"THERE IS ONE GRAND LIE - THAT WE ARE LIMITED. THE ONLY LIMITS WE HAVE ARE THE LIMITS WE BELIEVE."
- wayne dyer -
Did you know that humans have approximately 6200 thoughts per day? Every single day. 98 percent of those thoughts happen at an unconscious level. I don’t know about you but I sometimes fall into that big sinkhole of “overthinking” where all my thoughts eventually blend into one and I don’t know where one ends and another begins.
Like for example this morning…I was thinking about how tired I felt after having to wake up super early to let a builder in, which led me to thinking about how the chicken we had for dinner the previous night was really tasty, which led me to thinking about how this one time I woke up with a small piece of fried chicken in my hair (true story ha!) which led me to….you get my drift right?
So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about thoughts when this article is about limiting beliefs. Keep on reading.
Here’s the thing. A limiting belief is simply a thought that you got into the habit of thinking until it became an unconscious pattern in your nervous system. That’s all it is. When you view it in that manner, it takes away this sense of power it has over us. The almighty “limiting belief” is really not so mighty after all. Why? Because a belief can be changed…and much more easily than you think.
Psychologists believe our belief system is formed in our childhood and that by the age of 7, our behaviours, habits and beliefs are pretty well formed. We take this on based on our experience of our social and physical environment. We filter those beliefs, decide which ones to take on and create stories around them that eventually became our truth. I say our truth, because it doesn’t mean that it is the truth. Take this as a gentle reminder that we get to choose different stories and distance ourselves from stories that no longer serve us.
The patterns of behaviour you engage in, and consequently what you can attract into your life are a direct representation of the belief system you’ve chosen. The more frequently a pattern of behaviour is used, the stronger it becomes. So let’s talk about what happens in the brain. We all have neural pathways in our brain, each of which consist of neurons and dendrites. The more regularly you repeat a behaviour, the more dendrites are formed and the faster you get at naturally completing that action or engaging in that behaviour. Your neural pathways can be altered, which is great news because when you think of limiting beliefs as just a bunch of brain cells, you take away the emotional charge that it has over you. You also give yourself the opportunity to witness it from an external perspective and gamify it to your advantage.
Keeping what I’ve said in mind, I encourage you to treat shifting your limiting beliefs as an experiment and challenge yourself to practice awareness from a non-judgemental and self-compassionate space. Start with these steps below.
If there’s an area in your life you wish to see change in, start by listing all your beliefs about it. You see, you can’t bring about change if you don’t create awareness around it. What do you believe to be true? What do you believe you can and can’t have? Why do you think those beliefs are there and what events do you feel have shaped these beliefs? As you journal this out, let it flow without overthinking until you reach a natural point where you feel you’re “done”. You can always revisit this as things pop into your head. Now that you have it all written down, I want you to pay attention to the beliefs you’ve noted. Are they really true? If you have any inkling at all that they might not be, then pay special attention to these beliefs before we move on to the next step.
Start to pay attention to your behaviours in your daily life based on the beliefs you’ve made special note of. When you’re doing something that you know isn’t the best for you, gently ask yourself why you do it. This may sound like “Oh I’m doing that, why am I doing it? Do I have a belief that is causing me to act this way? Is that belief true?” As you become aware of your behaviours (which are just an extension of your beliefs), you can choose to replace these with different behaviours until your neural pathways automatically recognize them as your new normal. Remember to always treat yourself with kindness and curiosity rather than judgement.
Part of the key to changing your limiting beliefs it to interrupt the pattern that you have conditioned your nervous system into accepting as your normal. When you interrupt this pattern, your nervous system suddenly goes “DING DING DING! Hang on, something different is happening…I don’t need to automatically go into overdrive again”. How do we do this? Well, when you are about to engage in a behaviour or action that you know doesn’t serve you, choose to disrupt the flow of it. For example, if you’re trying to work on attracting more abundance and you get a big bill, instead of feeling dread and going down a rabbit hole of worry, interrupt the pattern of your nervous system by saying out loud “Well, it’s lucky I’m filthy rich!”. Or if you’re trying to work on feeling better about your body image, when you find yourself diving into that hole of self-criticism, interrupt your brain with some positive statements by yelling out “I’m bloody beautiful, and I know it!” or something along those lines. Add in a little jumping or dancing around and your body will also release any excess emotion you’re carrying through that little somatic movement.
Pattern interrupts will feel weird at first because you’re not used to them but if you keep persevering, you’ll soon decondition those beliefs that no longer serve you and replace them with ones that do. I hope these tips have been helpful to you! Keep in mind that deconditioning and upgrading your belief system will take time but you have the power. You are the creator and you can do this…I’m cheering you on from a distance!