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Ever felt that something is holding you back but can’t quite put your finger on what it is?
This is the power of your subconscious mind at work.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks grappling with this feeling and trying to identify what might be holding me back.
I wanted to share how hard I’ve found this exercise and why that might be. I’ve done some research on how to overcome those pesky limiting beliefs lurking in our subconscious.
I hope you will find what I’ve learned so far useful!
She refers to the first of these as the ‘deliberate’ system. This is the part of the brain we are aware of, the part where we do our conscious thinking.
She says the deliberate system “is responsible for putting us on our best behaviour. When it’s in full control, it makes us wise, self-possessed and reliable”. It is responsible for our most adult and ‘best’ behaviour.
Caroline refers to the second part of our brain as the ‘automatic’ system, otherwise known as the subconscious. You may have also heard this part of the brain being referred to as a ‘monkey’ or ‘chimp’ or the ‘primitive’ part of our brain.
This part of the brain is about a zillion times faster than the deliberate bit.
It handles all the things we do on autopilot and without thinking. Things we have learned to do such as driving a car and riding a bike sit in this part of the brain.
Of course, for these things, the power of the subconscious mind is entirely useful. It does, however, have a downside.
One of these is that learned habits and thought patterns that don’t serve us so well become deeply rooted in this automatic system.
It also takes over if we feel threatened. You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. This is triggered by the subconscious mind as a defence mechanism to protect us.
Your subconscious mind is not a fan of change! It’s learned all those habits and routines and it wants to stick to them thank you very much!
I certainly felt the power of my subconscious mind when I decided to take a 90-day break from alcohol. I’d tried many times to take a break and had failed after a few days. Why? Because the benefits my subconscious believed opening that bottle of wine gave me were rooted as deeply as a huge oak tree!
We may hold many limiting beliefs in our subconscious mind.
So What Is A Limiting Belief?
A limiting belief is something you truly believe about yourself, others, or the world, that limits you in some way.
Limiting beliefs can hold you back, stop you grasping opportunities (or make you blind to them altogether) and keep you stuck in your present reality.
Because we hold these as true beliefs, they can be very difficult to spot and even harder to address.
I recently sat down with a blank piece of paper in an attempt to identify what is holding me back
Following this, I jotted down in my journal “I fear embarrassment” and “people find me annoying”.
I still felt there were more in there!
Always a fan of a quiz, I then decided to see if there were any online quizzes which might help me! I found this one.
I did find this quite useful. It helped me to identify a few more limiting beliefs. These included doubts about my abilities, a belief that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want and that I often feel stuck.
There’s a quote from Lao Tzu which says:
Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is like saying ‘I don’t want to.’
Focusing on external things that we feel we can’t control, e.g. time and money, can be something we use to give ourselves permission to stay stuck. I found this great article over at Tiny Buddha which says:
Lasting change starts internally, with things like energy, willpower, clarity, and passion; and as your internal resources start to grow, your external resources will naturally start to grow as well.
Next, I came across a list of common limiting beliefs
The full list is below. Maybe some will resonate with you as they did with me.
I’m not good enough
No-one does that
I don’t want to be rejected (yup, one of mine!)
It’s impossible. (Remember everyone thought running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible until Roger Bannister came along!)
Tunnel vision – seeing only one or a limited number of solutions
It’s not going to work anyway
I’m not special
Working through these and writing down what has come up in my journal has helped. They are now coming thick and fast.
I expect now that I’ve started to unlock my subconscious more limiting beliefs will materialise over the coming weeks! There will be beliefs that are so deeply rooted in my subconscious mind that I don’t know what they are yet!
What Action Can You Take To Overcome Limiting Beliefs?
Write the belief down and then challenge it until it begins to lose its power
Ask questions such as:
Is it helpful to believe in this statement?
Does it make your world better?
Has there been a time when this belief hasn’t been true?
Has this belief been less true or not true at different periods of your life? (For example, I could definitely relax without alcohol as a child!)
Is the belief true all the time? Are there occasions where it isn’t true?
And so on.
Replace your limiting belief with a more positive belief
Using my alcohol example, my new belief is I can most definitely relax without alcohol. I now know that alcohol wasn’t relaxing me anyway and I have a range of healthier means to achieve this aim!
Write your new belief down and repeat it to yourself daily! Gather evidence of where you have disproved the belief and write that down too.
I AM good enough!
Consider what the cause of your limiting belief is
Does it stem from a bad experience? Or was it because your parents told you that you couldn’t do something? (Mine, for example, told me I couldn’t draw. This led to me believing I wasn’t a creative person, something I have disproved since).
Work through this with a therapist
The subconscious mind is made up of deep-rooted neurological pathways. Don’t be hard on yourself for needing some help with this stuff.
Have you experienced the power of your subconscious mind?
What limiting beliefs do you have?
Do you find them hard to identify? Can you give examples of where you have overcome limiting beliefs?