This is the final instalment of a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy" and help you move forward with meaning. Click here to read the first part and here to read the second part.
A bow-tied Jiminy Cricket with a head full of question marks
A black, viscous, oily splotch
An oval face with empty eyes and a gaping mouth
A green carnival mask
Are these clues from a dated detective board game?
Or elusive fragments from an epic dream?
All good guesses, but they’re actually illustrations of limiting beliefs drawn by some of my clients.
And they play a critical role in how to send your self-sabotaging thoughts and emotions packing in order to free up space for those that spark joy instead.
Before we get into that, let's recap what we’ve uncovered in these last two blog posts:
We learned how to detect thoughts and beliefs that are self-sabotaging and fear-based.
We learned how those thoughts and beliefs trigger emotions and then actions.
I’m not sure which beliefs you’d like to transform, but let’s play with one that many women hear with the volume on full-blast.
“I’m not good enough.”
Did you know that if women don’t feel 100% qualified for a position they won’t apply for it, while men apply if they think they meet just 60% of the job criteria?
That’s exactly how a limiting belief like “I’m not good enough” can translate into emotions such as fear and insecurity which then trigger actions (or inaction in this case).
So how do we go about unraveling that belief, or at least diminishing its grip on our lives?
Step 1: Investigate
Let’s say you hear “I’m not good enough” on loop in your mind. Your mission now is to slip into the shoes of a detective—impartial but passionate—and learn everything you can about this sentence as if your job depends on it.
When exactly does it pop up?
What are you doing when you hear it?
What are you doing right before you hear it?
What does it actually sound like?
Who’s voice is speaking?
What are the characteristics of the voice?
How familiar is it?
What color is it?
What shape is it?
Who shows up in your life in the way that this voice does?
Step 2: Draw
Once you have as much information as you can possibly gather about this belief, where it likes to hang out, when it decides to pop up, what it sounds like, what it smells like, what it looks like, from its color to its shape and size. When you have all of those details figured out, go ahead and draw it.
Step 3: Absorb
So what does “I’m not good enough” look like?
Is it fat or skinny?
Is it liquid or solid?
Is it an amorphose blob?
A familiar face?
A TV character?
Is it an object?
Is it an animal?
Is it large and looming, or can you fit it in your pocket?
Whatever it is, welcome it. Without judgement or disgust. And see what sensations come up in your body when you look at it.
Step 4: Listen
Now that you’ve gotten really comfortable with this new character and the sensations it creates when you’re around it, the next step is to listen to what it really has to say. Treat it like a friend that you haven’t seen for a while and that you’re excited to catch up with. Here are some of the questions you can ask it:
What are you doing here?
What do you want me to know?
What are you most concerned about?
What are you trying to protect me from?
What do you need from me?
Step 4: Share
Now that you know what keeps this voice up at night, what pushes its buttons, what it’s trying to protect you from, and how it most wants to be reassured, let it know that you’ve heard and respected its message. And it's your turn now to speak.
What do you want to tell it?
What does it need to know about how its presence is impacting your life?
What is it preventing you from doing?
How can you can co-exist as partners?
How can the voice continue to look out for you without holding you back?
Step 5: Transform
Bravo! You’ve successfully transformed your limiting belief from an all-controlling, fear-inducing, action-sabotaging mystery into a defined persona with needs and wants of its own. It's now a character that you can interact with, and potentially cohabitate with. Maybe it’s even donned a cute little Jiminy Cricket outfit, or a dazzling green mask.
But do you want to keep it in your wardrobe of beliefs? Does it truly spark joy?
If it doesn’t, then what belief could take its place?
Let’s go back to “I’m not good enough” as an example.
Here are some beliefs that you could swap it for while still respecting its legacy:
“I’m getting better at this.”
“There’s a really good chance I can do this.”
“I’m excited to try this out.”
“I want to see where this goes.”
“This is part of my process.”
“I can go at my own pace.”
“If I stumble, I can get back up”
“I’m not alone.”
Step 6: Scan for Joy
What emotions and sensations do those beliefs bring up? How do they feel in your body? You like what they're doing for you? You more comfortable, relaxed, confident? Are you moving around with a bit more ease?
Do a scan and really absorb what's going on in your body and remember this: you have the ability to change the beliefs in your mind. So there's no reason to settle for a belief that keeps you cut-off and restricted from your best self. You can't afford it. This world can't afford it. Eh Voila!
Alrighty! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have had researching and writing it. I’d love any feedback about which of these posts (if any) have resonated with you. And please definitely let me know if you’ve swapped out any of your beliefs for ones that spark more joy in the wardrobe of your mind.