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Path to Health - Day 9: Reversing Limiting Beliefs

I have to confess, I've been hesitant to write this journal, even though I know I need to. I'm not hesitant because I doubt the efficacy of the practice I'm about to show you, but rather I'm hesitant because I haven't practiced this nearly enough myself, and I don't want to come across as a hypocrite. I've done this practice a little, and even the little I've done has been monumentally liberating, eye-opening, and life-changing.

In short, this journal contains powerful, powerful stuff, and if you pay attention to only one journal of mine from this series, pay attention to this one.

Today, I'm talking about what is arguably the BEST way to address the emotional influence to our behavior, which I set up in Day 3's journal. And to address this, we have to understand about something called "limiting beliefs." (You might have heard this called "invisible scripts" or perhaps something else, but the definition is still the same.)

When you're born, you are born a clean slate. You have no preconceived notions about the world or your place in it because you haven't had the time to experience the world and create such notions. But as you learn and grow, certain things will happen in your life that cause you to form beliefs about how the world is or how you yourself are. These beliefs go on to determine how you behave, because something very powerful and very deeply ingrained in your brain is telling you that if you do X, you should expect Y.

These beliefs tend to help us navigate the world and keep us safe, healthy, happy, and alive. But there are many beliefs that hold us back, beliefs we form out of fear of negative consequences, and those end up keeping us from being as happy and healthy as we truly could be. These are beliefs that keep us from living as fully as we can, from becoming the most fully-realized versions of ourselves that we can become. These are limiting beliefs. And if you've ever felt an itch within yourself that wants more out of life, these limiting beliefs are what you need to begin to address.

When it comes to weight loss and our physical health, understanding limiting beliefs becomes crucial, because while you may be doing everything right by the book of nutrition and exercise, if you still feel deep within yourself somewhere that you don't deserve to be fit and healthy, that staying fat will somehow keep you "safe" from some evil out there in the world, then you will eventually relapse into your old ways and never truly embrace the fit, healthy, happy you that is ultimately best for you to become. I love to watch shows like "My 600 Pound Life" on TLC because I love seeing the transformations these people go through, and I've noticed that in so many of the cases of these patients, child molestation was a triggering event that caused them to start gaining weight. Not only was food a comfort for them, but they formed a belief within themselves that, "If I'm fat, my body will act as a barrier between me and any aggressors. If I'm fat, I will be less attractive and less likely to be molested."

That's just one example--a highly traumatic one--but there are a variety of things in your life that could be leading you to form a belief within yourself that you're not good enough or not deserving enough for a fit and healthy body. So how do you discover your limiting beliefs? It's a practice of introspection, which can be very foreign to some people. You have to ask yourself WHY you're feeling what you're feeling. And when you answer that first WHY, you have to ask yourself WHY again--why does that cause exist? It takes patience, and it may require the help of a trained professional like a therapist to help you get there. But what you're ultimately looking for is a root cause: one where once you say "WHY" to it, it circles back onto itself. (Peter Shallard used to have an eBook called "Demystifying Your Fear" which was phenomenal at helping you achieve just this. It's written geared more towards entrepreneurs than weight loss, but the principles are still applicable to any area of your life. However, maybe if you ask him nicely enough, he can send you a free copy as he did for me.)

So once you've figured out the root cause of your limiting belief, it's time to start finding a way to reverse it. I'm going to be sharing with you one of my own limiting beliefs (with which I STILL struggle), because I want you to see a real case of how powerful this is. My limiting belief is: "I don't deserve success, because I don't work hard enough and I'm not perfect enough."

The process to overcome this is outlined in the most powerful 13-minute video ever created, by Andy Drish and Dane Maxwell of The Foundation, called How To Reverse Deep Limiting Beliefs and Transform Your Identity. (Again, this is material designed for entrepreneurs, but applicable to anything in life you want to improve.) In short, the process is to ask yourself a series of questions that directly challenge this identified limiting belief:

1. Is this belief true? (Your initial instinct will be to answer "yes" to this almost every time.)
2. Is this belief beyond a shadow of a doubt true? (Is there anybody on the planet who could prove this to be untrue?)
3. How does this belief make you feel?
4. What would the opposite thought be?
5. How does that opposite belief make you feel?

It seems deceptively simple to ask those five questions to your limiting belief, but it's powerful enough that it gets you to start questioning alternatives to how you've considered your life and the world to be for as long as you can remember. So taking my own real-life example, this is what happens when I really meditate on these questions and focus on delivering the most honest answers I can muster:

1. Is this belief true? It feels true.
2. Is this belief beyond a shadow of a doubt true? No.
3. How does this belief make you feel? I feel overwhelmed, like I'll never be able to accomplish Herculean feats to be such a major world-influence, so I end up feeling ashamed that I can't accomplish this, and wishing I had never been born so I wouldn't have this burden.
4. What would the opposite thought be? The opposite would be that I don't have to be such a big deal just to influence the people around me, that I am already enough without having to worry about changing the world on a major level. I will live my life and ultimately die not only having others around me happy with me, but more importantly, being happy with myself, every day.
5. How does that opposite belief make you feel? Overwhelmed in the best way I've ever known. It makes me feel free--finally, free--so I can pursue whatever I desire without feeling like I have to fit inside some sort of unattainable agenda. I can just be me, with no expectations to anything beyond what I am capable of doing or being. I can be at peace with myself, knowing that I am already enough, no matter what happens, and I love myself for it.

I'll warn you that when I say in the final answer that I felt "overwhelmed," I wasn't lying. You may break down crying for a while when you have a breakthrough like this. But the journey doesn't stop there: you don't just answer these questions once and go on living a happy life forever. Because these beliefs are there due to getting ingrained time and time again for years, even decades. It's going to take a LOT of practice to overcome them.

This is where my journal yesterday about habits comes into play. I can start to create some potential habits to practice for a while that are designed to directly make me feel this opposite, more positive, liberating feeling. If limiting beliefs are formed based on negative experiences, then to replace them with freeing beliefs, we need to force ourselves to continually have positive experiences. Brainstorm a few ideas on what you could do to make yourself have these positive experiences daily while meditating on the positive feelings and beliefs associated with them. Then take some of those brainstormed ideas and design a habit or two to test them out in your life.

For my example, it could be something like making a daily habit of writing down something I'm grateful for having done in my life, something that reminds me of all the awesome stuff I've experienced so far, and making a note to log new positive experiences as they arise in my life. This is how we start to really change ourselves and grow for the better. This is where our psychological and emotional health become critical, because as I stated before: the more you love yourself and your life, the better you will treat your body. It will almost happen automatically, because you're acting out of love for yourself--a healthy love that's devoid of the underlying fears that spawn egotism or narcissism. And that is the most powerful love you will ever feel in your life.