Negative or limiting beliefs are what we believe about ourselves that holds us back. Beliefs like, I’m not good enough, not educated enough, I get everything wrong, I’m not likeable… These beliefs stop you feeling good about yourself, cause time-wasting, angst and unhappiness.
Your personal belief system is what it is, as a result of your previous knowledge & experiences. Beliefs develop from an early age and are often acquired from parents, teachers and other influential people in our lives. Having strong beliefs gives us a sense of why we exist and where we are going in life – our beliefs underpin our sense of purpose and influence our values and behaviours. Some beliefs we hold about ourselves may not actually be true but because we believe them, they are our reality.
For instance, one client of mine who was told ‘once’ when she was a child that she was stupid and that she’d never “amount to anything”, has always deep-down, believed this even though there is absolutely no evidence to prove this. She owns and manages a very successful business. Yet, believing deep-inside that she was stupid meant that she was always pessimistic about the future prospects of her business and she worried all the time that her business would fail. This belief adversely affected her decision-making abilities and, all that worry became a habit that started to affect her relationships and her own happiness.
After working on this negative belief and finding the evidence that it was NOT true, then changing her self-talk to the positive “I am intelligent and make wise choices”, she was able to make certain decisions she had been putting off for a long time. She repeated to herself at least three times every day the following phrase: “I am intelligent and make wise choices”. This helped her well-being and her life enormously.
She said that that this was like a weight being lifted from her shoulders. She felt able to take action on the stuff she had been afraid of.
- She promoted one particular employee to be her #2, thus giving herself more family time and crucially – time to take action on a long-held dream of hers, to visit India.
- She dealt with some health issues that she’d been putting off for some time as she always chose work first. A wise choice, by an intelligent lady.
- She went on a long overdue trip to climb in the Himalayas, spent some time exploring that part of the world, finishing up in a yoga retreat in India.
And all because she banished one single negative belief.
I wrote this blog because I have seen time and time again the huge benefits that come from banishing negative beliefs. It seems so simple that you may wonder if this can really work. Well, it has worked for me and I see it working with clients on a daily basis. Why live life with those negative niggles going round in your head, causing you stress and driving you crazy. These negative beliefs can be banished with just a little effort – boy, it is worth it.
You are not alone in having negative beliefs. Most, if not all of us have experience of negative beliefs that worm their way into our psyche and cause us stress. We must get rid of these beliefs to get things done and to succeed in life. Good news is that there is one very simple tool that you can use, starting RIGHT NOW to banish your negative beliefs.
If you take one thing from this blog, it is the power of positive affirmations. You must design the right ones for you and you must use them daily – it doesn’t take time from your day. Find the one that works for you, then it’s just a matter of repeating this daily until you believe it. Your beliefs have been yours for a very long time, it will take discipline and positive reinforcement to change negative for positive beliefs.
So, how do you change the way you have always thought about yourself—your long-held beliefs?
Firstly, acknowledge what you believe. Name the biggest culprit here – the single most powerful negative belief that holds you back. Is it that you’re:
- not likeable, so you’re afraid to socialise and meet new people?
- that you believe you won’t cope if you fail, therefore don’t try stuff?
- Could it be that you believe it’s weak to ask for help so become overwhelmed trying to do everything yourself?
Be honest with yourself, as this is the quickest way to change those beliefs that aren’t working for you. And, realise this — very small changes can deliver big results. Changing your beliefs about reality is a powerful way to change the reality that you experience, because what you believe to be true is what you create to be true.
Below are some questions which will help you determine your biggest limiting beliefs and replace them with positive ones. Answer these to find out
What are the biggest problems face in achieving your goals and desires?
- Identify three long-held beliefs that may be limiting you, that is, that contribute most to the issues. For example, do you believe you don’t deserve love, happiness, or success? Do you believe you’re not likeable? Do you believe that unless you work longer than everyone else you don’t deserve to succeed? Writing down the answers can be helpful.
- What’s the implication of having these beliefs? If you’re self-limiting belief is that you’re not good enough – write down how this serves you, what is this belief stopping you from achieving? If you believe you can’t ever win an argument, what effect has this on your relationships and your life in general? Write down the effects on your life for each negative belief that you hold.
- We all choose how we behave and are also free to choose what we believe about ourselves and the world. For each of your three negative beliefs listed above, next, identify what you would need to believe to be true for each one, for you to change them from holding you back to helping you get what you want? For example, if you believe that failure is only bad, substituting that belief with, “Failure is a learning experience and makes me stronger” or even “Failure gives me funny stories to tell” is much more useful and can help you make that essential change to get what you want. I’m guessing that if you believe you must work harder than everyone else to succeed, you probably spend more time in the office than everyone else, to the detriment of other areas of your life—right? Swapping this belief for something like, “I am productive and deliver my work on time” can actually help you do just that. They’re your beliefs, so use your own words to formulate your new set of positive ones. If you’re finding it difficult to replace long-held negative beliefs with positive ones, try this:
- Search for the evidence. When we look for evidence for those negative beliefs, there rarely is any to be found. In swapping your negative belief for a positive one that’s meaningful to you, search for the evidence. An example would be if you believe you’re not good enough to go for a promotion in work, remind yourself how you succeeded when you got your job in the first place. What did you do well? What belief did you hold that got you to that interview? There’s the evidence that you can do it. If you don’t believe you have what it takes to scale your business – what beliefs did you hold about yourself that gave you the confidence to set up your business in the first place. Recapture how you felt, what you believed back then – this is your evidence.
To embed the new beliefs in your being, to really feel that new belief, it’s crucial that you actually believe it. The benefit of answering the questions above is that you identify the belief that’s holding you back, find evidence in your life for the opposite to be true then you’re perfectly positioned to swap the negative belief for the positive.
How to make your new, positive beliefs stick:
There are a number of ways that help to embed the new positive beliefs in your psyche so that the positive becomes your new reality.
- Focus on these positive beliefs daily. Repeat them every day as positive affirmations. For example, “I am great at interviews” and “I am kind and loveable.”
- Many find it helpful to write them down every day – then read them to yourself.
- Visualise yourself as whatever you believe. For example, if you would like to be a powerful public speaker, imagine yourself on that stage, speaking to an enthralled crowd, to huge applause.
- Test the new beliefs. For example, if you now believe you’re productive at work, give yourself the task of getting your work finished by 5:00 p.m., feeling good about it, and getting out of your workplace to have some fun.
Choose the method of embedding these beliefs that works best for you. You may choose more than one.
So, you have your new positive beliefs now right? But you forgot to say them today, forgot to read them. Hmm… They’re not going to stick are they? The single best way to remember is to give yourself a trigger – for example, if you drive to work, why not say your positive affirmation each time you close your car door. Use the door banging shut as your reminder. You could say it each time you open or close your front door at home – or every time you drink a coffee. You may like to set a daily reminder on your phone. Choose the trigger that works best for you. If you like to look in the mirror a lot – what better trigger than that! Have a look at yourself in the mirror and say “I am good enough!” or whatever affirmation you have chosen that will work best for you.
Wishing you confidence and success with your new positive beliefs.