Breaking Down Your Limiting Beliefs.

Let’s explore this little idea:

You are NOT your beliefs.

Getting your head around it is something that will take your inner growth to a whole new level. So, here we go.

Now, we all carry a bunch of adjectives in our head which we like to prefix with the word “I”.

I am lazy.
I am smart.
I am individualistic.
I am not good enough.
I am great.
I am shy.

Then there are our views about the world and the people in it:

I believe that the world is a tough place.
I believe that women are cold.
I believe that people are caring.
I believe that Nicole Kidman is an alien.

Each one of us carries a unique combination of these in our mind. And each one of us thinks that each belief is a small pieces of a puzzle which, when joined with other pieces, make up the whole identity of self – the “I”.

Let me challenge that reality for you.

A lot of your beliefs – about yourself and the world – are related to pain. Or, more precisely, they are a way your brain shields itself from pain.

So, in short, this is how beliefs are constructed:

1. We get hurt.
2. We feel pain.
3. We seek ways to avoid the pain again.
4. We develop coping mechanisms.
5. We IDENTIFY with them.
6. We accept them as “I”.

And that’s largely how we stay.

Coping mechanisms are fascinating things. They are absolutely essential for our survival because they prevent us from repeating a stressful experience. Yet, by doing so, they limit us, and stilt our growth.

The challenge, then, is to grow past your limits in a way that is safe and comfortable. To dissolve the boundaries where they are now, and redraw them somewhere much further out.

Let me describe a few coping mechanisms which I see come up most often for guys involved in this kind of work. See if you can spot a couple in yourself.

It is a useful exercise because it reveals these beliefs for what they are – things you picked up along the way as a way of dealing with pain – rather than integral, fixed part of you.

Once you recognise them as such, you can move on to shedding them, letting them go, and replacing them with much more empowering beliefs. Which will be the topic of my next post.

So, here we go:


1. Aim Inhibition – lowering sights to what seems more achievable.

This one is very familiar to me. When I was in Year 9, I had a crush on an extremely cute girl called Cindy. I even wrote her a letter telling her that.

She wrote one back saying she didn’t see me “that way”. From that day forward my reality was “really cute girls don’t like me”.

I resigned to asking out, and dating, rather plain girls who I thought were in my “league” for quite a long time after that.

Thing is, the reason I was successful with plain girls had nothing to do with leagues. I believed I was good enough to be with them, so I was confident and charismatic around them enough for them to find me attractive.

But whenever I came across a girl who I felt was in some higher perceived bracket (a girl I was actually interested in), I would collapse.

Thing is, the brackets existed only in my own head. I created them, and I had to climb over them.

At the end of the day, all girls are just that – girls. Physical female beings who respond on a visceral level to a Man.


2. Avoidance – mentally or physically avoiding something that causes distress.

This one is the most common one of all. It is at the core of approach anxiety. You got blown out once. It felt bad. Your brain doesn’t want to feel that way again.

So you avoid doing it again. You might even remove the idea of approaching girls from your concept of reality.

Avoidance is the reason why simply approaching and getting blown out time after time, hoping to build up “thick skin” doesn’t work. If you ever get a coach who is just throwing you into sets with that intent, tell him where to stick it.

For as long as you’re conditioning yourself that APPROACHING = PAIN, your anxiety will persist.

So, avoidance is coping by not having to cope. When feelings of discomfort appear, we find ways of not experiencing them. Not approaching the girl is the way out.

Becoming a “seminar junkie” or an “armchair guru” is another form of avoidance. We put off approaching women until tomorrow, hoping that some new piece of knowledge will make us more bulletproof to her tests. It won’t!


3. Compensation – making up for a weakness in one area by gaining strength in another.

It’s a way of counterbalancing a feeling of inferiority in one area with a feeling of superiority in another.

This baby is at the heart of external validation. The “if only I make enough money to buy this shiny car, girls will be all over me” mentality.

It works in a different way as well, when people whose personal life sucks say “well, at least I’m successful in business”. Sometimes people will take it to the extreme, and convince themselves that they created this imbalance on purpose:

“I have no time for women/girls are a waste of time”. This is an example of reframing at work in a disempowering fashion, where the situation of poverty becomes a source of pride.


4. Fantasy – escaping reality into a world of possibility.

Ever fantasized about seducing an attractive woman who crossed your path? ‘nuff said.


5. Reaction Formation – avoiding something by taking a polar opposite direction.

This one is brilliant. Basically, you feel an urge to do or say something, but do effectively the opposite of that.

“I hate women! They are bitches”, may really mean,

“I desire women and want to be with them, but to admit that means also admitting to myself and others that I’m too anxious to approach them, so I’ll voice a view that makes my decision to stand here and watch her from the sidelines an authentic one.”

I hope you’re now starting to see that a lot of what we identify with – ie what we carry in our heads with an “I” prefix” are a collection of tools our brain picked up along the way to deal with the world.

Similar thing happens with our view of the world itself.

We may think that the world is a nice place, or a cold one, or full of selfish people, or loving creatures, or Klingons, or whatever. But such views also have a beginning somewhere – and a purpose. More on that too in the next part of this post.

Until then, I want you to dwell on this:

Who are YOU?

Perhaps YOU are your body! Well, you sense your body through your five senses. You touch it, smell it, feel it, and so on. Therefore you know it’s there.

But you also know that YOU are not just your body because there is something – your mind – that experiences your body through the senses.

Furthermore, your body sheds, dies, and renews itself every day. The body you will have in 10 years time will be almost entirely different to the body you have now.

Yet, YOU will still be you. So, you’re not your body. Rather, YOU know that you HAVE a body.

Now, what is this YOU that has this body? Your mind? Well, what’s a mind? The collection of your beliefs, memories, experiences, sensations, and so on.

But we’ve just seen that you can also examine your beliefs, just as you can examine your body. There is a part of you which just took a little trip inside your mind and scanned through your coping mechanisms, beliefs, memories, experiences, and so on as I described them.

So, there is SOMETHING that experiences your mind. And, we’ve just seen that beliefs have a beginning and, by definition, can have an end. Yet YOU will still be you.

Therefore, YOU are not your mind. Rather, you have a mind.

So whatever YOU are, YOU are at a higher level of processing than the mind (and the collection of beliefs) you have.

So who are YOU?



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