How do we believe what we believe, and why do we convincingly believe it?
Beliefs are value judgments that we are fully convinced and take as absolute truth. Therefore, we do not question them and have adopted most of those beliefs as part of our identity. They are deeply rooted in our subconscious, codify the way we see the world, and lead us to act in a particular direction.
Our beliefs arise as a byproduct of our environment, culture, family, relationships, internet, and experiences. Since our childhood, we have been baptized with many of them, especially through the type of educational model introduced in the first years of life. We integrate them as a filter for our own decisions.
“Life is hard” “I am too old” “I am too young” “You have to study hard to have success in life” “Being selfish is bad” “You have to think of others first” “I treat others the way I would like to be treated” “If I’m a good person, good things will happen to me” “You have to set limits, or they disrespect you” “Things have to be perfect” “You have to be disciplined to get things” “Men are like that” “I need to know everything first, so I can do it” “The universe works for me” “Everything I set my mind to, I achieve.”
“What you believe is what you create”
Our beliefs condition us to act in a certain way, influencing our perception and interpretation of life, how we think or process external events and behaviors, how we feel and relate to each other.
They have so much power in our ability to act that they come to reinforce themselves in our lives as fulfilled prophecies. Therefore, it is essential to understand and question them from time to time to corroborate whether these beliefs are still valid or false, whether they help us grow and be happy, or whether they limit us and condemn us.
What are the beliefs’ roles in our life?
If we look into what has been studied by neuroscience, our brain’s job is to seek efficiency and manage our energy. Beliefs provide us with a path of automated actions and as a decision filter.
Beliefs have been linked to the limbic system and the midbrain hypothalamus. The limbic system, connected to other parts of our brain, not only emotional, is in charge of processing information coming from the prefrontal cortex and regulates the autonomic nervous system that controls basic bodily functions. Because they are produced by the most profound structure of the brain, as Robert Dilts, pioneer of Neurolinguistic Programming, tells us, beliefs provoke changes in the fundamental physiological functions of the body, being responsible for many of our unconscious responses. In fact, we know that we really believe something because it triggers a physiological reaction in us.
As demonstrated in the placebo effect, the relationship between beliefs and deep psychological functions makes possible that powerful influence between the field of health and healing.
Beliefs can be a huge advantage or play against a person reaching their goals and overall well-being. The beliefs we work on within coaching sessions are:
- 1. My behaviors: I CAN
- 2. My identity: I AM
- 3. My social/spiritual level: I DESERVE
Coaching takes different methodologies from psychology and cognitive therapies as tools to challenge the client and question their limiting beliefs, helping to reframe those statements into powerful beliefs. Thus, increasing their capacity for self-motivation, managing their inner dialogue, and focusing on action. The process serves as smaller social experiments, providing a safe environment and at the same time builds self-confidence, developing new strengths that will serve as reinforcement in the following learning moments the client faces.
For our tribe of executive coaches, it is essential to take from different methodologies and philosophical theories some powerful beliefs in order to be effective with our clients and efficient in our performance:
- People are complete, we have all the resources we need, we lack nothing.
- What we do does not define who we are.
- There is no failure but learning.
- What we think is not an absolute reality; it is only an interpretation of it.
- People do the best they can in what they do.
- People can change behaviors.
- Every person can become their best version.
What powerful beliefs can serve you at this time?
What powerful beliefs have you identified that characterize you?
What powerful beliefs can you highlight about the person you most admire?
I think it was in college doing the coaching program that I heard this question, and I now ask myself constantly: Does it liberate or colonize you?
The danger of limiting beliefs is that they block and paralyze us. Learning capacity is reduced, and our ingenuity, the creative being that we are by nature, is ignored. They prevent us from achieving our goals, and many affect our emotional well-being.
A significant source of limiting beliefs comes from when we learn to say “we are not” when faced with something we do not know how to do. “I am like this,” “I am not capable,” “I am not worth it.” We merge our Being with Doing.
The three most common types of limiting beliefs:
1. Hopelessness. Is it possible?
“I know how to do it, but I don’t do it.”
“I have tried and failed.”
“Whatever I do, nothing is going to change.”
“It’s not worth all that effort.”
“it is what it is”
“it has always been done this way”
2. Impotence. Will I be capable of doing it?
“I don’t know how to do it.”
“I’m not good for that”
“I don’t have time.”
“I have no money.”
“It’s tough to get there.”
“I’m not able to get it.”
“I don’t know how to speak in public.”
“I don’t know how to sell.”
“It’s a hassle to do it.”
3. Undeserved. Do I deserve it?
“I don’t deserve it.”
“I’m not up to it.”
“I must be perfect”
What limiting beliefs have you identified that are not working in your favor today?
Source: El Poder de La Palabra, Robert Dilts. Manual del Coach, Isabel Aranda. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David D. Burns.