How Do Limiting Beliefs Form?
How Do Our Fundamental Beliefs Come About?
A belief is a feeling of certainty about something. Because we believe something, we gather evidence to corroborate its truth. This strengthens the belief. The rational filtering system of the conscious mind doesn’t start to kick in until we are around the age of six. This means that as impressionable young people, we are wide open to external influences for the first few years of our lives. At this very young age, communication and the actions of others and our experiences of the world, both negative and positive, can pass straight into our subconscious minds. This is why psychologists often say that much of our conditioning regarding our character and self-worth begins when we are very small, when the subconscious is wide open to suggestion.
If the messages we receive about ourselves and the world around us are confidence-boosting and positive, then we start our lives with a good basis for growing up with a healthy amount of self-esteem and trust in ourselves and others.
Normally, however, without the intention of damaging us, our parents, teachers, or relatives unwittingly feed us with their own shortcomings, doubts, and fears (which, in turn, came from their own upbringings). This can be in the form of their actions and comments, or sometimes we just pick up these messages by observing our elders and unconsciously mimicking them, in the way that children do. This is how we learn, by observing and copying those older or bigger than we are.
Certain beliefs or ‘programs’ then become stored in our subconscious minds for later use. These limiting beliefs can become entrenched in our subconscious minds and can affect our decisions, our view of the world, and our place in it. This is often a totally unconscious process and we’re not really aware of why we react to certain situations in the way that we do. But our responses to life’s events are nearly always controlled by what is stored in our subconscious. Any negative conditioning can unknowingly affect us for years, even for life, if we don’t replace and transform it into more helpful and empowering thoughts and beliefs.
The good news is that ‘reprogramming’ ourselves is totally doable. The subconscious mind learns by repetition rather than logic. It is possible to retrain and reprogram your mind by repeatedly planting positive affirmations, beliefs, and visualisations to crowd out the old patterns, which eventually lose their strength and hold. Daily repetition of a new replacement ‘program,’ thought, or belief for a period of time will bring about profound change.
How Does This Reprogramming Help Us in Our Lives?
As our thoughts and beliefs around a situation change, so will our responses and actions. This brings about new behaviours, which in turn produce different results in our lives. This turn of events, resulting in more favourable things happening, compounds and strengthens the new habit, which persuades the subconscious mind to drop the old one for the new!
Transforming Limiting Beliefs.
In my practice as a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, I use several powerful techniques to help clients transform beliefs that are holding them back from being happy and fulfilled. Most of the work I do is directly with the subconscious mind but there are some initial techniques that require the rationale of the conscious mind too. If a thought pattern is quite entrenched and/or there is a lot of fear around it, it can be really useful to challenge its truth (of course, it’s nearly always totally false or outdated). Proving that the belief is no longer valid can help to make it shrink in size and become less of a challenge to transform.