Eliminating Limiting Beliefs

Throughout my adult life, I have encountered and experimented with dozens of personal transformation practices.

One stands out above all.

This one particular practice is based on a simple, yet extremely powerful, internal process that deals with the very deepest root of a problem, rather than just the problem itself.

You see, there is an entire world of philosophies, theories, and ideas about what constitutes the most effective approach for behavioral transformation and lasting happiness.

There are self-help books, therapies, remedies, classes, retreats, seminars, personal development courses…you name it.

Nothing I’ve seen so far is as effective, as reliable, and as maintainable, as the process I’m about to share with you.

This process affects change from the inside-out. It explores, what I believe to be, the core source of our feelings, emotions, and ultimately our behavior.

In other words, this process could just be the key to experiencing your greatest potential.

It all starts with our beliefs

If you have not guessed by the title already, the process that I am about to share with you, has to do with our beliefs.

Why beliefs?

Because beliefs determine our perception of reality.

Everything we experience in life is filtered through our beliefs—what we believe to be true about ourselves, the people around us, and the world.

Some of those beliefs are supportive, while others are detrimental.

If we believe, for example, that “Money is evil” or “Money corrupts people.” we will most definitely be sabotaging our desire to build wealth.

In fact, for years, I believed that the only way to make money was to work hard for it. I studied for multiple degrees and worked extremely hard, but as I grew older, I just kept getting busier. Work never seemed to end and there was always something to improve.

Even when I got a nice salary increase and earned close to 6 figures as an IT manager, I still continued to be busy and work very hard. After all, it was supporting my belief.

Only when I shifted my inner workings and adopted more empowering beliefs was I able to take a new course in life, and start building passive income sources where money was working for me, rather than the other way around.

These days, I owe every bit of my financial freedom and relaxed lifestyle to the inner work I’ve done around my core beliefs.

Let me put it this way, the change of a single limiting belief can dramatically change our lives.

How do we do that? By learning to be the authors of our own personal Owner's Manuals and to purposefully alter beliefs that don’t support us.

We’ll get into that in a moment. First, let's cover some basics.

What are beliefs, really?

Simply stated, beliefs are conclusions or “truths” that we adopt about ourselves and the environment around us.

“No pain, no gain,” “Money is the root of all evil,” “Life is a constant struggle” are a few beliefs that one might hold.

The process of adopting beliefs starts very early in life, based on what we experience through our senses or what we’ve been told by others.

The problem is that those beliefs are, more often than not, layered and subconscious, totally hidden from our awareness.

This is where our process comes in.

Learning About the Process

The process I’m about to share with you is not some woo-woo thing or a new age technique. It is based on simple principles that can be traced back to Socrates, over 2,500 years ago.

Socrates believed that inner knowing (wisdom) produces behavioral results, because behavior is always guided by beliefs, so in order to help others gain more wisdom, he established a probing questioning style—now called the Socratic Method.

I personally learned about the Socratic Method when I volunteered in the Autism Treatment Center of America in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts. Barry (Bears) Neil Kaufman, the co-founder of both the Autism Center and The Option Institute, adopted his own specific method (called dialoguing) but the premise is very similar to the Socratic Method.

The main idea behind the Socratic method is simple: asking reflective questions repeatedly, especially WHY questions, in order to dig more deeply into ourselves and shed light on the underlying beliefs.

Our process is going to be based on Kaufman’s method and use the same Socratic philosophy with a few small modifications.

A Few Fundamentals

Before we get into the thick of things, let's get something out of the way.

Nothing is intrinsically good or bad, right or wrong, except to the extent that it is subjectively perceived by us.

The value (i.e. judgments) we give to events in our lives is a product of our thoughts and SEPARATE from the event itself. Events only have the meaning we give to them.

Two people can be in the same exact situation and have totally different reactions and emotions. Some people, for example, feel down about a gray-skied day, while others feel indifferent to it; same event, different feeling.

In other words, all events (i.e. stimuli we become conscious of) pass through our individual belief filters. We then give them a meaning and that triggers a response— the way we feel, think and act.

Understanding this is extremely important.

What it means is that our beliefs generate our emotions and feelings. Subsequently, when a belief changes, so does the meaning and our response to it.

To put it more simply, change your belief, change your emotion.

With this in mind, let’s get into the actual belief exploration process.

The Belief Exploration Process

The goal behind our process is simple: clearly identify beliefs leading to specific feelings or behavior.

The goal is NOT to control the feeling, just to understand it. This, in turn, gives us the opportunity to change the belief that triggered the feeling.

Step 1 - Get in tune with your feelings

In the last week or so, have you had any strong feelings or patterns of behavior you’d like to explore?

For example, were you unhappy about something in particular? Was there something unpleasant going on in your life?

*It’s usually more effective to explore unpleasant emotions than pleasant ones, as they provide better clues.

Step 2 - Ask repetitive “why” questions

Asking repetitive “Why” questions will help you to clarify and outline any conclusions you might have about your situation.

For example, if you were unhappy because you’ve heard that someone said something about you behind your back, drill down and ask yourself a “Why” question again: “Why do I create unhappiness when someone talks behind my back?”

Your answer can reveal different conclusions. You might answer, for example, “because it shows a complete lack of respect.”

You can then dig deeper and ask another WHY question: “Why do I create unhappiness when someone shows me a complete lack of respect?”

This can assist you in making further conclusions: “because it means they don’t love me.” “because it means I can’t trust them anymore,” etc.

The deeper you dig, the more you'll get out of the process. As you’re about to see in the next step, your conclusions help reveal the underlying belief behind them.

Step 3 - Dig the belief out of your conclusions

It may not be easy to see this right away, but every conclusion you make represents a belief within it. You goal is to dig out the underlying belief from the conclusions you make.

In the example above, for instance, a key underlying belief is “I need people’s love/trust/respect to be happy.”

There are a few more beliefs such as “People should not talk behind another’s back” or “You can’t trust anyone who talks behind your back” but when you drill down, the core belief links other people’s love and your own happiness.

Step 4 - Does the belief support you?

The principle in this step is fairly simple: Do not hold onto your personal beliefs as indisputable facts or “truths.”

Instead look at beliefs as statements of possibilities which are either supporting you and your dreams, or not.

This might sound simple, but you’ll be surprised how difficult it is to do, especially when others share the same belief (commonalities reinforce beliefs).

For example, for thousands of years, the mainstream belief was that the Earth was flat and that it was also the center of the Universe. After all, at first sight, the surface indeed seemed flat and even.

I can come up with a number of other examples along these lines, but I think you get the point.

Being flexible with our beliefs is not something our mind is naturally programmed to accept. At the end of the day, many of our adopted beliefs (including those which lead to unhappiness) are there to protect us.

However, the fact that something is hard does not mean it’s not possible. Remember, you’re in control. you’re the architect and master of your own operating system. The more you start saying this to yourself, the more flexible your mind will become.

So the actual question in the example from the previous steps is: “Does the belief ‘I need people’s love to be happy’ support me and my dreams, or not?”

Step 5 - Can you find contradicting evidence?

If the belief does not support your dreams, find evidence from your own life, or from the lives of those you know, where the belief does not hold up.

You see, we often gather biased evidence to support mainstream beliefs that are imposed on us by others. We narrow down our view and see only what has been presented to us.

As a result, those beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies, limiting our point of view and ultimately our potential…

The point I want to make is simple. Don't take anything at face value or believe everything you hear. Instead, question it, challenge it, pull it apart…

So with our previous example, the question is: can I find evidence where one can be perfectly happy without getting any external love, and despite the fact that people talk behind his or her back?

Step 6 - Decide to drop the limiting belief

Whether your evidence always holds up isn’t the question. Remember, you’re not looking for the so-called “truth” in this process. Finding one instance in which your limiting belief does not hold up is enough.

As mentioned previously, you want to stop looking at beliefs not as indisputable “truths,” but merely as statements of possibilities which are either supporting you or not.

You see, all beliefs are learned. And, anything that has been learned can also be unlearned.

In other words, you freely adopted beliefs throughout your life, and you can freely discard them whenever you decide that they don’t serve you.

You don’t even have to construct a new belief statement because when you discard a belief, it never leaves a gap or a blank space. Instead, it automatically gets replaced by a new belief.

Question everything; Question often;

Have you noticed that everyone around you continually sells you their beliefs?

Your parents, politicians, your employer, your doctor, advertisers, the director of the movie you’ve just seen. You name it.

From very young age, we conform to the beliefs and values of those around us. “You need a college degree to get a good job,” “Money is wealth,” “Putting others first is always a good philosophy” we keep being told.

The real problem is that most of those beliefs are left unchallenged and unquestioned. We simply accept them to be true just because they are supported by large segments of society.

By questioning your assumptions, by asking “why?” as often as a three-year-old, you give yourself a gift, a real opportunity to level up your life and drop whatever no longer serves you.

One last note, before we wrap things up. Be nonjudgmental throughout the process. Judgments limit our view and ability to see clearly. By maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude, we give ourselves more opportunities to understand ourselves.

The primary assumption you want to consider is that each one of us does the best we can at any given moment. Even when we’re unhappy, for example, we do it because it serves us one some level (unhappiness is strong motivating factor).

So rather than qualify something as “good” or “bad,” see it with full acceptance, as it is, however that is.

Final words

If there is one thing I want you to take away from reading through this post, it's this:

There are only two sets of beliefs: those that serve you and those that don’t.

By questioning, uncovering, and then dropping beliefs that don’t serve you, you gradually transform your experience of life.

This, in essence, means that if you want to reach your highest potential and attain greatness, you have to abandon some of your so called “truths” and instead purposefully create beliefs about yourself, others, and the world around you that support your dreams and hopes for the future.

Remember, every thought, feeling and action born of you passes through the lens of your beliefs. If you long for meaning, for excellence, for happiness, then you must clear that lens.

Live your dreams!

* Photo by Jelle Visser


* If you're looking for more inspiration to help you on your personal development journey, you may want to check out my extensive list of SMART goals. This page is packed with thousands of different goal ideas that can help you set new aspirations and reach higher heights in your life. Personally, this page helped me to create my own 100 life goals list, which I pursued for over a decade.

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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