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How I move past limiting beliefs

Once in a while I get in a funk where I feel totally stuck.

There tends to be a pattern to the stuck-ness that involves stages of ignorance, frustration, and resistance, but usually after wallowing in it for a few weeks I am able to realize that I'm stuck because I'm spinning around some sort of self-created belief that is holding me back.

My limiting beliefs have sounded like anything from, "My worth hinges upon whether or not I'm in a relationship" to, "I don't have anything interesting enough to say to write a blog."

Beliefs like these have gotten programmed into my mind from social constructs, lessons learned in childhood, beliefs of friends and family, and my own critical voice. I often don't realize they are affecting the way I see myself and the way I operate in the world until I find I am sufficiently marinated in the belief. So much so, that it feels like it is a part of who I am rather than a too-warm coat that I am able to shed.

Once I realize the possibility of cutting the chains I have a specific exercise that I use to release the old thought pattern and reprogram a new truth for myself. Here are my steps below.

Step 1: Identifying what's undesirable

If I'm at the point in the stuck-ness that still feels nebulous-- like I know I'm struggling with something but I can't determine what the issue is-- I begin by writing in a notebook about the roadblocks I'm encountering. I write my thoughts to questions like:

  • What problem I'm unable to solve

  • When I believe the problem began

  • What I'm most frustrated about

  • What would change if the problem were solved

For me, this is like a warm-up to the next step. It helps me wrap my head around whatever I feel is blocking me. Sometimes I do this step and am not ready to return to the next step for days or weeks later.

Step 2: Writing a list of beliefs

I grab a fresh page in a notebook and write a list of all the beliefs I have that relate to the issue. Oftentimes these are beliefs that I logically know aren't the reality, but that I am still believing for some reason.

A few general examples:

  • "I don't have the willpower to change this habit."

  • "I'm responsible for keeping the peace between my parents."

  • "I need to have the upper hand in a relationship to feel secure."

  • "I'm not educated enough to become a..."

Sometimes my list is long, sometimes it's short. I try to keep it to one page so I can effectively hit the crux of the issue. I often find myself coming back and adding or combining beliefs later on.

Side note: After I've written out all those beliefs I usually take a moment to read through the list and meditate a little on being kinder to myself. It always shocks me to see, in black and white, how hard I can be on myself.

Step 3: Writing a list of truths

In a new page of my notebook, I choose a limiting belief to rewrite first.

Before I rewrite that belief, I dig deeper into it and rewrite it in a way that gets closer to the heart of the issue. For example:

  • Original limiting belief: "I don't have anything interesting enough to say to write a blog."

  • Limiting belief rewritten after digging deeper: "I am afraid that if I write what I want to say I will be judged, it won't be well received, or no one will want to read it."

Next the juicy part. Below the limiting belief I connect to the empowering truth of the situation and write it out.

This part is powerful. Like I'm my own best friend hyping me up with a pep talk. But it's better than what my best friend can say to me about it, because it's coming from within myself. Here is what I came up with for the my limiting belief above:

  • Truth: "Just as I find value in the unique experiences and perspectives of others, others may find value in my own unique experiences and perspectives. You never know when you will say the exact thing that someone needed to hear if you choose to silence yourself."

I continue this until I've worked through all of my limiting beliefs. At times, I do come across challenges with getting in touch with the empowering truth behind that belief. In these cases I reach out to a person who can help me find that vision and use it as guidance.

Step 4: Daily Practice

The last step in my process is to take all of my new truths and combine them together on a fresh page. It becomes a personal manifesto. I tape it to my mirror where I brush my teeth and create a daily practice of reading it. In doing this I am reminding myself regularly of who I am, what I am capable of, and what I am here for.

Final Thoughts

This exercise was one I adapted from Lisa Nichols's Expose the Lies exercise. If you haven't taken a look at her work, I highly recommend you dig in. She was someone I began following early on in my search for personal development content.

Here is a link to the podcast I listened to when I was first introduced to her work.

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