Are your beliefs helping or harming?

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Are your beliefs helping or harming?


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    Many influences condition us and lead to the formation of our beliefs. As children, we are like sponges, soaking up and learning all we can. So, our family played the first crucial role. The way they interacted with us, disciplined us, praised us, nurtured us, teased us and what they overtly said to us began to affect our thought processes and form our beliefs. We also noticed their subtle behaviour and the implied messages in even seemingly kind words. For example, “You are such a thoughtful, kind and such a good child. I love you so much.” might not only have carried the message “I love you” but also the message that we might not be loved if we were not a thoughtful, kind and “good” child.

    The way people relate to one another also carried messages. We see what is admired and what is frowned upon. All this has an immense effect on the masks we develop and the ways we manipulate our self to be “accepted”, “loved” and “worthy”. As we grow older our teachers, peers and society at large play a major role in the formation of our beliefs. As adults, external influences (like family, partners, friends, colleagues, new learning, books, coaching, opinions and so on) still have a major impact on what we believe. The difference is only that as an adult, striving for awareness and better results, it’s our responsibility to constantly challenge, question, change or reframe the conditioned beliefs we hold to check if they help or harm us. This task can be a daunting and challenging but gets easier with practise and the guidance of a skilled facilitator, coach or psychologist.

    I am going to get you started with some critical Key Steps to identify beliefs that are not getting you the results you want from your life so we can understand them and replace them with stronger and more empowering beliefs:

    1.  Realise that a belief is just a thought you have said yes to enough times. When we stop making beliefs ‘bad or good’ or ‘right or wrong’, this lack of judgement makes it easier to ‘see’ the mistaken certainties you hold. If you resist it, guess what? Yes, it persists.

    2.  Identify your limiting beliefs. The most challenging factor in identifying limiting beliefs is that those beliefs that affect us the most are usually outside of our awareness.  And whether your belief is a way of thinking that will help you achieve your goals or not, you will always try to find evidence to support your beliefs, and to keep it as part of your reality.  The trick here is to remember point 1 (above) and not make any belief bad or wrong. You simply want to identify beliefs that are holding you back without judging yourself for having them. Pay attention to your self-talk and the external language you use when engaging with others. For example, catch yourself when you say things like, “I can’t…”, “I’m no good at…”, “It won’t work”, “We’ve never done it that way before” or “It’s not possible.” There are many variations of these phrases that we treat as truths. They are often not grounded in facts (but just our thoughts and feelings) and they can limit us by shutting down possibilities and potential. Once you’ve identified the limiting belief, then you can move onto the next Key Steps to…

    3.  Unlock the door and release yourself from the shackles of your limiting belief. Most people try self-discipline and talking themselves out of limiting beliefs at a purely rational level, this simply makes the change more resistant. So, what do you do? I’ve created a tool that can help. It’s taken years of refining my coaching practise to get to this tool. When completing my PhD the candidates said that it was the most transformational tool they had ever received. As you can imagine, I am very excited to share it with you. Just remember that the participants that I am referring to went through intensive training with me on how to use it so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle a little and need some professional guidance. Okay, now on with the tool that is simply called “The KEY to Empowering Limiting Beliefs™” where KEY is an acronym for:

    3.1  Know it. You need to recognise the belief and honour its positive intent. My coaching clients often tell me that there is no positive intent in their limiting beliefs. This is not true. We usually hang onto the belief for dear life, and are afraid to let go, because of what we perceive the consequences to be. For example, for the longest time, I believed that I could not speak in public. This belief was protecting me from the pain that I would experience if I were to mess up in public and feel like a fool as a result. Getting to know your belief is a very important step and must be done thoroughly as there is often a whole tangle of limiting beliefs that need to be unwound and examined with love and curiosity. For example, my belief that I couldn’t speak in public was not the whole story; it was rooted in a deeper belief that I had to be perfect to be good enough. When I am coaching, it often takes multiple coaching sessions just to complete this first step so don’t rush this step. Then, step 2 is to…

    3.2  Educate or empower it. Remember that trying to talk yourself out of a belief rationally usually doesn’t work. Instead, look for evidence in your past that contradicts it (this is what I refer to as educating the belief) to start to weaken its hold over you. For me, this happened when I realised that I used to stand-up every day of the school holidays and play “school-school” with my sister Jen. I stood up and presented to her many times. So, it wasn’t true that I couldn’t speak in public. When I looked more closely, I realised why it was possible for me to do that and I used that knowledge to empower myself to change my future. I made sure I only spoke about topics in which I was an expert. I started my career only speaking to small groups because I could see it as just being an everyday normal conversation. I adjusted my body language to a confidence posture (think Amy Cuddy and power posing). I am sure you can imagine that what I have shared here might make it sound like I just flicked a switch (and sometimes it can be that easy) but for me this was quite a long and challenging process and I know I wouldn’t have gotten to the root of things without the help of a coach. Over time, as soon as I started to try these empowering new habits, I realised that I might be able to speak in public after all, which led me to say…

    3.3  Yes, to the new belief. If you do step 2 well enough, then step 3 will happen automatically. This step is about choosing something different. We change our beliefs far more easily when we displace them with a new – more empowering – belief, instead of trying to just cut the old belief off and rationalise it away. Displacing is also less invasive than “cutting” and brings about more sustainable results. And it works, I know because I can now speak online to hundreds of people and manage it without even seeing them! (All speakers reading this will know how challenging that is!)

    It is that simple and “The KEY to Empowering Limiting Beliefs™” is in your hands. I know that doesn’t mean it is easy as it is not a tidy linear process. When I coach, we often see-saw between steps as we uncover new things. I do this at an individual and group or work team level. If you’d like to work with me and empower your limiting beliefs, you can explore the following links: I use this model when I coach, I also offer keynotes, masterclasses and workshops on this topic. I had a large group masterclass session this week and after working in small breakout rooms, they all came out saying how insightful and enlightening the session had been. So, the process is very possible in an online space. I’ve included the group’s word cloud below.

    So, try it (on yourself – you have to be a trained professional to consider working with other people and their stuff 😊) in a gentle and curious way and take Key Steps to…

    “be the difference that makes the difference


    About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

    Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s like the Oscar of the speaking business.

    Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

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