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Find & Replace Limiting Beliefs, Part 2: Replace Old Ideas

Find & Replace Limiting Beliefs, Part 2: Replace Old Ideas

Introspection is the key to transformation

    It’s time to weed out the limiting beliefs that you discovered in part one. This is a hell of a lot harder to do than simply discovering them, but on the bright side, the instructions are simpler—this one really just requires willpower and discipline. So, it’s technically easier, but practically harder.

    When you ask yourself why you’re putting so much time and energy and discipline into this, remember the benefit once you’ve accomplished it. The most successful people act on their imaginations – they allow their ventures to venture beyond the realm of possibility, and still manage to accomplish it. Limiting beliefs keep people from breaching that realm of mediocrity into successful living.

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    Prove Yourself Wrong

    By far the quickest and easiest way to banish a limiting belief once and for all is to prove it wrong. It’s not that hard to do—you just have to accomplish it! Until 1954, it was considered pretty much impossible to run a mile in four minutes, and in that year it was actually done. After that, the record was broken again and again by runners. Why? The first runner to break that limit proved the belief that it was impossible wrong and mentally enabled other runners to succeed.

    Figure out what it would take to prove yourself wrong, and accomplish it. Doesn’t get simpler than that. But chances are that you don’t get to take the easy way out on this one, so what else can we do?

    Introspective Removal

    You can’t remove an item from your environment if you cannot see the item, or even know what it is. Sometimes we don’t even have a conscious knowledge of our limiting beliefs. For instance, many people are unaware that they’re uncomfortable with the idea of making money easily—because the correlation between earning money and hard work has been drummed into them since childhood.

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    In part one, you may have discovered limiting beliefs that you didn’t know you held, while others we’re already aware of. In this case, once you’ve discovered what is holding you back, you can take an introspective look at not only the belief but the context that generated it. Understanding where it came from is just as important as knowing it is there.

    Here’s what you do.

    1. Write down the limiting belief in a concise manner. For example, ‘Good money only comes through hard work.’
    2. Think about the internal dialog that created, or exists because of, this belief—for instance, making money without effort is morally wrong, or I don’t deserve to make money easily.
    3. Look for the fear that reinforces this belief—if I make money without hard work, I’m a corrupt, greedy person like those other rich lazy types.
    4. Try and recall any experiences that may have contributed to or caused the limiting belief.

    At this point you’ll have a good idea of not only what that limiting belief is, but why it’s there and what its effects are, as well as what kind of internal dialog it is generating. Now we need to mentally “debunk the theory.”

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    1. Write down what it is that makes this limiting belief so limiting. If I continue to interact with reality based on this assumption, I will be working hard for peanuts until the day I die.
    2. Write down what it is that makes this limiting belief a ridiculous notion. There’s nothing at all wrong with making money—there’s only something wrong with becoming a different, greedier person because of money.

    It’s important to have a clear idea of not only what the belief is and what context it exists within, but why the belief is a faulty notion. If you don’t have a clear idea of why that belief is wrong, you will be unable to get past it.

    Brains don’t do well with a vacuum, so now that you’ve knocked this puppy down from an intellectual standpoint, it’s necessary to prop something else up there so that limiting belief doesn’t reclaim its throne.

    1. Write down the enabling belief that replaces the limiting one. Making money without hard work is the best way to live.
    2. What kind of internal dialog would go on in your head if you held this belief? Write it down. Making money without hard work gives me more time to focus on the important things in life, such as my family, rather than spending all my time worrying about day-to-day survival.
    3. In step 3 of the first process, we defined the fear that accompanied our limiting belief because fear is the emotion that gives power to limiting belief. Where does your enabling belief get its power? Making money easily doesn’t make me a different person unless I allow that to happen—I can use this to effect greater change in my life and the lives of others than if I were constantly trying to make ends meet

    Replacement Technique

    Similar to the trial technique we used in part one to find our limiting beliefs and some enabling ones, we’ll now dedicate a certain amount of time to enforcing our new replacement belief. 30-60 days is best for really ingrained beliefs, but whatever amount of time you choose, set it before you commence. The next period is going to be tough.

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    In this period you’ll be living as if you held the enabling belief in the first place, and training yourself to think that way. Beliefs cause thoughts, but disciplining yourself and changing your thoughts can go the other way and change your beliefs over time.

    It’s important to keep yourself reminded of your replacement belief at all times, because sheer discipline alone rarely works. Make sure you can’t escape that reminder in the places it counts. For instance, with the making money example, I’d keep a note on my monitor if my work was all done at a computer. If I were quitting smoking, I’d avoid usual smoking spots—especially those spots where other smokers congregate—and keep a post-it nearby reminding me about a specific symptom of smoking, or a disease it causes.

    Other than that, there’s not much you can do at this point but spend those 30-60 days focusing a significant amount of your attention and discipline to removing those heavily ingrained beliefs and habits. You’ve done everything you can to ensure your chances of success up until this point.

    Hey, nobody said it would be easy! But see it through and you’ll be ultimately grateful for the effort you put in. We are talking about beliefs here, which are some of the most fundamental elements of our daily existence, and it’s no mean feat to change them—even the seemingly small ones.

    What is the worst limiting belief of them all? I think it’s belief in the concept of the impossible.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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