You’re an 11-year-old kid and your parents have just told you they’re packing you up and shipping you off to boarding school. How do you feel? Abandoned? Unloved? Cast aside?
We’ve all got moments in our childhood where we felt less than loved, less than safe, less than worthy of the attention of the people who mattered most to us (usually our parents). As we grew, we carried these moments around with us, always adding new moments on top and collectively these moments shaped how we believe the world to be.
In many ways, these beliefs have served us. They’ve kept us ‘safe’. Our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us are the reason we have the life that we have. The challenge is when we want to go for something more than what we already have. It’s in these moments we find an old belief limits our true potential, and thus uncover a limiting belief.
My personal definition of a belief is, “something I hold to be true for me right now”. This simple definition holds two important points I want to highlight. Firstly, my beliefs are true to me irrespective of what anyone else believes. Secondly, and most importantly, my beliefs are changeable.
Here’s a simple example of how beliefs work. Say I believed coffee was a healthy, enjoyable drink, safe to indulge anytime of the day. This belief drove my action of having a coffee at breakfast, lunch and dinner. After a while, I noticed I was sleeping poorly. I decided to stop drinking coffee at dinner. My sleep improved. With my new evidence, I changed my belief from coffee being fine for me to drink at any time of the day, to believing it is fine for me to drink until lunch time. As my sleep continued to improve the longer I refrained from coffee after lunch, the stronger my belief became.
Think of your subconscious as a box of beliefs you brought into the world from conception and have been diligently filling ever since. For better or for worse, this little black box inside our head creates all our external results. Neuroscience has proven that it is our subconscious beliefs – not our conscious desires – that give us the results in life we’ve got. So, if we consciously believe we can achieve something, but our results are different to what we anticipated, then we need to look at what specific belief – or beliefs – is now limiting us from achieving the life we truly want.
But how on earth do you uncover beliefs you’re not consciously aware of?
It starts by looking at your results and the actions and behaviours you’re using that are giving you those results.
One of my clients was struggling to get rid of unproductive employees in his business. These ‘bad apples’ were costing his business dearly – in productivity, profitability and culturally. Not to mention the stress and anguish the situation was causing him personally. Yet despite how much it was hurting the business and himself, he was paralysed from taking the necessary action.
As it turns out, when a child’s brain is developing, she fully takes on many beliefs from her immediate environment, as she does not know what’s true and what’s not. So many of her beliefs about how the world works will come from her parents, grandparents, teachers, family and friends, and these days, social media. Additionally, beliefs are also developed situationally. A child will interpret any situation and apply meaning to it which leads to a thought, which if accepted by the child, will become a belief.
In the case of my client, when his parents sent him to boarding school, he gave it meaning, which became a thought that he accepted as truth, and as this ‘truth’ seemingly played out again and again in his life, it became a belief. He believed his parents didn’t love him, that he was not worthy of their love and so they abandoned him to boarding school. What we uncovered by examining his procrastination was at its root cause he didn’t want to abandon anyone, like he believed he’d been abandoned.
Most business owners have heard this being said (or modelled) by their well-meaning parents, friends and society. Even though they may have really hated not seeing their mum or dad who were always at work, and they set some very conscious goals of getting home to their family, many go on to repeat the same behaviour that they so disliked about their parents.
Some people may claim this is an excuse more than a belief. Nevertheless, when business owners say this they genuinely believe it to be their truth.
In my opinion one of the greatest threats of achieving our own and our business’ fullest potential is comfort.
This also could be expressed in terms of I am not …… enough (insert pretty, smart, fit, young, rich … the list goes on); I don’t trust myself; I can’t handle it
In my opinion, Number 4 is actually the limiting belief that underpins all other limiting beliefs.
Firstly, you need to understand what your limiting beliefs are.
Very simply, if there’s an area of your life where you’re not achieving what you want – e.g. more money, less weight, better marriage, better team members, then step one is simply acknowledging you have a limiting belief in that area of your life.
Secondly, you’ll need help to identify exactly what your limiting beliefs are and where they’ve come from. Albert Einstein said, “You will not solve the problem with the same thinking that created it in the first place”. You could engage a mentor, a coach or a close friend (provided they’re able to operate objectively) to help you with this. My mentor asks me the questions that I do not want to ask myself (and makes me answer them).
Thirdly, you must give yourself credit for your journey.
Uncovering your limiting beliefs never ends. You must acknowledge yourself for each step along the way. Even if they’re small, you’re still deliberately moving forward and making a positive difference in your life.
If you’d like to know more about what limiting beliefs are holding you back from the life you truly want, contact us. We’d love to help you finally get the business and the life you deserve.
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