Photo Credit: Mario Azzi, Unsplash.com

Written by Raluca Gomeja
July 17, 2020

“I’m stuck!”

How many times have we found ourselves blocked in a situation without seeing any way out?

And the more we looked for solutions, the more it became frustrating because no matter what we tried, it wasn’t working. No matter how much we felt we wanted to get out of that blockage, it felt like it wasn’t for us, nothing would ever work, and we’d never get out of that situation.

To start with, each of us feels this way in different moments of our lives, and it’s absolutely normal to be uncomfortable, frustrated, down, or angry when we feel stuck–when we feel we can’t get out of a given situation.

Therefore, know we aren’t the first person (nor the only one) who feels that way.

Second, when we feel stuck, that may be because of two things:

  • There’s some work to be done, some cleaning, some changing (in order to face a real obstacle), and being stuck is just the best way our body found to trigger us to do that work.
  • Something deeper is to be seen, approached, and dealt with for a fundamental change.

In the first case, it’s a sign of “we need a time out, we need to rest, we need to reconsider things;” and maybe, as my former boss used to say, “to go slowly as we’re in a hurry.” In that case, feeling stuck is actually salvation.

The blocks are real, the obstacles are there and all we need is to be prepared to overcome them. Like when we’re physically trapped under a big tree or rock and we need to gather all of our strength, take a deep breath, and (only after), push it away with all our might. We need to take a step back to bound further than ever before and overcome that obstacle.

In the second case, there’s something deeper that no longer allows us to grow. We feel stuck by imaginary blocks that aren’t even real. They are the ones created by our own minds to keep us safe.

At the top of internal blockages are our own beliefs–those thoughts we decided to take as absolute truth and then proceeded to create our perception of reality around it.

Nowadays, everyone talks about limiting beliefs, and yet:

  1. This is only the tip of the iceberg when considering the rest of the internal blocks we all have or experience.
  2. Removing them is far easier than removing other energy blockers.
  3. We lack basic knowledge of what limiting beliefs are and how they function, and most people use the term in all situations without finding a deeper understanding of what they truly mean.

And this is where we’ll spend a little more time on . . .

What “Beliefs” Are and Where They Come From

Beliefs are things our mind decides to believe in. It’s something for which we have no proof of existence, but we believe it’s there.

Some beliefs are salvatory (as mentioned above) while others prevent us from having a beautiful life experience. Believing in something is what helps us achieve that something. Someone has to believe in order to achieve.

Believe you can achieve things, believe that you can build, believe that it’s possible–all of this is liberating and growing. It’s real in our head and, because of that, we can move forward and touch it, and make it real.

At the same time, some beliefs can have the contrary effect. It isn’t real but it becomes our reality. There’s no proof but we’ve chosen to believe it as the absolute truth (and that can keep us down). That virtual reality we’ve built for ourselves–believing it’s the truth–can prevent us from not only growing but from actually living.

We need to imagine something before we achieve something. That imagination gives focus. And, like it or not, it goes exactly the same way in the opposite direction. Believing we can’t achieve something gives focus to that limitation.

  • I’ll never get married. I’ll never have kids. That’s what we hear the most from people desperate to have a family.
  • I’ll never earn money. I’ll never be rich. That’s what we hear a lot from people who suffer from not having enough wealth.
  • I’ll never enter law school. I’ll never graduate. That’s what we hear a lot from people who suffer from not having enough education.

And we can add many similar examples, but one thing remains true: whether we believe we can do it, or we can’t do it, we are right. And our minds will prove it. Which justifies the value of working on our own belief system.

Now, in coaching, we don’t like to speak about good or bad. Like good beliefs or bad beliefs (who can judge what’s good or what’s bad?) Besides, everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs. What we talk about instead is how well those beliefs are working for us.

Are they serving us? Well, go for it. Are they holding us back? Well, maybe we want to do something about it.

Are those beliefs bringing a sense of joy, excitement, passion, looking forward to doing something? When we close our eyes and believe tomorrow’s here, does that resonate with us, make our hearts sing so that we’re so excited we can barely sleep because we have so many ideas in our mind we feel we have to write them down before they go away and out of the blue the night has gone missing and we still don’t feel tired?

We’ve all had those nights for many personal reasons. Some before getting married, some before graduation, a big project, etc.

The truth is that those beliefs activate an energy button within us that gives that feeling of “I can move mountains.” Usually, it’s working and we love it. This puts us in a creative, unstoppable energy where everything’s possible and we know we’ll achieve great things.

Or are those beliefs coming with a sense of panic, fear, insecurity, anger, that nothing will ever work (so why even bother)? These make us cry the entire night, because God, the universe, doesn’t want us to have it. That this isn’t for us. That this is unfair. That we have to accept that the dream will never be ours.

Usually, it’s a feeling most people don’t enjoy, and the more they believe this or that isn’t for them (and they can never have it) the more they suffer. In that sense, whatever they believe is true becomes their truth, even without any proof, and it’s not working for them as all it does is takes their energy away, and therefore, things don’t change. Those beliefs aren’t working for us, and are probably the root of deeper internal blockers.

Or are those beliefs coming with no feelings at all–because it is what it is, “I gave up many years ago on believing in those stupid dreams.” Which is probably the most difficult part. When those beliefs are so deep in us that we don’t even know we have them, that’s our normal, and therefore, even challenging them is difficult.

Where people will fight back to prove anyone wrong, because they’ve known it since forever that it’s this way and no other; or sometimes when they did try, and they suffered and finally gave up, to realize it’s safer this way because it doesn’t create frustration.

Because it’s easier to believe it isn’t possible and experience a beautiful surprise at the end than to believe it’s possible only to be disappointed and frustrated. I hear so often how people in such a situation tell me they know how to handle their today situation, “I won’t be able to handle a new disappointment.” This is when those beliefs are probably an indication for a far deeper blockage than the limiting beliefs.

So, in essence, limiting beliefs (according to the iPEC definition) are the beliefs we have about the world, about other people, about situations, about life in general, that hold us back from success and from getting what we want.

And we notice that those limiting beliefs aren’t necessarily about us. These are just statements we believe are true.

For example:

  • A working mother cannot be a good mom.
  • A black person can’t be a manager in Europe.
  • One needs to suffer in order to grow.
  • Money doesn’t bring happiness.
  • Successful people are lucky.
  • One has to choose between career and personal life no one can have it all.

We all have or have heard a long list of these. Now when we believe something isn’t possible, what are the chances we challenge that? Most of those beliefs are coming from places we trust, like family or even school or public television. We start to believe them as absolute truth. And it makes sense as we build ourselves as kids within those norms.

Those beliefs could easily be challenged, yet from where we stand we don’t even realize we have them inside. Let’s say, we notice when parents and kids play together, and sometimes (or most of the time) they let them win–slowly that kid (or a little brother or sister that’s only observing) starts to believe that losing is bad which will only create suffering for them.

Or, provided we have a limiting belief that we need to have money to start a successful business, what are the chances we’ll ever even start a business? Or even worse, we might stay in a job that we may not enjoy that much, and make some money, yet what effect will that belief have on our own performance as a leader?

So, how can we move forward?

Five Steps to Moving Forward from Internal Blocks

  1. Make a list of your limiting beliefs. Like anything, some may be more difficult to notice than others, and you may want to ask people around you–ones who know you–what their take is on your limiting beliefs. Take that only as an informative venture, yet stay open-minded because all you want is to discover a place to start from.
  2. Ask yourself how true that belief is. What is the proof that you have to make you believe it’s true? Or even better, find the contrary, an example when that belief isn’t true so you can challenge it organically.
  3. Ask yourself how well that belief is serving you. How well is it working for me? What’s the cost of that belief to me?
  4. Providing that it isn’t serving you, ask yourself what new belief you can put in its place. What’s a new belief that can replace that old belief and that can serve me better? Why am I settling for small? In the example with one can’t be a good mom if you have a successful career–maybe you want to change that belief to acknowledge that some working moms have great careers–they’ve chosen and are happy with it. Why could I not be a mom who chooses a career which works great for me?
  5. Practice the new belief until it becomes a habit. The previous limiting beliefs have been formed over years and years (since early age). It won’t just vanish overnight. It takes a permanent awareness of “how true is that?” in order to no longer buy into what’s not working for you. Think about it with the smile and care, kindness, and compassion you have for a child afraid of monsters in the dark. And when you turn up the light they discover with you that what they believe is a huge monster is just an old coat hanging on the armchair. It’s almost magical when you think about it, isn’t it? Most of our own limiting beliefs are just that, an old coat forgotten on the hanger in the corner of our house. Take it, clean it, put it away, and it’s no longer there.

Of course, it may take time and a permanent process with a coach to have an effective result.

One last, important thing: we may want to pay attention to our environment–what our family believes, our friends, the social media we follow–as we fight with ourselves to change our beliefs and yet are everyday reminded that these are normal according to our own circle. It’s far more difficult to achieve change while surrounded by that.

I’d like to leave you with this final thought–especially in this new area of crisis–it only takes one person, one opportunity to prove that whatever we believed impossible to be possible and the entire world will go for it. The reverse is true as well.

Why not give it a second look before you reach a final never-to-be-challenged conclusion?

Photo Credit: Mario Azzi, Unsplash.com