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  • Matt

Learning to see our limiting beliefs

I recently finished the podcast Rabbits, in which a journalist searches for her missing friend and ends up playing a mysterious game of life and death. She gets impossible clues from the past via an old talk radio show, discovers her parents took part in secret CIA research, and finds messages embedded in defunct arcade games. To find her friend, she must reconsider everything she thinks she knows is true. It’s a thrilling listen!

Our hidden truths

There are powerful, mysterious truths awaiting discovery in our lives too. They guide our behavior in the most high-stakes situations. They were secretly placed within us early in life. They affect what we think is possible, define how we understand success, and determine our feelings of security. They constrain our freedom in ways we’re not even aware of.

It’s not the Matrix

This is the reality of our limiting beliefs, the unexamined assumptions that guide our instinctive behavior. They are the root of our habits. When activated, they control our whole experience: physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Limiting beliefs are like computer code that runs our internal experience. Here are some common limiting beliefs:

~ Being right is the most important thing

~ I am not enough

~ I am not safe if I am not in “control”

~ I am not safe without another’s approval

~ There are only two options

~ I am better than/less than

~ My story about the situation is true

Hacking our code

When we shift limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs, we create greater access to what life has to offer us. Experiences that seemed unavailable become new adventures. Our sense of openness, possibility, and confidence all grow together.

We can do it! …but…

We can make this powerful shift with only a little time and attention. But instead, we focus on other things. Like immersion blenders.

Mine stopped working recently. I dropped everything I was doing to fiddle with the little machine, poke at its mechanics, and test different solutions. A chunk of plastic fell out, which I closely inspected. I pulsed the motor a few times, hoping its own earnest whirring might be encouraging.

I gave that blender so much care! I became an appliance liberation activist. I wanted the blender to operate freely again.

Examining our limiting beliefs

So why is it that, when I am feeling discouraged or depressed, I often just sit there feeling crappy? Why don’t I drop everything and care for myself so I can operate freely again?

Try this. Think of a troubling situation in your life. Give yourself 20 minutes to get to know your experience of this problem. Be like a scientist: dispassionately observe the phenomenon of “you” in this situation. Get curious.

~ What physical sensations do you associate with this situation?

~ What emotions are brought to the forefront?

~ What thoughts come into your mind?

~ What actions do you see yourself taking?

~ What underlying beliefs seem to be driving your reaction?

~ What are you afraid will happen if you don’t respond this way?

~ What other options are available to meet your needs?

~ How might you find gratitude for this situation?

Give it a try and share!

Through this exercise, we can give ourselves just enough distance to open up the situation. Strong emotions subside so we can consider our actions more clearly. We can find compassion for ourselves. We can realize there are more paths forward than we assumed.

Please give it a try and report back. Did it work? What new questions surface? What tips might be helpful others?

PS ~ Do you want to become fluent in dismantling your self-limiting beliefs? Consider coaching. It’s like an immersion course in creating new possibilities for yourself.


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