How are limiting beliefs created?

People often ask me “how  are limiting beliefs are created?” This can be the first step in the realisation that the thinking patterns that have been holding you backcan be understood and changed. By asking the question the door is open to the possibility of transformation.

From a research perspective it is fair to say our evidence is anecdotal and comes from observation. Setting up a research model is problematic from both a practical and ethical position.

Leaving that aside when I share my belief about the formation of beliefs most people can relate.

Limiting beliefs, Empowering beliefs and neutral beliefs are all formed by the same processes and mechanisms. There are two primary processesinvolved and both have an external source.

I am sure you will not be surprised that the majority of our core belief systemis in place from a very early age and although we might adjust our beliefs, the basic structure is very resilient and resistant to change.

Both of the primary processes are in play simultaneously so let us consider them each in turn. Firstly, beliefs can be created by constant repetitionin the form of feedback and messages we receive especially those we get from our primary care givers such as parents. As children we assume our parents are all knowingand if they give us messages about our capabilities, our self-worth and about how the world works we are likely to accept these messages.

For instance, if a parent is constantly telling a child they are clumsy there will be an internalising of this message. Even if the child appears to make extra effort to be careful and even becomes known for that quality as an adult, the message has still been internalised. The very act of being extra careful is driven by a fearof people discovering how clumsy our example person is. Alternatively, the same message may result in a person who provides countless examples that the statement about them being clumsy is true.

So, whether we try to be the opposite or we directly accept the role we are still internalising the beliefabout being clumsy.

This same processwould also be responsible for a person taking on a positive beliefsuch as being clever or creative. All of this, with both Limiting and Empowering beliefs happens outside our conscious awareness. We take in the thinking pattern that creates the belief by osmosis and with little conscious processing.

Perhaps an even more fascinating aspect of this process is what happens when a child takes on a belief based on the constant repetition of what is not said. This can often happen where there are siblings. If one child is constantly praised for a particular quality such as creativity but this quality is never attributed to the child’s sister an unwitting message is being delivered. Child logicof the sister is such that the child may take on a belief that she is not creative because she is never told that she is. The parents in this case may not think that at all and were unaware of the unconscious response of their child.

The second of the processes responsible for the creating of beliefs is linked to high emotional loadand could be described as trauma. However, this may be misleading as we do get Empowering beliefsthis way too.

Let me expand, a belief or a series of beliefs can arise from one experience where the emotional intensity is particularly high. The emotions could be anything from fear, loss, anger through to joy or feelings of achievement. The key is high intensity chained to high meaning.

In terms of Limiting beliefs, I have worked with many clients who had a “shame”or “humiliation”experience that converted into feelings of low self-worthand confidence. I have also spoken with other people who have a key moment of inspirationbased on an experience in early childhoodthat created a positive drive and a resilient mind-set.

On Wednesday, 9thMay our NLP Practice groupwill explore this topic further. Do email me if you would like to join us.