How to change self-limiting beliefs - Part 1


Devesh Ramakrishnan

Psychology Associate

In a previous article, we talked about how beliefs are developed, how to identify beliefs and how to become aware about them. This article focuses on assessing these beliefs and changing self-limiting beliefs. Changing beliefs can be an exceptionally complex task as we infer our beliefs from the thoughts and emotions we experience. Thoughts and emotions can change forms and ways of expressing themselves, in turn changing the way a belief is expressed. Beliefs can express themselves in a deceitful manner and since we are the ones expressing and experiencing them both at the same time, changing beliefs can seem rather daunting and tedious. Now just because a belief changes the manner in which it expresses itself doesn’t really lead to a change in the belief.

How does one know when a belief has been changed?

Our minds work in an organized manner, our beliefs are formed by gathering evidence from our experiences, this includes a record of what we’ve done, what we’ve been through, how others perceive us to be, how we perceive ourselves, our perspective about ourselves etc. This information is then interpreted and a belief is formed. Through beliefs we make sense of ourselves and the surrounding reality. When beliefs change, our reality also starts changing. When a belief has changed, our actions, thoughts, emotions, the way we perceive the world will change. Beliefs can take years to change or even a minute. It really comes down to how much faith and efforts we’ve invested in a belief and how much we are willing to question ourselves.

How do beliefs become self-limiting?

Beliefs become specifically self-limiting when they start holding us back from fulfilling our dreams and aspirations. We developed these beliefs because they helped us at a certain point in our life; however, we tend to overlook that almost everything in this world comes with an expiry date. Our beliefs are no exceptions. For example: Let’s say when we started off as an employee at the firm we’re working at, we believed that conforming to others helped us gain recognition at the workplace. But when we get promoted to a position where we have to lead the firm, this belief of conforming to others can act as a hindrance. Assertiveness is a quality that is required in a leader. Therefore, with time, experiences and situations, the beliefs tend to change.

After identifying the beliefs, one has developed, and before changing them, a careful assessment of these beliefs will help in determining which beliefs are detrimental and which are beneficial.

Steps for assessing identified beliefs

1. Track the chain of thought: Merely identifying a belief isn’t going to be sufficient to change it. Beliefs find different routes to express themselves, these routes can change with different situations. Tracking the chain of thought that leads to the belief shows us where the belief comes from, how & why it originated, under what circumstances it originated, did it develop through someone else’s belief or not, etc. For example: When we develop a fear of public speaking, it isn’t something as simple as going to the stage and feeling afraid. Thoughts such as ‘What if I mess up?’ ,’What would everyone think’ start to pop up when we’re on stage. The belief behind it could be that ‘I’m not a good public speaker’ or ‘People will mock me when I speak’ or ‘I always mess up and I will mess up here too’. Now upon further assessment one can find out where this belief actually took birth. We may recollect previous events when we did not perform well or events where we saw someone else getting humiliated for their speech and started believing the same would happen to us too. Keeping track of the chain of thought is crucial in gathering evidence.

2. Figure out how belief manifests in actions & behavior:The next step in assessment is to figure out how does our belief make us act? How does it affect our behavior? How do we talk to ourselves in this scenario? What emotion do we feel?

Let’s say that one’s an introverted person. We could be holding a belief that talking to too many people is exhaustive, or small talk doesn’t really make us feel better. Now when it comes to behavior these beliefs express themselves in actions such as, tending to avoid talking a lot at a party, being quiet most of the time or talking selectively to two or three people only.

We hope this article helps in changing our beliefs. Watch out for the next article in the series tomorrow!

View more content by Devesh Ramakrishnan

Rohit Chopra
Amazing article on changing beliefs ✌️🤩