Limiting Beliefs. Part one: Where do they come from? Why it’s so hard to change?
In this post: how do we know we have limiting beliefs? Are we conscious of them? How do they affect us? How do we adopt them? Why it’s so hard to change? First step to transformation.
How do we know we have limiting beliefs?
You know you have them when you are unfulfilled or unhappy about some thing (or things) in your life.
I know from my own life that there are moments when I think “everything goes so well. I’m really happy with my life and don’t need to change a thing!” only to fall into a dark sad hole the next day about something that really needs to be improved. And this is good, because no matter if we see our life from different angels on different days, or we reached a plateau – it’s our nature to want things to be better and better.
“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre Gide
The drawing to the right, I just quickly drew, shows a primitive, life coaching tool: “a pie” representing “all” areas of life. It’s for a person we’ll call Amanda. The colored area show how satisfied Amanda is with the particular part of life. The empty space between the color and the edge of the circle represents “the possibility” (and likely: a limiting belief, a limiting concept of herself)
Sometimes the empty area is fine- Amanda doesn’t care about it that much neither she is ready to put work into it. But mostly the empty field shows dissatisfaction. She thinks about it sometimes but she believes she can’t have it, doesn’t deserve it.
The areas of love and money probably hold the strongest limiting beliefs.
“But these are not limiting beliefs, this a reality…”– Amanda would say (just like any of us would, at some point..) “There are no men in town who are ready to commit” she says. “AND all my friends are married.. I don’t know.. is there something wrong with me?” In few sentences already 3 limiting beliefs and likely there are more.
Conscious or subconscious
We are aware of our beliefs to a different degree. Some of them are conscious – we created them by thinking the same thoughts over and over. They are part of our daily inner dialogue, our excuses and rationalizations. We don’t even think of them as “beliefs”; they are “a reality” to us.
Other beliefs are subconscious – we usually become aware of them, verbalize them when something big happens to us and we need to rearrange our thinking to match the reality. We suddenly become aware that we were wrong. Or we discover those beliefs during deep inner work with a hypnotherapist, when we bring our subconscious mind to the surface of awareness, during muscle testing, reiki, energy work with a gifted practitioner, subconscious intervention or past life regression.
How do we adopt limiting beliefs?
- By learning how the society works, and via media.
- By observing others (and how they didn’t make it)
- Through our own experiences: a. Things we were told and believed them in childhood or even later (kids brainwaves are in state of alpha until they are 6 year old, therefore they take everything literally) b. Things that happened to us, relationships, traumas.
- Through things that were happening around while we were in the womb.
- Past lives (except for those of you, naturally, who don’t believe in past lives 😉
- Attached energies / entities.
Where are the beliefs stored?
I think these days most people realize that our thoughts and beliefs are not JUST in our mind, but they affect our whole body. You may be familiar with the work of Christiane Northrup, M.D. “Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom”, Bruce Lipton “The biology of belief”, or Carolyn Myss “Anatomy of the Spirit”, “Why people don’t heal and how they can” to mention just a few. Each of them talks about how our beliefs affect us on the cellular level. If nothing else this is the reason we should work on changing them to healthy beliefs.
Why it’s so hard to change our thoughts and beliefs?
1) The thoughts – that become our beliefs- are repeated so often they create a specific “groove,” or pathway, in the brain. We create habits of thinking in certain way. Our life follows those beliefs and expectations – it gives us what we expect because we don’t believe other possibilities. To call ourselves truly “free” – we need to be able to change the thinking patterns.
2) Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, writes about other difficulties. She refers to the business world, but we can see the same challenges in changing our limiting beliefs.
1. Loss of control (see above quote: lose sight of a shore for some time!)
2. Uncertainty ( “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” ) Really? Is it?
3. Possibility of unwelcome surprise (you change beliefs and don’t want to be disappointed: what if that won’t work? “You will pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again”
4. Loss of face- by changing you will admit that you were “wrong” last time. But you wouldn’t allow your ego or opinions of others to keep you stuck, would you?
5. More work – thinking is work! That’s why you may notice most people just recycle lifestyles and information.
6. Ripple effect – when you change limiting beliefs they will have an effect on how you act, dress, how you raise your children – we want those ripple effects to be positive.
7. The ghosts of the past : as soon as you make a decision to… let’s say date only sober, responsible men- there will be bunch of… the irresponsible ones showing up to date you. They will be very handsome and have a lot to convince you: this is the Universe testing your commitment to your new decision to belief you deserve better. The ghosts may also show up in the form of your own inner doubts and struggles.
3) We are resistant to change by nature:
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer
Even with new, empowering beliefs you will go thru the same cycle: you won’t believe them, they won’t sound natural to you (economy, age, “who am I” limitations) You will doubt them. You will struggle with them. Eventually: you will accept them as your second nature.
The first steps to transformation
1. Recognize you are limiting yourself with your thoughts. And thoughts can be changed.
2. Accept you adopted that limiting belief in the past and your life is now a result of that belief.
2. Make a decision to change the limiting belief with an empowering one.
3. Test the ground.
Part two: After you read this, here is another post you might find useful: how to change your limiting beliefs. Part three: 45 questions to break free of you limiting beliefs. Part four: biology of belief (coming)