Revisiting the topic of limiting beliefs, Joe and Brett explore what prevents us from seeing them, what keeps them stuck, and how to see through and integrate these beliefs in a way that enables a more free and easeful existence.
In this episode, we discuss:
- The logical fallacies, ignorance, and avoided consequences that make us not see many of our hidden beliefs
- How we can see a belief and still be limited by it
- Exploring the “latticework” of beliefs that hold structures of identity in place.
- Three core beliefs that commonly underlie others, and how to find evidence that loosens them.
- What we can do once we see our beliefs and how we can use awareness and inquiry to easily integrate them.
Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease. I’m Brett Kistler, here today with my co-host Joe Hudson.
Brett: How are you today?
Joe: It has been a lot, man. It’s been good. I’m in Denver, Colorado, and I just did a session with 350 people at this company. It was really fun.
Brett: Very cool.
Joe: You can see the hotel room. Everybody listening to the podcast can’t, but look at this thing. I mean it is like a Sumo wrestler with bunny ears on is the art on the walls of this hotel room.
Brett: That is pretty bizarre, and you have got some antlers in the back.
Joe: It is a huge hotel, 15 stories, and every room is decorated differently. Every floor of the hotel has a theme, so one is a video arcade theme, one is a comedy theme, and one is a horror theme. It is crazy.
Brett: Are there any rooms with a limiting beliefs theme?
Joe: I don’t know. I think that with Sumo wrestlers with bunny ears there is nothing limiting us.
Brett: At least we can make a podcast on a limiting beliefs theme.
Joe: Let’s do that.
Brett: A little while back we did one on limiting beliefs, defining what they are and how it is that they run our lives when they are unexplored, and how we can start to explore them. We have gotten a lot of questions and requests from folks wanting us to go a little bit deeper into limiting beliefs and really more how to see through them and dismantle them, and do all of the jiu jitsu we can do to find deeper freedom. How do you feel about going into that today?
Joe: We have been creating new curriculum around limiting beliefs. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and it feels really good to talk about it. I think the thing I want to start off with is that in the last podcast we talked about the fact that your beliefs don’t disappear; they are integrated, meaning when you see through a limiting belief. Let’s say the limiting belief life is hard. That might be a compulsive belief. It doesn’t mean that that belief goes away. It means it gets integrated. It means sometimes you might think life is hard or somethings you might have the thought is hard, but it doesn’t create constriction in your system. It might mean that before you thought about it every time you had a certain emotional experience and now you don’t think about it that way or it doesn’t have the same trigger or hold. Seeing through the limiting belief doesn’t make it so you can’t have the belief. It makes it so that the belief integrates into a more peaceful existence. Before we get started, I want to reemphasize that.
Brett: Seeing through isn’t making it absolutely transparent and you don’t see it anymore or that you can’t see it or that you are in opposition to that belief in any way.
Joe: That’s the best way to say it. You are not in opposition to that belief. That’s a great way to say it. I would say it does remain transparent. You will start to see the belief is optional, but it doesn’t mean that you will never have it.
Brett: As opposed to just being gone.
Joe: Transparent in the way that you can see through it.
Brett: Then how do we do that? How do we see through?
Joe: Two step process, let’s go.
Brett: I believe these things. I believe these beliefs.
Joe: Go to somebody who will pump you up and convince you. That might last a little while. There are two kinds. The thing that I am seeing really clearly now is there is the kind of limiting belief that gets stuck, and that’s one that you are aware of. I am aware this is a limiting belief, but I still believe it and I can’t get out of it. When I say believe it, I don’t mean intellectually believe it. It means the rest of your body believes it and maybe even intellectually you believe it.
Brett: What does it mean for the rest of your body to believe it?
Joe: Everybody here listening to the podcast knows it is better for them to be healthy, physically healthy, and so you can know that. That’s an intellectual knowing, but until your whole system gets it, you are not going to take action to be healthy. The other word they use for this is grok. It is understood not just intellectually. You fully get it. When I say that the whole system hasn’t gotten it, it means the actions aren’t coming from that understanding. They are coming from a different understanding.
Brett: I am sitting on a coach, and I have this belief it is better to be healthy. I see all the ways I could do something to be healthier, and my body doesn’t actually produce and follow through on an impulse to become healthier for some reason.
Joe: Correct. Instead you beat yourself up for not doing the work or you just ignore it, or you do avoidance or whatever it is.
Brett: How do you see through limiting beliefs?
Joe: The first thing is there are two ways of looking at limiting beliefs. There are the ones that you just haven’t seen. You don’t know they are a limiting belief, and then you find out they are a limiting belief. Then there are the ones you know are a limiting belief and you haven’t fully integrated, and therefore, you are still acting by those limiting beliefs even though you might intellectually see through them.
The first one, for instance, might be something I have a boss, and you never think about the idea that you have a boss being a limiting belief. You notice one day that you say it to yourself, and you are like oh my gosh, I have a boss, and it causes constriction, which is how you know it is a limiting belief. You might really be able to see actually I don’t have a boss. What I have is a client. I am in business, and I only have one client. I have an undiversified revenue stream. I don’t actually have anybody who is in control over me or who is in authority over me. I just have a client. That might create a lot of freedom for you. You just see it. The epiphany happens, and it is over. The limiting belief is gone.
Compared to the second kind, which would be something like I should be healthy, and intellectually you know it is good to be healthy, but the rest of your system hasn’t gotten on board with that. There is no action that shows that being healthy is an important thing to you. Instead, there is maybe self-abuse or avoidance or something like that. Those limiting beliefs are usually something that have two components. The first component is there is an emotional hook sticking them in place, and the other one is that there is some basic belief that is in play that is holding it in place. How to unstick the emotional stuff is not something we can do on this podcast. Maybe on a future podcast we can talk about. There just isn’t time, but I would love to talk about seeing through limiting beliefs and how awareness can just do that and some of the basic limiting beliefs that make a whole bunch of other ones stick in place.
Brett: What makes us not see limiting beliefs?
Joe: The first one is there is a logical fallacy. We have an errand or a thought. We haven’t really looked at deeply enough to see through the belief system. The other one is just ignorance. Maybe nobody has ever conceived of the fact that their boss is just one client. The most common one is there are some consequences involved where we don’t want to have to face those consequences, so we keep ourselves in the dark around the limiting belief. For instance, the consequence of the boss one might be something like if I don’t have a boss, I don’t actually have safety here. I don’t want to look at that. I like to work under the illusion that because I have an employer, it is safer than being an entrepreneur. I don’t want to see those consequences. Maybe a limiting belief is something like I can’t do it, but if you believe you can do it, it also means you might fail. You don’t want to have to suffer the consequences of feeling like a failure, so it is easier to believe like I can’t do it. That’s the other thing that keeps the unseen ones in place.
The quickest hack to seeing if you have one of those things is you look for a comparable in the space. Are there entrepreneurs that feel safe? Are there entrepreneurs that are more financially secure than me in a job? Therefore, there must be something I am not seeing. Are there people who can enjoy failure? Are there people who have failed several times and then succeeded, i.e. Abe Lincoln or Sam Walton? That can allow you to see how your limiting belief is untrue or can be untrue from a certain point of view.
Brett: You are pointing towards that there is the possibility that people can have different beliefs and it can be easy for them to experience failure or whatever emotions that come from the consequences we might be avoiding behind our own limiting beliefs. How do we make it easier to see them?
Joe: The first thing is to see the belief is not about true or untrue. Usually that’s where somebody gets stuck. Is that a true belief or a not true belief? That is not the way to see through limiting beliefs. The way to see through limiting beliefs is just to see that there is constriction when you have the thought. You have the thought and then you have constriction. That is a limiting belief. It is not whether the belief is true or untrue. An example of this would be you have two people you are going to hire for a job. They have identical resumes. They have the same experience. There is nothing differentiating them except for one thing. The one thing that is differentiating them is one of them thinks I can do this job well and the other thinks I can’t do this job well. Who are you going to hire? It doesn’t matter if that idea is right or not right, true or not true, what matters is they have the more useful belief system. They have less constriction in their system around taking this job. That’s what you are looking for. It is never about a good or bad idea.
The same thing with the metaphor we have been using of I have a boss. For some people, having a boss is not a constrictive thought at all. It is not a limiting belief for them. They think yeah, they have a boss. It is great. My boss is great. I love having a boss. This is wonderful. For some people, every time they think about having a boss, they get constricted. That is something for them to see through. In one way, it is absolutely true for both people they have a boss. In another way, it is absolutely true they don’t have a boss. They have one client and an undiversified revenue stream. It is never about right or wrong. It is about what is the thought that serves you best. The way we know it serves us best is if it is creating constriction in our system. As soon as you get that, it totally helps you see through limiting beliefs.
Brett: It is more about the limiting aspect of it than there is a belief you have that is true or not true. It is not even that you are trying to prove these beliefs as false except as an exercise to believe them a little bit less or to see what you need to see through to let go of the constriction and find freedom. It is about the limitation, and as the limitation lifts, you can have the belief and other beliefs.
Joe: That’s exactly right. The whole thing about working with limiting beliefs, the underlying principle, is you are constantly creating spaciousness. You are taking something that creates constriction, and you are finding spaciousness with it. One way to do that is to see the untruth in it, and one way to do that is to see that it is not your thought, and it was given to you. One way is to visualize yourself in a world where that isn’t your thought anymore. One way is to see there are people who have been very successful with a different thought around the same subject. All of those things can create more spaciousness in the system, and so you are not looking for your brain to tell you I don’t believe this anymore. You are looking for your body to tell you that thought doesn’t create constriction in my system. I have other thoughts I believe that are more useful to me, and I know that because they don’t create constriction in my system.
Brett: What are some of the basic beliefs that keep these stuck ones stuck?
Joe: There are three main categories of these beliefs. The first one is that I am bad. The second one is that it is hard. The third one is that I will be unsafe. Those are the three categories of beliefs. It even works with letting go of limiting beliefs. I can’t let go of limiting beliefs because I am bad. I can’t let go of limiting beliefs because it is hard. I can’t let go of limiting beliefs because I won’t be safe. Those are the three main categories that help a belief get stuck and halfway understood. Our mind might get it, but our body doesn’t get it.
Brett: What do you mean by bad? What would make that be a stuck belief?
Joe: Bad would be you should be ashamed, you are responsible, you tried, and you can’t. I’m broken. There is something essentially wrong with me. It is any way in which you tell yourself something can’t change because you are flawed by nature.
Brett: What would make us think we are bad by nature?
Joe: Oftentimes we are told that. Most of us were raised with shame as a tool of control. We have been shamed or guilted. You are naughty. I’ve seen parents tell their kids they are naughty five times in an afternoon. You get told that for your whole life, and so it is hard to come out of it and think I am not naughty. I am good. I am inherently good. That’s one example. The other thing is you start looking for evidence you are bad because other people attack you. When somebody attacks you, instead of thinking they are having a bad day, they haven’t had enough coffee, they are projecting, they are having an issue, you think I’ve done something wrong, and I am bad. You start using that as evidence that you are bad. Anything that goes wrong, it shows that I am bad.
The other way is to look back on actions you have had, and you think if I was good, I wouldn’t have cheated on my husband or I wouldn’t have eaten the food. My brain tells me I shouldn’t, but I am still doing it. That’s because there is something wrong with me. I am broken and bad. You see it that way instead of seeing it as ignorance, not ignorance in a bad way but not knowing the right tools for the job. We get told it, and then we find evidence.
Brett: That ignorant piece is interesting. You might see the belief and you might know it is a limiting belief at the time. I know that if I work out, I will feel healthier and better, and I am still not doing that right now. Even proving it with present actions that are ignorant seems like a thing.
Joe: Exactly. Well put.
Brett: What’s the ignorant piece? If you see the belief and don’t take the action, it is ignorance in the body and on some deeper level.
Joe: You are not ignorant that being healthy is a good choice. You are ignorant of how to dislodge the thought that you are bad in your head, which causes you to take actions to prove you are bad. You are ignorant of how to motivate yourself to be healthy. You are ignorant of the fact that being healthy can be really fun, and it doesn’t have to be a chore that oppresses you. Clearly if you fully understood it, you would do it, but in the mind, it is I understand it, but I am not doing it, so I am bad, instead of I don’t fully understand it. How do I find out?
Brett: Maybe I was ignorant of the belief underneath it. I might believe it is great to be healthy, but I might be seeing the belief underneath that it I am broken and bad.
Joe: The belief that it is hard to be healthy, or the belief that if I get healthy, I will be unsafe. I know a lot of overweight people who stay overweight because they got molested at some point in their lives. As soon as they see through the molestation and they realize they can be attractive and safe, they start losing weight. There are a ton of things that could be in there, but instead, we say we know it, but we are not doing it. Therefore, we are bad.
Brett: How do you know you are not bad?
Joe: If you have been trying to do something, let’s use the be healthy example. You have been thinking about being healthy and trying to be healthy for 20 years. That shows me that you are strong. That shows me that you have persistence. That shows me that you care about yourself. That shows me that you are not giving up. It shows me some self-awareness. It shows me an urge for leaving ignorance. All of those things are really good. Those are some of the components that make up what we would call a good person. We are not looking at any of that stuff. Every single place where you think you are bad, I am sure there are 20 or 30 pieces of evidence, just like I said, that would actually show that you are good.
The other thing when people think they are bad or broken, and you start digging down with them and asking what exactly it is that makes them bad. I am overweight. There are a lot of overweight people. Are they all bad? No, they are not all bad. What exactly is it that makes you bad? If you keep on doing that, they can never get to an answer. There is no answer for that. There is no essence thing. I haven’t worked with murderers, so maybe the murderer can actually say that. I would suspect even a murderer would be able to see other murderers as not bad people.
Brett: I mean we spoke with Emile.
Joe: Perfect example. When we had that conversation with Emile, his journey was to stop calling himself bad and to stop having that judgment because it was holding him in a pattern. He had to be able to see through that belief system to actually get the freedom and be the kind of person he and society wanted him to be. A great example of it. There is a podcast on Emile that you can listen to. He is an amazing human if you haven’t heard it.
Brett: Emile Deweaver in our catalog.
Joe: That’s another way you can see you are not bad. The other thing is if you really want to prove it to yourself, for the next three months, consistently say that you are inherently good. Instead of saying I am bad or thinking to yourself you are bad, think I am inherently good and see what happens because a lot of the times we are the things that we tell ourselves that we are. If you tell a kid he is naughty all the time, they are going to act naughty. That’s how it works. If you tell yourself you are good all the time, there is a good chance you will see your actions in a way that is good or see your actions as good because sometimes our idea of good is a morality that’s not actually the feeling of goodness. I would say test the belief to see if you are bad or if it is just that you have been telling yourself you are bad for so long that you are acting like it. Those would be the three things I would suggest people do if they truly think they are bad so they can discover otherwise.
Brett: The next one you mentioned is we believe it is hard. What do you mean by that? It is hard to see through and find freedom.
Joe: It generally means there has to be a lot of effort and it is going to suck. They are going to have to endure it. There is going to need to be a lot of trying. It can’t be simple. They can’t enjoy the process. People think changing my limiting beliefs is hard, and that assumes it is a chore or a level of oppression instead of I can work for 10 minutes and change a limiting belief. I immediately some freedom, which feels better, and then I can do it again. This is again. Therapy, it is going to be really hard to go to therapy. It is going to be really hard to start a business. You can go to the comps. There are some people that have really enjoyed starting their business. There is a way to do it to enjoy it. The idea is it is going to be hard, and that immediately makes it harder to see through limiting beliefs.
Brett: Then on the other side, how hard is it to continue to oppress ourselves?
Joe: Totally. To endure shit is hard, exactly, and to tell yourself you have to endure stuff is hard.
Brett: Why does that persist? What does the belief that something is hard persist when in reality it is actually harder to continue?
Joe: One, sometimes we don’t know how to do it, so we just say it is hard because we haven’t done it before. There is this lattice work of ideas in giving up limiting beliefs, and if we don’t know that, it seems hard rather than this is the path to get there. We can talk about lattice work later if you want. The other reason is because emotions hold them in place, and since people don’t know that, they think letting go of a limiting belief is hard or letting go of a behavior is hard until they realize it is really about an emotion they are not fully feeling, loving or accepting. When they do that, the behavior can immediately change. There are all sorts of reasons people think it is hard. It is just like drywall. If I am going to put up drywall, I am going to think it is hard, and if someone who has put up drywall for the last 10 years, they don’t think it is hard. If I go to the person who knows how to hang drywall and he says it is easy, do it like this, it is immediately going to be easier for me. If anything, the hardness is about ignorance.
We have been trying the same thing in the same way over and over again. I am going to be healthy by losing weight. I am going to lose weight by reducing calories. Twenty years later it is hard because it is not working, but there might be 10 other ways to lose weight we haven’t tried.
Brett: Seeing through a limiting belief intellectually and not having it fully grok in our system continues to prove the idea that this belief must be true because I keep falling back into it. If you are trying to hang drywall with a screw that doesn’t work, it is going to keep falling. Drywall is hard until you see what’s holding the limiting belief in place.
Joe: But it is not hard. As it turns out, you and everybody have changed thousands of limiting beliefs in their lives and they have done it without even noticing it. Our neurology is set up not to notice all of the limiting beliefs we have seen through. We like to think we have a coherent sense of self, and that coherent sense of self needs a set of beliefs you have pretty much been believing for a long time. We don’t look back and think our beliefs have completely changed. Let me give you some examples. Your belief of God between the time you were born and now, there have been multiple versions of God in your mind, most likely. They have shifted and have become less and less limiting. Your belief of God has become less and less limiting, the same with money, with drugs, the same with education, work, effort. Every single thing you can think of you thought about differently than when you were 8, than when you were 23, and than you do now. Your idea of faith, love, sex, all of them have changed. Thousands of your limiting beliefs have changed without any effort at all. You don’t even know who the hell did it. You didn’t even notice it was done. It is super easy. When you fully let that happen, then you can see that it’s not that hard.
Brett: You are also implying there is the progression of limiting beliefs as we become freer of them. To what extent is that true? How much can you adopt a new limiting belief and then become more and more stuck in it and not realize it? I didn’t realize over the 10 years my relationship with money has become even more fraught and limiting.
Joe: I think I was projecting there. You are right. I have definitely seen people, particularly men who haven’t been doing a lot of work, when they hit their 50s, they become more and more constricted, more and more angry, and with more and more limiting beliefs. It can definitely happen that way as well. Again, they didn’t try to do it. They are just switching one limiting belief with another without any effort. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to change your beliefs. If you can bring consciousness to it, it gets even easier. You can make sure they are positive.
Brett: I guess that’s the kind of thing that can lead to the difference between becoming old, cranky, limited and living in a very small world and the people who age gracefully, loving, open, laugh a lot, and still excited to learn new things.
Joe: My first therapist was older. Her husband and she were adorable and lovely. I loved being around them. I asked them how this happened because I was watching my parents do something very different. She said she had looked at all of their friends, and the people who really decided to have a life of self-discovery have all become more open and more loving and the ones who chose not to have gone in the opposite direction. You really have to make that choice. I haven’t really looked at it completely. I would like to find some counterexamples, but I can’t think of any counter examples of that now that I am in my 50s. I see the same thing. People who have spent some time at it, their world gets bigger, more expansive, more freeing, more joy and laughter. The ones who chased after something else to make them happy, it shut down on them.
Brett We have gone through the underlying belief that we are bad or that it is hard to see through beliefs or hard to change. Then there is the third one you mentioned, we feel like we will be unsafe if we stop believing this or if we stop being limited by a particular belief. What do you mean by that?
Joe: Unsafe means that I am going to be abandoned, I am not going to be loved, something bad will happen, the other foot is going to fall, anything like that. Anything that says you are not going to be okay. It is a more nervous system kind of way of looking at it. That is a belief that gets in the way of people. One of the things I will say about this is that there is actually a marker. When you start doing some of the deeper, self-discovery work, there are these moments you have that are like I am not going to be able to relate to anybody anymore or I am going to lose some friends or asking if you are going to be able to operate in society or if you will be able to keep my job. Those used to scare me. Now they excite me. Anytime I have that thought now, I think oh cool, I am on the precipice of a big change. That fear is a road sign of that. It is awesome, but for many people, until it is seen through, it becomes a reason to stop looking through the limiting belief.
Brett: How did that shift occur for you, moving from that ah to oh, I am on the precipice? It looks like my entire life is going to fall apart right now. Great! That doesn’t mean it is going to be worse objectively in the future than now.
Joe: It sounds crazy. It just happened so many times. There are so many times that that happened. I am not speaking about my business is about to be destroyed though now that I think about it, the times I have thought that have led to huge growth, too. But I am speaking particularly to that belief system of I am not going to be able to relate to people anymore. That happened so many times, and at the end of it, I was so much happier and at peace that I realized this is a good sign to it. I can say those times not scared for my physical life but scared for business or marriage have also led to some sort of personal breakthrough or some sort of deeper way of looking at the world or a deeper understanding that allowed me to live the life I wanted to live with more ease. Even that, apparently.
Brett: What makes us adopt these beliefs that we will be unsafe?
Joe: Getting punished as a kid, being abandoned or unloved as a kid. The other thing is there is this weird human brain logic thing that happens is bad stuff occurs, like pain or people hurting you sometimes and economies collapse, things you don’t have any control over. There is this weird way of thinking. I was happy and then this bad thing happened, so I can’t be happy. Then the next foot is always going to fall. I can’t trust it will be good because the nature of things that are good, peaceful, and smooth is that they don’t last forever. The only way they last forever is if they are an internal mindset, but the reality of the world around us is that it is in constant flux. In that constant flux, what we call bad things happens. We learn the lesson that they are always going to happen.
Very rarely do you ever hear somebody say things are horrible right now, so something good must happen right now. It always happens that way. There is always something good that happens after the bad, but we never think that way because our brains are neurologically set up to look for cause and effect to avoid negative effects. That’s also part of the reason we think we are going to be unsafe.
Brett: Only uphill from here. This is as bad as it gets.
Joe: Exactly, it is very rare for somebody to think that. They did a study on war, and it is true in climate change. When somebody has experienced devastation very close to them but didn’t affect them, like a bomb going off in the apartment next door or their city getting ruined by a bad flood, they are less likely to think it will affect them in the future. They think they survived it so they will probably survive the next one, which is interesting. Some people think that’s what is happening is basically they have to think it can’t happen to them or they would have to leave the situation. It could be a self-selecting bias. It is a phenomenon study.
Brett: On one hand, there is a confirmation bias. I am speaking from being a base jumper and having had a lot of people die around me. I could think if I am still alive, that must mean I am one of the people who does things in a way that keeps me alive, so I am safe. Another one could just be the pain of this danger is increasing, and I need to disassociate from it more and more so I can continue to feel safe. I can imagine both of those happening at the same time can lead to this phenomenon.
Joe: In general, what we do is think oh shit, I am not safe, and then our nervous system is on alert all the time, which makes seeing limiting beliefs very challenging.
Brett: Let’s say we have everything going on around us. The universe is stochastic. How do we prove we are safe? How do you prove the other side of this belief?
Joe: You are not safe. This one is a tricky one because you are going to die. We are all going to die. Ultimately, in that way, there is no safety. The only safety that you can have, the only security you can have is the security of knowing yourself. That’s the only security you can have in this life. I remember when I was 20 years old, in Santa Cruz and I think I was smoking pop and playing music, and there was this guy hitchhiking. He was a short, skinny man in robes. He was just in robes. He wasn’t a monk or anything. I picked him up hitchhiking. For some reason, I asked him what he thought the biggest problem in America was. He said everything feels insecure. Those are, I think, his exact words. I remember wondering if he meant if they weren’t confident and secure or if they were unsecure like they don’t feel safe and secure. I asked him and he said the same thing. There is no difference between those two in his world. It always struck me. You could see he clearly felt very safe and very secure. It is a very internal thing.
On a practical level, we feel a lot more insecure and unsafe than we actually are. I am going to start a company. That’s unsafe. But a ton of entrepreneurs have done it successfully and have become far more secure. Wherever you think you are insecure or unsafe, you can probably find somebody who has done it and has been successful. As far as being abandoned, everybody can find a community. You can be a sociopath who wants to kill people and find a community of other sociopaths who want to kill people like ISIS. The other thing is you can look and say you have thrived. Look at your life up until now. For most people listening, your career has gone maybe not in the trajectory you wanted but it has gone up and to the right. You have fed yourself the whole time. You have had friends the whole time. You have been waiting for this impending doom that hasn’t occurred. There are pieces of evidence in that.
What our brain likes to do, just like thinking I am bad, is say this one thing went right instead of looking at all of the things that went right. Inherently, we aren’t safe.
Brett: What if it seems like that trend has been in the opposite direction, like for somebody who had it made and then the pandemic hit. They socially distanced for a long time. Now they are really, really socially anxious. Their job fell apart because their industry fell apart. They don’t feel like they have a sense of community. They could look for evidence to the opposite somewhere, but it feels like there is a trend for them to have moved further from that. Looking for somebody out there who is successful, that might just make them feel more comparison and worse.
Joe: What you are describing is probably someone who is depressed or suffers from a lot of anxiety. Is it the fact they aren’t safe or is it the fact they don’t think they are safe? Is it the fact they are bad or the fact that they think they are bad that is causing that reality to unfold? Obviously, that’s not true for everybody, but what’s the more useful thought? What’s the thought that’s less limiting? Is that I am safe? It is not about truth or not truth. It is about creating spaciousness. Is that thought about being unsafe and bad helping them get out of that situation? Is it creating constriction in their system? Is it useful? The other thing is you can move to the comparables, which is plenty of people have been in that situation. Job has gone away. Community has gone away. Wife and kids have gone away. They went to jail. There are people like this who have created a great life for themselves, have contributed to society and have love in their lives. How did that happen if they are inherently unsafe or bad?
There is always a way to look at it. That is exactly where the trap happens. It is like no, but this is a correct thought. Correctness doesn’t matter. What matters if it creates constriction or not in your system? Great call out.
Brett: Ultimately it is seeing we are still here despite everything we believe about ourselves and have believed about how we might not make it. Here we are. Ultimately the evidence of the fact we are presently here and thinking these thoughts, doing this exploration through this podcast is evidence.
Joe: It is useful and less constrictive.
Brett: What else makes it that breaking limiting beliefs seems to be hard?
Joe: We mentioned the lattice work piece and I want to go into that for a second. You have one belief. You can see through it, but the behavior doesn’t change. There could be a latticework of belief systems that are holding that behavior in place. For instance, let’s say something happens in your life, such as your company is going to do cutbacks. This is probably something a lot of people are feeling right now. The first thought you find as a limiting beliefs is that what is happening is wrong. I feel a constriction. That’s a limiting belief. You work on it.
Then you might find out that you don’t like what is happening here. That might be another belief that is part of the limiting belief lattice work. Then you might find out change is hard. This is going to be change, and change is hard. Then maybe change is unsafe. That might be another belief system. Then you might think you might be punished because every time change happened in your house, you got hit or mom or dad yelled or everybody was anxious. Oh my god, we are going to the airport. Everybody is freaking out. Where is the passport? Did you get the thing? So you don’t like change.
Then it isn’t safe and I will be punished. You will notice the belief system is when change is happening, I will be punished, and maybe there is a belief in there that I am bad. There is a lattice work of beliefs that can happen. We work on one instead of looking at the whole lattice work of beliefs that can be seen through. Nothing has changed.
Brett: That can explain, I think, some of the emotional undertone. If you are looking at the surface level belief, such as losing your job and believing this bad and wrong, then the actual emotional component of that might be all the way down at the bottom of that structure of I am bad or I will never be able to find another job or I was just faking it through this one anyway and now I am screwed.
Joe: It could be multiple ones. There might be anger in one of the belief systems and fear in another belief system. That’s where the emotional component becomes a really important thing to really understand the emotions that hold these things in place.
Brett: What do we when we see that? This lattice work looks like a vast fractal that can go on forever, and all of it might just land in the same place of I am loveable, I will be alone and I am going to die.
Joe: It could all go back to the fact that you exist in the first place, so there is some you that needs to be rejected or I am bad or unsafe. There are some core ones, but each time you feel constriction there is an opportunity for more freedom in a belief system. The first thing is to trust the awareness. We will go into how to unhinge the emotional part of it, and maybe we will have one on ways to flush it that is more intricate than the last limiting beliefs episode, but really trust your awareness. If you can see it clearly and feel it clearly, you can create the spaciousness that the rest can take care of itself. To some degree, putting a whole bunch of effort into changing it after you see it is telling yourself you don’t see it. If I get two plus two is four, I don’t tell myself I’ve got to remember two plus two is four. How do I make sure I know two plus two equals four from this point on? You don’t do that because you got it. You don’t need to do that. If you are asking yourself what you have to do to unstick a limiting belief, it means you haven’t seen through it all the way. Trusting the awareness is an incredibly important thing.
We will do some tools that will really help with the emotional stuff, and inquiry as we talked about before in the last podcast is really good. Anything that creates that spaciousness, inquiry is part of it, but anything that creates spaciousness between you and thought or spaciousness within you. When you are creating beliefs in that pattern, it is about how you create spaciousness.
Brett: In that place of creating spaciousness while going through this process, I can imagine a common self help trap of these things in my life are happening and I don’t want them to be happening. I am feeling constricted around them. I have got to find the limiting beliefs. I think I see them, but I don’t see through them because I don’t believe it. My body is still constricted. Now I have got to dig harder and that becomes another constriction. How do we stay out of that?
Joe: Order of operations. Everything you just described, your voice even constricted describing it. Those are all, again, limiting beliefs. I think the way I answered this at the end of the last podcast was you work on that limiting belief. The other answer I could have is to be gentle. You do this naturally a thousand times. You have done it in your life. Be gentle in the process, and allow yourself to unfold. It requires a lot of effort not to evolve, not to shift, not to mature. It requires a lot of effort to do that. Let go of the effort. Allow for gentleness to do its work.
Brett: Beautiful. Thank you, Joe.
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