What are limiting thoughts?
They are essentially doubts that act like iron chains. Yes, that's right, they are often very heavy burdens to deal with on a daily basis! They can be likened to the fact of believing in the existence of someone or something, in other words, you believe that something is your reality, you get used to it, and, you no longer doubt its existence, so you live by it, for it and with it.
So, there you have it, there are both negative and positive beliefs, as for the positive ones, they have to be anchored, developed and amplified. But the negative ones on the other hand, as you have no doubt already guessed, are much less satisfying to deal with.
For example: When I was little, everyone said that I was shy. Today, every public speech that I make throws me into a state of stress and makes me feel shy (since it's in my reality).
Why do these beliefs hold us back?
Whether they are positive or negative, they influence our life, our character etc… simply because our behaviors are a reflection of what we think they are! Therapists call this the self-fulfillment of prophecies. It is a vicious circle because our behavior will adapt to our beliefs so that they correspond to each other and obviously our brain will select (only) the information it is able to confirm, meaning it is a cognitive bias.
Where do they come from?
Usually they come from our childhoods. Above I told you that they were a habit for you. Well, by dint of repeating certain things, phrases and patterns, they become anchored in you, in your mind and by the force of cognitive bias, of self-realization, you will believe in them again and again… So, it has become YOUR REALITY. They come from your education, society, culture, family circle etc…
Here are some examples of common limiting beliefs:
- Women are all jealous, possessive and “endearing”…
- You have to work hard to succeed. And of course, you can't make a living without working.
- Money doesn't make you happy, and you lose even your sincere friends.
>>> Read about why denial is used as a defense method.
The different steps to transform these beliefs:
1. First, we must become aware of them.
If something you do or say always brings you the same disappointing and negative result, ask yourself why. You must identify your belief in order to pretend to transform it. To help you do this, you can identify sentences that repeat the words “always”, “never”, or “all” to yourself.
Example: I've always been shy, that's how it is!
2. Now that you've identified it, you need to know where it comes from.
Where can it come from? What are its foundations?
Example: My school teacher used to tell my parents that I was too shy, which caused me uncertainty and doubts when I had to speak up in class.
3. Find something to contradict this belief.
Look for things in your experiences that may uproot this belief.
Example: I managed to give a speech at my best friend's wedding in front of 300 people.
4. Now ask yourself how it weakens you on a daily basis.
By understanding how they can slow you down, you can do something about it. If you don't know the impact, they have on you, you can't move forward, they will do it again and again.
Example: I don't want to be a professor/lecturer at the university I love so much. I don't feel capable of giving a lecture in front of an amphitheater full of students.
5. Work little by little, step by step.
There's no point in running, at the risk of picking you up! Don't forget that a belief (good or bad) is your truth. Even if you've just realized the deception, it's been ingrained for a long time. So, after your work of analysis, progress slowly but surely to avoid reproducing the prophecy!
Example: I'm going to have dinner with some friends this weekend. I'll take advantage of the occasion to make a nice speech to explain my situation and my project to them.
6. Reframe your new belief loud and clear.
Give it life and strength of will so that you become more aware of it. Positive affirmations can be a very good complement to this exercise.
Example: I know I can do it, (since I've already done something similar) I will put my soul into it (and gain self-confidence).
Conclusion: One limiting belief at a time!
Beware of self-sabotage and review one limiting belief at a time, before trying to flush out others. You are your own limit, you put your own obstacles in your way (and that's normal → don't feel guilty and don't devalue yourself) BUT you are also your own savior! Today, you can learn and perfect yourself in the art of building bridges between these obstacles!
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