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Got Limiting Beliefs? 4 Ways to Choose More Empowering Ones

Got Limiting Beliefs? 4 Ways to Choose More Empowering Ones

We all have friends that grew up with siblings, under the same roof, with the same opportunities, but turned out drastically different. One pursued a career, family, and personal aspirations, while the other pursued crime, drugs, or alcohol.

What accounts for the radical difference in these two people? How can two people grow up in virtually the same environment, yet turn out so differently? What makes some people give up when the going gets tough, while others look deeper into themselves than ever before to overcome almost any level of pain?

What’s the answer?

Beliefs

Your beliefs influence everything in your life. Your beliefs have the power to open your mind and your heart; to steer you to a life of contribution and fulfillment; to motivate you to connect with others; or to smother you in a life of misery and isolation. Beliefs are why some of us rise up and relentlessly pursue a life worth living, while others live in quiet desperation.

What are beliefs?

The word belief is thrown around a lot in conversation, but what is a belief? A belief is a feeling of certainty about something. When you say you believe something, you’re saying that you feel certain about it. It’s this feeling of certainty that gives you the drive to accomplish your goals.

Think about the last big thing you accomplished in your life. If you’re like me, you saw yourself achieving your goal long before accomplishing it. It’s like you were just putting in the time necessary, but your results were guaranteed. Your feelings of certainty guaranteed an answer to any question. That’s the power of believing in yourself. That’s the power that beliefs have to bring out the best in you.

Unfortunately we don’t use this power enough. It’s our lack of belief that ends up taking the spotlight and limiting our capabilities. We don’t realize that we can have anything we want if we’re willing to give up the belief that we can’t have it.

Beliefs give us the motivation, certainty, and resolve to take action; or the self-doubt, self-sabotage, and reluctance to do anything. Beliefs can strengthen your abilities or dissolve them.

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Let’s say you’re a good husband. Chances are you’ve made your mind up to be a good husband far before you were even married. You decided what you’re going to do, raised your standards, got certain, and made it happen.

Global beliefs have the ability to filter our entire lives. Global beliefs are the wide sweeping generalizations we make; the broad assumptions we make about other people, work, money, life, and ourselves. Global beliefs affect every aspect of our lives, whether thoughts or actions, either positively or negatively.

What’s great about beliefs is that they’re really just habitual thought patterns. They’re ideas that you’ve developed a sense of certainty around. Therefore they can be changed with consistent effort. You just have to make it a habit to empower yourself instead of limiting yourself.

As time goes on you’ll see that changing only one or two limiting beliefs creates a snowball effect in which your entire thought process changes for the better. You have the power to transform everything in your life, including your future, by changing your beliefs.

How are beliefs formed?

Beliefs are built from ideas. Tony Robbins uses a terrific metaphor to illustrate this. Robbins says to picture an idea as a tabletop with no legs. Without any legs, this cognitive tabletop, doesn’t stand on its own.

But a belief on the other hand, is the idea (tabletop), strengthened with legs. Robbins calls the legs references. He says that if you really believe something (ex: I’m a good student), you have some references to support this idea. You have some experiences to draw from that strengthen the legs and make your tabletop sturdy. Experience builds references, references build ideas, ideas build a feeling of certainty, and certainty strengthens your beliefs.

Personal References

When you’re aware of how beliefs are formed, you have an idea of how to change them. Beliefs can be formed about anything when you connect enough references.

Some of us believe that people from certain areas, religions, political affiliations, or even entire races are not to be trusted. Some of us believe that people in general are good and will always do the right thing.

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I say this because isn’t it true that you could convince yourself of both of these viewpoints? If you tried, do you think you could believe that people are bad and not to be trusted? I’m sure you’ve been wronged or taken advantage of sometime in your life. Do you think you could also believe that people are good and trustworthy? Think of the times in your life where people really came through for you. Picture these references in your mind.

Your references are based on personal experience, information from the news, books, other people, or even your imagination. How much pain or pleasure are attached to these references? The stronger the emotional intensity to a reference, the stronger you’ll feel about it; the stronger your belief will be. Is it possible you’re emotions are clouding your perceptions?

We run into 3 problems with our beliefs:

  1. We don’t consciously decide what we’d like to believe
  2. We develop beliefs based on false interpretations or limited information
  3. Once adopted, we treat our beliefs as fact

We can believe anything we want to believe. Over time our beliefs become unquestioned facts to us. This is terrific when we’re planning our future or envisioning our success, but it can also be a huge roadblock to progress when we’re convinced of something negative or disempowering. Given enough time, emotional intensity, and repetition, the brain literally becomes convinced that what you’re imagining is true.

Choosing more empowering beliefs

It’s extremely liberating when you realize that you can change the meaning around any experience you’ve ever had to an empowering one. This capacity to draw meaningful experiences is available to us all. We simply never notice it or use it.

If you want to succeed in changing long-term, you have to identify what beliefs are disempowering and change them.

Use these 4 methods to shake your associations and references and choose more empowering beliefs.

1. Pain and Pleasure

Pain is the most powerful way to change your beliefs. Drastic changes are possible when you condition yourself to associate immense pain to any behavior you’re trying to avoid.

Any personal breakthrough you’ve experienced started with a change in belief. If you read my post “Want Lasting Change? Make Pain Your Friend,” you know that the quickest and most effective way to change is to associate enough pain with the behavior you’d like to change, while also associating enough pleasure to the behavior you’d like to adopt.

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If you’re able to realize how much this belief has cost you; how much pain it’s brought and will continue to bring; and how much better you’d feel to get rid of it; you’ll change in an instant. If you’re able to leverage your emotion by realizing that this belief is robbing you of your life in the present moment, you’ll be eager to let it go.

Everything we do, is to avoid pain or to gain pleasure. The bottom line is that we’ll change anything if we associate enough pain with it. Do this while envisioning all the good that will come from your new belief, how much less stressful life will be, and how much more at peace you’ll feel.

2. Doubt

All of us have beliefs we used to be certain were true, but have now long been abandoned. What caused this change? Perhaps more life experience, more information, or different reasoning. Whatever the reason, something caused you to start questioning your references. If you question any of your beliefs long enough, eventually doubt will creep in.

New beliefs don’t automatically arise from new experience though. All the evidence in the world won’t make a difference unless it causes you to question your beliefs. In fact it can have the opposite effect. You can be presented with countless information in contrary to your belief, yet interpret it to confirm what you already believe. This is called the backfire effect in psychology.

We rarely question our long held beliefs, but they influence everything we do. We have a habit of forming beliefs based on information we’ve received from others, often failing to evaluate them ourselves.

3. Modeling Others

Spending time around others that share your goals and are producing the results you want is essential. At bottom, all great achievers have adopted a set of empowering beliefs. Modeling those achieving the results you want is vital to shaping your life. Getting around others that are motivated to improve will help you to realize what they believe that you don’t. You’ll find out what’s separating them from others.

Who you spend your time with is who you become. Let’s say you’ve decided to diet and lose weight. Getting around other people with the same goals with strengthen your associations and increase your motivation. You’ll be raising your standards by spending time with others looking to raise theirs. Talking to people with the same goals will help you to relate when they have the same reasons for wanting to lose weight as you do. You’ll also hear about the pain being overweight is causing in their lives, strengthening your pain/pleasure associations even further. You’ll begin to seriously question the consequences of not losing weight. You’ll imagine it over and over and start to visualize the consequences. You’ll see yourself not fitting into your clothes, getting winded from everyday tasks, ending up diabetic, and not attracting relationship partners that you’d like. Take it as far as you need to. This will create the emotional intensity you need to develop the conviction to lose weight. But this isn’t where it stops. Now you have to act. Take your goal public. Tell your family and friends. Put some pressure on yourself to follow through. Take action, develop a daily ritual, condition your thought patterns and behavior, and you’re home free.

We must evaluate or beliefs, what they’re costing us, and make sure they’re empowering us. Your beliefs control your decisions and your future.

4. Belief Examination

We accept our beliefs as reality, but they’re merely ideas that we’ve developed a sense of certainty around. It’s often useful to examine the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to hold a given belief. You can then discover what beliefs are empowering you and what beliefs are limiting you.

When reviewing your beliefs, ask yourself:

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  1. What would I have to believe in order for this belief to be true?
  2. What is the evidence supporting this belief?
  3. What is the evidence opposing this belief?
  4. What would I tell a friend or loved one with the same belief?
  5. What will my life be like in a year if I keep this belief?
  6. What will my life be like in 5 years if I keep this belief?
  7. What will my life be like in 10 years if I keep this belief?
  8. What experiences will this belief cost me if I keep it?
  9. How much happiness am I denying myself if I keep this belief?

Take some time to answer those questions and really let the answers sink in. Realize how much these beliefs are limiting you and will continue to limit you if you don’t change them. Associate enormous amounts of pain to holding onto these beliefs. Use this pain to get rid of them.

What are the beliefs you should abandon? Build your references and emotional intensity towards the empowering beliefs and associate pain with holding onto the disempowering ones.

Replace your old limiting beliefs with empowering beliefs

Just getting rid of your disempowering beliefs isn’t enough. You have to replace them with empowering ones. Focus on the belief that you feel is limiting you the most. Write down the polar opposite of this belief. If you thought “I’m not good enough,” replace it with “I am too big of a gift to the world to sit around wasting time worrying about my imperfections.” What references do you have to support this new belief? I bet you could find them if you wanted to. As you strengthen this new belief, your mood and behavior will change for the better.

Finally, notice your feelings when evaluating your beliefs. Do you feel good or bad, empowered or disempowered? Condition yourself to choose beliefs that make you feel good. Realize that if you’re able to take what life gives you, and find an empowering meaning, you can transform your quality of life. Decide to consciously choose what things mean to you, and your beliefs and actions will help you tap your fullest potential.

Conclusion

All of our actions stem from our beliefs, whether consciously or unconsciously. Some of us believe that external events control our lives. Some of us believe that our environment makes us who we are. This is not true. It is not the events in our lives that make us who we are, it’s the meaning we associate with them. It’s our interpretations that determine who we are and who we’ll become.

Featured photo credit: ruslan.gorsky via flickr.com

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Bob Dempsey

Psychology Major

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

Do you have racing thoughts and find yourself constantly worrying? An anxious mind is truly distressing.

The good news is, there’re simple things you can do to calm your thought.

If you want to achieve peace of mind and inner calm, try these 40 simple powerful ways:

1. Listen to Music

Studies have found that relaxing music can help kids with ADHD to be calmer and focus. But it doesn’t matter what genre of music you want to listen to, as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel relaxed.

Music is food for the soul and an instant way to gain peace of mind.

2. Deep Breathing

When you focus on your breathing, your mind’s attention is drawn to the life-enhancing process of drawing in air and exhaling.

Take five long, deep breaths and focus on your lungs and diaphragm as you do this. This is a quick and easy way to instantly feel calm.

Here’re also 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly).

3. Go for a Walk

Getting out in the fresh air can do you a world of good and promote peace of mind. Take a break and get the blood pumping – especially when the sun is shining.

4. Enjoy Nature

Too much concrete is never a good thing. Spending time in nature can actually make you feel younger, happier. Here’s why.

Spend time away from the city. Listen to the birds singing and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

5. Play with a Pet

Having a pet to play with is a great way to de-stress. Touch is a powerful sense and can ease tension and promote peace of mind.

6. Declutter

Have regular clear-outs. Clutter can add to feelings of tension and a clean, clear home allows a clearer, more peaceful mind.

Take a look at this article and learn How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster.

7. Acceptance

Acceptance is crucial for peace of mind. Accepting that there are few guarantees in the world and learning to tolerate uncertainty is a huge leap in the peace-of-mind stakes. Differentiate between what you can and cannot control.

8. Mindfulness

When we are mindful, we are fully present in the moment and acutely aware of our five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

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Engage your senses. This leaves less time for your mind to worry and think about “what ifs.”

Here you can learn about The Power of Mindfulness.

9. Self Love

The more we like ourselves, the greater our peace of mind. We accept ourselves more and feel at ease in the world, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We experience less insecurity and as a result, our inner peace is heightened.

Start trying these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

10. Be True to You

This is another vital component of peace of mind. When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency.

Problems arise when we see ourselves one way (for example, as a loving mother) but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves (for example, neglect our children because we are too busy). Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.

Find out How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want.

11. Sense of Humor

Laugh a lot. The world is instantly a better place when you can see the funny side of life. Laughter is a great antidote for stress and releases hormones that help us relax.

12. Love Unconditionally

When you don’t expect anything back, it makes it easier to love without fear. When we love with conditions attached, our unmet expectations can create inner turmoil and feelings of resentment. Insecurities destroy peace of mind.

13. Go for Regular Health Checks

It pays to keep checks on your health and look after yourself. Letting ourselves go can indicate a lack of self-respect, and this in turn will affect the way we see the world and the way others interact with us. Be kind to yourself and make the most of what you have.

14. Take Stock

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to check whether you’re happy with the quality of your life. Do you like your job? Your relationship? Are you on the right track? Make adjustments if necessary to restore peace of mind.

15. Have Goals

This ties in with number 14. Goals keep us going in the right direction and give us a sense of purpose. Make your goals SMART: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

16. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

This relates to number 11. Learn to be more flexible in your approach to life. The more rigid our thinking is, the easier it is to experience situations that contradict our rigid ideas.

17. Live in the Moment

Instead of worrying about the past or panicking about the future, really enjoy the NOW. It’s all we have — this moment in time.

When we live in the present, the concerns of the past and future can’t worry us.

Here’re some tips on How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future.

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18. Worry Less

We apparently have somewhere between 30,000 – 75,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are random “nonsense.”

Learn to “shelve” worrying by reminding yourself that most of your worries are unproductive and remove any chance of peace of mind.

Some advice for you who worry often: How to Worry Less: 90% of What You Fear Won’t Happen

19. Be Assertive

You have as much right to be here and to have an opinion as anyone else. When we become passive or submissive, we do ourselves a disservice.

Being assertive isn’t about your needs ahead of others (aggressive) or their needs ahead of yours (passive). Rather, it is about compromise —  a “win-win” situation.

Learn How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way.

20. Speak Your Mind

Don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking. This goes hand in hand with being assertive.

Ask for what you want in life. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

21. Enjoy “Me-Time”

Time out is important. A little bit of selfish time to treat yourself or do exactly as you please sets you up for taking on the constant demands of life. Balance in life is crucial.

22. Frolic

The free online dictionary describes the word “frolic” as:

“To behave playfully and uninhibitedly; romp.”

All work and no play will stress anyone out. Make time for things you enjoy. Try to inject fun into situations that aren’t particularly enjoyable. Approach life with a playful attitude. When did you last let the child in you come out to play?

23. Let It Go

There are some things that you just cannot change, no matter how hard you try. Know when to cut your losses and detach (Just like Elsa does!)

When you start to let go of your past, these 10 things will happen.

24. Resist Guilt

Guilt is a negative emotion that removes peace of mind. Although it can motivate us (in the wrong way), it is still a toxic emotion.

Challenge the reasons for your guilt to make sure you aren’t placing unnecessary pressure on yourself.

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25. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Focusing on all the things in our lives that we are grateful for promotes peace of mind and reminds us that there are always positives. Sometimes we just have to nudge our awareness.

Try these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

26. See Failure as a Learning Curve

Failure has such negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail?

A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.

27. Connect with Others

One of the true joys of life is sharing life with others and knowing that others “get” you. We feel less alone and feeling understood allows a fantastic sense of well-being.

28. Test Your Limits

You’ll never know your true potential if you always stay in your comfort zone. As the old saying goes, it is better to look back and regret what you did than regret all those things you wish you’d tried.

Learn to step out of your comfort zone: 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

29. Find Positive Outlets for Negative Emotions

Sports, online forums, like-minded people, hobbies…whatever takes your fancy. Suppressing negative emotions can lead to ill health. Release tension and frustration in a pro social way and feel a whole lot happier.

30. Slow Down

Why does everything need to be accomplished today? Often, we place unrealistic pressure on ourselves when there is no need to.

Challenge your impatience, be mindful and enjoy life in the moment.

31. Challenge Your “Shoulds” and “Musts”

Self-induced pressure never leads to inner tranquility or peace of mind. Replace “should” with “could” and live life more on your own terms.

32. Be Kind

It’s free and it makes a difference. When we show kindness, it gives us an inner boost, too.

You can try these 29 Ways to Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness Every Day.

33. Don’t Compare

The more we compare, the more we lose ourselves.

Forget what everyone else is doing or saying. What do YOU want? We all have our own paths to follow, and we are all learning and going through life at our unique pace.

Focus on your own journey and lose the stress of comparing yourself to what you think is going on in the lives of others. This is a surefire way to eliminate peace of mind.

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34. Affirmations

Talk to yourself positively by using affirmations. A good example of one that encourages peace of mind is: “No matter what comes my way, I will find a way to get through it.”

Believe in yourself and remind yourself regularly that you will be okay.

Need some more inspirations to affirm yourself? Here’re 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

35. Save a Little Money as Often as You Can

Putting money aside is always a good idea. If you can afford to save money regularly, do it. Start up a regular debit each month, and you won’t even realize it’s gone.

36. Less Is More

Money buys choice, but it doesn’t buy us the happiness we crave. Be content with the simpler things in life — that’s where the real long-lasting joy and peace of mind comes from.

37. Perspective

Always  keep your eye on the bigger picture. Will you feel this way next week, or a year from now? Will your current experience of life seem as important?

More often than not, you will be just fine. Foster peace of mind by maintaining perspective in life.

38. Monitor Your Thoughts

Our thoughts can make or break our quality of life. Make sure to choose thinking that works for you.

Talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Self-loathing serves no purpose and will undoubtedly extract joy from your life.

39. Stand up for What You Believe In

Whether it’s protecting animals or helping those less fortunate than yourself, follow your heart and your passion. Fight the urge to fit in and do what’s expected.

When you change yourself to suit others, you give away your peace of mind.

40. Get Enough Sleep

When we’re tired and grumpy, nothing goes smoothly. Get eight hours of sleep per night and regenerate your body.

Final Thoughts

The most important ways to achieve peace of mind involve being true to yourself, accepting that life is uncertain and watching your thinking. Many of us mentally “torture” ourselves daily with the things we tell ourselves.

Trust your thoughts less, pay less attention to the negative ones and focus on what you are thankful for in life, and you’ll be well on your way to inner peace of mind.

Featured photo credit: sean Kong via unsplash.com

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