Negative Beliefs: 4 Ways to Change Them
We all struggle with negative beliefs and it is often hard to eradicate them. Learn the most efficient ways to be negativity-free.
Definition Of Beliefs
In short, a belief is an idea that a person holds as being true. It may not be true as such but has been presented in this way. For example, you could believe that eating wholemeal bread made of wheat is healthy. It is a general belief, promoted by doctors and nearly everywhere in the mass media. Wheat is ubiquitous in the menu of restaurants, cafes and any food serving outlets. However, Dr William Davis proved that wheat was harmful (see his book "Wheat Belly") written according to hos long-term research. So we can debate if wheat is healthy or not, depending on your beliefs..
A belief can come from different sources, including:
- a person’s own experiences or experiments,
- the acceptance of cultural and societal norms (e.g. religion),
- social conditioning, i.e. what other people say (e.g.during upbringing, education or mentoring).
1. Apply A Leverage
Working smarter not harder is one example of leverage. It means delegating as many tasks as possible to other and using other people's talents, skills, contacts, abilities and resources for mutual advantage. You work using your fortes, while other people complement you in other areas. Together you achieve more.
Pain And Pleasure
We will use a different kind of leverage here. It will be based on pleasure and pain, the two factors that motivate each of us.
The pain-pleasure principle, developed by Sigmund Freud, suggests that people make choices to avoid or decrease pain or make choices that create or increase pleasure. We seek pleasure to reward ourselves with immediate gratification. The pain-pleasure principle suggests that while seeking pleasure, people will also seek to avoid pain. For those individuals where conflict is painful, they will do anything to avoid conflict.
Here are the conclusions coming from the aforementioned quote;
- we can be motivated by pain or/and pleasure,
- we avoid pain more than seek pleasure,
- thinking about something painful brings more pain than facing the painful situation
You have already noticed that avoiding pain can cause sticking to a given belief. Therefore, you would rather stay in an abusive relationship or toxic job than risk the pain of the breakup and facing the unknown.
Choose one of the beliefs that inhibit you from taking action. What do you usually avoid and why? The "why" is your painful situation, reaction, person etc. avoided. Write down your belief and the reason for avoidance hidden underneath.
1. Create a Leverage
Find leverage. It is the strongest way to break any negative belief. It may be not enough just to question the pay-offs (you will learn more later in this post). You need to associate as much pain as possible with the negative belief and its payoff to abandon them.
A Word Of Caution
Unfortunately, it is often hard to eliminate negative beliefs. Why? Because they have got payoffs, i.e. secondary benefits, despite negative consequences.
For example, you are very verbose, have a gift of the gab and could prepare a TED talk, helping you to find a better job, make more money, become famous... But you are afraid of criticism and public speaking. What is the result? Avoidance.
I have to point out that pain can be the leverage for both changing your beliefs and sticking to your payoffs. You need to find so painful leverage that payoffs of given negative beliefs will not make sense anymore.
Define what leverage you could use as pain. Answer the question:
What is one, nastiest thing in my life which I avoid as it brings me pain?
Improve your emotional life - the article continues below
- fear of being hurt emotionally, having your ego bruised by criticism, humiliation, shame,
- death or being murdered,
- vulnerability and being dependent on other people (because then you risk abuse and taking disadvantage),
- chronic illness (because of vulnerability),
- disability (as above),
- any kind of violence.
If you have more than one kinds of leverage, define which of them brings you the most pain. It will be your leverage. What can you do, discovering the truth on your leverage by pain? Change your belief. How? Continue reading.
Apart from mental, emotional and physical payoffs, there are also the spiritual ones, usually neglected:
- Missing opportunities to create a happy, healthy and wealthy life, full of love and fulfilment,
- Having to do the homework again, as long as you learn the lesson, e.g. having abusive partners until you learn self-love and how to stand up for yourself,
- You will have to clear the lost opportunities during this life on the other side (i.e. after death, like at the bank).
- You do not show your strength to other beings. A disability may be a physical impairment, but if you are spiritually and mentally strong, helpful, decent people will surround you.
As you can see, holding on to your payoffs of negative beliefs will be as much or even more painful than changing these beliefs.
The Benefits Of Pay-Offs
Of course, payoffs have benefits, too. Hence they are so hard to eradicate. Your leverage by pain has to be stronger than these benefits.
2. Define Costs Of Your Beliefs
And here we are coming to another technique, partially described above. Apart from finding your leverage, make a balance sheet which will indicate if it is worth trouble sticking to your negative beliefs.
So take one negative belief that you want to change and list, in writing, costs and benefits if this belief. Then mark how important each item is. For example.
Belief People criticise maliciously and deliberately Action taken according to this belief Avoiding public speaking.
Avoiding meeting new people.
Not talking about achievements. Costs of sticking to the belief Benefits of sticking to the belief Unlearnt life lessons 5 points,
Losing opportunities 8 points,
Regret later in life 9 points Avoidance of criticism and humiliation 10 points,
Ego is not hurt 5points,
Temporary exemption from work on yourself 5 points. Costs and Benefits Of Negative Beliefs
As you can see the difference is not significant so then take the items which have scored the most points and visualise - which would hurt you more. Eventually, answer this question in writing:
What is better in the long run - temporary pain and later pleasure because of taking some action or chronic pain because of doing nothing?
3. Define Facts And Opinions
Apart from defining your biggest leverage, find the evidence that your negative belief is not true. Do it in writing. Let's take the following belief and there reasons why it is true in your opinion:
I am not enough...(e.g with maths) because:
- ..my mother told me so,
- ... I cannot handle finances,
- ... my last boss kicked me out from work for being too slow,
- ... I am not good at Maths,
- ... and so on
This is the evidence supporting your negative belief. Then answer the question for each item you have written:
IS IT A FACT OR AN OPINION?
An opinion is usually shaped by social pressure and modelling e.g. family members. So if your mother reckons that you are not enough, your negative belief is not based on facts and can be discarded. Examples of facts.
- I do make mistakes calculating in the morning because of being drowsy.
- My test result is average.
Notice that facts are very detailed and usually concern specific cases while opinions are general.
After having defined the evidence supporting your belief, list all the evidence against this belief and also classify each item as an opinion or a fact. For example:
- I have passed three maths tests with a grade,
- I can calculate my budget very well and never make mistakes there.
- My friends say that I am a shrewd accountant
- You do not need to be great in all the fields of maths, those which are useful in today's life are enough.
The Balance Sheet Of Your Evidence
After having found your evidence for and against your beliefs, weigh each argument (e.g. from 1 to 10, like in the case of costs and benefits) and add up the two groups. If the balance is in favour of the evidence supporting your belief, ask questions listed in the next method.
4. Discussing with Payoffs And Negative Beliefs
It is said that a person who asks a question during a conversation has an advantage over the partner who listens to and has to answer. Hence, all sales agents, press interviewers, journalists have many questions at hand which will help them to elicit the necessary information and in the case of closing sales or gathering information for an article.
Let's look at two biggest payoffs which occur as benefits of your limiting beliefs:
- no need to make an effort to improve your life,
- excuses, complaining and other forms of giving up responsibility for your life.
"I do not need to make an effort, I can rest at last."
- What do you mean by "rest"?
- What is better, doing nothing gaining nothing or making an effort, gaining something?
- How sure are you that you make no effort doing nothing?
- Who has told you that doing nothing is better than making an effort?
- What will you lose doing nothing in the case...?
- When did it happen in your life that doing nothing had helped you to achieve something?
And you could ask even more questions, depending on the answer to these listed above. But your goal is to find a conclusion. And it means that taking action will give you satisfaction while doing nothing - frustration and disappointment because of lost opportunities.
"I do not have to take responsibility for my life and anything."
- To what extent is it true that you do not have to take responsibility for your life? Are you sure 100%?
- What is the worst thing that happens when you do take responsibility for your life?
- What is worse - own falls and temporary failures because of the decisions you have made or when life has decided for you and you have lost control over it?
- Are you sure that you want to give your control over life to someone else?
- What is better, doing something and achieving something or doing nothing and achieving nothing?
- To what extent do you want to be dependent on life and other people?
Most Common Questions For Limiting Beliefs
There are many limiting beliefs. Some reasons for them are just excuses. We can challenge these excuses and other negative statements. Let's take a belief (or reason for it) "I am not smart enough..."
- What are the fields of life where you are smart?
- When were you smart last time?
- Even if you struggle in …., when was the last time you have done it right?
Who already likes you?
- Who has told you recently that you are not smart?
- Is the person who questions your skills smart enough in the field she/he is talking about? Is he/she an expert? (e.g. at cooking, maths, driving, cleaning, dressing, finances)?
After having answered the questions listed above, you will notice that your limiting belief will vanish. Why? Because in most cases, there are at least SOME cases when you are smart enough to succeed. The person who has installed you this belief (usually parents and the family, teachers, people from your community) is usually NOT an expert in the field he/she criticises you. And even if they are, there are always better experts (or will be) then him/her.
Apart from the methods depicted above, try meditation. it is a spiritual way, working with any belief and its payoff.
Connect remotely during joint meditation on Saturdays at 8 pm GMT. I will meditate with you and other people then use telepathy. Send your intention to the Universe. Transform your life and the world. Check and join upcoming meditations.
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In A Nutshell
Today you have learnt four efficient tools used for changing negative beliefs. They are finding the leverage, usually pain and elimination of the biggest pay-off, discussing with the belief, weighing costs and benefits of this belief and finally - finding the evidence against the belief. Good luck with tranfsormation of your most difficult beliefs.