Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, or how hard you try, you keep repeating the same mistakes or creating the same patterns of behavior?
It’s almost like there’s sub programming that makes you choose the same thing over and over again.
In actuality, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Our beliefs are, for the most part, formed in childhood as we experience our environment and learn about who we are within the ‘world’ as we see it. These beliefs are reinforced over time as our cognitive biases look for ways to substantiate or prove what we think is true.
From there, our beliefs are what inform our decisions. So, if we have a belief that we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough…or whatever… we will make choices or behave in a way that aligns with that belief.
Kind of self-fulfilling right?
Understanding what beliefs are, how they are formed and what role they play in our ability or inability to achieve our success, is the first step in changing these limiting beliefs.
Belief Creation & Power
Where do they come from?
Beliefs are understandings about ourselves and the world around us, that we adopt based upon events in our lives. They are based on how we have interpreted and emotionalized our experiences over time.
Throughout your life, you collect facts, evidence, and references that help you form your idea of reality. Eventually, some of these ideas turn into opinions that are backed by more certainty and emotional intensity.
Beliefs are essentially assumptions we make about ourselves, about others, and about how we expect things to be in our world. By creating understandings around experiences and attaching ourselves emotionally to people, events, and circumstances, we effectively build the foundations of our belief systems. We all have theories, ideas, and explanations about how things are and we make conclusions about life and about other people, all of which help us make better sense of the world. In other words, we use beliefs as anchors that help express our understanding of the world around us.
Do we know what they are?
Our beliefs reside in our subconscious so we really don’t understand what they are unless we do some digging because we’ve encountered an obstacle. We don’t consciously decide to believe something but rather form assumptions based on our experiences and the emotions that are aroused therein. Beliefs then gain power over time because our subconscious looks for substantiation of that belief. Rather the subconscious looks for ways to prove that what it thinks or believes, is true.
Therefore, these belief systems are nothing more than psychological rules that live in our subconscious, but it’s these commands that inform our behaviour and direct how we feel.
It’s important to note that beliefs are not facts. However, deeply ingrained beliefs can indeed be mistaken as facts. These beliefs are often nothing more than conclusions you have drawn based on your childhood experiences. It’s also important to understand that not all beliefs are bad.
Beliefs and expectations.
Beliefs form the foundations of your expectations. These expectations help you to better understand yourself, to better understand others, and to better understand the world around you. They help you feel more certain about your future, which makes you feel safe and secure. As such, you hold onto these beliefs irrelevant of whether or not they serve you in the present moment.
While holding onto these opinions, you are still quite flexible when it comes to your expectations. However, through the process of repetitively thinking and acting out these things in real life, your opinions solidify and eventually turn into beliefs. As I mentioned earlier, these beliefs are still quite flexible in the early stages, however, over time as you keep finding support for each of these beliefs, they grow stronger, more robust, and stable.
Basically beliefs are reinforced over time. We find similar events and experiences over time that lend support to that limiting belief, and adopt that as evidence that the belief is true.
Why are beliefs important?
Your beliefs are at the core of who you are. As such, they influence every aspect of your life in every conceivable way. For instance, your beliefs will determine your expectations and perceptions of reality. They will influence your level of intelligence and impact the decisions you make, and the choices you fail to even realize are possible to make.
Beliefs determine how you feel about yourself, how you feel about others, and how you feel about the events and circumstances of your life. Understanding how your beliefs influence your feelings is fundamental because they often disguise what’s real and instead present you with a false view of reality that only exists in your imagination. As a result, you will make choices based on this reality with an expectation of getting specific outcomes.
Beliefs will likewise determine the things you will or won’t do. They will determine what goals you will set, and more importantly, they determine how you go about accomplishing those goals. Moreover, they determine whether or not you realize you’re actually making the right choices as you work on achieving those goals.
How do beliefs limit us?
Because beliefs reside in our subconscious, we really don’t even know that they exist. We are intensely connected to them because they’re registered on a deeply emotional level. And within our subconscious, they direct most of our behavior. Thus, you can see why having a specific negative belief could be very limiting to a person.
Beliefs can be incredibly powerful in their ability to hold us back. Holding a belief that you are not smart, talented, capable or able could potentially limit several areas of your life. In addition, unless you’ve done the work, you may not even know that this belief exists. Instead are continually frustrated by perpetual self-sabotage.
How To Know If I Have A Limiting Belief
There is no simple solution to this one.
Uncovering a belief can take years assuming that you are diligent in your efforts of reflection and documentation.
But the bottom line is that, most often, we can never see what limits us.
It’s very difficult to shine the light on what holds us back and to look at that through a different lens or from a new perspective.
Our minds are amazingly proficient at protecting us and keeping us safe from what could potentially harm us. And from the view of the subconscious, discovering a limiting belief, unravelling that web and building something new, could be potentially harmful to us.
But the reality is that HOLDING a limiting belief is what is harmful. This is what holds us back, keeps us from our potential and perpetuates ineffective decision making.
Your most effective tools in uncovering beliefs:
- Journal. Write honestly about what you think, how you feel and what you fear. Keep this in a journal so that you can reflect on your writing and gain awareness of trends and patterns.
- Find a Professional. Partnering with a Coach or Therapist can be pivotal in uncovering your beliefs. The right professional will provide you with a mirror into your subconscious and allow for new understandings of who you are.
If you’re interested in partnering and gaining support around this or any other area in your life, let’s connect.
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.