Mark Twain once said, “It’s not what we don’t know that hurts us. It’s what we know that isn’t so. ”
At this point, you might be saying, “Wait a minute, if I believe I know something, doesn’t that make it so?”
Well, yes and no. (That’s a classic therapist answer, by the way. ) The yes part is that in many ways, if we believe something, that can make it so for us. Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right. ”
The no part is this - what if what you believe isn’t accurate, is no longer true, or just isn’t so?
I realize this might be a lot to think about with your morning coffee, but consider this - a belief is merely a feeling of certainty about something. Some beliefs enhance and expand our lives, such as “if it’s possible in the world, it’s possible for me. ”Other beliefs tend to limit and inhibit our lives. It’s been my experience that we carry around many more limiting beliefs than we do enhancing beliefs.
Most, if not all, of our limiting beliefs can be divided into three categories; I am. . . . . . , people are. . . . . . . , and the world is. . . . . . . ”
I am. . . . . . . . . People are. . . . . . . . . .
These limiting beliefs include our prejudices and influence how we see other people. Some of the most common are -
That’s a man’s/woman’s job
Any kind of prejudice
People can’t be trusted
Everyone is out for themselves
Nice guys finish last
People are too busy to care
The World Is. . . . . . . . . .
These limiting beliefs influence how we see the world and our position in it. Some of the most common are -
It’s a dog-eat-dog world.
The world is a ghetto (oops, that’s George Benson, just to jazz things up a little)
Society owes me a living.
The world is falling apart.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these limiting beliefs? Can you think of other beliefs that have limited you in the past or are limiting you now?
My purpose here is twofold. First, to get you to identify and begin to consider how certain beliefs have limited you. Second, to give you some tools for changing limiting beliefs into beliefs that can support and enhance your life.
Have you ever noticed that when you buy something new, such as a car, you begin to see that car everywhere? They were there before, it’s just that now your focus has changed. It’s the same way with limiting beliefs. They point our focus in a certain direction, and we can always find evidence to support them.
But other than getting to be “right”, what good does it do? Our limiting beliefs continue to hold us back.
Here are three ways that you can begin to change limiting beliefs-
1) Begin to question them. Ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Would a camera, taking a picture, be able to support this belief?
2) Counter the belief. Sometimes, just saying and considering the opposite is enough to change the belief. For example, change “I’m too old” into “I’m just the right age to do what I want to do. ”
3) Redirect your brain. For example, ask yourself “In how many ways can I be happy now, have people care about me, has the world worked?” All of these are counters to the limiting beliefs listed above.
Our beliefs can either limit or enhance our lives. With the proper tools, the choice is then up to us. What will it be for you?
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