Thursday, January 18, 2007

What Stops You?

We have been discussing the power of our beliefs and how they shape our reality. We introduced the technique of using classifying sentences to uncover the beliefs that impact us unobtrusively.

In this post, I'll introduce you to a follow-on technique you can use to change your beliefs once you have identified them. The process starts (as all great processes do) with asking questions. You ask these questions after the "I can't..." statements we talked about previously.

When you are uncover a belief using an "I can't..." statement, try asking the question, What would happen if you did? For example:
I can't get rich.
What would happen if you did?
I would be able to run my own business (or take time off or ???)
I can't lose weight.
What would happen if you did?
I would finally be able to find my soulmate (or get the job I want or ???)
Try this yourself and you should see that you have structured a belief about the end condition that you probably need to reconsider if you are ever going to achieve your end condition. If hidden behind your statements about your financial situation is a belief about your abilities or potential, then changing that belief is the first step towards influencing yourself to achieve that end condition. Why is this true?

Our minds control everything about us. They control our physical behaviors, but they also filter and scope reality around us to make it manageable. If in your head you are walking around with the belief that you are poor, then when your mind presents you with reality it will try and make reality and your belief match up. It doesn't want you to be a liar, right?

Generally speaking I use this question to break myself (or someone I'm working with) out of the pattern of following their limiting belief. Answering this question helps to unlock the belief pattern as internally you have to envision a path in which you achieved the positive end result. Simply put, you can't not think about a pink elephant. Internally, you have to construct the reality of a pink elephant in your mind so that you can not think about it.

When I am seeking to find why my beliefs have been formed a certain way, or how to unblock particularly well established beliefs, I sometimes find a more direct approach works well. After an "I Can't…" statement, ask the question "What stops you?" For example:
I can't lose weight.
What stops you?
It's genetic, my whole family is large. (or I have no discipline or ???)
I can't become rich. What stops you? It takes money to make money. (or I don't have the education/opportunity/time or ??)
The thing about this question is that it causes you to internally run through the strategy you've been using to limit or restrict your behavior. As G.I. Joe always said, Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. When we can face the beliefs that have been controlling our behavior they become much easier to change.

When using this question in conversation with another person, watch the nonverbal queues that will invariably harmonize the response. Generally you can gather a wealth of information from eye movements, physical gestures, changes in breath rate, alterations in skin tone and so on. All of these will give you insight into the internal process because used as well as the depth and severity of the conflict.

Of course, these types of queries are best used between participants that are already in rapport.

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