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How to Change a Limiting Belief

The importance of your beliefs cannot be understated. Empowering beliefs can lift you to great heights and keep you motivated when times are challenging. Disempowering beliefs will cut you off at the knees and cause you to feel continually not good enough. Hypnotherapy is an effective way to change your core beliefs.

Your World View

Have you ever taken some time to contemplate how your world view is constructed? By that I mean why you think the way you do, why you come to the conclusions you come to, why you behave in particular ways? Have you wondered why you make certain decisions and not others? Why you like certain people but not others? Why other people can have opinions vastly different to your own? Or so similar to your own? What’s driving you in everything you do or don’t do? 

Looking at the nature of reality is something akin to explaining the concept of water to a fish. If it’s all around you and it’s all you’ve ever known so how can you see it clearly? Reality is, however, observable. And the more you are able to observe yourself from an objective and non-judgmental perspective, the easier it becomes to free yourself from patterns, beliefs and behaviours that might be limiting you and the way you see the world.  

But let’s start at the beginning, with a brief crash course on how humans are wired. 

Birth to 7 years 

While it’s certainly true that you don’t come into this world as a complete blank slate (ask any parent!), it’s undeniable that we are greatly shaped by our early environment. 

Particularly from the ages of zero to seven, the brain is mainly operating in the alpha and theta brainwave states, which means you are highly open to suggestion. (This is the same brainwave state used in hypnosis by the way.) You have probably heard the analogy that children are like sponges, absorbing everything that’s going on around them. This is very true. 

Young children are instinctively trying to make sense of the world, as they do not have any reference point for where they are and how this place works. This is largely a survival mechanism. Children are intuitively asking: Who am I? Who takes care of me? How can I get my needs met? Where do I fit in amongst my family? How should I behave? How can I get love? How can I stay out of trouble? How does life work?

Of course, almost all of this is subconscious, meaning it’s beyond the conscious awareness. Because we are energetic and intuitive beings, especially at a young age, children are highly sensitive to the way things around them feel. They are taking on the energy of their surroundings, and are highly observant to what is going on around them. All of this is noted and stored by the subconscious mind (see below), and will be drawn upon throughout life in an attempt to keep you safe.

This is how your world view initially forms. This is how your early belief systems form. 

What is a belief?

A belief is essentially an agreement that you have made with reality, that something is a particular way. Because you believe something to be true, you don’t question it. It forms the background architecture and the lens through which you view the world. You go about your life assuming that certain things are true. There are shared common or cultural beliefs about how life is, and then there are beliefs which are personal to you and your past history. You hold beliefs about virtually everything in your life, however a lot of them are held at the subconscious level, so you aren’t necessarily aware of them. However just because you’re not aware of them doesn’t mean they don’t affect you – and in fact the less aware you are, the more they affect you because you can’t question or change something you aren’t aware of.

The problem with the way that early beliefs are formed (through observation and absorption), is that a lot of what goes on in those early years is disempowering to the individual. Our parents were doing their best but they were subject to the limitations of their own emotional maturity (often from their upbringing), limited understanding of childhood development, and their particular practical circumstances (for example a financial need to go back to work while a child is still very young). A young child has no way of determining whether the influences around it are healthy or not. So, it takes it all in, and it takes it all personally. 

Children can learn maladaptive ways to get their needs met. Or can assume their needs are unimportant, because their parents treated their needs as unimportant. If patterns form, and these early wounds are not addressed and rectified, they can continue causing problems for the individual well into adulthood. 

Initially beliefs form from parents, care givers, other family members, and then later from friend groups, the popular culture, school and the community in general. You are likely to have a mishmash of both empowering and disempowering beliefs about everything from yourself, your relationships with other people, how life works, and your place in it all. 

As an example of how this process works, if growing up your parents had a very tumultuous relationship, you might end up taking on beliefs such as “Love is hard work.” “Women are full of criticism.” “Men are angry and jealous.” “I’ don’t matter.” “I need to compete for attention to get my needs met.” However you interpreted it at that young age. And you can go deeper and deeper unpacking those thought processes around what you experienced, until you get to the core belief. 

Beliefs tend to be layered – core negative beliefs tend to be about you – I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I’m different to everyone else. They’ll be padded with other beliefs about other people, work, culture – all aspects of life really.  

This part of you that took on these beliefs is not to be demonised or judged. It’s a naturally occurring process and you had no control over your early influences. Part of the work of being human is to free ourselves from the grip of these false perceptions.  

Why are your beliefs important?

The importance of your beliefs cannot be understated. Empowering beliefs can lift you to great heights and keep you motivated when times are challenging. Disempowering beliefs will cut you off at the knees and cause you to feel continually not good enough. 

Some signs that you have limiting beliefs (I mean, we all have them, but some people have more disempowering beliefs than others). If you feel stuck, unmotivated or trapped in the same recurring patterns in your life.  If you continually self sabotage, like there’s a part of you that’s working against you, you are more than likely operating from a disempowering belief system.

You will massively improve the quality of your life if you are able to upgrade your beliefs. I want to say from the outset that this is a gradual process. Some beliefs shift easily, and others run deeper so take longer. We need to open you up from rigid thinking (which is what limiting beliefs result in), so you have more space to see situations objectively, and make more conscious choices. Choices that are in alignment with who you want to be and what you want to achieve, rather than just conditioned responses from the past. That’s what keeps you looped in old patterns. 

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