Think about these "beliefs":
- "Look before you leap" vs. "He who hesitates is lost".
- "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself" vs. "Two heads are better than one".
- "Ask and ye shall receive" vs. "Good things come to those who wait".
- "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" vs. "If there is a will, there is a way".
Cultural beliefs, what some might call aphorisms, often send conflicting messages as the above examples illustrate. It is quite common for us to have beliefs that conflict, especially in the important areas of relationships, money, time, energy and personal performance.
For instance, you may know people who long to get into a relationship. They want to have someone to trust, to open up to and share themselves with. They desire to feel the closeness and intimacy that can be found in a relationship, yet they don't take any action towards making that desire a reality.
Why not? Because they are fearful of being hurt due to the fact that they choose to focus on the bad experiences they have had in the past (personal references), and their new limiting belief may be something like "All men/women lie, or cheat, or will hurt you".
Beliefs affect what you do or don't do by dictating what you will and will not even attempt.
In other instances, you may have witnessed or experienced this in the realm of personal performance, possibly in a competitive environment. An individual is on top of their game in practice, when performing in their comfort zone or circle of acquaintance. They feel secure, and enjoy the experience.
They are able to tap into their physical intelligence on a level that is natural for them and congruent. If they are influenced to perform outside that circumstance however, they may become tentative and hesitate to perform with the natural flow and ability that they are associated with.
I have seen this with athletes that were truly excellent in their field, they played because they had fun, they enjoyed every moment.
As they became pressured to perform at a higher level or play with a coach or teammates, that they did not have this enjoyable experience with, they bocked, and many times quit playing or perform way below par.
In psychology this is called "approach avoidance", where an individual experiences a pull towards something, yet at the same time feels a repulsion that pushes them away from that same thing. This is because the situation evokes multiple and conflicting emotions based on multiple and conflicting beliefs.
The experience no longer held the same meaning. Many times athletes will excel competitively; only to fail when up against someone they perceive is/was better them. I've seen this happen even though in reality, they've far exceeded their competition's level of ability at this point in time.
How Can You Use This?
Make a list of some of your most distinctive empowering beliefs in relation to a particular subject you may (or may not) see this tendency in. Now next to it, make a list of some of your most distinctive disempowering beliefs pertaining to the same subject. Are there any notable conflicting beliefs?
If so ask yourself why you may have adopted these beliefs. Remember that our beliefs are based on references. Actually, that is true and not true. What would be more accurate is to say that one's beliefs are based on the references that one chooses to focus upon. Basically, there are three ways to help people change their beliefs:
- By strengthening empowering beliefs that they already have.
- Creating new beliefs that empower those.
- Overcoming limiting beliefs.
Strengthening existing beliefs is probably the easiest to do since you already possesses a strong "table of references, proof to us why these beliefs exist" from which to operate. This can generally be achieved with the four methods listed below.
Creating new empowering beliefs can be achieved with these methods as well, unless a strong limiting belief co-exists with the budding new belief. The most challenging situation arises when a person has a strong limiting belief, with weak or non-existent (consciously) empowering beliefs.
Four Methods Of Changing Our Beliefs
- Reinforcing and expanding positive references.
- Challenging limiting references (are these references real or substantial?).
- Playing out the consequences of limiting beliefs (what is the worst thing that can really happen?).
- Imagining success.
It is indeed hard to change a belief that one has had for an extended period of time but it can be done. As always, reach for the stars as the best is yet to come.
Have an incredible week!