Have you ever felt like you want something, but it seems like someone else is pulling the wheel and steering you in a different direction? Or do you think that you have no control over your life for a while? Do you ever feel like there is something deep inside you that is holding you back or keeping you from feeling happy about yourself? Then be sure to read on because beliefs either serve you or keep you from achieving your goals.
Our beliefs are the pillars of our personality. Without our beliefs, we would mess around with life without a will and aimlessly. They give us meaning. They are the foundation of our opinions and determine to a large extent how we live or suffer our lives… because that is also possible!
Our belief systems can also be our own worst enemy. And the tricky part is, in most cases, we are not even aware of them…mostly. We stick to our principles, which limit ourselves. We make decisions against our better judgment. How do we deal with this effectively?
How your beliefs limit you on an unconscious level
Just because your core beliefs get in your way sometimes, regularly, or often doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Not at all. Often these beliefs are part of a larger whole: a protective mechanism. A protection mechanism serves to protect you from situations that have bothered or hurt you in the past.
An example: with your first car ever, you had a collision with a black Volvo. Now, fifteen years later, you still shiver every time you see a black Volvo in traffic. This pattern is so deeply ingrained that you are not even aware of it. You only come to this insight when someone else notices it and confronts you with it. Your self-defense mechanism will also call that person crazy because you don’t even want to be aware of it.
At an unconscious level, these “software programs” largely determine how we behave and how we go about our day. As internal voices, they say, “no, don’t do it, because I can’t do that anyway.” These core beliefs are often assumptions we have about ourselves, our values, people in our environment, and the world around us.
What are core beliefs, and how do they arise?
Our core beliefs are fundamental beliefs and values about us personally, others, and our worldview. Core beliefs are our mental base that affects all of our actions and experiences in our daily lives. There is also an ethical aspect underlying it: “You don’t do something like that, do you?” They guide our daily behavior with every interaction and every thought. These beliefs are essentially responsible for our going through life.
Core beliefs are formed based on our experiences, both internally and externally. This includes things we’ve been told as a kid by our parents, something we’ve experienced, and things we’ve learned.
Our beliefs are based on the world view we have, our frame of reference, but they also shape our world view. They are often passed down from generation to generation, making them anchored in us almost neurologically. For years, we follow our beliefs at the subconscious level until they become “hardwired.” Ideas can support us, the positive thoughts, but they can also hinder us in our functioning, the negative beliefs.
Examples of negative core beliefs
Negative core beliefs can severely limit your daily functioning, keep you from success in life, and even make you unhappy without being aware of it. Examples of negative core beliefs about yourself are:
- I can’t do it
- I am not smart enough
- I don’t have enough willpower
- I am a failure
- I am a loser
- I am lazy and unmotivated
- I never get out of debt
There are also negative core beliefs about the world around you. If you’ve ever made any of the following statements, you may have a negative opinion about the world around you:
- Life is unfair
- People are generally bad
- Trust no one
- Everyone is for sale
- The whole world is against me
These kinds of belief systems can limit you and make you unhappy or even miserable. Not only do these beliefs make you have more negativity in your life, but they also blur your perception of reality, making you unable to take a critical look at yourself.
In order to reframe your negative beliefs into positive ones, you obviously need to know what to replace them with. Positive core beliefs are crucial to living a happy and productive life. They help you get up in the morning, stay motivated, and maintain your personal strength. Below you will find a number of positive core beliefs:
- I am capable
- I am confident
- I believe in myself and my abilities
- Life isn’t perfect, but it’s still fine
- Whatever happens, always keep smiling
- I am responsible for my positive feeling
- I take responsibility for my actions
How to change belief systems with NLP?
Working with beliefs in NLP is a technique that can sometimes loosen up a lot. While opinions may seem “just” a simple way of thinking, they do determine much of our behavior and the patterns with which we fill our daily lives. How do we reframe our negative core beliefs into positive beliefs? First, identify your core beliefs. Of course, you cannot make a list of processes that take place at the subconscious level. So you will have to remember them along the way in order to be able to work on them.
An example: I can’t.
Why can’t you? – Because I couldn’t do it last time either.
Is the current situation representative of the last time? – No, actually not.
Why not try it now? – Because I don’t believe I can.
But how did you do it last time? – Yes, so and so …
What if you try it in a different way? – Yes, maybe it will work.
With all our intellect and wisdom, you would think that changing a belief would be easy. Well, with regular conversation techniques, it’s anything but easy. These beliefs are often deeply rooted in our subconscious mind, and we are not even aware of most thoughts.
Some beliefs can be changed relatively quickly. Others can last for years, even though the person would like to change them. And as with any change, if it is not clear to you what it will bring you or the pain is not significant enough, then someone simply doesn’t change their behavior.
So in order to change beliefs, you need a necessity, or it must be clear what the yield is. When a belief is hindering your functioning or your relationship suffers from your beliefs, there are plenty of reasons to get started.
The first step to changing a belief is to understand what underlies it. Examples of typical beliefs are:
- Blondes are dumb
- I did not deserve to be promoted, so I am not applying.
- I am dissatisfied with my body.
The big question is: where do these beliefs come from? In many cases, beliefs serve to spare us. We don’t want to feel uncomfortable, so we don’t want to experience sadness, pain, shame, or guilt. Consider, for example, someone who kills someone else out of jealousy. It’s human nature to avoid pain, so that’s nothing strange.
In addition, many beliefs have meta-programs at work. These also guide our behavior. Together they determine how we maneuver through everyday life.
The most important aspect of changing beliefs is that you need to be aware of them and thus be able to recognize them. Number two is that you have to map out what it will bring you and what is at the expense of your conviction? Make a kind of cost-benefit analysis for yourself.
Always realize that an existing belief is apparently getting you something. Otherwise, you would not have maintained it for years. Is there uncertainty behind it? Maybe something else?
Changing beliefs with affirmations
For some people, affirmations work great for changing their beliefs. However, this only works when you are in a state where you are open to suggestions. This receptivity is greatest when your brain is in a theta state, i.e., when you are in a trance state when your brain produces mainly theta brain waves.
You can achieve this state of receptivity with meditation or hypnosis. Also, during the sleep-wake phase, so when you are just on edge between sleeping and awake, you are very receptive to affirmations because then you have direct access to your subconscious.
You can achieve more with affirmations than you initially think, especially when you take them directly into your subconscious mind. Proverbs like “every day I get better in every way,” or “I’m a money magnet,” or “I’m overcoming my illness” are all examples of how you can change your beliefs.
When coming up with affirmations, avoid using terms such as no, no, never again, etc. Instead, emphasize constructive affirmations. You probably understand why: “don’t think about a pink elephant.”
When you are using affirmations to change your belief systems, you are wiring different neural networks in the brain that help you think differently. And remember, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” The more often you repeat these affirmations, the more hardwired these neural networks become.
Belief systems and identity
Beliefs are a big part of our identity, and for that reason, it is difficult for many people to change them because they are our anchors in our daily life. So when you change your beliefs, it can make you feel uncomfortable because you are also changing a part of your identity; you become a new “you,” as it were.
Do not let this deter you because it’s all about getting a little outside your comfort zone, the place where you’re able to grow. When you’re aware that your old beliefs are getting in the way of achieving your goals, you will have to change something and (partly) create a new you. The universe will help you with this. By taking a positive and constructive approach to the process, and above all, believing in the fact that you can change beliefs, you will succeed.
Don’t think you can change hardwired beliefs overnight. It’s a conditioning process. And mental rehearsal can help you with this. The NLP technique Submodalities can also be very helpful in breathing life into your future self.
While changing beliefs, some people experience that they are “trapped,” as it were, in their old patterns (the old beliefs resist change). Don’t let this stop you because they keep you stuck in your old, limiting situation. By continuing to practice, you wire your brain to become your future self.
The most common limiting beliefs
Every person has self-limiting beliefs. Without these beliefs, we wouldn’t be human. Our upbringing and life experiences ensure that we integrate these views into our daily lives and pay little attention to them, yet they determine a large part of our behavior. I have listed the most common limiting beliefs for you below.
1. “I need someone’s approval.”
When you always make yourself dependent on someone else, you avoid accessing what you really want in life. You are basically sidelining yourself. It is important to realize that you are doing it all for yourself. You don’t have anyone’s approval. It is of course nice if you are appreciated when you have achieved your goals. Until then, you don’t have to be accountable to anyone.
2. “I have to fight hard to achieve my goal.”
Yes, of course you have to make an effort to get anywhere in life, whether you apply the Law of Attraction or not. However, if you believe that you can only achieve success by working yourself around three times, then the universe will reflect that by putting you to work hard.
Instead, try to strike a balance: be motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic. Your positive emotions will be reflected and with that you will attract success.
3. “I’m not good enough.”
This is perhaps the most common limiting belief of all. In fact, this sends out the signal that you think you don’t really deserve it. However, believing that you are good enough will attract that too.
Communicate positive beliefs about yourself in the form of positive affirmations and repeat them throughout the day. That way you saturate your brain with positivity until you start believing in it and you have changed the negative beliefs into positive ones.
4. “I have to sacrifice myself so that others can benefit.”
Although it is noble to sacrifice yourself for others, you can share in the success. When you constantly sacrifice yourself for others, you end up undermining all of your own goals.
Just like on the plane, you must first put on an oxygen mask yourself before helping someone else, the same applies to meeting your own needs. Set aside a specific time each day to take care of yourself. You can meditate, formulate your goals or do what makes you feel better.
5. I have failed
If you keep repeating to yourself how you failed often enough, you will naturally believe it. It then becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy. Break the pattern and reframe this until “next time I’ll do it better”.
Believing you have failed makes you feel helpless. So use the power of repetition in a positive way and encourage yourself. Neuro-linguistic programming is an excellent way to achieve excellence. One of the presuppositions of NLP is that “there is no failure, only feedback”. The feedback is the information you get, so you know how not to do it next time.