Specialist in Psychology
How to Remove Negative Beliefs and Mental Blocks
Think you’re smart, rational or open-minded? You are, if you submit to suspending your beliefs and challenging them from time to time, at least privately, through an internal dialogue. This article will give you the tools you need to eliminate any negative beliefs or mental blocks. Learning how to shift to a more useful belief or learning how to eliminate a self-defeating belief is a prerequisite for any kind of progress or achievement.
Don’t you get annoyed with the person who says to you, “I know it’s a problem, but that’s how I am!” Or do you feel compelled to accept that answer with sympathy? Are YOU someone who conveniently uses that line? By the way, it’s also a line commonly used by eve-teasers, rapists, serial offenders... you get the point! It’s basically saying, “I am not going to change”. Something that “feels natural”, is neither justified, nor is it a permanent part of YOU (i.e., your identity). It’s just like the “natural” feeling you get about wanting to kill your boss or an irritating colleague sometimes...but you don’t actually stab them, do you? (Coward!)
Therefore, the question is: Would you rather “feel natural” or would you rather be happier and more productive? EVERY belief is literally constructed by an individual. We’re born with a tabula rasa – a blank mental slate. Mathematically, if everything is constructed, then everything can similarly be deconstructed as well. Changing beliefs requires two things – volition (your decision to change) and an effective analytical method. The former will reduce the number of people who read further by 80%, and the latter will transform about 10-20% of the remaining ones. (So needless to say, believing a limiting belief to be permanent is the most destructive belief of them all! )
Okay, here we go... the effective analytical method in four steps:
1) Pick the belief that’s limiting your progress; the one you want to change. For example, “I can’t communicate or speak fluently.”
2) Eliminate this belief by analysis. Ask yourself:
a. From whom did I pick up this belief? Is that person an authority on the subject?
For example, “I don’t know...I’ve been saying that to myself for a while,” or “A parent or teacher or Mr. X told me I can’t”. Yeah, they told Albert Einstein that he was too dumb to learn too! Even if that person is an expert on the subject, haven’t experts been proven wrong on so many occasions?
b. What examples did I focus on (or failed to focus on) when establishing this stupid belief?
For example, “I was too nervous in school and messed up one-time...and then it just became a habit because I believed the first failure to be a permanent part of my communication skills.” “I failed to focus on the times I did okay.”
c. How has this belief affected my well-being? And what is it going to cost me in future?
Note down all the negative consequences of retaining this belief. For example, “I haven’t made a lot of friends, I’m unable to crack a job interview, get very nervous talking to people, and my career is going to remain ordinary. Consequently, I’m going to suffer in my relationships and financial life as well.”
d. How is this belief ridiculous or dumb?
For example, “It’s dumb because everyone without a medical problem can speak well. I speak well with my closest friend or family member. Why can’t I do the same with others? I just haven’t made enough effort.”
3) Add a new belief. Find all possible new ways:
a. Past event. Can you remember a time when you demonstrated the OPPOSITE?
For example, “Yes, I spoke pretty well when I was __ years old”, “Yes, once, when I was talking to XYZ last year”.
b. Is there an area of your life you already do/are this?
For example, “Sometimes...with my father”, or even “yes, with myself!”
c. Can you model someone else to do/be this? (Whether that person is in your network, on TV, or even modelling an imaginary belief... it doesn’t matter!)
For example, “I love how that news anchor speaks. I notice he talks louder and opens his mouth clearly while speaking... maybe I’ll try that.”
d. Educate yourself. What can you learn?
For example, “I can go on Youtube and watch videos on good communication techniques”, “I’ll start talking to my close friend in English (for someone who’s not fluent with English) and ask her to teach/correct me repeatedly,” or “I’ll buy that book on Flipkart”.
4) Pick the most useful ways from Step 3 to strengthen this new belief. Keep practising this new behaviour and keep questioning the old belief.
For example, when you say to yourself, “Oh I can’t speak well”, STOP! And remember that you’ve done this exercise above. Then remind yourself Step 2 (i.e., the consequences of continuing this belief, and why it’s dumb). Finally, strengthen the NEW belief with Step 3. R.E.P.E.A.T every time you catch yourself thinking of the limiting belief.