When we’re born we don’t have much in the way of beliefs about ourselves and what’s possible. In fact young children are open to the possibility that they can do or be anything, as time passes we start to collect beliefs about ourselves and what’s possible for us. Beliefs are mental guidelines, letting us know how the world works and what to expect in the future. They are mental short cuts so that we don’t have to think too much about what’s going on. Sometimes they’re immensely useful: ‘If you touch a hot stove then you will burn your hand’. ‘People drive on the left side of the road in the UK’.
Unfortunately we can acquire beliefs that are less useful, ideas derived from experience or things we have been told by caregivers or other significant people in our lives. Unhelpful beliefs come in the form of limitations or rules that restrict our actions and our sense of wellbeing. Limiting beliefs come in many forms, for example:
- I’ll never be able to …..
- I’m not good enough
- I must look after other people before looking after myself
- I can’t go for that job, I’m too old | young | fat | thin | stupid | qualified etc. etc
Fortunately there are many ways of changing, loosening or even removing limiting beliefs. One interesting approach that I’ve recently come across by way of Lynn Timpany, a New Zealand NLP Trainer, who learnt about it from Steve Davis, an NLP trainer based in Canada.
I have found Steves process, The Humorous Belief Softener, to be particularly useful in my work with clients. This process is fast funny and effective, and is an excellent way to “loosen up” a belief or limiting decision.
It is funny, easy to learn and works very nicely. Here are the steps:
- Identify and state the belief or rule, e.g.
I’ll never get over this problem
- Choose the verb, or noun, with the most emphasis, e.g.
- Choose two words that rhyme with it, e.g.
- Choose a word that’s opposite in meaning, e.g.
- Choose a word at random, e.g.
- Restate the belief or rule substituting the new words in the sentences, reading them out loud! e.g.
I’ll heather get over this problem!
I’ll feather get over this problem!
l’ll always get over this problem!
I’ll banana get over this problem!
- Test the old belief by saying it out loud, how true does it sound now?
It might seem too daft to work, but you might like to try it out on some limiting beliefs you have about yourself, or what’s possible for you, and see what happens.