November 6, 2007

Liberate from Limiting Beliefs

How many of us are carrying limiting beliefs? In my experience, virtually everyone. (Hey, is that another one? They're everywhere!)

The more important question is not so much do you have limiting beliefs (since we all do), but do you know what they are? What are the thoughts that keep you from getting what you want? And what are you doing with those thoughts/beliefs?

Last week Martha Beck shared with me her belief that the reason most western approaches fail (whether in medicine or therapeutic counseling) is that we try to add in the solution before we subtract out the problem.

Not everyone would agree on that; but when you're talking to Oprah's life coach who pretty much only works with royalty and celebrities, you don't argue. (At $350 an hour, you just pay attention!)

Martha tells me that our work is to identify and dissolve the "crap" beliefs (her technical term). She walked me through her process to show how it works. It was such a simple and cool procedure I wanted to share it so you could do the same:

1. Look at an area of dissatisfaction in your personal life. Underneath every dissatisfaction is a false belief. If something's making us unhappy, it's because we're believing a lie.

Here was my dissatisfaction: my boyfriend doesn't like it when Joe sits on the couch. (Joe being my 74 pound pit bull sweetheart.)

2. Ask why that's a problem. And then repeat that question four more times or so. Eventually you'll get to a core belief that's the source of your struggle. (Coaches come in handy here, because if you get slippery on yourself a coach won't let you squirm or get away with an "I don't know.")

My answers to the "whys" went something like: if we have animal conflict, this relationship is in trouble. Why is that a problem? Because I don't want my relationship to be in trouble. Why is that a problem? Because if I can't make it work with him, I can't make it work with anyone.

That's when Martha called my thinking "retarded" (I love her!) and asked if I could see my false belief. "If I can't make it work with him, I can't make it work with anyone."

Yeah, I could see the problems that thought could create. Well, were creating. The choices that belief gave me were to either make it work or resign myself to being single. And what good can come from having that kind of pressure? Not a lot.

Your limiting beliefs are likely just as entertaining and ridiculous, and you know I'd love to hear them! Please post them as comments here if you care to share!

Now you know your limiting belief, how do you liberate yourself from it? If you've got a tough one I recommend Byron Katie's Work.

Katie's inquiry process can be a bit long, so here's a shortcut that can also be very effective: simply name 3 reasons why you know it's not true.

As you name those reasons you know it's not true, you're creating new neural pathways and rewiring your brain. Literally breaking the bonds that old thought had on your grey matter!

Three reasons I know it's not true that if I can't make it work with Russ I can't make work with anyone? Martha actually made me name nine because I hesitated - so I won't repeat them here. But naming the reasons (I actually would love you to say them out loud) is crucial to liberating yourself from that old stinker of a belief.

Here's to your new found freedom from whatever's standing in the way of what you want!

PS - when you're ready to "add in the solution" - try Psych-K for rewriting new beliefs. I love this technique for its immediacy!


  1. What a fun use of the old Japanese quality technique of "ask why five times"!

    That's what I love about Martha: simple, straightforward, and effective.

  2. Is that where she gets it, Mike? I know she studied Japanese culture years ago, but I didn't make the connection!

  3. I got a real kick out of the dissatisfaction you picked, Jeanette.

    Our British Staffie, Picasso, sleeps in bed with us, under the covers near the foot of the bed.

    You know how things like this start: he was the runt, the breeder was willing to give him to us because we had had a staffie before and know how much they need realtime, in your face, love, it was winter, he got used to it ..... and (4 years later) I know one day soon so will I. LOL .... no, I find it wonderful now.

    But I can resonate with someone who has to work to make it ok. However I got that I had to change, cuz Picasso won't change, and my wife sure as hell isn't going to.

  4. I'm liking that wife of yours, Rick! And a guy who's flexible and open enough to know what's truly important.

    I'm not suggesting dogs in bed are what's most important (although that's certainly key in my life), but what IS important is knowing what that is for ourselves. Knowing our own priorities and values. Like maybe a happy wife, and getting over some dog hair.

    It's all good, huh? lol Does Picasso have a nickname?

  5. He does indeed. Boni and our friends and family call him Pico (pronounced Peeko) and while I do also, I am constantly making up P names when I refer to him: ie. Pinocchio, Poccahontas, Picolangello, etc, and when he does something to, I mean, that frustrates me, I call him "His Royal Heinie".

    Sometimes, though, I have to call him Sensei, as he sometimes teaches me as a Zen Master might.

  6. Okay, that's the BEST nickname ever, Rick! "Sensei." (I love the others, too!)

    At the ICF coach conference last weekend, one of the speakers said dogs are the new coaches. The coach sitting next to me said "Hmmph. Dogs are the ORIGINAL coaches!"

    So true!!


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