Identifying and Replacing Limiting Beliefs
Mentally speaking, we are all basically a walking bunch of stories to which we have agreed. Our minds are filled with and fuelled by a great number of these opinions and ideas about the world. Some of these beliefs are helpful and others are limiting but they are all there to help us feel safe from the universal fear of being judged, criticised or rejected.
As well as the huge variety of stories that we carry, there is a large variability in our level of awareness of these agreements. Some are buried as convictions and are nearly impossible to perceive as a story. They feel like irrefutable facts of the world which can show up as apathy or fear and they tend to attract experiences that reinforce the belief. When our false beliefs and fears inhibit us from showing and sharing our full selves with the world, our lives are impoverished and we need to make a change.
It is very empowering to understand that we have picked up every one of our opinions and beliefs from other people and past experiences. Perhaps the voice of a parent has become internalised or you have agreed with a message from the media about yourself and the world. Whatever the story’s origin, conscious, mindful awareness is the first step in overcoming any limiting belief.
Limiting beliefs are “true” stories that keep us from living more in alignment with our ideal self. These agreements appear to be who we are but, by observing them as stories that we have agreed to, we empower ourselves with the ability to change. What are your stories of yourself and the world? They are large in number and most of them are useful. If you list them as you think of them (perhaps while journaling) you will have taken a massive step towards flourishing.
Once you have your list of stories, see which ones resonate the strongest with you. Which ones are the most limiting in your life? Which ones are stopping you from thriving? Don’t worry if two beliefs contradict each other, that’s totally normal. There are internal conflicts in everyone. Once you have selected a shortlist of agreements to work with, you can begin to change them.
Changing a story will take time and effort. You have been living with this agreement as a fact of life for a long time, so it won’t be reversed overnight. Your brain has been perpetuating this story by only noticing things that support the belief and ignoring or excusing evidence to the contrary. It’s time to take back control and get your beautiful brain to work for you!
There is a two-step process to changing a story which uses affirmation and habit. Choose one of your limiting beliefs and write down an opposing statement. Make it realistic and believable. Say these new affirmations aloud several times a day to overwrite the limiting belief. The important second part to changing a story is a repeatable action, however small, that is in alignment with your new agreement.
Below are some examples of common limiting beliefs and suitable affirmations and habits to replace them.
Belief: I’m lazy or I’m too busy to....
Affirmation: I prioritise time for my passion
Habit: Schedule some daily time to pursue something meaningful to you
Belief: I'm bad at remembering names
Affirmation: I can remember people's names
Habit: prioritise name memorisation. Subtly write it down and use it a lot.
Belief: I shouldn't even try.
Affirmation: I can handle challenges
Habit: Set yourself an achievable daily goal and stick to it
Belief: I'm not very good at...
Affirmation: in improving at...
Habit: Practice something and measure your success by comparing only to your previous ability
Challenging and overcoming your limiting beliefs is difficult but very worthwhile. As you take action in alignment with your new affirmations, this evidence will strengthen your new beliefs.
I’d love to know how you go with identifying and replacing your limiting beliefs.
If you would value support in identifying and challenging your own limiting beliefs, please get in touch and we can work together on your flourishing.
Improving Your Values
Your values are the basis for how you measure success or failure in yourself and everyone else. Getting in touch with your values is a very valuable and worthwhile thing to do. I have outlined a method to do that in my “Uncovering your Core Values” article. Not all values are created equal though, and today, I’d like to explore the value of a good value.
Mark Manson is a man I admire. I enjoy his humorous and sometimes crass but direct way of giving me information. There are so many great concepts available and I highly recommend his writings. One of the coolest things that I learned from reading his book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#@k” was the difference between good and bad values.
I often avoid the words “good” and “bad” and tend to replace them with “helpful” and “unhelpful” as I think of them as loaded with judgement, but in the spirit of Manson, “F@#k that!”
Having better values to live by will lead to better behaviours and a more meaningful life. That’s worth the effort, but how do you know if what you value is good or bad?
Good values are
* Based in reality
* Socially constructive and
* Immediate and controllable.
* Rely on external events
* Are out of your control and
* Often require socially destructive things to happen.
Some common values that create problems
Pleasure as a core value of life is very superficial and can lead to other problems such as addiction and obesity. These days, pleasure is easy to obtain and easy to lose. We tend to fixate on it and use it to numb ourselves but unfortunately pleasure by itself is not sufficient for happiness.
Material success only affects happiness up until the basic needs are met. Problems can occur when making money is prioritised over other, more important values (see below).
Always Being Right.
We are very unlikely to be 100% correct at any given moment. You can’t learn from your mistakes, empathise or take on new perspectives or information if you never admit to being wrong. Better to assume that you don’t know much as it promotes a constant state of learning and growth.
Positivity is okay to a point but prioritising above all things is unreal. If negative emotions are denied, this can lead to deeper negative emotions for longer and emotional disjunction. This is more avoidance than dealing with life’s problems. Express negative emotions in alignment with your values and in a socially acceptable, healthy manner. Don’t deny the existence of problems because that denies the opportunity to solve the problems and generate happiness. This gives a sense of meaning and importance to life.
If you identify with values like these that are out of your control or socially destructive... the first step is to celebrate this awareness.
The good news is that changing what you values is possible but it does take time and concentrated effort. Rather than focusing on the old value you don't want, try replacing it with a value that is constructive, real, immediate and controllable.
Manson's five life changing values are a fine place to start:
* Taking responsibility (for your perception of the situation) regardless of who is at fault
* Uncertainty - the acknowledgment of your own ignorance. Doubting your beliefs is a great way to learn and change.
* Failure - the willingness to discover your flaws and mistakes so that they may be improved upon
* Rejection - say and hear no. Set and hold boundaries. Don't be afraid
* Contemplation of ones own mortality - this is crucial to keep the other values in proper perspective.
Taking on these new values may require a deep excavation of your limiting beliefs and will work best using affirmations and creating supportive habits.
Good luck and let me know how I can help
Uncovering Your Core Values
Your values represent what is important to you in life. They shape your priorities. Knowing your values helps you understand what drives you, what you enjoy, what inspires you and what you’d like more of.
The advantage of becoming consciously aware of your values is that you will be able to check if your behaviour is in alignment with those values. The underlying idea is that when we make choices that are in alignment with what we value, we will be more satisfied with life than when we feel out of alignment.
While your tastes and preferences can be quite changeable throughout life, your core values will be relatively stable. Uncovering what your core values are takes some time and self enquiry but it begins with awareness and willingness to explore.
My core values are authenticity, mindfulness, compassion, integrity and creativity. Once I decided to get clear on my values, I took opportunities to think and write deeply about the topic. Once I was clear, I communicated my core values to others to increase my accountability.
Values are aspirational in nature, meaning that they are something to strive towards rather than a destination. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach 100% authentic but I know that I value authenticity very highly and that helps me be as authentic as possible. If I’m faced with a choice, I will choose the most authentic option despite other discomforts because I am aware how important authenticity is to me.
It can be very difficult to come up with values off the top of your head, so viewing a long list of possible personal values is a great way to recognise things that are important to you.
Ensure that you are in a space free from distraction where you can connect your heart to your head. Perhaps some deep breaths or a grounding meditation will help you prepare.
As you read through the list, choose any words that deeply resonate as meaningful to you. Say aloud, "I value..." and insert each word. Tune in to how it feels. Remember that these words are representations of what is meaningful to you and their definition is your choice. Feel free to add words if they don’t appear.
Once you have your initial list, it’s time to start prioritising and streamlining down to your top 5-10 values.
The first thing to do is to see if any two or more words mean (or could mean) the same thing to you. If so, choose the most appropriate word and know that it covers both aspects. For example, my I value of “integrity” includes “honesty”.
The next step is to rank the values in order of how meaningful they are to you by systematically comparing two values at a time and choosing between them. I suggest that you do this next part of the activity with no more than 20 values. Write the selected values down in a list.
The way that you can determine which of these is your top priority is to Ask yourself, “which of these two values would I choose if I could only have one?” Sometimes the choice is easy and sometimes it’s quite difficult.
Begin with the first two values on your list and continue comparing the selected value to all the other values until you reach the bottom of the list. There will be one value that ends up being chosen as a priority over all of the others and this is your number one priority. Move that value to the top of your final list and go through your short list again, comparing pairs of values until you have decided upon your second priority. Keep going until you have the desired number of values that you hold most dearly. I recommend between three and ten values.
Once you have a list of your core values, you can begin to check in with your behaviours to see when you are more and less in alignment and how this feels. This awareness is a fantastic tool for self exploration.
You already have plenty of habits. I would guess that brushing your teeth and washing your hands are a couple. Maybe some of them are less useful. I used to compulsively eat potato chips while driving.
Once you have uncovered your values and dreamt of your ideal future self, it’s time to recognise and align your habits and behaviours with that version of yourself.
Developing good habits pays self improvement compound interest because the effects multiply over time. Aren’t you glad that your past self developed the habit of tooth-brushing? You are reaping health benefits every day. Which habits do you want to gift to your future self? You can’t do anything about the past but you sure can improve your future!
Some examples of worthwhile habits
* A quality morning routine
* A healthy diet
* Money management
These habits of a successful life, once developed, will last a lifetime. You owe it to your future self to make improvements in these areas.
The problem is that a lot of good habits don’t pay you in the moment, they are investments in the future. The trick here is to pull the long term consequences of your bad habits into the moment so that you feel a bit of pain about it. Next, take action to remove that pain by prioritising the worthwhile habit over any avoidant activity. Finally, pull the future consequences of your good habits into the moment so you have a reason to repeat them.
Each behaviour you choose is like casting a vote for the type of person you want to become. If you cast enough votes, you start to identify as that type of person. Habits provide evidence of your desired identity. They shape your sense of self. They are the engine or avenue through which you learn to believe new things about yourself. It’s not about “fake it til you make it”, you need evidence behind the desired you.
Make things as easy as possible for yourself, set yourself up to succeed, choose achievable habits and celebrate your successes. Make a rewarding game of your achievements by logging them somewhere and maintaining your streak.
Being accountable to someone (like a life coach) is a powerful way of removing unwanted or solidifying a new positive behaviours.
Appreciation as a Tool For Growth
My mum taught me appreciation. I’m ever so grateful for the awareness of this powerful tool. It’s like a muscle that takes training to strengthen but once it becomes ingrained, it is a total life changer.
Lately I’ve been battling with the apparent paradox of self-acceptance versus self-development. I had a story that being critical of myself would help me grow but unfortunately, this only led to unattainable shifting goals and constant unhappy comparisons.
These days I practice radical unconditional self acceptance of both my flaws and virtues. It doesn’t mean I approve of my flaws, it just means that my self acceptance isn’t conditional on achievement of my ideal self. Rather than hiding my shadows and flaws, I now acknowledge and even calmly share the aspects of myself that I am embarrassed or ashamed of. This openness removes the power of the shadowy aspect to do any harm.
When I identify an area of my life that I would like to improve, the first thing I do is some appreciation as there is no growth without awareness. Next, some radical self acceptance because it is understandable that I need improvement in this area.
Then I have a choice. I could focus on the gap between my actual and ideal self and think about what I lack or I could appreciate the skills I already have and the efforts I have already made towards this ideal version of myself. Whichever aspect I choose will increase so this is an important consideration.
For example, if I identify self discipline as an area of my life to work on, the first thing to do is appreciate my awareness and accept myself as I am right now. All of the things that have ever happened to me and around me have led to the level of self discipline that I have right now. I treat myself as I would a dear friend and compassionately forgive myself and others, knowing that we have all done our best. Then I choose to appreciate how much self discipline I already have and use that as a basis to work from and grow.
If I focused on my lack of self discipline, this is what would grow. I would feed stories of how lazy I am and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, my self discipline would reduce. My experience has told me that I would rather be correct than happy. I need to align my “correct” with things that serve me and those around me the best.
So even if you only have 12% self discipline, this is where to focus your energy and attention, not the 88% “slack” side of you.
Celebrate your success and be compassionate as you grow and you can turn your life around. It’s well worth it. Your future self will thank you.
Dreaming up your ideal future
Finding your true north and then setting off towards it is one of the most important investments you can make in yourself. The answers are there within you, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions to tease them out. Below I’ll give you a few tips to get you started. Doing this activity in one, unrestricted sitting will bring the best results.
First, choose a time frame. Too far in the future and it’ll seem to abstract and out of reach. Too close in time and the pressure will be too high. Three to five years out is a good place to start. That’s long enough to get some changes happening, but not too far away so that you might lose motivation.
Next, choose your writing style. Yes, you will need to write things down to solidify and observe your thoughts. The style of writing should be free flowing and uncensored. This is an exercise to get to your core and worrying about spelling and grammar would hinder the process.
Without over-thinking or criticising your writing, dream big! What would your ideal life look and feel like. What if you had no fear and no limits? This is important. We are not setting achievable goals, we are dreaming up our ideal.
It might be helpful to split your dream writing into different categories. These are aspects of human life that are useful to consider and find balance between. They may not all apply to you right now, but write about them anyway even if just for clarity. Allow yourself to interpret them however you need to... After all, it’s your life!
* Home / Physical environment
* Partner / Love / Relationship
* Health / Fitness
* Growth / Learning
* Career / Business / Work
* Money / Finance
* Family / Friends / Social relationships
Once you have ‘brain-stormed’ these areas of life and you are in the flow, it’s time to pull it all together. Still with the same free-flow writing style without censorship or criticism, set a timer and write for 15 minutes solid. Dream big and write about the ideal future you have just imagined. Be ambitious and daring with your dream life. This is your life and your dream, so own it and dream it for you.
Some suggestions from Jordan Peterson’s Self Authoring Suite:
* Who do you want to be?
* What do you want to do?
* Where do you want to end up?
* Why do you want these things?
* How do you plan to achieve your goals?
* When will you put your plans into action?
The final step is to imagine the undesirable future you want to avoid. What would happen if you let your life go down hill and out of control? What if you failed to define and pursue your goals? Write for another 15 minutes to get clarity on what you don’t want your life to look like.
Once you have completed this activity, you will have much deeper insight into your dreams and ambitions. Remember that your ideal future is not a goal in itself. It’s not a place that you would actually reach, but a compass point to aim for. It is the pursuit of valued goals that leads to happiness, not their attainment.
You can use this information to create long term goals, break them down into smaller, achievable parts and create a plan of action to move in that direction.
I’m here to help with this process.
Six Fundamental Human Needs according to Anthony Robbins
- The driving force behind behaviours and choices
Each day, we fulfil the needs of Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution. Sometimes our choices are constructive, sometimes neutral and at times, destructive. Awareness of the actions taken in meeting these needs can lead to more balanced and improved strategies for achieving a peaceful and harmonious life.
The first four needs relate to our personality or achievement. Each person will be meeting them in one way or another, even if the behaviour isn’t helpful.
1. Certainty - safety, stability, security, comfort, order, predictability, control, consistency.
The more certainty you need the less you’ll risk. The desire for comfort may be keeping you from achieving your potential. Too little certainty can be stressful.
How do you meet your need for certainty?
2. Uncertainty - variety, surprise, challenge, excitement, difference, chaos, adventure, change, novelty.
You need uncertainty otherwise you’ll get bored. People usually only like the surprises they want. The ones they don’t want they call problems. Most people prioritise certainty the most and that’s why their lives can be unfulfilling or boring.
How do you meet your need for uncertainty?
Are certainty and uncertainty in balance?
3. Significance - important, meaningful, proud, needed, wanted, special, worthy, unique.
People have a variety of strategies to meet their need for significance. Some get this need met with spirituality, others with wealth and status. You can get significance fast with aggression and antisocial behaviour.
Think of a problem you have struggled with for a long time - this is often a way to get this need met. Think of your biggest problem. Ask yourself what would happen if that were resolved. Would it affect your feeling of significance?
How do you meet your need for significance?
4. Connection - love, communication, unified, approval, attachment, intimacy
Are your connections healthy? Are they based on authentic, vulnerable, deep, open hearted sharing? Are there elements of control, manipulation, desperation or competition in your connection? Are you willing to give and receive love? Are you holding back because of fear and past pain?
How do you meet your need for connection?
Are significance and connection in balance? Are you spending too much time gaining significance to nurture your connections? Is the pursuit of connection stopping you from achieving your desired level of significance?
The next two needs are about fulfillment and flourishing.
5. Growth - the need for constant emotional, intellectual and spiritual development
Growth will happen in one way or another, we can only direct and nurture it.
How do you meet your need for growth?
6. Contribution - the need to give beyond ourselves, give, care, protect and serve others.
Ancient wisdom consistently asserts that true, lasting happiness comes from doing good things for others. Once you find your purpose and begin contributing, you can flourish and enjoy the feeling of fulfilment.
How do you meet your need for contribution?
You will be meeting most of these needs in one way or another.
Much of our imbalance and attachment to our physical, mental and emotional problems is because we are suffering from a nearly global human fear…
“I’m not worthy of love. I’m not good enough.”
You are not alone and you will overcome the limiting beliefs, thought patterns and stories that have developed in your mind.
I’m here to help
Life is a never-ending series of choices. Our amazing brains hand over simple decision making to our subconscious mind, to free up capacity for more complex and important situations. However, some of these automatic habit patterns no longer serve us. Consciousness of these mental subroutines is the first step in living a more meaningful life in alignment with our values.
Here are some tools that you can use to grow awareness and take back control. It will be my absolute honour to support you in implementing any of these techniques into your life:
Spending time every day quietly observing your breath and/or bodily sensations is incredibly valuable. The more time you spend in the part of your mind that observes your thoughts and sensations, rather than the part which thinks and feels, the more control and awareness you will have during the day. Meditation is an attention training practice of bringing your mind back to awareness whenever it wanders... again and again and again... with self-compassion. It is also a key component in uncovering your deep sense of purpose.
Daily (Stream of Consciousness) Journalling
Rumination and repetition of your thoughts is a waste of your precious mental energy. Spending time each morning writing down on paper whatever comes into your thoughts is a fantastic way of decluttering your mind. Not only will this put an end to a lot of mental chatter, but when you notice patterns in your writing, you will be inspired to make changes. Don’t hold back. Say what you want to say. Express yourself. After all, It’s just between you and the page.
Having a Solid Morning Routine
When you set your alarm, you are making an agreement to wake up at that time. Keep that agreement. Don’t snooze. Sit straight up in bed and shout “Yeah!” while fist pumping the air. You only need to get through less than a minute of heavy lethargy before you are up and running. Get straight out and make your bed then drink some water. Next, move your body. Perhaps some yoga or stretching. Then you are ready to fulfil your other agreements such as meditation and journalling. You will have a much better day when it begins this way. Every day is precious.
There are large numbers of stories constantly repeating in your mind. Some of them are very useful and others are limiting. Your self-concept has developed over your whole life and, if you want to change this, you need to change these stories. Once you become aware of a limiting belief that you want to shift, you can start affirming the new, opposite belief to replace the old story. Another use of affirmations is to embed a useful concept into your thinking. If you come across an idea that you would like to embody, tell yourself that you are or that you do that thing. Taking actions that support your affirmations will multiply their effectiveness. I read my affirmations aloud once an hour, ten times a day.
Write a Personal User Guide
There are two main advantages to writing a “how-to” about yourself. You get to know yourself better and, if you share it, other people can get to know you too. Everyone looks at each other and the world through the lens of their personal perspective. This means that there will always be assumptions and misinterpretations when we interact with other people. To minimise these errors and manage expectations, we can write and share a document outlining important aspects of our lives. This deepens our connections and helps people make informed choices about their relationship with us. My user guide includes my self-concept, vision, dreams, core values, virtues, flaws, limiting beliefs, role models, and useful tools.
Whether or not you have mapped out your vision and uncovered your core values, you can use goals to guide and track your progress towards your best self. It’s important to see goals as providing guidance and direction as you enjoy the journey. If your happiness and self worth are based on the achievement of the goal, then you will be missing out on the daily wellbeing that comes from striving forward while living in the moment. Set goals that are 3-5 years in the future and then break them down into smaller and smaller parts, until you have chosen powerful daily habits to cultivate. Periodically check in and celebrate your progress towards the goal and adjust course if necessary.
Build Relationships with Daily Check-In’s
A check-in is different to a conversation. It is an adaptation from a method of communication called ‘Way of Council’ that is used in Heart Sharing Circles. When two or more people agree to check-in with each other, they take turns speaking one at a time. Without interruption, each person speaks from their own perspective (using ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ or ‘you’) and focuses on their feelings and needs, rather than stories. The other person/people silently hold space for the speaker and only respond with “thank you for sharing”. Using this method creates a safe space for people to communicate what is alive in them at that moment and builds relationships via empathy and understanding.
Prioritising some or all of these techniques will have a lasting and profound impact on your wellbeing. I wish you luck and strength on your journey and I am here to support you on your way towards your best self!
The main purpose of life coaching is to help clients, who have a desire to improve an aspect of their life, get unstuck and achieve their goals, and it does this by using specific tools, techniques and processes. Life coaching can empower you to formulate your goals and remove the blockages that are preventing you from moving in that direction.
Thus, it aims at improving your life over time by tapping into your maximum potential and working according to an action plan. In other words, life coaching is about analysing and closing the gap between reality and dreams, between the actual and ideal self.
To this purpose, a life coach provides a supportive framework in which to first examine your life as it has been shaped based on your individual fears, beliefs and motivations. You get to re-evaluate your life choices from a fresh, in-depth perspective.
He then helps you take stock of the values and beliefs that you want to keep or integrate to ensure that you focus your energy in the direction that aligns with those and with your deep sense of purpose. Unhappiness comes from neglecting or ignoring one’s values.
Your life coach will be instrumental in unlocking your potential by helping you access your inner motivation and then supporting you to follow through on commitments and be accountable for your actions.
Unlocking mental blocks, solving internal conflicts and overcoming limiting beliefs creates a paradigm shift in your relationships with yourself and those around you. This leads to a sense of fulfilment in work, play, travel, connections and other aspects of life.
A successful coach helps clients stay focused and motivated to progress on their life path more quickly than if they were on their own. Without the assistance of a life coach, you may struggle to effectively understand your problems, mental blocks, goals and dreams and may be ineffective in creating a framework to understand and cope with your particular situation.
You don’t have to be in a crisis to benefit from life coaching. You can actually be more receptive to growth and self-examination when you are balanced and happy.
Life coaching is different to counselling because it offers support for important choices in the moment rather than treatment of problems based in the past. This is an significant distinction to be aware of as life coaching is not an appropriate place to tackle strong addictions or severe mental health disorders. It is not a substitute for counselling, psychiatry, mental health care, substance abuse treatment or other professional health services.
In summary, a life coach can help you:
• Identify and uphold your values
• Identify and replace limiting beliefs
• Set boundaries and raise standards.
• Form a clear and realistic vision of your future
• Create value-based goals and integrate them into your life.
• Formulate an action plan to progress towards your goals
• Make changes and grow at an accelerated rate.
• Create a life aligned with your vision, your values and purpose
• Get an edge in achieving business, relationship and life success.
By working with a life coach, you will:
• Pinpoint what you really want to feel happy and fulfilled.
• Air your complaints, concerns and challenges to a non-judgemental listener
• Receive empowering emotional and motivational support as you make choices and take opportunities
• Be accountable to a caring third party who has your back and your best interests at heart.
• Be consistent in your actions and efficient in how you distribute your time.
• Address and manage mental blocks, fears and insecurities.
• Increase authenticity, confidence and courage.
• Feel more alive, share and connect through meaningful relationships.
• Maximise your potential and live life to its full extent.
I help clients increase meaning and authenticity in their lives by assisting them to uncover their values and purpose and ensure that their behaviours are in alignment with those.
I am a rational, secular, humanist, personal developer. I am a semi-spiritual, men’s work advocating, feminist, musical, meditative man. I am a work in progress. I tenaciously strive towards my authentic, ideal self, seeing it as a compass point rather than a destination. I compassionately accept the perpetual gap between my actual and ideal self as I appreciate how far I have already travelled. I take opportunities, appreciate my virtues and own my flaws and shadows. I am committed to a deep sense of purpose to create a world of safety by helping people improve their relationships with themselves and others