If you've been walking this earth for any length of time, it must be pretty clear by now that if you want to make changes in your life, the first thing that needs to change is YOUR MIND! But here there’s a problem - maybe a lot of problems - called LIMITING BELIEFS...ideas about yourself and the world that keep you from forging through change.
How often have you wrestled with some behavior or attitude that you know doesn't suit you? Why is it so hard to change it?
It starts for all of us in our heads -- with pessimistic thoughts -- and it moves to pessimistic or negative conclusions like, “I can’t do that...it won’t work!”
The real difficulty we all have with limiting beliefs is that we have so many of them...and we’ve had them for so long. They are, in part, the outcomes from the 20,000 or so “NO” or “NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY” criticisms we heard as young children.
These limiting beliefs -- "I can’t," "they won’t," "it won’t work," "there’s not enough," "I’M NOT ENOUGH" -- keep us, in a way, safe from having to do anything (because, after all, what’s the use!?) but they set us up to be victims of our own self-fulfilling prophecies! In effect, our limiting beliefs assure that we won’t get what we want. At the end of this article is an exercise on “Limiting Beliefs”. It’s called “Changing...Your Mind."
Notice that at the top of the page is the quotation, “You’ll get exactly what you think, not what you deserve…but you’ll deserve exactly what you think!”
What does that mean? Simply, it means that if you think negatively you’ll get negative results…and you’ll deserve them.
The only conclusion that makes sense, then, is: “If you believe you deserve something better, you’d better think something better!” And that, folks, is the essence of how the change process begins.
The first part of the exercise is to look at your current belief system...at the ideas that could get in the way of productive, positive change. Write down a list of negative – or limiting – beliefs that you hold right now. They can be about yourself, your work, your family. An example would be: “I can’t get ahead on my job.”
The opposite of a LIMITING BELIEF is -- and here’s a word that’s overused but in this context is absolutely appropriate -- an EMPOWERING BELIEF. It’s really all about POWER -- personal power -- and at the bottom of it all is who we believe we ARE.
What will get us through major changes with the least discomfort and in the shortest time is a positive approach to the future.
Now, this is an unnatural state for some of us -- perhaps even for most of us -- because of how our society has set things up. Look, for instance at the educational system. How do we measure progress? We get GRADES and GET PROMOTED. We PASS or FAIL (ouch!)
And how about the media. What do we usually see on news broadcasts? BAD NEWS! Negative stuff.
And how do we feel about taxes, politics, traffic, crime and virtually every other facet of life today? We don’t feel good. And nobody wants to be a Pollyanna, now, do they? It wouldn’t fit with the society. So we go along with the crowd, and eventually we believe what they're saying and thinking...and it’s pretty negative.
Once we’re in this boat, it’s difficult to get out of it. But for our purposes, getting out and getting on are the major objectives. So let’s go back to what you wrote down as YOUR limiting beliefs. Now it’s time for you to construct some contrary statements that can move you toward more personal power. Beneath each limiting belief you wrote down, write what you think would be an “Empowering Belief”...a Positive Statement that offsets the Limiting Belief you already hold All right, got it? Now you have a set of empowering statements. They’re not beliefs YET, just statements that you can begin to work on as agents for change in your life.
Remember, part of the value of this exercise is what you do with it afte ryou've completed it. Be prepared to come back to it on your own and flesh it out as things come up for you.
What you’re doing here is starting to change your mind. But this takes practice. Here's one way to do this.
On little 3 by 5 cards or "Post-It" notes, print in big letters your empowering beliefs -- one per card -- and post them somewhere…on your mirror, on the refrigerator, on a bulletin board, or on your computer (as I do).
You need to have them in your face time after time, day after day. And each time you invent a new one, make it the “belief of the week” and post it everywhere. You’ll feel awkward with this at first, but hang in. It gets better. Looking at these reminders, day after day after day, will help you to reduce the struggle to change. You'll wrestle less with the challenges, and you'll see and feel the changes as they occur. Once you're confident that a belief has changed -- that you're actually doing things differently -- move that belief card to the top of your mirror. And each time you do this, give yourself a little reward. You've earned it. As this new behavioral/attitudinal pattern begins to take shape, you'll be surprised at how fast the belief cards will accumulate. Almost before you know it, the wrestling match will be over…and you'll be the winner.
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