Changing Beliefs Conversationally

amit-pathakOften times we come across people expressing frustration, anger or resentment for being the way they are and being unable to pursue their dreams and desires. It seems as if they are bound in chains and handcuffed against their free will to do what they don’t really enjoy doing, yet, looking longingly outside their ‘mental’ prison through the windows of their eyes to a world that they so dearly want to go to.

You will come across hundreds of expressions that demonstrate this. Some illustrative samples;

– I am not good enough
– I don’t think I deserve this job or role
– I don’t think I can ever get my boss to appreciate me
– I won’t ever become a X
– Wish I had Y
– I cannot Z
– Etc. etc.

You may have already noted that I have consciously kept focus on issues related to the individual (i.e I or me). This is because, all issues related to others (i.e you, they, he, she, my child, etc.) can always be pointed back to the individual using the NLP presupposition “the meaning of your communication is the response you get”. In other words, one can eventually turn any external facing statement into something to do with them.

So, if you believe, “my boss cannot ever appreciate me” [external referenced], you can always reframe that into internally referenced and say “I don’t believe, I can ever get my boss to appreciate me”. Now how does that sound?

NLP offers several options to deal with the process of belief change. Timeline regression and resolution and designer swish among others. Any therapist would know that this requires one or more committed sessions to achieve. Perhaps 3 to 6 hours for a lasting change in belief?

But, what if the Client experiences such limiting beliefs in the midst of a critical work process? Say, you on your way to appear for the most important job interview of your life and on the way, you keep getting this worrying thought that goes “you cannot ever clear this interview…its too good to be true for you…” and so on.

Or, if you are a therapist and dealing with a Client who is located remotely and in deep trouble owing to a limiting belief? Someone who has relationship issues with their spouse and now on their way to see them after a long gap and mustering loads of courage…and pop comes this thought “…you are doing a big mistake. He/ She is never going to accept you back no matter what you do…turn back…now!…”

In such situations, I have found some conversational interventions extremely powerful and potent in busting limiting beliefs that people harbor. Infact, these are questions you can ask yourself to bust those beliefs that cripple your fledgling initiatives. At the very least, I can guarantee you that they will cast an element of doubt in whether that belief is indeed worth listening to? Imagine if you can atleast begin to doubt that old belief that you can never start your own business, leaving a cushy job that pays well but leaves you highly unsatisfied, dejected and bored?…

STOP reading from here if you don’t feel comfortable changing your limiting beliefs.

But before I go forward, let me tell you an interesting analogy that Antony Robbins used to explain a belief. A belief is like a table-top resting on the four legs of your interpretation of certain reference experiences in your life.

For example; if a certain boss visits your office and you overhear him shouting his head out to a colleague for poor work. Few days later, you hear story from another colleague about how that boss made her the day miserable. And you begin to think..”hmmmm…..”. Couple of weeks later, you hear him speak at a group meeting in a tough and business-minded tone. And just few days later you receive a mail from his office setting up clear, specific and detailed performance metrics.

Now, we have all the ingredients to build a belief about impressing this boss. The four legs are ready to hold the belief ‘table-top’. What would you put here?

One person can install a belief that “this boss cannot be impressed and its best to steer clear off him”.
Could you also consider an alternative belief that “this boss is very clear about what he wants, clearly setting parameters for measurements. Just show how good I am in those specific areas and its worth a try to impress him”.

The first belief freezes you in time. The second one galvanizes you into a scientific strategy of action.

Changing old beliefs is all about knocking off one of more legs of that table so that the table looses its stability and eventually falls over. As soon as the table becomes ‘shaky’, your belief also looses its strength and eventually lets you challenge it.

Fortunately there are ways where you will ‘break the legs’ by asking yourself few questions using simple language patterns.

Think of a belief that you wish you could get rid off to experience a more fruitful life. It could be anything really. For example “this boss cannot be impressed and its best to steer clear off him”.

Question 1: How would you know, OR, how many ways you could know that this belief is not true at this moment in time?
– Someone has been able to impress this boss and enjoying his affection.
– There are loads of people directly working and associating with this person already.
– He is not expressing his appreciation but is noticing the efforts and the good work secretly.

Question 2: For whom would this belief not be true?
– Its not true for John and Natasha who have quickly aligned with this boss’s views
– Even Shirisha, his PA, seems to resonate well with his thoughts and strategy. She’s not scared of him.

Question 3a: When was it not true for you? Here you can think of similar or identical experiences from your past where this belief didn’t turn out to be true.
– During school days, I had an extremely tough teacher but managed to impress her, whilst most of the class was struggling to meet her expectations
– Couple of years back I briefly had a very difficult boss and managed to impress him.
– In college I was the captain of the cricket team and put into challenge by a team that had an undefeated run for past 15 games…but I managed to defeat it.

Question 3b: How many times has this happened? I will be surprised if you came up with less than 10 such experiences!

Question 4: So, now that you think about these experiences, in what ways do you now know that the old belief you had isn’t entirely true now? Now you can start listing out potential ‘holes in the armor’ that the old belief was wearing.
– There are ways to defeat even the most formidable opponent through careful planning and lots of courage.
– I don’t really know this person well enough to make a judgment about him.
– Everyone’s experience and knowledge is different and I haven’t yet tried using mine with his boss.

Question 5: What would like to believe in instead? List out alternate beliefs that you’d now like to have instead.

– Its best not to judge someone based on other’s experiences. Everyone responds differently.
– Give it a good shot using calculated information and knowledge.
– If most people are scared, I can actually take advantage of this opportunity to rise and shine.

Question 6: When did you have such a belief and proved to be correct?
– My school teacher, old boss, wife when we went for our first vacation,…
– Many examples…

Question 7: As you now think of a situation [related to the issue] coming up in the immediate future, how differently would you act based on this new belief?
– Act with courage coupled with knowledge and intelligence
– Unfazed by his criticism and use it as input for improvement so I can impress him in time.

As you can see, by asking few simple questions, you can bring about a complete U-Turn in a person’s belief system.

If this were a coaching situation, you may even throw in few questions to ensure that the new belief integrates with other beliefs and the overall identity of the person. You can also ensure that the new belief is ecologically healthy for the Client as well as their environment. And finally, also take care of any parts of the Client’s mind that have objections to this new belief.

This process ensures that you (or your client if you are a therapist) are able to bring about a permanent change in the limiting belief that was restricting you from pursuing your dreams.

ALL THE VERY BEST !!

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