This is a guest post by Dr. Shawn Haywood, Phd
Letting go. Surrender. Release. Giving in. Emancipation. Freedom. Liberation.
What do these gorgeous ideas have in common? They are the essence of a content, exuberant, inspiring and carefree life. Most people only practice “letting go” only under extremely trying circumstances. Yet, living in a state of surrender is the sane way to live. That is, if you enjoy emotional and mental freedom and calm.
I recently uncovered another huge limiting belief (LB) that was wreaking havoc on my life. Once this LB was revealed, I was then able to add a fresh and thick layer of additional inner peace to my life. Before I tell you about my transformative experience, let me preface this breakthrough story by sharing a little about limiting beliefs and their transformative powers when revealed for the scoundrels they are!
Limiting beliefs are almost always unconscious and they, in effect, “sprain pieces of your heart, your thinking and your feeling” until they are discovered for the frauds they are. Fortunately, sprains are capable of healing! They lie just beneath the surface of your emotional well-being, ready to pounce on you when an emotional trigger arises – like Jaws! When they surface and attack, it is much like a vicious bite.
The evidence of limiting beliefs is the feelings, emotions, thoughts, words, results, experiences and actions that feel bad to you and lead others feel like crap as well. Limiting beliefs are the birth place of blame, apathy, anger, fear, shame, divorce, adultery, violence, aggression, job dissatisfaction, poor decision making, lack of assertiveness, boundaries or confidence, underachievement, lack of goal setting or goal achievement and sometimes even injury and illness.
Honestly, limiting beliefs are at the root of anything and everything you experience as difficult, stressful, overwhelming or unwanted.
Take a moment to think back over the past 24 hours, and consider at least two feelings, thoughts and/or situations that you didn’t enjoy or want or found upsetting. At the root of those situations are limiting beliefs, though they are unconscious at that time. But, when you locate them (not always easy at the first attempt), you can rearrange your beliefs and literally stop having similar icky experiences. Each limiting belief that is located and removed is replaced with happiness, which has a compounding effect on all compartments of life.
Here are a couple of examples of common thoughts and ideas where limiting beliefs lurk and ultimately trigger unhappiness of all kinds:
My boss/spouse/mom/dog makes me so frickin’ mad/annoyed/frustrated!
My job is boring and forces me to work way too many hours: this sucks!
Being injured sucks: I’ll never be ready for my next competition.
City drivers are such rude idiots.
My example: People who are mean or cruel to animals, children and the elderly piss me off so bad, and I kinda want to kick their asses.
My limiting belief example expanded, revealed, solved and replaced with love and joy:
I grew up in a home and extended family environment which was aggressive, often violent, and included a great deal of alcoholism (in the men), enabling, depression and anxiety (there was also love and kindness ), of which I inherited all except the alcoholism (food used to be my alcohol addiction replacement). I have long since healed and transformed essentially all aggressiveness, enabling and depression. But I still harbor and am clearing some fragments of fear, anxiety and situational anger.
For the past several years, anger had basically only shown up when I perceived a situation to be “unjust.” For example, if I saw or perceived a child, animal or elderly person being abused, mistreated or treated unfairly, I would become angry. Or, if I perceived myself as being treated unjustly, I would respond in the same way. Even mean or cruel Facebook images could set my blood boiling, and I would think about how I wanted to hurt the abuser for hurting others. But these thoughts made me feel heartsick, even though I actually believed this kind of anger was justified, even righteous (another limiting belief). Unhealthy impulses (and related limiting beliefs) to protect others when one has grown up in an environment where one was not protected are very common.
And though I never acted on this anger, this kind of inner angry experience was fairly commonplace, until recently!
I had been discussing with my husband and others for many years, “How do I stop being and feeling angry about this kind of situation?” I just couldn’t figure it out….
But wanted to so badly, as a primary goal of mine is to approach ALL people and ALL situations with love, but until recently I had been only a little successful in this realm, and on rare occasions.
Enter: Limiting belief realization! The limiting belief I had stemmed from lessons about love that served as unspoken “truths” in my growing-up experience. In my family, love was inextricably coupled with worry, guilt and anger.
Meaning: If you didn’t chronically worry about people, you didn’t love them; If you didn’t feel guilty about not doing everything other people asked of you, you didn’t love them; and, if you didn’t become extremely angry about injustice, then you not only didn’t love, but you were also weak. And, not only were you poor at loving others under these conditions, you probably were “unlovable.”
These are profound and devastating lessons for young people, and most of us have some version of these lessons related to love to reveal and heal.
In effect, I had to live a life covered in guilt, shame, worry and anger so as to be a loving person –and I did, for too many years. Obviously, these interpretations of love and lovability are lies and limiting beliefs and even sound comical and ridiculous when brought into the light. Yet, we act on hidden LBs and arrange our entire experience of life and love and care and work and everything else strictly around our beliefs- whether they are true or not, healthy or not, or useful or not.
I uncovered and uncoupled the beliefs about chronic worry (which ensures enabling and codependence), and guilt about pleasing, performing and being perfect (which ensures a lack of healthy boundaries, codependence, perfectionism, fear of disapproval, fear of not being liked and many other fears) a long time ago.
But I had not yet revealed and uncoupled the piece about loving equating being angry and wanting to be aggressive in order to effectively love and protect others. Uncoupling LOVE from anger and protection has been a monumental release and relief for me.
Now, I can simply love others who mistreat others. I can take loving protective action where I am capable. I can illuminate love and healing for those who have not yet learned basic human kindness. And I can honor the fact that if others choose to be cruel or mean, that it is their journey to figure out and heal, not mine to internalize as anger that I experience.
Love had many bastardized strings attached in my growing-up experience – which of course were passed on from family to family, as most limiting beliefs are. Love is wildly misunderstood and used as weaponry more often than not. Even if your love lessons aren’t like mine, you no doubt have some revealing and uncoupling of limiting beliefs to do of your own.
The truth about love: LOVE is stable. Love is unchanging. Love is a state of being. Love is a gift that can only feel bad when confused and coupled with limiting beliefs and painful emotions (though at that point it is not actually love). Anything that feels yucky in any way is NOT love.
Engaging and receiving another level of healing and freedom is pure bliss…I couldn’t be more filled with joy regarding this beautiful revelation. I have shed many tears of release and relief with this one...I seek to have zero anger in my heart, and now I have one HUGE layer less: anger has been replaced with authentic, unconditional love!
Crumbling limiting beliefs changes paradigms in beautiful ways. Remember, any experience or feeling that you do not enjoy or want is hosted by hidden limiting beliefs.
The good news is, often when one is revealed and replaced, others, even dozens of others, can dissipate simultaneously or be revealed rapidly and then eliminated or replaced.
Common Limiting Beliefs
Common limiting beliefs revolve around sexuality (sexual expectations, shame, guilt, desire, withdraw), love (what you expect to get, feel, experience), relationships (relational obligations, expectations, wants, hopes, dreams), self-worth (self-guilt, punishment, lack of compassion or forgiveness) and the like.
Uncovering limiting beliefs and then uncoupling them from your navigation system of life is one of the most efficient way of healing “heart sprains” and patterns of unhappiness, conflict or upset. Doing so produces completely magical, inspiring and profound fruit.
Accessing Limiting Beliefs
Accessing limiting beliefs can be tricky when you first begin, but it gets easier with practice, as with all things. Some LBs are easy to uncover; others are more difficult. You’ll want to dedicate a few minutes of time and energy each day to bringing LBs into conscious awareness. Below is one possible process for you to use in your unveiling process.
1. Locate a feeling, situation or circumstance and give it a name (an argument about money with spouse, a bad day at work or something like anger, blame, sadness, etc.). Be as specific as you can, or break it down into several pieces if possible.
2. Ask yourself, “What must I believe in order to experience this feeling, situation or circumstance as a part of my reality or truth?”
Here are a few more limiting belief examples from my “old” brain or childhood lessons.
a. Men are lazy, stupid, uncaring and mean drunks.
This LB lead me to feel bad about, and untrusting of, men and to create unhealthy emotional and physical experiences with men. This, and related beliefs, made it to let men in my life be emotionally shut down, to make fun of me in my most vulnerable moments, to have various addictions and to take advantage of me. As you can image, each of these pieces hosted additional limiting beliefs.
This LB about men was echoed by my mother, two aunts and my grandmother, all strong influences during my developmental years. As you can imagine, they all married variations of lazy, mean drunks who perpetuated limiting belief cycles.
I, however, was fortunate enough to change that collection of beliefs (though I bought into it for many years, since most of the men I knew demonstrated these issues amply). I decided to test out some new beliefs about men, and those grew into my current beliefs regarding men. I believe that men are caring, kind, strong, capable, in control of their emotions, vulnerable, brave, ambitious, very intelligent, warm, engaged, decisive and have beautiful hearts and spirits…Can you guess what beliefs my husband reflects!?Yes, he is truly the most magnificent man I could dream of. And, I see many, even most, of these qualities in the majority of men I come into contact with or attract into my life.
b. If I don’t do it, it won’t be done or it won’t be done right.
This LB lead me to micro manage, to do and work too much, to neglect rest or down time and say or do things that led others to feel bad or incompetent.
Ugh, this limiting belief made a whole lot more work, frustration and stress for me for many years!And of course, the people I surrounded myself with lived right up to my limiting beliefs and not beyond (as they almost always do)!Which means, if you don’t like the actions, decisions or emotions of those around you, you might want to ask what you must be believing about them, too!)
c. Detachment from Chris’s chronic lateness
My husband used to be shy and enforced very few boundaries with others. As a result, being chronically late manifested as a way for him to have control over an aspect of life (this is common for men- if you struggle with chronic lateness, indecision or lack of assertiveness - you might want to read by Robert Glover or hire a coach to check into some of your limiting beliefs so you can experience more emotional freedom and joy!
Chris’s hidden limiting belief was that no one could control him being on time or not, and he believed he was being strong (rebellious is more like it) by being late and forcing others to wait on him. Again, these are hidden, unconscious inner workings of limiting beliefs. When Chris and I began dating, I knew of his habit of being late (we were friends long before we dated). My belief was this: it made no difference that he was chronically late and that my detachment from his lateness would give him freedom to move beyond this situation. Also, I kept a book with me at all times so that when he was late, I could read. And since I am addicted to learning, it was a win-win!Within a year, Chris essentially stopped being late. You’re welcome honey! HAHA!Ok, so I might take some of the credit for this victory. But, the POWER to influence others from a place of surrender and love is profound. Never forget this truth. For this limiting belief to change in Chris, he didn’t even have to become aware of it. Of course he did learn from it later, which made room for other transformations - he’s amazing.
3. Once you get clear about a particular LB, or set of LBs, you can change it to something that serves your higher self or gives you a greater sense of happiness and smooth, happy living.
I promise, you will have hundreds of opportunities to reveal your limiting beliefs if you’re willing and paying attention to all that you don’t want to do, feel, think or experience. The critical element is owning all that you don’t want and taking responsibility for the LBs that have and do create unwanted obstacles. Dedicating just a bit of energy, attention and intentionality to uncovering LBs is a gateway to untold healing, growth, liberation and joy, as well as getting a whole lot more of what you DO want in life.
Hit me up if you’d like help getting started on uprooting some of your limiting beliefs and journeying toward healing and happiness! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.liberatemylife.com