The Past In The Present

The power of beliefs and the power to change them.

Many of the issues my clients are dealing with stem from events in their childhood.  These can range from sexual abuse to parental pressure to bullying.

At some level they all have one thing in common.  Their younger self started to form a belief about themselves as a result of the way they were treated and the behaviour of their caregivers.

Many beliefs that we hold are helpful to us.  It’s only when a belief starts to create issues for us through our thoughts, behaviours and feelings that we notice them.  Unfortunately those beliefs are usually unhelpful and untrue.  Often the belief is that they are ‘not good enough’ or they are ‘a bad person’ or that they ‘are weak or useless’.

The power of our beliefs, especially those formed at an early age, can come to form our identity.  They become who we are, so tied into our persona that, at first, we can find it extremely difficult to think of ourselves as being some other way.  

The old belief will also be familiar and, in an odd way, comfortable to us.  It may seem strange to think of a negative belief as being comfortable and part of someone’s comfort zone, but it is.  As beliefs form so they form neural connections in our mind/body.  When we start to change it means making new connections and doing new patterns of thinking and behaving.   This can feel difficult and unless our reasons for change are strong sometimes we stop and go back to old ways of thinking and being.  This is because the familiar takes less effort and energy. As humans we are designed to operate on automatic pilot, so to speak, in order to conserve energy.

5 Tips to change unhelpful beliefs

The following are just some tips that can help you start to change an old belief and enable you to create different possibilities for your future.  

  1.  Write down your belief and ask yourself:  
    • When did it form? 
    • Is it true? 
    • Is it helpful? 
    • Does it make sense?
    • How do I know to believe this?

    2.  Using your powerful imagination think about old events when that old belief was present.  Imagine you are observing the old event. See you and anyone else that may have been present.  What are you noticing, hearing or sensing that you hadn’t before, the knowing of which is useful and helpful for you to know and that allows you to change that old perception? ( If this is a situation of abuse make sure that you observe from a long way off and stay out of the event and seek professional help)

      3.  Check your desire to change.  If you woke up tomorrow morning and that belief was no longer an issue what would your life be like? What would you be doing, what would others notice, what would you be saying and feeling?

        If you start saying ‘I’d not be’ or ‘I wouldn’t have’, think what would be there instead so that your answers are about what you will be seeing, hearing, feeling and doing once that old belief is no longer present.

        4.  Say to yourself, this current situation reminds my neurology of an old event.  It is an old event an old memory not the current situation.  I am responding to the past not the one now.

          5.  Often beliefs were established to help the person in some way.  Our beliefs and behaviours have a protective or positive intent, such as control, self-protection or safety, which made sense, at some level, at the time.  So ask yourself:

            • What is this belief trying to do for me?  
            • How is it trying to help me?  
            • What is its purpose?  

            Can everyone change?

            I believe everyone has the ability to change, however it’s their beliefs that will dictate if they will do so or not.  I work from two GP practices and often patients who have been referred for counselling say

            ‘I’m just like my mum’

            ‘It’s too late to change’

            ‘It’s just the way I am’

            When I hear this I know that for them change may take time and may not happen at all unless that belief can be loosened and they can see the possibility and benefits of changing.  

            What do you believe about yourself that is stopping you from being, doing or having things in your life that you’d like to have?

            If you want to explore this further get in touch ☺  

            Categories: beliefs