The existence of limiting beliefs is indubitable. They seem to be everywhere – fixed mindsets about who we are, about other people and life in general. Their actual content is not so relevant. “I am selfish. I am stupid. I am not loveable. Life is hard. I have to work harder. I should be self- sufficient. Others don’t see me. I am old. I am too young.” These beliefs can be about almost anything.
There are many methods we can use to deal with these limiting beliefs in order to free us from them, to broaden our perception, to stretch our small minds. I have tried many of them, both working with clients and in my own life, and I am aware of the fact that this learning will never end.
Having said this, I rather enjoy the process of learning and I include the body in the search for an attitude towards beliefs rather than a solution.
Since limited beliefs are very solid and fixed, my approach is a flexible one. I don’t oppose them with positive thinking and I don’t try to prove them wrong. Instead, I prefer to get to know them. So, the first thing is to put a question mark at the end of a fixed phrase. “I am selfish and should care more for others,” becomes “I am selfish and should care more for others?” This little question mark changes the atmosphere, the mood, which is created by the limiting belief.
And here the investigation starts. There is no need to answer the question immediately. The best thing is to stay with the question for a while, to observe, to be open to finding answers in unexpected places. To look at the words and try to understand them on a different level. What does “being selfish” mean and what could be good thing about it? All kinds of questions are welcome. One of my favorites is, “What would your life look like without this belief?” because it opens a whole new world of possibilities.
Dealing with a belief through curious investigation is a good tool but it doesn’t work for all beliefs. Some of them seem to be very resistant. The reason is that beliefs are more than thoughts. They are strong feelings that are experienced in the body.
This is why it is effective to pay attention to your body while focusing on one of your strong beliefs. How does “I am stupid” feel in your body? How does it make you breathe? How does it dictate your posture? What does it do to the tone of your muscles? Identifying the belief in the body and letting it go, breathing into it and feeling it dropping away is a powerful way to diminish the power of this belief – in your body, mind and life.
Finally we will look at the beliefs that have resisted all our efforts. You investigated, questioned, identified it in the body, but it still sticks to you in its righteous way, not letting go of you, forcing its perception on you. This might happen because you are living through a difficult, painful or frightening moment in your life, or perhaps you made a mistake, one that you think you could have avoided, or maybe it’s because there is a wish in your heart that just won’t come true.
The scenario is you and your limiting belief in a boxing ring. Your nose is bleeding and your body hurts and the belief is smiling, almost sure of its victory. “You are unworthy, inadequate, unlovable, and you are proving it constantly,” whispers the voice in your head. You are running out of arguments. You start to think that you deserve to lose. That the limiting belief is what is true. You stop defending yourself.
You take another blow to the head. This one wakes you up. You are able to see how hard this fight is for you and you are compassionate towards yourself, respecting yourself for fighting, no matter the outcome. This brings an incredible amount of energy to your body and you hit back like you never did before.