When we think of something and anything, long enough, it becomes a belief. But just because we believe something doesn’t make it real. It just makes it our belief. An arbitrary thought pattern until you tell yourself something new to believe. My belief can conflict with your belief and your belief can conflict with my belief, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It won’t even matter either way. Why fight over beliefs when they are just what we habitually told ourselves? I can just as quickly change my belief to match your belief and vice versa.
Who began to put so much meaning on it in the first place?
We became identified with these beliefs.
Thoughts we cling to become us. They comfort us and they keep us secure in our minds. They keep the world safe. As long as we can gauge a thing, a person or an event against our belief system, we can say whether it’s good or bad, and saying whether something is good or bad feels right, huh? It feels like we stand for something. It feels like we’re not just wandering around aimlessly. Better yet, it makes us look good to those around us because we actually have a moral code in place to live by, and people like that. If we can shake our finger at it, all the better.
If we can put our finger on it, if it doesn’t elude us, if we can logically process it, or rationalize it, or if we can KNOW instead of wonder, then life would be that much more meaningful, right?
Who says? Who told you that?
Well, the reality we’ve created for ourselves is that we’re going to have beliefs and it will arise. It will grow inside us from our interactions on this planet. It’s either we take them seriously or we don’t. Your choice.
Empowering Beliefs Versus Limiting Beliefs
Our beliefs can be empowering or limiting. An example of an empowering belief is, “I can do anything I put my mind to. I am loving and I am loveable.” An example of a disempowering, or limiting belief is, “I am not loveable, I have nothing to offer anyone, why would anyone listen to me?”
What’s obvious from these examples is that a limiting belief is an emotional drain. It’s a mood downer, a depressant. It holds you back, it’s a dream killer that is preventing action and gusto.
It’s something that isn’t perceived as real.
If you are made in God’s image and likeness, how can you be anything but perfect just as you are?
Your limiting beliefs keeps you believing that you can’t, don’t, and won’t. So this means you are the only thing in your way. They’re your thoughts after all. Even if someone told you that same thing when you were younger, or you watch too much TV and started to think that way, it’s still ultimately your belief. It is what you continue to tell yourself, and therefore your responsibility. No one can change it but you. Are you going to let limiting beliefs continue when you don’t have to?
Sure, doubts come and will shed gray matter on a situation, leaving you unsettled, unsure, but doubt doesn’t have to become the dominant thought pattern or steady belief you’re going to have. Impulse, doubt, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, all are going to happen as a cultural and physical reaction to a certain stimuli. But to sit in those feelings, to label them, and have them consume you in thought is a story. Thoughts are like story time. Eventually you start believing those stories as your truth. They become your story.
Now that you know this, you can monitor that doubt, fear, and that worry and consciously walk it either to a belief, or into nonexistence and let it pass.
By harboring and protecting that belief (which is what you’re doing), that you can’t, don’t and won’t, you’re letting yourself be the only (and I do mean only) roadblock preventing you from moving forward. Even lawful roadblocks and physical roadblocks can’t keep a committed person who knows she’s willing and able away or out of somewhere she’s determined to go. It will find another way, around, through, or under (and no, I’m not suggesting doing anything that will cause you harm or trouble. There’s another limiting thought of yours proving that in addition to being disempowering and it isn’t a very resourceful belief at all).
So the question remains, are you going to let yourself continue to keep you stuck, believing that you’re limited in any way? Unable to live abundantly, be happy, be whole, be free?
The Work: 4 Questions To Shift Your Thoughts
Byron Katie, who goes by Katie, author of “Loving What Is”, also suggests we challenge these limiting beliefs. What’s her advice? Well, whenever you have such a belief, she says to ask yourself these 4 questions:
Is that true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react when you think that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
So let’s see this inquiry in action: I’ll take an example thought of mine:
“I am not loveable.”
Is that true? Well, no, because I know my mom and dad love me.
Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No.
How do you react, what happens, when you think that thought? Um, I feel pretty ugly, low, desolate, alone, like nothing matters.
[Katie includes an additional question that helps dig deeper] Can you see a reason to drop this thought? Yes I can.
Who would you be without the thought? I’d be loveable, free, happier…
Then turn it around. We started with “I am not loveable,” and we can turn it around to: ‘you are not loveable’, but is that true?? Or we can turn it around to say, ‘I am loveable.’
Katie suggests we keep turning it around until we find 3 genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in our lives. So this work helps drill down to a core belief, projection, insecurity…whatever the case.
Really take the time to ask those 4 questions each and every time you face a belief that doesn’t feel good. Throw an example out in the comments below.
The Cost of Limiting Beliefs
What are these limiting beliefs costing you? Well, if you haven’t already decided for yourself, let me tell you, they are costing you a lot. Think about it, if you didn’t think of yourself as a failure, a loser, a coward, what would you be able to do? If there was nothing in your way, where would you be by now? Imagine that. Imagine all that you could do? They’re even the thoughts that just made you feel bad right now because now you’re thinking, where could I be if I wasn’t holding myself back? I’m such a wimp by not going after this and that, look at my life, I’m so ashamed.
They are costing you your happiness! Your peace, well-being, your drive, your motivation, your self-encouragement. They are costing you your mental health.
You know, limiting beliefs don’t just affect you, they affect how you view others and therefore how you interact with others. You don’t only judge yourself. You judge others and place limitations on them too with the thoughts like: what a loser, what a low-life, this guy can’t do anything right, this girl doesn’t care about me, my kids have no respect for me, and the economy sucks!!
Katie, in her book, goes into discussion of how these 4 questions apply to your relationships. I have to just read you a bit of the Q&A discourse between Katie and Elizabeth. Elizabeth feels her son, Christopher, has dropped her from his life as he went on to marry, have kids and a life of his own.
These thoughts are all the same for mother, son, father, daughter, husband, wife, sister, brother, lover, friend because they come from you, the common denominator. These are your thoughts and insecurities projected onto others.
Katie says in her book: ‘the whole world is simply my story, projected back to me on the screen of my own perception. Everyone is a mirror image of yourself and your own thinking coming back at you. If that’s true, the thoughts we have about others are the same thoughts we have about ourselves in some way shape or form; we see everyone through that same lens of judgment or acceptance, competition or surrender.
Anything we like or dislike in another person is only a projection of our own inner thoughts about ourselves. Hating the way a person chews their food or how they keep their home means you have a limiting belief about chewing correctly or what cleanliness is, and you also judge yourself in this manner. It’s just a reflection of your values, thoughts, and beliefs. What you care most about comes out. What you can’t stand and what you tolerate, all are a reflection of you. Your thoughts are your measuring stick for your life, and that of every Tom, Dick and Harry around you.
So even your relationships can improve if you’re not putting limitations onto another person. If you allow a person to prove you wrong; if you stop keeping them caged in this belief about them that you have, you start to see them with compassion and love. They’re trying just as much as you to live and love right. They are trying just as much as you to make a life for themselves and they are trying just as much as you to live their best life. Just because you don’t see it, or can’t perceive it as the case, doesn’t mean it’s not true for them. And what does your opinion matter in their lives anyway? And why are you even in their business like that?
This work is not necessarily about forcing the thoughts away or you’re doomed to misery. Can we change the thought to be something more empowering and truth-filled? It’s breaking through to the core thought, core belief that’s stemming all other thoughts so you can examine it and question if it’s serving you anymore. Can you let it go? Would you be better off? If so, let it go. It’s really that simple.
The benefit to all this? You’ll feel different, better, changed, renewed, alive, refreshed and stronger.
Katie says you are the teacher and healer you’ve been waiting for.
In the comment section below, let’s do The Work! Tell me about a limiting belief you find yourself thinking often and work through the 4 questions.