‘I don’t’, ‘I won’t’, ‘I can’t’ because . . . The Power of Limiting Beliefs

‘He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law’
Henry Ford

I quote Ford again because he was clearly passionate about the power of belief, and the importance of self-belief in particular. He also had quite a bit to say about attitude – and really, it is all in your head.

You can talk yourself into, or out of, just about anything if you allow it so why not use that to your advantage? If you know you can ‘make’ yourself believe anything, why not be selective about which beliefs you allow to enter your inner most thoughts? Belief is a choice – and once you understand this at a fundamental level, it makes a huge difference to your outcomes in life.

One of the foundation stones of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is that repeating patterns in your life creates neural pathways in your brain that are emphasised over and over again like a tracing that you re-run in order to create an imprint of an image. This ‘imprint’ becomes your belief; here’s an example.

Back in your school days you’re told that you’re not good at sports, and you ‘buy’ that. Your mind gathers evidence as you move through your life to support this idea. You run for the bus and miss it; you come last in any physical activity and you totally suck at aerobics and yoga class. Every time you trip over or stub your toe, you might add this to your ‘tracing’ – you tell yourself it’s because you’re uncoordinated, or clumsy, or unfit, or just not physically adept . . . so from being told once that you are not great at sports, you build up an idea – an almost immovable belief that you are not good at physical activity.

You don’t play sports or try out for teams; you won’t go cycling with your friends and you find excuses to avoid walks and dance clubs. You grow obese and unhealthy – and unhappy; weighed down by your Limiting Belief that you’re not good at sport. See how that works?

Now, what if you could remove that Limiting Belief? What if you could replace that belief with something else? Something like ‘I am great at having fun with my friends – whatever we’re doing’, or ‘I am good at trying new things’ – what new options and opportunities might this put in front of you? Might you give swimming a go? Lean to surf? Go away on a dive trip with your mates? Would it help you to be healthier? Happier? More empowered?

It’s a much more open-ended message to send to yourself and NLP is all about opening your life up. Think about which beliefs best serve you – and choose which ones to discard, and which ones you will keep.

Are you holding onto any Limiting Beliefs in your life right now? Are they positive or negative in terms of their impact on you? Let others’ know your story in the Comments box below.

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