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July 5, 2022, 7:24 pm

In life, there is no pause button, no rewind, and definitely no replay.

Life Coaching

Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Do You Know Who You Are?
- Beliefs


Why Do I Keep Doing That?!

We live inside our heads, and we've been in there since we were born - so you might think we'd know all there is to know about what's in there. For most of us, however, our inner workings are mysterious.

  • Why do some things bother us whilst others do not?
  • Why do we keep doing the wrong things, and not doing the right things?
  • Why do we keep falling for the same kind of Mr or Mrs Wrong?

These questions are not just interesting, they are critically important to the course of our lives. If we could know more about who we are and how we think, then we might be able to use that understanding to straighten out the kinks in our lives and be happier and reach closer to our potential.

Unraveling this is something I do a lot with my coaching clients, because it's an essential step on the road to personal change. Regular readers will know my favourite phrase:
If you keep on doing,
what you've always done,
the you'll keep on getting
what you've always got.

[lf you're jibbing at the deliberate grammatical error,
by the way ... let it go!
Why do you ... keep ... doing... that ]

This is at the heart of all personal transformation. You have to do different stuff if you want a different outcome, and that just feels WRONG! That's the trap that keeps us all in smaller, less happy lives.

So - What's to be Done?

Well, we need to find out what drives behaviour, and then change it. Most people would say that intellect drives behaviour, but it clearly doesn't. Intellect tells you that the way to cure overweight, is to eat less - but somehow that's offensively unhelpful to a large person! It's the same with being in the wrong job ("well - change it!") or with the wrong partner ("well, leave!") and so on. This is advice from The Best Friend School of Coaching. It's worse than useless - it makes the recipient feel criticised, weak, bewildered and angry.

The thing is - intellect is NOT what drives behaviour most of the time. What drives behaviour is beliefs and values. And they were planted in our brains, without us knowing, in childhood. We're not conscious of them, but they sit there, telling us what to do, what to fear, what to want and what to hate until we die. They keep us doing what we've always done, and getting what we've always got.

So this article explains a few techniques I use with clients to flush out beliefs. When you know what they are you will be in a much MUCH better place. Why?

  • You'll be able to see them twisting your melon (man) on a daily basis.
  • You'll be able to examine some of them with your intellect (many beliefs & values were absorbed before you grew one). Some beliefs and values will be wrong, and will not serve you well. These, we call "limiting beliefs and values". You can work on reducing their influence in your life.
  • You'll be able to see new opportunities which support your beliefs and values, and reject possibilities which oppose them.

So - all in all - knowing your own beliefs and values is a Good Thing.

What Is A Belief?

A Belief is "something accepted as true without proof". For example, "the sun will rise tomorrow". You have no proof, but extensive daily living has taught you that it seems very likely. This one is a reasonable belief, and most of us share it. In fact, the absence of this belief would probably create a gibbering wreck, worshiping Sun Gods, wearing a natty headband of chicken feathers, incanting mumbled pleadings every dusk.

If you think that one's pretty stupid, how about this one: "Everyone I love, will crush me eventually". Hmmmm. I know people who know this. And I mean KNOW THIS. They don't have this niggling suspicion that it might be true, they don't have "pretty solid evidence so far to support it", they KNOW IT just as well as they know the sun will rise tomorrow. These are not happy people. Coaches call these beliefs "mistaken certainties".

Here's another belief "I know that everything always works out fine". A person holding this belief is likely to be peaceful, loving and happy - even if they're wrong!

STOP PRESS: I was going to end that previous paragraph with the phrase "... which of course they are, as they'll find out on their deathbed". But then I caught myself labouring under another belief of my own, which goes "I believe that death is always a bad thing". See what happened? I Spotted this belief (it was previously hidden) I said it out load, from where my intellect could see it, and then I recognised that it was faulty; it was a mistaken certainty. Now I can conceive of a life which always works out, right up to and including the end.

Crikey, I knew I was good, but I had no idea I was this good!

But seriously, I hope you can see how this works. Beliefs by the thousand suffuse our thinking, or rather our feeling. Beliefs drive behaviour into our lives without our conscious thought, , and that behaviour is what makes our lives what they are today.

What Do You Believe?

So - if these hidden beliefs are so powerful, how can we find the bad ones? Below are some techniques which will help you to understand your beliefs. It's often useful to limit the domain of discourse to a particular area you're unhappy with or working on. So, if you're working on being more sociable, then list your beliefs in the area of relationships and people. I'll use that example in what follows.

  1. List the obvious beliefs about you or your world. Just sit and think about it with pen and paper (or keyboard). Write down sentences which start "I believe..". Don't think too hard - let your gut speak. Starting might be tough, but once you get going, they'll pour out. Examples might be:
    1. I believe good-looking people are arrogant and selfish
    2. I believe most people are liars and cheats
    3. I believe I am more decent than most people
    4. I believe I am fatter than most people
    5. I believe my mum was a perfect human being
  2. List the most painful events in your life. What beliefs did they embed in your mind? You might start your belief sentences like this:
    1. When my mum died, I finally knew that God didn't exist
    2. When my partner cheated me, I understood that no one can ever be trusted
    3. When my business failed, I realised I'm a complete failure
  3. List the positive most events. Same thing - what beliefs did they embed?
    1. When partner said they loved me, I knew I could be a fantastic partner for them, with so much to give
    2. When I was trekking in Nepal I realised that I am not the centre of the world in a totally new way
  4. Write down Ten Important Things about you. Do it fast, in less than one minute. Do not allow your intellect to get involved. If you don't finish within 60 seconds, you hair will fall out, You MUST write down ten things. DO it. Do it. DO IT NOW!
    1. Bleah, I'm smart
    2. I'm gray haired. OK that was silly. Arghhh - 50 seconds
    3. I'm I'm I'm... People find me daunting
    4. Oh, I HATE this.... people. No. I. I'm honourable.
    5. I want to make a difference
    6. Ahh, this is getting easier. I am funny (specially with no clothes on)
    7. People look to me for guidance
    8. I am not good in social settings without positional legitimacy
    9. I'm very easily bored
    10. I carry a lot of anger inside
  5. Now reflect on each of those items and tease out any associated beliefs.
    1. In the area of being smart, you might recognise beliefs like these (which are not necessarily mine!)
      - Being smart isn't good enough - many dumb people do better, so ... there is no justice in the world
      - Dumb people are too dumb to realise how dumb they really are
    2. I'm gray - well, that was just a silly one. Well, but wait. That reminds me...
      - I am too old for romance
      - It's too late to bother with X or Y
      - I guess I'm expecting health problems to kick in any time soon - yeah, that's a belief I have
      - ...

    Well, I hope you get the picture. I have other exercises I use with clients, but this article is already too long, and you'll get a good starter list from the techniques above.

So What Now?

Once you have a list of beliefs, look at it. You are looking at the engine in your soul. You are looking at the things which push you forward and the things that hold you back. Your fears and your dreams laid bare. THESE BELIEFS are what make you do what you do and get what you get. And if you want to get new and different stiff, then you will need to change some of these beliefs.

Use your intellect to examine them in turn. Evaluate them for accuracy. Are they literally true? What irrefutable evidence do you have? Are they over-generalisations? Are they routed in a past which is no longer relevant? Are they more about pain and fear or more pain - than they are about truth?

How could you modify the wording of each belief to remove the faults and make it accurate? Which beliefs need to get filed in the round cabinet?

Pink Mercedes Convertible

You know how, if you're thinking of buying a new car of a certain type, then you'll keep seeing that type of car in the streets? That's because of a part of your brain called the "Reticular Activating System" (R.A.S.). When you load your new car into your conscious thinking, your RAS will note that you have an interest in it, and it will remain alert for relevant sensory data and make sure that your conscious mind is made aware of it. It will do this subconsciously - you will need no effort to make it work. Those pink mercedes convertibles were out there before, but your R.A.S. wasn't programmed and so you never noticed them.

Well, now that you have examined these beliefs of yours, they will be in your R.A.S. and believe me (!) they will start to trigger new awarenesses. Throughout your day, you'll see events unfolding in which one of your beliefs is at work. Don't be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud - sometimes in highly inappropriate settings - for reasons no-one around you understands.

One way to leverage and prolong this effect is to prioritise your list of beliefs in order of the impact you feel they have had on your life. Then arrange to have it tap you on the shoulder at regular intervals for a week or more. (You can use your mobile phone alarms, PC diary, Post It notes, office talisman - whatever to get this done). Change the beliefs you get reminded off when the benefits start to fade.

I strongly commend this work to you. It will tell you far more about yourself and the way the world works (and why it sometimes doesn't) than anything else I know of.

Have Fun with it!

If you haven't already seen it, you might want to read this sister article on values..


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