Beliefs Beneath The Surface. Where Beliefs Come From and How They Function. Part 3 of 4
In this Expert Series, we’re examining BELIEFS – what they are, how they function, and how they impact your client’s behavior (… and your own).
You have a huge collection of beliefs that you absorbed during your lifetime, which is stored in your subconscious mind. They include beliefs about yourself (who I am, what I’m capable of, what I can and can’t do, etc.), beliefs about others (how I should treat those people, what it means when they don’t respond, etc.), and beliefs about the world (where I fit in, how it works, what I have to do to survive, etc.).
Any belief – but especially our early core beliefs – can become a stumbling block or a source of resistance or limitation in a person’s life. For example, an entrepreneur who believes “I’m not a good salesman,” will have difficulty marketing their services. A person who believes “I can’t lose weight,” will have difficulty maintaining any program for weight-loss.
Most of our frustrations in life can be traced to beliefs we hold about ourselves, other people, or the world. Our efforts to help our clients move forward are met – and resisted – by these old subconscious programs.
Beliefs are simply a structure that the mind uses to learn about the world and navigate within it. The process begins in our earliest years, as newborn infants, as we try to figure out how to survive in this weird new environment. Our parents want to help us, so they give us their beliefs. They tell us who we are, and what we are, and how we should behave. Those beliefs enabled them to survive, and they want us to survive.
Our parents begin the programming, and then we get additional beliefs from our other caregivers, our siblings and family members, and then by our teachers in school, and our religious leaders, and finally by the media. We accumulate tens of thousands of beliefs by the time we reach adulthood.
It would be wonderful if beliefs came with an expiration date, or if they disappeared when they were no longer useful, but this doesn’t happen. Instead, our old beliefs get pushed down into the subconscious mind as new beliefs come in. They stack up and continue to operate in the background.
When something occurs that reminds us of anything from our past, those old beliefs lying dormant in the background suddenly jump up and get active, attempting to help us in that situation. A child may believe, “If I cry and make a fuss, I’ll get the attention I need.” This is a helpful belief for an infant. However, it’s unseemly for an adult. Most of us know at least one person who still uses this same strategy to get what they want.
Whenever we make a commitment to something new, our old beliefs – the ones in conflict with that new thing – rise up and re-assert themselves. For example, if you commit to writing an email, or a brochure to promote your services, your old beliefs leap out from the subconscious and begin speaking loudly: “No one wants to hear from you. You’ll get rejected again. Don’t do it! You’ll feel awful when it happens!” This is the core of much of our resistance, procrastination, and ultimately, failure to get things done.
Our clients, who come to us for help in moving forward, experience this all the time. We offer them practices and projects and actions, and as soon as they walk away from the session, their mind begins to remind them of all the reasons they shouldn’t do it. This is what’s underneath their confusing behavior. It confuses them as much as it does you.
When you understand and appreciate the immensity of this mechanism, you will feel more compassion for yourself and your clients. The next step is to find a method that allows you to shift or eliminate those old beliefs – the ones that keep us stuck, and hold us back from achieving our goals.
Make a list of all the beliefs that come up for you when you decide to do those things you’ve been putting off. You may hear them as voices or thoughts inside your head. They may sound mean, like an Inner Critic (“You’ll never amount to anything.”), or caring (“Don’t do that, Dear One, you’ll just get hurt.”) or reasonable, (“Yes, you could do that, but then you wouldn’t be able to do those other things.”). List them simply as beliefs: 1) I’ll never amount to anything. 2) I’ll get hurt. 3) I’ll miss out on those other things.
In Part 4, we’ll explore ways that beliefs can be changed and cleared from the subconscious mind. Good hunting!
About the Author:
Lion Goodman is the creator of the Clear Beliefs Process, and the instructor for Impact Coaching Academy’s “Clear Beliefs Coach Training (37.5 ICF CCEs).” The training includes methodologies for clearing limiting and negative beliefs from the core of the psyche, clearing resistance and blocks to forward progress, and techniques for communicating directly with the subconscious mind. For more information visit >>> Impact’s Clear Beliefs Coach Training <<<
The Expert Series is brought to you by choice Magazine as part of our ongoing efforts to bring opportunities for learning and growth to the coaching community. Delivered in four parts every two weeks, each series covers useful topics for business development and coaching insights, serving the needs of leaders in all areas and walks of life. Archived copies of the previous series can be found here.