3 • transform your self-limiting beliefs

 

In the unhappiness cycle, you learnt that many of your emotions and negative thoughts originate from past experiences and the beliefs built into those experiences. Learning how to transform those underlying beliefs is an important part of creating emotional well-being.

 

Beliefs are the silent assumptions that we hold about what is good, what is bad, how we should and should not be and how others should and should not be. They provide the set of rules by which we live our life, and convictions (which are emotionally supercharged beliefs) when we live in alignment with these beliefs we will comfortable, when do something that is out of alignment with our beliefs we will experience discomfort and resistance. The problem is not so much that beliefs exist, we all need beliefs because they tell us what is most important and meaningful for us, but that they remain unexamined. Put simply if we aren’t aware of them, then they, for better or for worse are in control of us.

 

There are two ways I work with my clients beliefs the first involves something called conscious regression and the second the book of beliefs.

 

Conscious regression

 

Conscious regression is an invaluable tool for resolving the root beliefs and emotional charges from which negative thoughts and emotions emerge. Next time you get emotionally triggered – especially when it is disproportionate to the situation – rather than defusing the thought, take your attention off the person or situation (the messenger – mess-ender) and do the following

 

  • Notice what you are thinking – for example ‘he shouldn’t be so loud’
  • Notice what you are feeling – for example ‘I am feeling angry’
  • Identify the judgement - for example ‘he should be quiet’
  • Now - think of another time when you had a similar feeling response
  • Keep going back in time until you discover the earliest memory of when you felt the same way
  • Notice what you are feeling and sensing in your body. What would you have like to have done or said (if it was guaranteed their would be no negative repercussions)? Say those things now imagining that you are their right now. If you need to scream or shout use a pillow over your mouth or twist a towel. Allow the energy to come out of you. Alternatively use EmoTrance (module three) to process what you are feeling
  • Now identify where that judgement came from – this is usually from your caregivers - example ‘my mother always said being loud is not good’.
  • Again notice what you are feeling and sensing in your body. Now process it until you feel energised and at peace.

 

The purpose of this exercise is to help illuminate and then start to address many of the beliefs that are rooted in the past. The present when filtered through the beliefs of the past prevents us from experiencing the fullness of the now. As you apply this exercise regularly, you will find that you will become much less reactive to situations and that judgments will start to decrease quite considerably.

 

Illuminate Your Book of Beliefs

 

Each of us has a Book of Beliefs, a virtual book containing details of how and who we should and should not be in the world. This book of beliefs provides the template and standards against which we measure and judge ourselves and others. The problem for most people is that the considerable majority of beliefs, like our thoughts are not true, are borrowed from other people and are significantly restricting their ability to enjoy freedom and fulfilment. What’s more we each have an inner judge, an aspect of our personality that is constantly scrutinising how we live up to our beliefs (rules). If I have a belief that I should be rich and successful and I am not, then my inner judge will start to give me a hard time ‘why am I so useless’ ‘I need to do better’ and so on. Whilst the intention of the inner judge is to help me achieve those beliefs, in the belief that doing so will bring my happiness and fulfilment, the reality is that it doesn’t. It just brings stress and inner tension. The key and alternative is to take a look at the book of beliefs and to decide for ourselves which beliefs we do and don’t want, to chose those beliefs that will being us greater happiness and fulfilment and to ditch those that won’t.

 

Here is one way of doing this. For each of the following categories, write down the rules that come to mind, all of the should’s and shouldn’ts that you have. Many of them will seem ridiculous or silly, but write those down nonetheless.

 

Add to the following categories any others that you want to cover

 

Body, Sex, Mind, Emotions, Relationships, Success, Money, Morals, Spirit

 

For example here is a list of should’s and should not’s provided by Claire a workshop participant

 

Body

 

  • My body ought to be perfect
  • I should not have cellulite
  • My breasts should be bigger
  • I should be taller
  • My skin should be fairer
  • I should have blond hair
  • I should be able to run quicker

 

At one level of course it’s okay to have aspirations – for example not having cellulite, however if you are fighting the reality that you do have cellulite, that will only lead to emotional distress, tension and pain, the key is in accepting reality and then taking action to address the issue from a place of acceptance. This is covered in detail in module seven

 

Once your list is complete, your next task is to work with those beliefs in a way that will reduce any limitation that they are having on your health, well-being and life. There are many different ways to do that:

 

  1. One of the most effective and liberating ways to work with beliefs is through the use Byron Katies The Work that we explored early on. Focusing on one belief at a time, you bring the four questions and turnaround questions to that belief - doing so will bring about a sense of freedom from the belief. To help you with this I highly recommend you download the free one-belief-at-a-time worksheet from Byron Katies website.
  2. A very simple way to reduce the impact of a belief on the way you think, act feel and behave is to say it very slowly. I mentioned this earlier on in the thought defusion section. I use this a lot when working with patients in my clinic and it works really well. For example, I had one patient who had a very strong belief that he should be kind and compassionate all of the time. Whilst that’s a noble aspiration, I reminded him that he is human, and being human means welcoming all emotions including frustration, irritability and anger. When these emotions came up for him he fought and resisted them, because of his belief that he ‘should be kind and compassionate. I invited him to say the phrase ‘I should be kind and compassionate’ slowly (over a period of about 10 seconds). He then repeated it five times more. As he was doing this I sensed a shift in his energy from agitation and tension to stillness and peace. Having completed the process he shared with me that as he was speaking the phrase he became very aware (present) and started to experience kindness and compassion arising from within him. What he realised – and this is quite a revelation – is that kindness and compassion are qualities of our True Self and that the way to experience them is not to try and make yourself be kind and compassionate, but to allow them to arise from within you by being present. The slowing down of saying the phrase ‘I should be kind and compassionate’ allowed presence to arise. This was a liberating moment for him. I suggest taking one belief at a time and using the ‘slow method’ with it

 

 

I would highly recommend that you do take the time to do this work, because it will make consistently honouring your values so much easier.

 

 

 



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