Generalisation that we make about ourselves and the world, based on the information taken in by our five sense and passed through our internal representation system. But, as humans, instead of seeing a belief for what is it - a generalisation - we tend to see it as absolute fact.
Because of this, what you believe essentially controls your experience of your life. And what you believe about yourself i.e. your sense of self, has the greatest effect on your reality.
So it’s these beliefs about ourselves that we really want to understand. And that offer the biggest opportunity to actively manage and control how we experience our life.
In NLP we're interested in limiting beliefs. These are beliefs or decisions that we make about ourselves or the world, that limits the way we live. Not all limiting beliefs are bad. Some are helpful, for example, I believe it’s dangerous to walk about alone at night. This belief serves me well and I have no desire to change it. Others are less helpful, an example being, I believe I don’t have time to exercise and get back in shape after having my son. This belief stops my getting out for a run and back into my skinny jeans and that annoys me!
When a belief is based on limited or out dated experience, it may not be serving us well and may be holding us back or driving none resourceful behaviour. It’s these limiting beliefs that we want to get rid of.
How do you know you have a limiting belief?
1. There will be discomfort
When you consider the situation, goal or particular area of your life you will feel uncomfortable, something will jar with you.
2. There will be tell tale language
Language provides insight into our belief system. If there is a limiting belief in the system if can usually be flagged by the language that we use.
Negations: I can’t/ I never... I can’t loose weight. I never get the boy/girl
Comparatives: No point, x is so much better... No point applying for that job, there are so many other people out there with much more experience than me.
Limiting cause and effect statements: I can’t do x because y... I can't possibly where that outfit, i just don't have the right body shape.
Generalisations: x is fact / x means y... Its It’s difficult to climb the ladder as a woman. Being rich means you loose friends.
3. There will be conflict
Alongside the belief, there will be another belief or desire that conflicts with it.
I can’t leave my job because I’ll loose the security and won’t have any money.
I’ve got to leave my job, it makes me completely miserable.
I can never loose weight.
But I really need to loose weight.
How do you shift a Limiting Belief?
1. Acknowledge the problem
Really pull out all of the detail and see whole whole situation. What is the problem? When is it happening? Is there another time / situation in which it happens? Are there other problems that relate to it? What’s stopping you being able to move on or change?
2. Identify the root cause
These can often be buried deep down in your subconscious. It might be that you quite quickly uncover what you think is the root cause but there may be something even deeper that’s feeding into that. It’s often useful to work through this stage with a coaching or NLP practitioner, to really help you dig deep. I use a selection of coaching and balancing techniques to help a client draw out deep routed beliefs. It’s often a real surprise to clients when they realise what the true issue is. That said, you can still make progress on your own.
3. Understand the positive intent
This is an important step. Beliefs, including limiting ones, are not there by mistake. There will be some positive intent within you which has given rise to this belief. It is serving you in some way (or at least did at one time). We want to discover this so that we can comfort your subconscious that, even when we remove this limiting belief, we can still take care of that positive intent in another way.
4. Recognise the conflict
Once you recognise the conflict and understand what’s going on there, often if becomes obvious what you need to do. What is more important to you? What are you willing to let go of?
5. Decide your motivation
This is a really important step that is often overlooked. You need to build enough motivation to let that thinking go and shift your perspective once and for all. It’s not enough to just say you’re going to change your thinking. Unless you identify what you will gain by changing - what you’ll have which is better than what you have now - you will continue to struggle to make the change. We waste so much energy focussing on what we don’t want. If we dedicate all that energy on what we do what, it can have a huge shift on how we live our lives.
6. Reprogram your thoughts
One of the easiest things we can do ourselves to start breaking down a limiting belief is to find counter examples - they will exist. As soon as we show ourselves cracks in the belief, we can begin to break it down.
Observe and change your language around the thought. Journalling is really useful for this, and even getting friends and family to point it out to you! For example, change 'should' to 'want' - if it’s not possible for you then telling yourself you should be able to do it will only result in conflict and stress. Move to past tense ‘I used to be unable to, but now I want to’.
To make deeper, long lasted change, an NLP practitioner can guide you through structured processes to help you reprogram your thoughts. We can explore your language patterns further, use sub-modality mapping to shift associations and change your default reaction to negative stimuli. We can also teach you how to self-coach and manage negative thoughts when they do arise.