The power of beliefs
Every child has key needs that are fundamental to their personal growth and reaching their potential. Perhaps the most fundamental need is the need for love & secure attachment, which is the prerequisite for another fundamental need – the need for authenticity, as well as the need to be seen, heard, understood, recognised, validated, appreciated, admired and included.
When those needs are not met, the child develops a belief that those needs can’t get met, and the beliefs get carried into adulthood. The young parts of us that hold the beliefs get ‘frozen’ in our system and continue influencing us throughout life. This is especially the case when the beliefs become the mantras that we constantly replay in our mind.
What I mean by mantras here is the repeated messages that we hear from outside or tell ourselves until they get internalised. Using the neuroscience language, it could be explained this way: with every thought that we think, we create a new neuron. If we repeat the thought, we create another neuron next to the first one. With constant repetition, we create a thick neuronal network associated with the thought, which then results in our thinking around that one belief being activated and on our mind all the time. (If you wish to read a bit more on this topic, please see my post titled Thoughts versus Emotions & Feelings.)
There are a number of self-help books and techniques, as well as therapies, that encourage us to replace the old beliefs with new, more helpful ones on the cognitive level (e.g., through positive affirmations). And although they sometimes work in the short run, the old beliefs tend to come back, especially when we are faced with a novel and stressful situation. The reason is that we have not worked fully with the beliefs, we have not understood why our young parts acquired the beliefs in the first place, how the beliefs were helpful to them at the time, whether they got strengthened on the basis of other life experiences, and how they are still influencing us today. The energy associated with the beliefs is still trapped in our internal system. And since energy cannot be destroyed, but only transformed, the only way of transforming it is by going within, meeting our young parts, getting to know them, understanding what burdens they are carrying and helping them release the burdens.
By doing so, we create a totally new experience for the young parts, we meet their needs and transform their belief systems. And by doing so, we help ourselves in the present moment, as we stop being influenced by the past creations.
Although most self-limiting beliefs are formed during childhood, they can be strengthened or new self-limiting beliefs formed during adulthood, especially when we end up being in a toxic relationship.
To sum up, my strong belief is that our unmet needs, our old patterns of relating to ourselves and the world, and our old belief systems cannot be changed purely on the cognitive level. They have to be dealt with on the subconscious level by accessing the child’s innocent mind that resides within us, helping the child to release the beliefs (and other burdens), and to recreate something more helpful and meaningful.
Below is a list of some common self-limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs about self-worth and relationships
1. I’m not good enough.
2. I’m too much.
3. I’m stupid.
4. I’m worthless.
5. I’m a failure.
6. There is something wrong with me.
7. I’m a misfit.
8. I’m unlovable.
9. I don’t matter.
10. I can’t change.
11. I’m alone.
12. I’m not important.
13. I’m not as good as others.
14. I’m helpless/powerless.
15. I have to be perfect.
16. It’s not OK to ask for help.
17. My needs are not important.
18. It’s my fault.
19. I have to do everything myself.
20. I am not worthy of being happy.
21. The world is against me.
22. I have no say in anything.
23. I just have to survive this life.
24. When things are going well, there is always a disaster waiting around the corner. Therefore, I do not allow myself to enjoy the good times.
25. I don’t deserve a better life.
26. I have really messed up in life, so I am not allowed to enjoy anything.
27. It’s all my parents’ fault.
28. Good things in life are hard to find.
29. I will never find love.
30. I am not worthy of being loved.
31. I always get hurt, rejected or betrayed.
32. I am not worthy of being with a good person.
33. You can’t trust anybody in a relationship.
34. I need someone to take care of me.
35. Putting yourself out there only results in getting hurt.
36. I am not enough on my own.
37. I need somebody else in my life to make me feel useful.
38. I just have to put up with what I don’t like.
39. I need someone to complete me.
40. I have to prioritise the needs of others.
41. I am not able to say ‘no’, as it seems utterly selfish.
42. If I help others, I will gain recognition and will be liked.
43. It’s important for me to know people’s opinions of me.
44. People’s opinions of me define who I am.
45. I have to be there for others in order to feel needed.
46. I am not able to set boundaries, as they could upset others.
47. I need to be in control.
48. I feel hurt when people do not recognise all that I do for them.
49. I am anxious about separation from my partner.
50. It is not safe to get too close to my partner.
51. I need a lot of reassurance that I am loved by my partner.
52. My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away.
53. My partner doesn’t care about me as much as I care about them.
54. I need to think obsessively about others and relationships.
55. I avoid conflict for fear of saying something that might upset others.
56. I am unsafe when I am not with my partner.
57. I am more attracted to people who are emotionally closed off.
58. It is safer to keep distance from my partner.
59. Being vulnerable equals being weak.
60. It is not possible to have a harmonious & fulfilling relationship with my partner.
61. Expressing emotions is a sign of weakness.
62. I have to be strong at all costs, there is no room for weaknesses.
63. I have to be productive all the time.
64. If I am not productive, I am not good enough.
65. There is no room for mistakes.
66. Life is about work, not pleasure.
67. Life is suffering.
68. I am a victim of fate.
69. I do not have any free will, everything is fate.
70. I deserve to suffer.
Limiting beliefs about abundance & work
1. I never win anything for free.
2. Everyone else gets all the good stuff.
3. There is never enough to go around.
4. I will never make enough money to support my family.
5. I am bad with money.
6. Money is made to be spent!
7. We/I will never be rich.
8. Making lots of money requires sacrificing who you are.
9. I have to be a starving artist to maintain my integrity.
10. I am not talented.
11. I have no special strengths.
12. I am not good enough at what I do.
13. I am not worthy of promotion.
14. Who would want to hire me?!
15. I can’t be trusted with responsibility.
16. Everyone else gets the good jobs.
17. I never get opportunities to take on big projects.
18. I will never find the right job.
19. All bosses are awful.
20. My opinion isn’t important.
21. Working for my boss is soul-crushing.
22. My co-workers don’t like me.
23. No one appreciates me.
24. Everyone expects too much of me.
25. It is impossible to have a collaborative and harmonious relationship with my colleagues/boss.
Limiting beliefs about good health
1. The moment we are born, we start dying.
2. Getting sick is unavoidable.
3. I don’t deserve to be healthy.
4. My genetics do not allow me to be healthy.
5. Losing weight is the biggest battle of my life.
6. I cannot give up my addictions (to sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, over-exercising, shopping, etc.)
7. We are destined to struggle physically, mentally and emotionally.
8. Healing is not possible.