Here are my notes on limiting beliefs I taught in a business mastermind.
So let’s just first understand what a belief is – it’s a usually unconscious story you tell yourself.
Belief is a perspective you have about yourself, others and the world. It feels as if that’s objective reality but it’s not. It’s just an interpretation, your version of reality. There aren’t good or bad beliefs – just ones that work and ones that don’t.
Limiting belief is a perspective you hold about reality that doesn’t allow you to do, be or have what you want.
Good news is that limiting beliefs can be changed; (relatively) bad news is that it will take some time to change it and adopt a new belief.
All of our beliefs are expressed through thoughts, behaviours and feelings which form identities we have – they are embodied. So, to adopt a new belief we will have to embody it, but more on that later.
Some of the most common beliefs people have when they want to start working for themselves/become entrepreneurs are a version of:
- I’m not enough/no one is going to pay me to do this – imposter’s syndrome
- It’s not good enough/I’m not an expert – perfectionism
- It’s just not enough/I should know this will be successful before trying it – hyper-achievement
- There isn’t enough/there are already many people doing it – scarcity
- I’m not ready/no one thinks I can do this – fear of success
So the question now is how do we liberate ourselves from these beliefs/perspectives that aren’t working?
I see that people often take their limiting beliefs and create the statement in opposition to that belief.
Say your limited belief is that ‘I don’t believe I can succeed’. That becomes “I am successful and the money is always flowing my way” or something along those lines. So we take the opposite of that belief, add a positive spin and hope it will cancel the first belief out.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works. When you state the opposite of your current belief, your body and mind comes in protesting what you just said.
That’s because you created two opposing ideas in our mind – that creates inner conflict.
So now your mind starts looking for evidence to prove you can’t succeed because that’s a familiar story while you keep repeating that you can. That drains energy and mental resources. Notice this: you didn’t create a new belief from a space of freedom, you created it from a space of fear.
What’s happening unconsciously is that you’re judging yourself for where you are right now. Not successful = bad, so I need to change it. Notice that the energy here is one of a battle, pushing. Pushing yourself to prove yourself and others wrong. It does work for some people but it creates unnecessary suffering.
Imagine going to a friend and saying: where you are right now is bad so you need to change. Even if it’s true, it immediately causes defensiveness in the other person, anger and maybe even them trying to attack you back. But that’s exactly what’s happening within you.
There are better ways to do this
Exercise 1 – guided meditation
Step outside the battle all together and invalidate the reality the limiting belief creates. It’s best if you’re guided by someone in the following.
Step 1: You have to get to a calm and relaxed mental space that helps you become an observer and see the inner battle, the belief structures, a part of you that’s judging your current circumstances and a part that’s trying to defend itself.
Step 2: Byron Katie’s “the work” method 4 is useful here.
Questions: (the answers to these questions shouldn’t be something you think of intellectually, it’s something that comes to you from a space of observation rather than intensely thinking about it)
- Is it true? – yes or no answer here. Observe what comes up within. If it’s a yes. move to question 2 if it’s a no, experience that no for a moment and move to question 3.
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? – Look within again to see if what you believe and feel to be true is actually the truth?
- How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought? – Close your eyes and witness the feelings, body sensations, and behaviours that arise when you believe that thought. Notice and report the answers to any of the following:
- What images do you see, past or future, and what emotions or physical sensations arise as you witness those images?
- How did you treat the other person?
- How did you treat yourself?
- Do any obsessions or addictions begin to appear when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without that thought? – Close your eyes, return to the situation. Take a moment to reflect, observe, and experience the situation again, this time without the thought.
- Who or what you would be without the thought?
- How would you see or feel about the other person?
- Drop all of your judgments. Notice what is revealed.
Step 3: Take 5-10 mins to write new beliefs
Once you found the new beliefs/new perspectives you want to have, embody it.
Step 4: SPEAK IT, SEE IT, FEEL IT, LIVE FROM IT. Take some time from your day to sit with your beliefs (I make declarations out of my beliefs with I AM statements). Say it out loud and notice how it feels in your body, see it happening in the world (in the context you want that belief to be true – e.g. online business) and feel the feeling of doing all of those things with a new belief you now have. Start making decisions from that belief – if I was a successful business woman what decision would I make here?
Exercise 2 – journaling/free writing exercise
When we think about changing our limiting beliefs, we think of how can I change myself.
For the sake of this exercise adopt an idea that you’re perfectly fine and what’s not working is your PERSPECTIVE. (a certain belief is just a perspective not the truth).
So what are perspectives/realities/ideas I hold in my head that are making this struggle (feeling that if I don’t change this I will struggle) possible?
Step 1 – identify your limiting beliefs. Let’s take an example ‘I’m not enough’.
Step 2 – do some free writing to identify what perspectives are making that idea possible? What’s the reality you accepted that creates that belief? What are the implicit conditions? Where did you correlate one thing with the other? Just begin writing and write anything that comes, the questions I suggested are just that, suggestions.
Write for 10-15 mins. Or as long as it feels like there’s still struggle around the topic.
E.g. Through writing on not being enough I found that I am only enough when I do what’s expected of me by society or my parents. When I try to do something I’ve never done before (start a business) it feels threatening because the love might be taken away from me. If I don’t do something (work, have a business, have a hobby) it means I’m lost and not interesting, therefore I must be doing things to be enough.
So here I discovered that me being enough has certain conditions/correlations/struggles.
My mental is prison is that ‘they’ (society, parents, others) are watching me and judging my enough-ness based on pre-existing (do what’s expected, have a business, don’t have a business, do something) conditions. In reality of course, I’ve internalised these voices, made them part of me and I’m the one judging myself and my enough-ness and I’m the one keeping myself up to these standards of enough-ness.
If this looks a bit confusing that’s because it is. All the different ideas I’ve heard growing up are sitting in my unconscious mind and when I probe it with free writing stuff like this comes out.
Step 3 – Invalidate the reality that it’s making that struggle possible – do not need to/do not have to
I do not need to have a business (to be enough)
I do not have to do what I’m expected to do (to be enough)
I do not have to do anything (to be enough)
I do not have to be successful (to be enough)
You could turn it into I AM statements:
I am enough even when I don’t have a business
I am enough even when I don’t do what I’m expected
I am enough even when I don’t do anything
I am enough even when I’m not successful
Step 4 – Break the correlation by prioritising
- ____________ is more important to me than ___________.
Being enough is more important to me than fulfilling expectations
Being enough is more important to me than being successful
Step 5 – embodiment
Read through I AM statements and really feel it in your body and your mind.
Number one issue with changing limiting beliefs is trying to create the opposite belief and hope for the best. When we speak the opposite belief we are still reacting to something we don’t like about ourselves. When we step outside and see it for what it is, we create space to disassociate from the judgement around that belief. From there, we create a new belief that comes from freedom and creativity, not fear.