Extreme Esteem: Beliefs that bind

“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy.”

– Tony Robbins, American author and self-help guru

“It was like a dream,” he explained, “but far more intense – far more realistic.”

“And what did you experience in this intense dream?” I asked. “What did you see?”

I was performing a hypnotic intervention at the wellness centre for a client suffering from some rather profound self-esteem issues. I was using a hypnotic metaphor which is, essentially, a story with a moral written using hypnotic language patterns and delivered as a guided visualization. As our dreams at night take the form of metaphors, the hypnotic metaphor is an effective means of reaching and positively influencing the powerful, unconscious mind.

In this dream, Brian (not his real name) found himself standing in a vast library. Each bookshelf was laden with beautifully bound books with gilded edges. It didn’t take Brian long to realize that each row was labelled with the year, starting with the current year. Further examination revealed subsections labelled by month, week, day and even by the hour.

In trance, Brian was able to locate a volume containing a statement made by his father that read, “Brian, you’ll never be good enough because you can’t focus, and you won’t listen!”

Imagine for a moment that your entire life story had been captured in a series of books. Every glorious achievement and disastrous failure – every noble and wicked thing you had ever done, said or thought captured in minute detail. Now, imagine somewhere in one or more of these volumes is a lie that you accepted as true – an assumption that seemed plausible. As a result, every decision that followed was filtered through these untruths. Perhaps you bought into the notion that you were unworthy or destined to be a failure. Maybe someone said you were unlovable or stupid or a waste of time. These damaging statements need to be edited!

In hypnosis, we purposefully seek out these statements and, using some powerful targeted techniques, rewrite them. But you needn’t see a therapist to make some profound changes in your life. There is research to support the claim that a sizable chunk of our belief system is in place by the time we’re about eight years old. Sadly, most of us never go back to re-examine what we believe to be true about life, the world and ourselves. Start by reflecting on your life. A sincere search for disempowering patterns will provide insights into your current belief system.

When you realize that certain self-limiting beliefs have negatively affected your enjoyment of life and kept you stuck, you can begin to change them. This sounds simple but can be immensely challenging. That said, the results are worth the effort. Keep in mind, you’ve invested heavily into your beliefs so shifting them will take time and effort. There are people who would rather keep their self-defeating beliefs because to relinquish them would mean admitting they’ve been wrong. I know that’s not you because you’re reading these words today.

Perhaps American best-selling author and speaker Charles F. Glassman expressed it best when he said, “Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success!”

Brian realized the he was the author of his life story, so could fill the blank pages with something more positive and life-affirming. Brian mentally crossed out the statement by his father and replaced it with, “Brian is good enough. Brian is focused, and Brian is a good listener.”

You can choose to believe whatever you’d like but keep this in mind: as you believe, so shall you conceive. When you bring awareness to beliefs that are holding you back, you can change them. Remember, you may be the author of your life’s story but you’re also the editor.

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