Let’s discuss limiting beliefs, shall we? That term gets tossed around a lot but, I don’t feel we’re paying them enough attention. Especially considering the havoc they wreak on all of us.
One of our core beliefs around here is that wellness is about a whole lot more than just yoga and vegetables. It’s about the larger scope of our lives. We can drink all the purified water and recite all of the mantras and do all of the Tone It Up daily workouts we want and still feel like shit, because our relationships are a mess. Or our job is suffocating our soul. Or our house is perpetually stressing us out. Or we haven’t done anything truly fun and exciting in months.
Whether or not we’re living well, in our opinion, is based on whether or not we’re growing and improving our lives as a whole.
But sometimes growing and improving our lives is hard. Growth isn’t linear. It gets messy, you know?
Bridget and I have been talking a lot lately about what that means. And why there always seems to be some area of life in which we struggle to get our proverbial shit together.
We’ve been wondering why we (any of us) hold back from going after the things we really want in life. Why, when there’s evidence all around us of other people, no more intelligent or capable than we are, living the lives we want to live, we still can’t seem to get there ourselves.
Like, have you ever just asked yourself, “WTF is my problem?”
Maybe you’re asking yourself why you keep wishing you’d:
- Start that blog or business
- Keep a meditation practice going
- Book that flight
- Ask that person out
- Update that resume and go after that job
- Have the difficult conversation that you know you need to have
- Stop dating the assholes
- Hire the health coach and lose the weight already
Why can’t you just get your shit together?
Well, friend. We’ll tell you why. (And remind ourselves of this while we’re at it.)
“I can pretty much guarantee that every time you tearfully ask yourself the question, “WTF is my problem!?” the answer lies in some lame, limiting, and false subconscious belief that you’ve been dragging around without even realizing it”
– Jen Sincero
It’s probably your beliefs.
I recently read a book, Immunity to Change, by Bob Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. In it, the authors explain why we often sabotage our best efforts at making the changes we so desperately want to make in life.
Turns out, there’s a phenomenon in the human psyche to blame. A phenomenon they’ve dubbed our “immunity to change”.
Essentially, when we sabotage ourselves, it’s because we hold a set of subconscious beliefs that stop us in our tracks. We’re probably not even aware of them and yet our commitment to them prevents us from moving forward, because that commitment is in direct conflict with the things we want to achieve.
Until we uncover and address these sabotaging beliefs, we’ll never make progress.
Here’s an example of an immunity to change:
A woman wants to lose weight. She makes a list of all the things she knows she needs to do in order to lose weight. But then she winds up eating pizza and ice cream every night and never exercising, which are very much not on that list.
It’s possible that somewhere along the way, as a woman, she learned that being thin and feeling attractive leads to dangerous, negative attention from men. She subconsciously believes that thin, attractive women are not safe. So she sabotages her best attempts to lose weight because she is committed to protecting herself from said danger.
That is her immunity to change.
Or, another example from their work regarding weight. A middle aged, female attorney has gained 30 pounds and can’t seem to lose it. She’s worked incredibly hard on her career over the past decade but, unfortunately, picked up the belief that thin, attractive women are not taken seriously in the workplace or seen as intelligent, especially by their male colleagues. So although she very much wants to lose weight and get in shape, somewhere deep in her subconscious brain she believes that doing so will compromise her career. Her commitment to the belief the she will not be taken seriously, and to protecting her career, will not let her lose the weight.
That is her immunity to change.
Immunity to change is highly personal. But, it’s a real thing we all do as humans.
Those were just examples from the books. It’s not all about weight though. Maybe you can never seem to get your finances in order. Or your relationships never work. Or you can’t seem to find a career that feels right.
Whatever your issue is, wherever you’re struggling to make change happen in life, you likely have an immunity to change of your own, based on limiting, subconscious beliefs you might not even be aware of.
Until you uncover these beliefs, you’re kind of screwed.
Money is another common one for a lot of us. So let’s use that as an example.
You are broke and you’d prefer to not be broke. In fact, you’d prefer to be able to do whatever you want with your life and have plenty of money to do it and perhaps build a school in Ghana with your name on the door too. Or save all the puppies, or whales, or whatever.
You’ve got things you’d like to do and you want the money that will allow you to do it.
Like, you really, really want it.
You’re not just saying you want it.
You would truly love to be rich.
But every time you swipe your debit card at CVS for tampons you’re basically rolling the dice.
Let’s check out some of your beliefs around money.
Ever heard the term “Money doesn’t grow on trees?” What were your parents’ beliefs around money? How was money talked about in the space you grew up in? What kind of relationship do the people around you have with money? Do you even talk about money? Or were you taught it was impolite and tacky to discuss it? Do you think money is bad? Or that rich people are greedy? Do you think money is easy to come by or do you think it’s a baseline struggle for everyone to generate it in their lives? Did money equal love in your home? Or did it bring about divorce or abandonment or emotional pain? What did you learn about money growing up?
If you’re struggling with money, it’s time to find out what your bullshit story is around it. It’s time to uncover your immunity to change, to become hip to your, limiting, false, subconscious beliefs.
You do that by asking yourself a whole bunch of annoying and potentially uncomfortable questions like those listed above.
Any area in your life that is failing to impress you at the moment should be called into question. If there’s something you want to change but you’re having trouble making progress, dig in and find out what your beliefs are around it. Awareness is truly the first step.
Living well means living a life that feels good in as many areas as possible. Good relationships, abundance, a comfy home, work that you love, a body that feels good, etc., etc. It’s about growing and evolving and reaching your full potential. But sometimes it feels like a gigantic struggle to make even the slightest bit of progress. And when you find yourself in that place, we can almost guarantee that what’s preventing you from moving forward is a subconscious belief in direct conflict with what you want.
Most of the time, we don’t need more information on how to do something, or to read another book, or blog or listen to another podcast. Most of the time, we need to dig in to our own brains and see what’s going on up top. Because when we can uncover these shitty beliefs and call them out for the bullshit that they are, it’s a lot easier to move around them. You can’t overcome what you’re not aware of, you know?
What about you? Have you ever uncovered subconscious beliefs that were holding you back? How’d you do it? Where did you start? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.