Do your core beliefs support you or hold you back?
Thoughts and Limiting Beliefs. If you’ve ever been in coaching, you know we coaches go on about these endlessly.
Identifying and shifting your thoughts and beliefs to better support the life you want is at the core of all coaching. I would call it the #1 superpower of coaching. And when you get good at it, it will transform your life.
The understanding that your thoughts have a powerful impact on your life has been around for 1000’s of years. In 180 AD, Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and stoic philosopher is quoted as saying “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Why are thoughts and beliefs so important?
To understand this question, we need to first discuss reality. Let’s look at an example of Mary. And let’s go back in time to Mary’s childhood. Mary is five and her father is an alcoholic. When he comes home drunk, he’s quick to anger and often yells at Mary and her sister. At five, Mary doesn’t have the knowledge that her father is under the influence and his actions are due to his addiction. She also doesn’t have the knowledge that some of her friends have fathers that never yell at them. She just knows that this man she deeply depends on for her life and safety is mad at her. She gets scared and sad and likely angry but on a subconscious level she knows she needs her dad to survive, so she turns her feelings inward and takes on a false belief that she must deserve this. She must have done something wrong. This is mostly happening on a subconscious level. Because there is also adrenaline pumping through her body during these scary moments, the event gets seared into her cellular memory. Her brain builds a track in its neural networks that might say something to the effect of “There is something wrong with me and I deserve to be punished”. So she’ll learn ways to overcompensate to offset this belief; This stays with her and keeps getting triggered by people she meets later in life who remind her of this early trauma. This is how a deep limiting belief gets formed. On top of this subconscious limiting belief, she might have all kinds of negative thoughts that she falsely formed about herself, about trust, about men, about the fairness of life. They run like a recording over and over in her mind as she goes through her life and gets triggered. As she grows up and becomes an adult, she keeps attracting situations and relationships that cause her suffering.
We have been conditioned to believe that there is one mutual experienced reality, yet even science is catching up to the fact that there is no objective reality. You don’t know that as a kid. A lot of people don’t realize that as adults. Reality depends on the observer. Mary really believed that her reality and the story she created around it was an objective fact. This thing happened and it meant X and there were no other possible alternative explanations.
Mary’s sister created a completely different story and different false assumptions that she formed from that same experience. Her sister was a few years older at the time and saw her father in pain. She formed a belief that said something like “I need to help people in pain and if I can them, I’ll be able to help my father feel better”. She grew up a high achiever, went on to medical school driven to help people who are suffering and in pain. They lived in the same house, had seemingly the same experiences, but formed completely different thoughts and beliefs about them. The trajectory of their lives were dramatically different based not on their experiences – but on the stories they made up about the experience (the thoughts and beliefs that formed).
As you begin a new year, consider the possibility that there might be old, outdated, false beliefs, assumptions and thoughts that you have held on to that are not supporting you in your life. They might even be making you miserable.
Coaching is an excellent place to work on unraveling the web of thoughts and beliefs held in your mind. You can also do this work on your own. All you need is enthusiasm and some self-awareness. Here’s some questions to start your exploration:
Make a list of all the limiting beliefs you hold in your mind that influence your thinking. It might help to think of them as “rules” you live by. Example: In order to succeed, I have to work all the time.
After you list out these beliefs, write what consequences come from you holding these beliefs. Can you see that not everyone holds these same beliefs? Can you see that they aren’t objective reality? Example: Consequences include being a workaholic, getting burned out, not taking the best care of my health.
Now rewrite them in a way that is more supportive of you and the life you desire. Example: I can be very successful and have plenty of downtime to relax and take care of myself.
As you look at your list, think about your goals, dreams and your vision for your ideal life and career. Do your thoughts and core beliefs support you in reaching these dreams? Or are they getting in the way?
The great news is that you created these assumptions that formed into beliefs and thoughts. And since you created them, you can also change them.
Our greatest power comes from being able to choose how we interpret the events of our lives. We are the authors. We are the creators. It’s not easy and doesn’t happen overnight but the results can and will completely transform your life.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how rewriting your thoughts and beliefs has helped you.
Interested in exploring a coaching engagement? DM me or visit AmyLewisCoaching.com and schedule a complimentary discovery session to learn how coaching can support you.
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash