Ever heard yourself say any of these things?
I should have __.
I wish I could __.
Why do I always __?
Ever wondered why you don’t just do what you believe all of the time?
It’s because we have beliefs that we know and can state, but we also have beliefs we’re less aware of. Beliefs that are only revealed through our thoughts and actions.
The good news is, the beliefs that are leading us down the wrong paths, the ones only being (frustratingly) revealed in our actions, can be changed.
But we have to figure out what they are and learn to tell ourselves better stories.
So how, right? The key is in figuring out how to look at things in different ways and from different perspectives so that we can move past our assumptions and assertions and really get to the core of what’s happening inside our heads.
How Do You Talk To Yourself?
Paying attention to your self-talk will be your first clue. What do you say to yourself when things go wrong? What are your gut reactions during conflict? What do you attribute challenges or wins to? Do you expect things to turn out well or not?
As you pay attention to your thoughts your goal is to infer the belief behind the thought, not to judge it.
If you get frustrated by missing a deadline and say to yourself, “Why do I always let things go until the last minute? I’m so stupid.” Possible beliefs might be, “I like putting myself in difficult situations to prove that I really am stupid,” “I believe that I always put things off and that I am stupid,” or “I can prove to myself that I am stupid by continuing to put myself in this position.”
The obvious retort is, “but I know I’m not stupid.” Ok, but your revealed belief says otherwise. Why? Maybe there’s something there that needs to be explored.
Stories I’ve heard myself saying have sounded like:
- Business is hard.
- I can’t get the engagement I want from my community.
- I don’t make the money I want.
- Maybe I’ll never figure out how to make my business successful.
All pretty critical, right? These are not beliefs that will set me up to be as successful and happy as I’d like to be in my business or my life. But they’re the things I say to myself, so I must believe them at some level.The trick is to know whether I believe your beliefs because they're true, or whether you make them… Click To Tweet
If we start to break them down there’s not universal law, governing force, or objective reality that says you’re stupid, business is hard, or I can’t have what I want. So chances are we make those things true in our experiences because we believe them to be true in our minds.
What Do You Dislike About Yourself?
“I never know exactly the right thing to say.”
“I don’t follow up the way I should.”
“I never ask for what I want.”
“I wish I wasn’t so shy at networking events.”
For many it’s easy to come up with a list of complaints about ourselves. What does that inventory tell us about our hidden beliefs?
The approach here is to acknowledge those thoughts and start asking questions like:
- How does acting or being this way serve me?
- What might be the benefit to me in acting or being this way?
- What could I be protecting myself from with this behavior or trait?
- If this behavior doesn’t serve my interests now, was there ever a time that it did help me?
- If I don’t know, what would be my best guess? Or, if I did know, what might the answer be?
The key here is that our behaviors and relational patterns were developed in the past – very often during childhood when we had different perspectives, priorities, and abilities. A habit or behavior we developed then to cope with a difficult situation, get a desired outcome, or deal with uncertainty simply may no longer be appropriate or helpful. But if we never go back and revisit those behaviors and patterns we’ll be stuck recreating old dynamics in our current lives.
Once we can identify these patterns and change them we can start experiencing different results in our businesses and our lives today.
What Results Have You Experienced?
Whether they’re the results you want or not, you have gotten results. What are they? How do you feel about the results you’ve gotten? Do they make you feel good, bad, frustrated, energized, depressed, delighted, anxious, or something else all together?
Think about the progress you’ve made, the results you’ve gotten, and where you are. How does that make you feel?
Now think about this. What if you got those results in order to create that feeling? What if you wanted that feeling, so you engineered a way to create it by intentionally creating the results in your business or your life that would lead to feeling that way?
It’s kind of a mind-bending thought exercise, but can you think about it this way?
Now assume that’s the case; that you intentionally designed the results you’ve gotten so that you could feel exactly the way you feel when you think about your results. What would that mean? What beliefs would you have to hold to make that true?
What Do You Want To Change About Yourself?
How would you complete this sentence? The one thing I would change about myself is ___. Or, I just wish I wasn’t so ___.
And just as we reversed it earlier, assume now that the way you are, that thing that you want to change specifically, is exactly who you want to be. What would that mean? What belief would you have to hold for that to be true?
And how might that thing you want to change actually be helping or serving you? If not now, how did it help or serve you in the past?
The answers to these questions will expose our hidden beliefs.
What Do You Envy (Or Hate) In Others?
Debbie Ford says in her book The Dark Side of Light Chasers that we can only admire in others that which we recognize in ourselves. So if we see a trait or characteristic in someone that we admire, like happiness, charisma, leadership, confidence, or success, we actually have that characteristic or trait already in us.
Likewise, she says, if we recognize something in others that we dislike, it too is a reflection of something we recognize (and dislike) in ourselves.
So the exercise here is to look at the traits and characteristics that we admire or despise in others, and dig into how we embody them ourselves.
Think of this like looking in a mirror. If I am seeing angry, frustrated, and impatient people all around me, it is because I am angry, frustrated, and impatient. If I am seeing happy, successful, and fulfilled people all around me, it is because I am happy, successful, and fulfilled.
What can you assume or infer about your beliefs by looking at the people around you, what you see in them, and how you judge them?
Identifying Your Hidden Beliefs Is The First Step
When you want to look up directions to take a trip you need to know where you’re going, but you also need to know where you’re starting from.
The items in this article are intended to help you get an honest evaluation of your starting point.
The article Change Your Stories, Change Your Results will outline the entire process for you.