How to Undo Your Limiting Beliefs with Shelly Lefkoe
"You cannot act inconsistently with your beliefs."
All behavior is belief driven. You can’t remember someone’s name if you believe you have a horrible memory. You can’t be a great reader or leader if you believe you are not. Or change procrastination if you believe you procrastinate. No matter how many self-help books we read, we won’t change our behaviors until we change our beliefs.
So how do we overcome and change limiting beliefs? Many of our beliefs are held unconsciously—meaning we aren’t aware of them until we’re forced to bring them into the light. The good news is by consciously working through our deeply-held beliefs and actively challenging them, we can change our beliefs and behavior patterns in order to build a brighter life.
Today’s guest is a dear friend of mine, Shelly Lefkoe, who is co-founder and President of the Lefkoe Institute, and founder of Parenting the Lefkoe Way. Using the Lefkoe Method, she has helped thousands of individuals around the world eliminate issues from depression and eating disorders to shyness, procrastination, and fear of public speaking. She’s here to tell us how we can change the deep beliefs we hold about ourselves and eliminate those that are limiting our progress towards our dreams and goals in life.
In this conversation, we delve into exactly what a belief is, explain some of the commonly held limiting beliefs, and how we develop limiting beliefs. We’ll give you some ideas on how you can change your own beliefs and some quick practical ideas to get started making long-lasting change in your life.
DEFINING A BELIEF
- Nobody wants to get rid of beliefs, they want to get rid of the behaviors and emotions that they don’t want.
- A belief is a statement about reality that you believe is the truth. Most of our beliefs are unconscious, we don’t even know that we have them.
- Beliefs are powerful and drive everything, including our behaviors and feelings.
- It’s rare that anyone goes to Shelly saying “here is a pattern I want to change” that is not belief-driven.
- As an example, if you believe dogs are dangerous and a puppy comes in the room, you’re not going to pat it—though this belief doesn’t have much to do with reality.
- Even if you’re in a situation where historically it might be that bad things are going to happen, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen or you can’t do anything to change it or make it better.
PUBLIC SPEAKING FEARS
Every single one of the people that have a fear of public speaking has almost all, if not all, of 10 beliefs and 3 conditioning.
Belief: I’m not good enough
- If you think you don’t have this belief, ask yourself the question: what makes me good enough? Write it down.
- If you write anything other than “nothing, I just am”, you have the belief because if you have to be something, do something or have something to be good enough, you’re not.
Belief: What makes me good enough and important is achieving things
- Workaholism is based on the beliefs: I’m not good enough, I’m not important, working and achieving is important to make me good enough.
- You become a driven workaholic even though you want to see your kids, see your partner, and have a life, but you can’t do these things because you have to keep doing these things that convince you you’re good enough
- This can apply to achieving, doing things perfectly, being the best—whatever your survival strategy belief (what makes you good enough) is, you think you have to keep doing that
Other Limiting Beliefs:
- I’m not good enough
- I’m not important
- I’m not capable
- What makes me good enough is having other people think well of me
- Mistakes and failures are bad
Belief: If I make a mistake or fail, I will be rejected
- Even though people have read business books that says if you’re not making mistakes and failing you’re going to be mediocre, it doesn’t matter.
- People continue to beat themselves up after making mistakes—which is how they know they still hold this belief.
WHY EFFORTS TO CHANGE FAIL
- You can know something intellectually, but no amount of evidence talks you out of your beliefs.
- The way most people try to change is with information and motivation: I’m going to learn, attending seminars, read books, and get hyped up, but nothing happens because you cannot act inconsistently with your beliefs.
HOW BELIEFS ARE MADE
- Where do beliefs like I’m not important come from?
- We come into this world and we don’t know if we’re important or not important, if life is hard or easy, if money is scarce and hard to get or abundant.
- We look at two people who know everything: our parents. But when we get here they say things like: you didn’t get an A? You did what? How many times do I have to tell you? This can come from loving parents.
- What is the one-word question children ask all day long: Why?
- I’m not important can come from: Why can’t I live up to my parents’ expectations? Why are my parents looking at my iPhone when I talk to them, why are they not giving me attention?
- Mistakes and failures are bad can come from: Why do I get punished when I make a mistake?
- Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow, we are not our mistakes.
- Our parents are not bad, they meant well, it’s just that nobody was handed a manual when they left the hospital
- When Shelly asks parents: what does your child do at the end of the day when they see you? Every parent in every country says: they run to me, want attention, affection, and acknowledgment. When they don’t get this, children can form limiting beliefs.
- Here’s why beliefs stay with you over decades: because you think you saw your belief in the world.
- Example: our friend Vishen walked past us and didn’t say hello to you, and you might have the belief that he didn’t like you.
- When he walked by wouldn’t you say: “See? I told you he doesn’t like me,” as if you could see he doesn’t like you. But you can’t see he doesn’t like you, you can only see him walking by and not saying hello, and maybe he’s shy, maybe he’s thinking about something else.
- There are always other interpretations in situations that can challenge our beliefs.
- “I’m a procrastinator” is not a real belief—it’s a belief that’s formed from watching yourself procrastinate
- What is underlying procrastination are the beliefs of mistakes & failures are bad, if I make a mistake I’ll be rejected, what makes me good enough is having people think well of me, and a fear of being judged & criticized
- People want to change patterns but don’t address the source of the behavior
- When you eliminate limiting beliefs, you’re eliminating a box and then you have a choice to move forwards
- Book mentioned: Failing Forward
- Make a mistake, learn something, move forward: if our kids could be raised with this the world would be different
NOT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK
- No matter what you do, somebody’s not going to like so you may as well do what you want, but before you do anything, stop and ask yourself what might the consequences be?
- The belief what makes me good enough is having others think well of me can run your life—you start only reacting to your environment e.g. what are they going to think of this? What if somebody thinks I’m too full of myself?
- When you die, this is not what should define you. Someone not liking you doesn’t mean anything about you—it doesn’t mean you can’t try to fix it, but ultimately it doesn’t reflect your character.
GETTING OUT OF FEELING STUCK
- When you feel stuck, ask yourself the question: what would happen if I did this thing? What would happen if I did it and failed?
- Imagine something you want to do you’ve been stopping yourself from doing
- If I did that thing and failed a couple of times, what would my judgment of myself be? What would I think others are judging me for?
- Whatever that voice in your head says (e.g. I’m a loser), you’ll start to see there are beliefs in your way
- The first thing that does it helps you to see that it’s not impossible because you can get rid of your beliefs
ORIGINS OF YOUR BELIEFS
- If you can trace where the belief came from, you can look at it more deeply and start to counter it
- E.g. I never saw that I was a loser, I saw my father call me a loser
- Everything you can see has a color, shape, and location, you can’t see a belief
- I never saw Santa Claus, it was my father in that suit and as a result, that belief goes away
- You might hold the belief “my spouse is faithful to me” and if you walk in and see them in bed with somebody else, that belief is gone in a nanosecond—but really you never saw that they were faithful, you made that up
- Working out the origins of limiting beliefs and learning to counter them can be the most powerful moment in people’s lives
- One of Shelly’s clients: I saw my parents out of 7 billion people not being affectionate to me, so she realized she had made up the belief I’m not lovable
- Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag us both on social media (@shellylefkoe & @jimkwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
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Episode 75: Understanding Habit Triggers with James Clear
Episode 101: 4 Keys to Changing Your Behavior & Habits