Loosening Limiting Beliefs

My good friend Nigel Hetherington has come up with a simple set of questions to help you soften self imposed limitations. Integrity NLP – Loosening up limiting beliefs

If you are not familiar with the idea of limiting beliefs, they are the unhelpful ideas we have about the world and ourselves that guide our behaviour. Beliefs in general are shortcuts to thinking, rules of thumb that let us navigate through the world.

They can be helpful, neutral or limiting. For example a helpful belief when faced with something we need to learn might be “I’m a confident and capable learner”, a limiting version of this belief might be “I can’t learn this!”. Whichever belief you hold will profoundly influence the way you tackle the problem and how you feel about it. Beliefs have a compulsive quality, we believe them (naturally) and act as if they were true.

If you think you can, or you think you can’t. You’re right

Henry Ford

Changing your beliefs is one way of changing your mind, and there are lots of ways of changing or softening limiting beliefs. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the official ‘flavour of the month’ way of helping someone change their limiting beliefs and thought patterns, but there are other, softer, approaches: EFT, NLP, ZPoint and a host of other techniques.

Nigel’s NLP based technique is just to use a gentle form of questioning to loosen the hold of a limiting belief that has the form “I can’t …….”

Here’s the pattern.

  • I can’t ‘X’ [ limiting belief ]
  • Do you believe it is important to ‘X’?
  • Do you believe it will be valuable to you to ‘X’?
  • Is ‘X’ important enough and valuable enough to change that old belief?
    If the answer to any of these questions is no. Respect the answer and stop here – this is just a loosening process, there may be other things that need to be done.
  • Do you think, it is now possible for you to X?
    Respect any answer to this question – it’s just a loosening process.

Using my learner example

  • I can’t learn this!
  • Do you believe it is important to learn this?
  • Do you believe it will be valuable to you to learn this?
  • Is learning this important enough and valuable enough to change that old belief?
  • Do you think it is now possible for you to learn this?

Although Nigel invented this is a verbal pattern, I have created a worksheet format for it which you can download here.

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