Obstacles to Change: Beliefs

One of the greatest obstacles to achieving a goal often comes in the form of beliefs. Most times these beliefs concern those we hold about ourselves, the major ones clustering around issues of identity, values or capabilities.

For example, a client I’ve been working with recently, who is seeking to attract a loving and caring partner into her life, held deep-seated beliefs around worthiness: was she ‘good enough’ to be loved in a sincere, honest and openly loving way? Although intellectually she believed she was more than deserving of the type of partner she was seeking, deep down in her subconscious, she held the belief that love was painful and hard to obtain because throughout her life, this is what she had experienced.

Interestingly, this is also what she had learned from her parents as a child: love was not to be trusted; at best, love was a struggle, which inevitably ended in being abandoned. And guess what tended to happen? She attracted men into her life that fitted the bill perfectly – men who were unable to give her love – with whom she constantly struggled to ‘prove’ that she was ‘truly deserving’.

So, despite all her best intentions, the positive thinking, visualisations, mantras and all those other things the self-help manuals talk about, she was actually blocking her good from coming to her. She was doing what many of us, at some time or other have done: standing in her own way; and she couldn’t see it!

Given that she’d inherited these patterns, these concepts of love and being loved, she wasn’t aware that there existed any other way of doing things. These were learned patterns of behaviour – things she had seen and repeated as a child – that had become second nature.

This is the sneaky thing about beliefs – most of the time, you don’t even know they’re there. On the one hand, your conscious mind, your intellect may tell you one thing; but your subconscious (and that, in the end, is what counts!) may well say another. “Surely, I don’t believe that?” Ask your subconscious, it knows better…

Limiting beliefs can sabotage us. They can stop us dead, in our tracks. They can actually prevent us for getting to where we want to be. Many a time, it is we who subconsciously block our good from coming to us – whether it’s love, money, a new career or better health.

Indeed, beliefs can be passed down from generation to generation, patterns constantly repeating, pain being passed on, over and over again. What to do? Do we allow ourselves to remain pawns in the theatre of life? Or do we attempt to reclaim our own power, our own destinies?

Another client of mine believed he’d never learn to read and write because he’d been told this by his teacher as a child as well as having it literally beaten into him because he wouldn’t and couldn’t learn.

We humans are immensely creative creatures. He invented a plethora of strategies around his illiteracy. He had the most impressive visio-spatial memory – he could create highly technical and detailed maps of places in his mind – thereby enabling him, for example, to get around not being able to read the signs in the supermarket, indicating where products were displayed, and not to mention road routes, street, train and tube maps.

He’d also developed his auditory memory to such an extent that he was able to remember an entire diary of dates over the space of at least a month. In so doing, he managed to qualify as an electrician; moreover, he succeeded in becoming employed by the management of all the buildings on the Canary Wharf complex, in London, including the prestigious banks.

However, he still held the deep-rooted belief that he couldn’t read and write. His physiology became rigid (as though he were reliving the beating) as I attempted to go over the alphabet with him. Here was clearly a highly intelligent man – perhaps not in the conventional sense – but intelligent all the same, because despite all the odds, he had done well, by many a standard. But, somehow, the belief that he couldn’t ever learn to read and write was stronger than anything else. This belief that had been beaten into him had now to find its way out of his body, in order for him to ‘open up’ again to the idea of learning.

Uncovering the hidden, limiting belief(s) is only half the problem. The next half lies in trying to ‘install’ the new positive belief – the one that will empower you to achieve your desire. Beliefs are like habits. Uprooting them for good requires forming new ‘habits’ – that is, creating a habit of the new belief and working it into the depths of the subconscious.

Here is where NLP techniques can help. Unlike mantras/affirmations, NLP techniques are far more powerful as they manage to convince your mind, through the senses, that the new belief really is authentic – that it’s the real one – and that the old, limiting belief is invalid, or somehow incongruous (“It just doesn’t feel right anymore,” is what people will often say). Hence, turning the new belief into a habit is much easier. So perhaps, in the end, overcoming mental road-blocks isn’t quite as much of a struggle as you’d once imagined…