Ok, ok, so I admit it, I have been changing.

In the last couple of years, my take on hypnosis has changed massively. Those of you that read my blog regularly will have noted the change in tone. I have gone much more toward an evidence based ideology for my hypnosis work and is a far cry from much of my earlier work of 10 years ago. I am about to start a new podcast that will be found on iTunes aimed at updating my stance on hypnosis and hypnotherapy… maybe that’ll all need updating in a few years time again!

I think it healthy to evolve and develop and move forwards.

When it comes to beliefs, I find them fascinating, absolutely fascinating. it seems like just yesterday I believed in Father Christmas. And it seems like an age ago that I had certain opinions and beliefs about my field of work as a hypnotherapist. When it comes to certain theories and processes related to this field these days, I find myself saying the words of Victor Meldrew “I don’t believe it.”

One thing that I have found fascinating is how our beliefs influence who and how we are.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote further about this notion when he wrote “what the thinker thinks, the prover proves.” By this, he referred to us all having within us a thinker and a prover and when we thought any kind of thought, the prover within us tends to filter out and edit all the information we are presented with, so that it fits that thought.

Your beliefs are pretty much the rules of your life, well at least they are the rules that you will no doubt be living by. These rules may be what sets you free to achieve things in your life and live the way that you think is important. These beliefs may well also be restricting you and holding you back; they may even be creating the belief that you are incapable of achieving the outcomes you’d like in life.

I believe in gravity and am guessing that you all believe in it too. Now, I have never been inclined to test gravity by trying to walk on air, that would be crazy! Gravity is not influenced or altered in any way, shape or form by my belief in it; or yours for that matter. However, our relationships, abilities and possibilities are all influenced by our beliefs about them.

We tend to form our beliefs as the result of our experiences and then we act as if they are true. In one sense they are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe you are a likeable person, you will act that way, approach people openly, be agreeable, warm and enjoy being with people. They will warm to you and so confirm your belief. We think that beliefs are formed by experiences, but equally experiences are the results of beliefs. Hmmm… interesting stuff eh?

So this then means that you can choose your beliefs!! Wer-hey!

Before we all start getting too excited at this prospect (I can tell you are all on the edge of your seats now) understand that the belief that beliefs are changeable is in itself a challenging belief to many people because they tend to think of beliefs as possessions. People talk about ‘holding’ and ‘having’ beliefs, ‘losing’ or ‘gaining’ them. No one wants to ‘lose’ something. It would be better talking about them ‘leaving’ or ‘outgrowing’ beliefs rather than ‘losing’ them.

What’s more, we all have a personal investment in our own beliefs. When the world confirms them, then they make a lot of sense to us, they are then predictable and give us a sense of security and certainty. We even may take a perverse pleasure in disaster, providing we have predicted it; how many of you have used the term ‘I told you so’ and found it to be a satisfying phrase? Not because you necessarily wanted anything to go wrong, but because your beliefs were proved correct.

So, let me move on to the subject of negative and limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are the major offender stopping us from achieving our goals and living our dreams. They act as rules that stop us from getting what exists within us as potential and we all have so much potential that we do not tap into nearly enough.  Limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving what we are actually capable of and what we deserve.

So have a good think about this question; “What is stopping you from achieving your goal?” and know that the answers are very often your limiting beliefs.

Early limiting beliefs may come from childhood influences such as parents or teachers or people whose beliefs we deemed worthy of believing ourselves. These early beliefs often stay hidden and we do not consciously evaluate them as adults. We also pick up limiting beliefs from the media. The numerous soap operas that take up so many hours of TV time set up situations where the characters have to act out ridiculous limitations, otherwise there simply is no drama to compulsively view!

Here are some typical limiting beliefs that are amazingly common;

“No pain – no gain.”

“I need to have lots of money to be happy.”

“I can’t trust anybody.”

“I am more unlucky than others.”

“You can’t get over a bad start in life.”

“I am too old to learn to use a computer.”

“I can’t earn more money without other people losing it.”

“I never get what I am after.”

“Other people are better than me.”

“I do not deserve to be successful.”

“I can’t get what I want.”

“I have reached my limits.”

“I need to work very hard to have enough money to live.”

“Success takes a very long time.”

This is important: These and similar beliefs are only true if you act as if they are. Suppose they are mistaken? what difference would that make? Is the difference worthwhile?

In the process of achieving your goals, sometimes just being able to articulate any existing limiting beliefs and in turn noticing their effect is enough to alter or dissolve your old unwanted belief and therefore change and update your own reality.

It has certainly been my experience that the majority of people are not usually aware of their limiting beliefs. So the first step is to put them into language or to write them down. Then they are exposed and can be examined and ideally let go of.

The best way is to simply ask yourself what the reasons are that you are not currently achieving your goal. What do you think is holding you back? Ask yourself that question and answer as truthfully and thoroughly as you can. The answers will reveal what it is that you perceive to be limitations. More often than not, these limits will be more about you than about the world. When they are about you, they are something that can be changed or updated.

A good principle to work from is the following;

Whatever you state is preventing you from achieving your goal is a belief and comes from you, not reality.

So having asked yourself the above question, if you then take one of those beliefs that you consider to be a core belief, you can apply some rational thinking to it, to go about challenging it. Just follow these simple steps:

Step One: Firstly, write down the unwanted core belief.

Step Two: Secondly, ask yourself how true it feels and record that as a percentage.

Now write down as a percentage, how true the belief is in reality.

Step Three: Now run through all of these questions in relation to the unwanted belief:

When does that feel most emotionally convincing?

When does it feel least emotionally convincing?

What actual evidence do you have for that negative belief?

What evidence do you have that contradicts or challenges it?

What possible advantages are there to holding the negative core belief?

What possible disadvantages are there to holding the negative core belief?

What possible thinking errors are contained in that negative core belief?

Step Four: Now ask yourself again how true the negative core belief feels now that you have answered all those questions and write it down as a percentage.

Step Five: Write down a new core belief that is going to be better than and is going to replace the old one.

Think of what would be a more realistic and helpful alternative and jot it down.

Step Six: With that new belief written down, answer these questions:

How true does it feel? (Write down as a percentage)

How true is it in reality?

When does it feel least emotionally convincing?

When does that feel most emotionally convincing?

What evidence could you possibly have against it?

What evidence do you have for that positive core belief?

What disadvantages are there to holding your positive core belief?

What advantages are there to holding your positive core belief?

How true does it feel now?

That really should be helping you to rigorously dismantle unwanted beliefs and get tuned into reality and get an alternative lodged in your mind! I have certainly found it useful whilst updating my own beliefs professionally and personally.