Limiting Beliefs

“Man is what he believes.”

Anton Chekhov

What is a “belief”?

The Oxford dictionary defines belief as “a strong feeling that something or someone exists or is true; confidence that something or someone is good or right; an opinion about something; something that you think is true.” This Psychology Today article says our beliefs are our “reality-making blueprint” made up of “acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty.”

Our brain processes beliefs in our prefrontal cortex – the frontal lobe in the cerebral cortex, which is where we process sensory information and where higher-level brain functions happen, such as perception, thought, language, and consciousness.

My therapist gave me this handout to help me begin to breakdown my limiting beliefs, and will be the foundation for how I breakdown my limiting beliefs. It says that beliefs can be broken down into three parts:

  • Psychological Rules: commands to the nervous system that shapes your thoughts and filters your experience of reality; often stem from the pain and pleasure response
  • Global Beliefs: generalizations you make about things, people and life
  • Convictions: built over a lifetime with many references; the strongest of the three; often immune to logic

Our beliefs are filters that shape our thoughts and perceptions – of ourselves and the world around us. They shape our morals and what we decide is good or right. They shape our unconscious biases (such as around race), effect our relationships, direct our thoughts about ourselves and what we think we are capable of, and point us in the direction when deciding what action to take. We view our beliefs as inherently true and they become rigid rules to live by. Our beliefs are formed from societal stereotypes, religious doctrine, culture, our education, from lessons taught by our parents and experiences we had in childhood, and from life-changing events.

Key aspects of beliefs

  1. Our beliefs are at the core of who we are.
  2. We rarely question our beliefs.
  3. Beliefs are not facts.
  4. What we believe is a choice.

In the paper “The biochemistry of belief” from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, it says that “when we change our thinking, we change our beliefs. When we change our beliefs, we change our behavior.”

Next Steps

With a better understanding on what beliefs are, I can begin the process of figuring out what I want, identifying which of my beliefs are limiting beliefs and where they came from, identifying what submodalities are at play with those limiting beliefs, and then move through the steps of transforming those beliefs.

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