Beliefs are the operating system for our lives. A participant in a session of mine once shared how when she was in grade school a teacher told her that you have to be twice as good to be successful. This person then spent the rest of her life constructing reasons why she was really not good enough. She had a negative, disempowering belief. We all have some of those, but we don’t have to continue to live with them and their ill effects. Here are seven keys to changing disempowering beliefs.
- Identify your negative beliefs. You can’t change something if you are unaware of it. If you don’t trust people, you have to be aware that such a belief is running in the background. Actively listen to the chatter inside your mind; when negative ideas repeat themselves, write them down. Awareness is the first step.
- Take responsibility. The good news is we create our beliefs; if you created negative beliefs, you can do something about them.
- Deconstruct that belief. Break it apart by examining what happened to create that belief and how you interpreted what actually happened. For instance, the teacher who said you have to be twice as good to be successful did say something to the student. That is a fact. But the teacher may have simply been trying to drive home the point that success requires hard work. She may have meant it as a positive encouraging point of view rather than as a hurtful statement that that particular child would have to work twice as hard. See your belief as an interpretation of what happened and not as the facts of what happened to create that belief.
- Brainstorm possible interpretations. What other interpretations of the belief-creating situation can you think of? Let’s say you grew up with divorced parents. You could draw a conclusion that relationships are tough. You could draw a conclusion that you are going to be lousy in relationships. But you could also draw the conclusion that divorce was the best thing that could have ever happened to your parents. You could also draw a conclusion that you know exactly what you need to do to have a successful marriage.
- Create an action plan. The idea is to develop a list of actions that will counter the negative belief and instill an empowering belief. If you are lacking courage in doing something, schedule an activity that forces you to confront and break through that negative belief. If you are afraid of doing presentations, sign up for a presentation skills class. Join Toastmasters. Read some books on the subject. Volunteer to help a co-worker with a presentation. If you have a hard time trusting people, share something that you might usually keep to yourself with a friend. Develop some new friends at work. Grab a cup of coffee with someone you don’t know. Get involved with some charitable organizations in order to meet some new people. Practice and actions can help us develop and strengthen a new empowering belief.
- Surround yourself with people who have the belief you desire. If you don’t trust people, surround yourself with people who believe that people can be trusted. If you are lousy in finances, surround yourself by people who are good at finances. If you believe that marriage won’t be successful, surround yourself with couples who have a successful marriage.
- Ask people for help. It is remarkable how supportive people can be when we just ask for help.
Beliefs can either empower us or limit us. No one should be hindered by a negative belief system. I hope you will put these seven keys to use and unlock the chains that are holding you back. Call if you need help.