making a simple reframe from I must read/practice etc to I am reading/practicing…sets your brain in action mode, rather than inaction mode. It removes obstacles and excuses. Start by taking some action and doing the very thing you should be doing, whether it’s 10 or 20 minutes at a time, and build up from there once your confidence and experience grow.
What are your unhelpful beliefs? What are you doing daily to tackle them? List your answers below.