Human beings suck at the main life skill: modifying our beliefs. Our beliefs create our reality. They dictate our thoughts and actions.
Have you heard of the confirmation bias? We, humans, subconsciously seek for the inputs that confirm our pre-existing convictions. And ignore everything else.
This mechanism is intended to save our brainpower, but in reality, it severely limits our potential for growth and change. It limits our potential to make our lives better.
If all you know is misery and struggle, and you automatically look for the signs of misery and struggle, how can you notice the opportunity to improve your life? How can you grab it, if you don’t even recognize it?
Changing One’s Beliefs
You can argue that if this is how the human mind is constructed, it’s tough luck and we are sentenced to whatever belief systems we’ve created for ourselves. But that is not true.
In the human history, there were countless examples of people who modified their beliefs and changed their lives.
People who discovered (or re-discovered) religion and completely changed their behaviors.
People who pivoted mid-life, started a new career, and got spectacularly different results.
Drug addicts and alcoholics who gave up their addictions and started a better life.
By the way, I heard once on a retreat (it was a quote from some psychiatrist) that it’s easier for a person to quit a hardcore addiction than to change their self-image. And almost always, our self-image is built on the beliefs we have about ourselves.
I fully agree with that statement. People are so change-adverse that most of them choose rather to die than to change their self-image.
Do you think it’s an exaggeration? Well, 89% of people who had bypass surgery and were told to change their lifestyle got back to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, sedentary lifestyle and eating junk food. Even the prospect of a sure and imminent death wasn’t compelling enough for them to modify their beliefs and change their behavior.
Is It All Lost?
Nope. Again, countless examples of massive change throughout the history of humankind clearly indicate changing your self-image and your beliefs is entirely possible.
So, how do we do that? Long ago, I bought into the methodology of Jim Rohn in this regard. Basically, he stated that we can shape our personal philosophy (one’s systems of beliefs) by changing our data inputs, self-talk (which has plenty to do with self-image), and changing whom we spend time with.
Data, personal interpretation of the data, and human interactions. Those three elements can reprogram your beliefs, your personal philosophy, your own personal lenses with which you interpret everything you observe, and everything which happens to you.
In my book, Trickle Down Mindset, I wrote:
People may be regarded as data input sources too. But there is something distinct in humanity. It is stronger to hear the information from another man than to read the same information in a book. Relationships and interactions stir more emotions and thoughts than any other way of receiving information.
Interactions with other people are the shortcut to modifying your beliefs. And here is where coaching comes into play.
Coaching and Beliefs
Most of the coaching work is with beliefs. – Joanna Kucharczyk-Capiga
It’s not just a catchy phrase. This is a wisdom of a coach who worked with hundreds (thousands?) of people and cooperated in facilitating hundreds of life transformations. This is a statement describing reality.
How come? Simple: coaches are human beings, so they can be both the source of input and of interpretation. But most importantly, they are trained to reflect and highlight a client’s beliefs to themselves.
Becoming aware of one’s belief is the prerequisite to change that belief. This is why changing yourself in isolation is an almost impossible task. You accept your personal philosophy as THE reality. You don’t challenge it. The thought of challenging your beliefs doesn’t even cross your mind.
Objects fall down on earth when you drop them, fire burns, and you are stupid, worthless, and ugly (negative limiting beliefs about oneself are the cornerstones of the faultiest personal philosophies). You don’t challenge those assumptions; you just operate within their limits.
Being ignorant about your beliefs is the main reason any change is so hard to implement.
Hiring a coach is the best way to undercover your limiting beliefs. But the benefits don’t end at that.
I guess a sudden change of belief system and self-image is possible. It didn’t take long for Saul to turn into the saint Paul. It was a brief interaction with Jesus that turned a whore Magdalena into the saint Magdalena.
Yet, most coaches are ordinary human beings, not divine beings, and they don’t have the power to turn you into someone else in a single moment.
In coaching, we don’t break beliefs, we don’t destroy them. We try to transform them, expand them, so they serve you better. – Joanna Kucharczyk-Capiga
A coach doesn’t crush beliefs because crushing takes some force and begets some resistance. Instead, a coach just shows you what your beliefs really are: a construct of your mind. Sometimes those constructs are useful, sometimes they are not serving you so well.
Your coach will demonstrate for you how to recognize which are which, and when the same belief may be advantageous in one situation or be very limiting in another situation.
Also, crushing a negative belief puts the focus on this belief itself. And whatever you focus on, expands. Thus, in a coaching process, we put focus on the new belief which will serve you much better than the old one.
Instilling a New Set of Beliefs
I had spent many years in IT, ask any developer: writing a program from scratch is so much easier than trying to fix someone else’s faulty code. This is especially true when you implement a new functionality.
The same goes for restructuring one’s belief. In the coaching process, we don’t dwell too much on the faulty beliefs. We create new ones. We also don’t erase the old code, rather, continuing with the programming metaphor, we disable sections of code or comment on it: “this is useful only for…”
The coaching process is future oriented. It focuses on the desirable future output.
Oh, and don’t even think for a second that your coach is a programmer here. A coach is always just a person who accompanies you in your process. You are behind the steering wheel.
You are the developer who writes the new code, the new belief, for better outputs. Your coach just sits next to you, shares their observations, helps you to verify if new beliefs are really serving you well, and warns you if they notice you fall back to your old beliefs, the faulty code.
But the main bulk of the work is yours, and yours alone. This is one of the reasons why those new beliefs will really stick: you will own them as much as your old ones. They won’t be imposed on you.
Changing one’s beliefs is a task close to impossible to perform in isolation. You just cannot help the fact your beliefs mesh with reality, and you cannot discern one from another.
Having someone else to point things out is a blessing in this process. Aren’t our close ones constantly challenging our beliefs?
Having someone in your corner trained in noticing, scratching, and developing beliefs is a double blessing. The whole process of extracting individual beliefs, assessing, and changing them will be so much smoother and faster.
Most importantly, changing your beliefs will actually become doable.