Legs of a TableWhat determines how deep rooted or firmly held a belief is? We explored the power of beliefs in the previous section. We need to try to strength our positive beliefs about ourselves and our environment, and reduce the power of the negative beliefs that grip us. A belief is an idea, nothing more. It is an idea that has a number of supporting references, be those ideas, interpreted experiences, memories, images or imagined memories. The more references we have for a particular belief, the stronger its power and the harder it is to change. A belief is like a table and references are like table legs. With more than a few references, the table becomes strong.
With only one leg, the belief is shakey and can be easily knocked down/changed. A belief is like a compliment. Without anything to back it up, it has little meaning. So as we examined in the previous section, to build up new positive beliefs and destroy the respective negative beliefs, we need to build up the references for the positive beliefs and question our references for the negative beliefs.
Building up references can be in the form of focussing on past memories, imagining new situations and other positive cross referencing beliefs. This is a cornerstone of NLP. The trick is to be in an optimal state of mind whilst visualising one's references for the new belief. Music can help in this respect. We can visualise the references in colour, close by, immediately in front of us, loud and vivid, played forwards in slow motion, or however they are most effective and impacting for us.
Similarly, questioning references in really fun! Take a reference to a negative belief such as 'I don't deserve to be successful'. We subconsciously believe this, although rationally of course we do not acknowledge it. But that does not take away its power. To take its power away, we need to question and crush the references for this. Perhaps when we were younger, we were embarrassed about our parent's wealth. And felt guilty about it or tried to shy away from it, to fit in to our peer group, or to not attract attention to ourselves as we lacked confidence. Now, in order to question these references, we can for example imagine the situations in black and white, further away, blurred, quieter, to the left, played fast and backwards, or slowed down, comically (putting a wig and comic breasts on the person, giving them a silly or ridiculous, crazy voice), imagining it from the third person (outside of our bodies, viewing the situation from a distance), anything that will reduce the power of the memory or reference. We can imagine people of our peer group saying to us that our parents are rich and stupid, but in a silly voice and whilst on the toilet, whatever makes us laugh and that reduces their credibility. Then, as we described in the previous section, we tell ourselves it is rubbish and powefully repeat the positive belief to ourselves, that we are the greatest, very intelligent and brilliant and deserve the best. I am sure that you can think of many examples of subconscious negative beliefs that make you feel less than great about yourself on a regular basis. Get to work on finding the references and destroying them, replacing them with positive, empowering references that back up your new positive beliefs. When you find a positive and empowering experience, apply the reverse concept and make the image bigger, brighter, clearer, louder, more vivid, more intense, closer to you, in the first person as if you were there. Really feel it. Make sure your posture and physiology is positive when you do this too.
Creating new memoriesAre you 100% happy with your memories? Do you always tend to focus on good memories, and not dwell on any bad memories or beliefs about past experiences? If so, then you don't need to read any further! You are a master of your mind. Congratulations!
For the rest of us, our memories and past experiences, from childhood and young adulthood, shape who we are today. Sometimes people say things or we ascribe a meaning to situations that reduces our self-esteem. Perhaps we missed out on excelling in certain areas for lack of really engaging. Perhaps we were told we were rubbish at something and never really tried it after that. However, does a baby give up trying to walk because a grown up says 'I don't think you can learn to walk'. Does the baby pay any attention to anyone? No! The baby is certain he will be able to walk, and just keeps trying until he can do it. Adults can apply this attitude as well in our lives, to live them exactly how we want them. Here is an exercise in going through our memory banks and picking what we want, and throwing out what we don't want, and putting in additional new 'memories' that make us feel great! It sounds insane, but it is simple and really works.
What is a memory? It is a film that we play back to ourselves. Why do we repeat or even save/store bad memories? Why don't we just bin them? Do we vividly remember times when we were violently vomiting or had diahorrea and repeat it over and over again many times a day until we felt ill or miserable? No we don't. We don't attach meaning or importance to this memory. We experienced it, we can remember it if we really want to, but it is not important, it has no power so we just ignore it. The same can be true of your emotionally painful experiences or memories. It is just a matter of meaning. Why not be creative and play other memories/movies of our choosing? The ones that make us feel good. Can the brain tell the difference between an imagined memory or a real one? Not really, both have the same emotion attached to them. Like a dream where you fall in love. Did it feel any less real? Get the idea? Let's get started.
Recall as many past memories of situations and experiences that you can. Try to think of those that you found upsetting. Situations where people put you down, picked on you, pushed you around, or you did something stupid. Bad choices of friends who treated you badly. Or even situations where you didn't put in 100% through fear, be it sports, school work, social situations etc.; that helped to install low self-esteem that you still carry with you now, and which reinforces negative patterns today and disempower you.
Now really experience them. Vividly. If necessary, exaggerate them for emphasis. Make each situation seem intolerable (I am sure you would never put up with these situations now anyway!) Get some leverage. Get annoyed. Get upset. Get really angry. Feel disgusted. Feel frustrated. Really feel it. Get motivated. Feel what was wrong about that situation (with the benefit of hindsight). Now visualise you handling that situation, knowing what you know now, that it is in fact important to have self-respect, be your true self, and deal with it positively and assertively in each situation you experience. Imagine the perfect outcome of that situation. Be it punching that guy in the face, telling a bunch of nasty peers where to get off, laughing in their face and getting some respect, scoring those goals or tries, and feeling really great about yourself. Really feel that satisfaction, sense of achievement, knocking down of those barriers and fears. Feel unstoppable. Feel good! YES!
Don't stop here. Don't just rewrite situations from memory. Come up with a few new ones. Really cool ones. Like friends you wish you had. Things you wish you had done. Shared experiences with friends, fun, sport, anything. Really vividly experience these. This is especially good for those of us who may not have that painful experiences, but plenty of memories of ourselves totally wasting our time with a group of people or activity (you know what I'm talking about!)
That's it! It doesn't cost anything and it kicks [insert appropriate expression]! Do it! Nobody is looking! Don't be shy! Do this every day or as often as you want. Don't put it off because part of your brain wants you to feel miserable. Take control! Or let a dumb filing system control your mind.
An variation of the above applies to dreams. One can of course use a dream as an excuse to create new situations in which to work on one's confidence or other attributes, or simply to have fun, if one gains lucidity within the dream. This is discussed on the Belief page. Examples of rather unsatisfactory or unpleasant dreams may include one where one is playing the role of a submissive person who is being downtrodden or an anxiety dream where one's lack of confidence means one never achieves what one wants to achieve in a dream, but is caught up in the logistics of it or trying to avoid pain or embarrassment. If one has had such an unsatisfactory dream, then upon wakening, rather than allowing it to further reinforce your low self-esteem, you can take the opportunity whilst you are still able to recall the dream state and experience (i.e. still in the theta brain state), and to carry on the dream in your mind, whilst awake, but this time taking full control of the dream and taking it in the direction you would have liked or preferred. One could also rewind the dream and replay it in one's mind and make confident decisions instead. There are several variants of the above. Dreams can in some sense form memories and references (sometimes forming self-reinforcing patterns), so use them to your benefit or detriment!
Please see the Anchors page regarding Western society's excessive reliance on external triggers to alter our mind states.