Our beliefs and belief system determines not just what we do, but why we do and don’t do certain things. Unfortunately, most of our beliefs were instilled in us from the time we were born. They are not necessarily our own beliefs nor are all of them empowering. In fact, many of us have limiting and conflicting beliefs that we may not even be aware of that may be holding us back. It is imperative to identify the main beliefs holding us back as well as the ones that empower us, before embarking on any serious and meaningful endeavor. This is especially important when the endeavor has not been fruitful in the past. Your beliefs may be what is holding you back.
What to do?
Start with making a list of all your beliefs, categorize each of your beliefs, question why you have each belief (one by one), and then go back (at a later time) and deeply introspect what you have written down. This list can also include what you don’t believe in and must also include the reason why you don’t subscribe to these particulars beliefs (ex: I don’t believe in the devil). Let’s look at each step one by one.
Your main objective is to list everything you believe (and don’t)
It is important that you begin by identifying your personal beliefs (no matter what they may be). Write down as many as possible at this time. The time to sort them out will come later. Again, make sure to include what you don’t believe in or oppose. This is not the time to question them, but simply list them out as they come into our mind.
Next, label each belief as a core, empowering, or limiting belief
Simply go down your list and place a C, E, or L (Core, Empowering, Limiting) next to each one. This part may be a little tricky, but it is important to begin somewhere. This is as good a starting point as any and it’s only your first draft so don’t stress about it. You can and should come back, review, and revise your list as often as necessary. A quick description of each category follows: Core beliefs are your central, non-negotiable, beliefs. They include, for example, belief in God. Most often these are spiritual in nature such as being and doing good, believing in morality, and ethics, just to mention a few.
Empowering beliefs are just that, they empower you. These are the beliefs that make you feel good and help drive you towards your goals. Core beliefs do the same, but are not always thought about the way empowering beliefs are on a daily basis unless you are very spiritual in nature and by belief. An empowering belief may be that you believe you are capable to achieve anything, beautiful, a good person, a high-value person, a loving spouse, and so on.
One thing to be aware of is that, sometimes, the empowering belief may not be true. For example, in martial arts, most practitioners overestimate their abilities and capabilities. This will be addressed in the last step of this process. Limiting beliefs are a bit harder to uncover as we are not always aware of them, or that they may be holding us back. Examples of limiting beliefs are as follow:
- I need a college degree to be successful
- I am too old to start over
- I am not worthy of success (for whatever reason)
- I am past my prime to do anything worthwhile or meaningful
- Only people with a Ph.D. can write a scientific article, and so on…
Sort out and question
The next step is to sort and group the beliefs by category (core, empowering, limiting) and then begin to question each one and why you have chosen to believe it. Write out your reasons as this will be the central focus going forward in your quest to optimize your belief system.
The final step
Once your list has been completed, categorized, sorted, and you have your reasons behind each belief, then you can commence the final step in this process. At this point, give yourself some time and go about doing something else (living your life). You should come back to your list in a few days, but no later than a week later, to review what you’ve written down.
The next step deserves and warrants a more descriptive explanation and instruction. This is when you begin to question the “why” of your beliefs. This requires deep introspection and is a bit more difficult to accomplish. It will definitely require many passes and a whole lot more time. This is where deep thought and work is required. As such, your mind and setting should be properly prepared and optimized for this task.
As I mentioned, this is just the starting point and one to build upon. This list and exercise is by no means the final product. Unfortunately, many people will not complete this exercise as it requires a lot of thinking and thinking is very difficult and demanding. It also forces us to not just identify our beliefs but to question them, and we don’t always like what we uncover. However, this is exactly what needs to be done in order to progress to the next process: The Self.
It is amazing how many people try to reach goals or solve problems without ever questioning their belief system. In my experience, this is the one and only starting point to any successful endeavor and one that cannot be overlooked or understated. Do it and you will be surprised how much easier your process to success becomes.