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Dear Candy Q&A: Exercise to Help Identify Limiting Beliefs

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

There have been many questions around how to identify and work with limiting beliefs. Here is an exercise to help you with that. This exercise is adapted from Sonia Ricotti's Unsinkable Bounce Back System; however, it originates from Narrative Therapy.

By the age of 6, a lot of our core beliefs are already formed. Limiting beliefs develop from the messages we receive from the people around us and the experiences that we have where our needs were not met. From these messages and experiences we create stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the world. These stories affect how we perceive our experiences and how we view the world. They also reinforce certain neural pathways and neurochemistry in our brains. If we want to change our lives, we have to be able to uncover, challenge and transform those limiting beliefs.


One effective way to start uncovering your limiting beliefs is to write out your story (aka what you believe to be true) around health and recovery.


1. Begin with, "The reason why I have ongoing health issues is...." or alternatively, "The reason why I have not recovered yet is...."


Similar to the other writing exercises we have discussed, write uncensored and without judgement. Be as honest with yourself as you can about your deepest thoughts and feelings around this topic. Write for a good 10 to 15 minutes and even if it feels like you're running out of things to say, keep your pen moving. This will help you to access some of the deeper layers of thinking and feeling.


2. Once you are done writing, read your story out loud. Then re-read it, and re-read it again. Do this five times. While you are reading it look for clues about your beliefs. Often the biggest clues to uncovering the limiting beliefs are when we are making excuses or complaining about the situation.


As you repeatedly read it, you will start to take the emotion out of the story and be able to look at it more objectively. You might even start to recognize how some of what you have been telling yourself simply isn't true.


3. Once you have finished reading it aloud 5 times, write down some of the beliefs that you have uncovered through this process. If you are still having trouble identifying the beliefs, ask someone trusted to assist you. Do your best not to judge yourself for the beliefs you are uncovering. Remember, these were formed a long time ago from a child's perspective before your brain was fully developed. Know that by bringing them to your awareness, some will naturally fall away because you recognize how false they are. Others will require a little more effort.


4. Once you have your list of limiting beliefs, for each one, write out what you would like to believe instead. Create this new positive list on a separate piece of paper.


5. Once you have written out your list of new positive beliefs, read them out loud. Then re-read them until you have read it five times. Say them with as much feeling as you can. If you don't believe them right away, that is okay. With repetition, that will shift.


6. Post your list somewhere you can see it regularly, or make post-it notes and have them around your house. Write out your new beliefs or say them out loud to yourself 20 times each day for the next while. Start to imagine what you would feel like with those new beliefs, what you might be doing, how you would be engaging with the world. Afterward, take a few deeps breaths to anchor this new way of being within you.

7. Lastly, decide on one action you could take that affirms your new beliefs. It doesn't have to be something big. If you can't come up with something directly related to your beliefs, then do an action of self-love. This could be spending time in nature & breathing deeply, treating yourself to something you enjoy or something you find relaxing, or writing a kind and encouraging letter to yourself. Again, this will help to anchor in your new beliefs and help you create a new reality.



Until next time!


If you have a question, please email me at dearcandyquestions@gmail.com

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Candy Widdifield is Certified Master Coach, Registered Reiki Master Teacher and former Registered Clinical Counsellor, living in Calgary Alberta, Canada. She has a background in nervous system regulation, trauma, grief & loss, mindfulness, somatic therapy, & positive psychology. She taught the DNRS in-person program for 5 years, has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers & provides mentorship to other coaches. Candy works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com

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