#24 | How to Identify Limiting Beliefs #1
A few weeks back I kicked off a bar fight with Beliefs. Well, limiting ones anyway. (Catch up on that post here)
FACT: almost all our trials and tribulations in life are due to the limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves, or the world. Typically onboarded as children without realising; compounded over time as the result of our minds desire to keep us away from danger.
This week we get into how to do something about them. Limiting beliefs can be changed and new, empowering one's installed in their place. When they are, lives can often be completely transformed.
For this first one, I have borrowed a brilliant exercise shard by EFT specialist Andy Hunt.
Very simple and very easy to do, and if you're committed enough, will shed a lot of light on what's lurking beneath.
The 'Because' method:
Unfortunately, our limiting beliefs are often unconscious and unquestioned, a part of the fabric of our perceptions, which makes them hard to find.
Other people’s limiting beliefs can be easy to spot because we are on the outside looking in, but our own remain hidden. That’s why there will always be work for good therapists and coaches.
But what are we going to do if there isn’t a therapist or coach available?
Are we doomed to wander ignorant of our own limiting beliefs because we can’t see them?
Fortunately, there is a simple way to bring lots of limiting beliefs into consciousness using just one word. It’s a simple word, readily available and deeply familiar …
When Because appears in a sentence it is usually followed by a reason: * I can’t go out tonight because I am washing my hair (well, not me...) * I can’t start a new business now because the economy is on its knees. * I can’t change jobs because I am too old. Each time you hear “because” you are going to hear a reason for the statement that comes just before it, and we can use the power of because to bring our “reasons” out into the open.
Before describing how to use Because for this, it is worth acknowledging that there are two kinds of reasons that could be uncovered:
Facts are descriptions of reality
"I am cold because it is snowing"
It is snowing is a description of the environment, people are often cold if it snowing. That’s not a limiting belief that’s a result of our external reality.
Beliefs are descriptions of our ideas about external reality (often confused with facts)
"I am alone because nobody wants me"
“Nobody wants me” is not a description of reality (even though it may be confused with one). It is a belief, an idea about reality. The word nobody is a giveaway. There are more than 6,000,000,000 people on the planet (that’s a lot). It is impossible to know whether one of those six billion people would be interested in them. In a whole lifetime, it would not be possible to meet even a tiny fraction of those people to find out. Nevertheless, for this person, it may be a convincing idea about reality.
Is a reason a fact or a belief?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide if a reason is a fact or a belief. Fortunately, there is a simple test: treat it as a belief and work with it. If it is a fact it probably won’t change if it is a belief it probably will.
So how can we use because to expose our limiting beliefs?
1. Choose a problem
If you are going to uncover limiting beliefs you need a predicament to work with. If limiting beliefs cause difficulties for us which difficulty are we going to investigate?
* I can’t start a new business * I am alone * I can’t make enough money * Our relationship is struggling *etc...
So what is going on in your world that you suspect may be a result of limiting beliefs?
2. Harvest all the possible reasons
Write down a sentence that briefly describes the problem followed by the word Because:
* I can’t start a new business because … * I am alone because … * I can’t make enough money because … * My relationship is struggling because … * [problem ] because …
Now say your “because” sentence out loud, then write down whatever comes into your head that completes the sentence. Write as fast as you can and without judgement.
Say the “because” sentence again, and write down whatever comes into your head this time as fast as you can and without judgements.
Repeat this process as many times as you can, until you run out of sentences, either because you have the feeling that the well has run dry, or you find you are repeating yourself. Important: It is essential that you put your judging mind to one side for this process. The aim here is to get as many reasons as possible, so don’t evaluate your reasons at this point. Go as quickly as you can – this allows the information to float up from your unconscious without being blocked by the analytical mind.
3. Pick the wheat from the chaff
Now we have a list of reasons we can sort through at our leisure and identify which of the reasons are limiting beliefs and which are just the random chatter of the mind.
Work through your list of because sentences, saying each out loud.
Give the reason a truth score from 0-10 where 0 is false and 10 is true (this is how true it feels, not how true it is logically).
Repeat this process for each of the reasons until you have a list of reasons that have some emotional charge.
Now you have a list of reasons (limiting beliefs) that can be worked on.
How many beliefs can I expect to find?
You could find just one or two beliefs, or you could find 10 or more. If you do find a lot of limiting beliefs don’t despair, things might not be as bad as they seem.
* At least you know what to work on: This is big a step forward from having a problem and not knowing what to do with it.
* The beliefs you uncover are probably related: This is good news, if you make a dent in a big limiting belief there is a strong chance that the other beliefs will be softened automatically.
You might only have to work through a few of them systematically to get big reductions in the others.
However many beliefs you find, all you need to do now is change them.