Beliefs, especially our core beliefs, are very important to us. They are essentially to our identity. Our beliefs define who we think we are and what we believe we can and cannot do — and these beliefs extend into just about all areas of life.
Our fundamental belief system provides us with a number of positive benefits. However, in this article we will be looking at how certain beliefs can negatively affect our feelings and behaviour. We will also examine the difficulty most people have in overcoming such beliefs and the role that hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis can play in dumping the more destructive ones.
How we acquire certain beliefs
Many of our beliefs about self are acquired and developed in childhood. That saying, “Show me the child and I’ll show you the man” is a very true statement. In fact, it is fair to say that by the time we reach 10 years old – some say even younger, maybe only 5 years old – we have established our belief system about self. We have learnt how we fit into the world, our worth to others, what we can expect from others, what we can expect from life, and so on.
This is the way we will continue to function for the rest of our days, unless somebody who knows a thing or two helps us to change (more on this later). Well, that is not quite true, actually. Huge trauma can bring about change, too, but the end result is not predictable and it certainly is not recommended as a therapeutic technique!
But how do we actually acquire these beliefs? Well, they come from a most inappropriate source… somebody else’s belief system! As children, we are highly suggestible and we form many ideas about the world around us by absorbing the belief system of others, when we do not have the knowledge or the experience to challenge them. For example, consider the following points and replace “they” with a parent, other relative or mentor:
- They do not like a particular type of food. They will teach you that it is unpleasant.
- They cannot perform a particular task. They will teach you that it is difficult and that you may not be able to do it.
- They have difficulty with authority figures. They will teach you that authority figures are to be feared.
- They lack personal confidence. They will teach you that it is good to be meek or maybe that the world is a frightening place.
There are many more examples we could use, but the concept should be obvious. Some of the teaching will be by example, some by the spoken word. Experiment and experience in later life can undo much of them, but what about the stuff that simply is not ever addressed?
Erroneous, limiting, and false beliefs
The most limiting beliefs are those that begin with, “I can’t…”. Some beliefs can also make you feel like you are not good enough. For example, if a child is called “stupid” for instance, then they are liable to do stupid things, and once this criticism has been taken on board they may struggle to ever lose their belief in this idea. So even when they are successful in something, they will probably interpret this in the light of the criticism. So they may say things like, “The other person obviously wasn’t trying”; or, “I got lucky.” In other words, they will not see it as evidence that the word “stupid” was wrong. Rather, they will defend it strongly for two reasons: one is that once they have a belief (in this case that they are “stupid”) they may struggle to admit they are wrong, and secondly, they are concerned about challenging the judgement of these “god-like” beings upon whom they rely for their very life.
Once someone has been subjected to the same sort of criticism a few more times, they may take it as a self-evident truth in the same way we believe the earth to be spherical. To fully appreciate this, try to imagine that someone has shown you some very powerful evidence that you are wrong about, say, the shape of the planet, and think about your reaction. The likelihood is that you would oppose it in every way possible – no matter how strong the proof. If you feel that this is not the case, take something that you may feel strongly about such as your religious or political beliefs, and think about what it would take you to declare “I got it completely wrong!”
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
One other type of fundamental belief system damage is worth mentioning here, and that is the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is far more common than many people realise.
Here are some examples:
- “You’re just a bad lot – you’ll end up in prison.”
- “You’ll never get anywhere.”
- “You’ll always be a failure.”
- “Money just slips through your fingers – you’ll never be worth anything.”
If these remarks are repeated often enough, especially, as they inevitably would be, in the presence of negative emotion, then there is a very high chance that they will materialise as fact. Every time they are spoken, the subconscious creates an associated visual image; that is rehearsal, and what you repeatedly mentally rehearse, your subconscious will seek to make reality.
Read those statements again and allow yourself to recognise how easy it would be for the subconscious to ensure that they find reality. That is the self-fulfilling prophecy; one which probably would not have come to pass had it not been suggested that it would, in the first place!
The problem is often exacerbated by something akin to what in psychological circles is known as “the urge to repeat”, wherein the individual continually self-programmes: “I’m bound to make a mess of it…”; “I always make the same mistake…”; “I’ll never be able to…” Of course, these statements are just a repetition of lessons learnt in childhood and, at the same time, a rationalisation that avoids the need for the discomfort of challenging those lessons.
The difficulty of overcoming beliefs
Once we have a belief, no matter how destructive it is, we tend to have difficulty in overcoming it. When a person has learned to think of themselves in a particular way, such as being “not good enough” or “worthless” or whatever, they will do everything to prove that this is the case – even though this belief may have been blighting them for most of their life. In fighting to keep our beliefs – even when they are destructive, we unwittingly train our conscious thoughts so that when we consider doing something our mind may interrupt our fantasies, telling us that we are bound to make a mistake, to fail, and so on.
Of course, negative thoughts tend to be self-fulfilling in that when people believe they will do badly at, say, public speaking, then the result is exactly that – their nervousness, caused by their negativity, will likely cause them to perform badly. To the sufferers, however, the nervousness seems appropriate because they (rightly) believed that they would not perform well, and sure enough that’s what happened. This can be change though – not by pretending that they know it will go well (after all, this is the same approach as before, but this time it involves pretending they know it will go well rather than pretending they know it will go poorly). Instead, they can develop a more effective way of dealing with these challenges.
If we were to consciously explain ideas about why a person may be wrong about his or her beliefs, he or she will usually argue strongly that we are wrong. It seems that the tension caused by admitting we are mistaken is something we would rather avoid, no matter what the cost is to ourselves and others. Our challenge as hypnotherapists is therefore to help people achieve a healthy attitude towards themselves, so that they do not rely on the pernicious effect that some beliefs can have on their sense of self.
How can hypnotherapy help people dump destructive beliefs?
Hypnotic suggestion can play an important role in helping someone to overcome limiting beliefs and to develop better ones. Not all beliefs will collapse straight away. It can take time to overcome subconscious resistance. However, the objective of our self hypnosis audio programs is to help a person to remove completely remove as many of the destructive beliefs as possible, and to seek to reduce the strength of the remainder. Through the use of powerful hypnotherapy techniques, we can weaken a person’s attachment to his or her beliefs and bring about positive shifts by “implanting” better ideas and encouraging thinking that is more likely to achieve a person’s objectives.
Hypnotherapy also allows a person to subtly recognise how certain beliefs can create problems for them. Underlying this approach, is the idea that we can focus less on whether a belief is “true” and more on what effect it has on our lives. Once someone starts to think in this way they can more easily reject beliefs that are unhelpful. Much of this can be achieved with the use of high quality self hypnosis sessions, such as those you will find here at SelfHypnosis.com. However, if after some time a person finds that they do not get the complete shift in thinking that they are looking for, then it is a good indication that it is time to visit a hypnotherapist, in person.
Our fundamental belief system helps us operate. It determines how we think, feel, and behave. If you feel that certain beliefs are making you unhappy or limiting your life in some way, then it is time to do something about it. Hypnotherapy, whether in person or via self hypnosis recordings, gives you an excellent chance of making the therapeutic change you seek by “reprogramming” the contents of your subconscious database.