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Template for Changing Limiting Beliefs

Before we move onto the worksheet for changing limiting beliefs, recall as you go through the exploration exercise, different issues will arise but they will fall into one of four categories below (or a combination).

    1. Individuation:
      1. Current or past power dynamic and challenges around overcoming adversity within these power dynamics that change the degree to which you internalize others’ perceptions and involuntarily forfeit your own locus of evaluation.
    2. Reality
      1. Whether you are perceiving the stimuli accurately, how much the negativity bias is involved, and how much your past implicit memories influence your present interpretation because we have automatic implicit interpretations that arise as a combination of feeling and perceptual internal simulations before we can consciously be aware of these. So, just because something ‘feels’ accurate does not mean it is since your past implicit memories can influence your automatic perceptions. This is why slowly elaborating (unless in physical danger) is so crucial.
    3. Adaptiveness:
      1. What are more helpful/adaptive ways of:
      2. Behaving
      3. Thinking (this term is referring to the way one is conceptualizing something that is also embedded within implicit memory. Or, in other words, a new way of seeing something that registers at an ‘emotional level’ as well.
      4. Feeling (this colloquial term is used here to refer to the affective valence of an experience)
      5. Experiencing self in embodied awareness
    4. Solutions:
      1. If there is a problem that needs to be solved in the world that does not fall under misperceptions related to a lack of differentiation of self, what reality actually is, or what is a more adaptive perception, you can consider the following to solve the worry regarding a real world problem that requires a solution for:
      2. Capabilities/Skills/Knowledge
      3. Options
      4. Resources
      5. Supports
      6. Strategies

Regarding changing limiting beliefs and perceptions (i.e., automatic internal simulations and perceptions), it will either involve forming an implicit memory that: 1) Requires differentiation of one’s implicit sense of self from other; 2) Is more reflective of reality; and/or, 3) Is more adaptive to current functioning. The fourth category relates to solving a real world problem that you can become conscious of that is not a matter of the perception being internalized from others, realistic, or maladaptive, but still influences one’s beliefs about self, other, and the world if the real world problem were not solved. The issues that arise are often related to the following four categories:

For the “Reality” and “Adaptiveness” sections this involves incorporating the new perception at the same time as the generalized and negatively biased interpretation that was automatically elicited. This helps to recode the memory of the past experience so that you are not perceiving yourself and the world with the same powerlessness, power dynamics, and options as when it was originally formed in a more sensitive period of development. You need to target both how you process information, and what has already been internalized.

For the category of individuation, this almost always needs to be addressed proactively because the formation of the template for the degree to which we internalize others is usually formed at a preverbal stage of development. This means that you may not be conscious of the enmeshment that is occurring at an implicit level, and only potentially conscious of the result of, for example, feeling inferior, or guilty, or disliked, or a desire for their approval.

The worksheet for changing limiting beliefs includes sections on regulation, exploration, and change, with additional regulation at the end. All you need to do is add the respective tool that you wish to use where it is indicated for the exploration and change sections. For the exploration section, the tools to aid in exploration may be used anywhere throughout this section if you have challenges. The exploration and change sections recycle back and forth constantly due to the necessity of exploration to elicit implicit memory so as to be able to reconsolidate it.

Go through the worksheet once imaginally, and the second time as a role-play. Doing it the first time in your imagination can help with deeper exploration because there are not as many attentional resources and distractions during a role-play. The role-play is essential to do because it simulates a lived experience and this is necessary for implicit memory systems that are involved in actual embodied lived experience.

When you are exploring you need to identify which of the categories listed above that the issue that comes up is related to. There is usually a constellation of issues, as well as layers.  To get familiar with the tools, I recommend first going through the changing limiting beliefs workhseet and practicing each one of the tools as a separate exercise. This is also an approach you can take for general self-development. For working on specific issues – and after you are already experientially familiar with the tools – you can select the tools that apply best to the specific issue that comes up during the exploration section of the worksheet.

Assess whether the issue is: 1) related to your sense of self, 2) what is happening in reality apart from your emotional interpretation, 3) what is more adaptive/helpful to believe in the current situation, or 4) if there is problem that needs a physical or material solution. When you identify the category you can use one of the tools from the respective category for the issue – or one of the many facets of the issue – that arises. However, remember that you can also just follow the template and go through the tools sequentially as separate exercises for general personal growth.

Here is the worksheet for changing limiting beliefs. Implement these tools in the respective subsequent chapters as needed:

Changing Limiting Beliefs Worksheet

Regulation

  1. Get comfortable where you are sitting, standing, or lying down. Gently become aware of your body and stay with this embodied awareness throughout the exercise. Move or shift your body to get comfortable. Slow your breathing down. Breathe in a little deeper than usual making sure it’s comfortable for you. Breathe out a bit longer than you normally do in a way that feels pleasant for you. Make your breathing smooth, even, and rhythmic. Continue breathing this way for the entire exercise.
  2. Scan your body and notice where you feel tension. Sequentially and slowly move each tense part of your body while slowly being aware of the movement as it’s happening. When you exhale as you are moving this part of the body, gently and gradually allow this part of your body to start to release and let go. Notice any enjoyable sensations when you exhale and gently allow the muscle to start to let go a little. Allow yourself to experience the sensations as these are occurring in your body. If you are not aware of any at all, imagine the feeling and sensation of what a little bit of relaxation might feel like in the whole of your body. Just gently imagine the felt sense of this in your body. Now, savour any enjoyable sensations there are for about 10 seconds at the same time you are gently aware of your body.
  3. Think of or recall a place – real or imaginary – where you feel safe, protected, calm, clear, and content. Notice what you see in this place specifically. What do you smell? What do you hear? What tactile senses are you noticing? Stay with and linger on this experience as you are aware of your body. Notice any enjoyable sensations of calm and relaxation – even if a little – and stay with this for 20 seconds.

Exploration

  1. Perform the following exercise first in imagination and then in a role-play.
  2. Either imagine or physically role-play the situational context (in a slow comfortable manner and motion) in which the concern or challenge arises. If you have difficulty with matching a scenario to the concern, try matching your concern to a representative or possible scenario that reflects how you feel – this could even be fictional as long as it resonates with how you feel. If you cannot consciously decipher your mental experiences or a situational context, you can just imagine a situation you encounter in your life while exploring in a slow and mindful manner of what mental experiences arise. Apply the self-exploration tools as needed.
  3. Bring your attention to yourself as well as others who are there in the imagined context, and the environment and objects. Begin to interact with the person or environment by slowly starting to move or talk or express in a way that is an attempt to be more adaptive, constructive or helpful. The attempt of action is key because engaging in the experience will elicit implicit memory activation. As you do this, slowly and gently notice any impressions, images, thoughts, or feelings that start to arise. Go slowly and linger on the first one that arises. Be sensitive to any slight impression, feeling, or other experience that comes up. If you notice anything arise, tune in to it and become aware of the feeling that is present with it, and notice any images, impressions or thoughts that also arise with this feeling. Going slowly helps with uncovering these. This whole experience feels similar to being in, and exploring, a dream. Indeed, it is similar because you are exploring your subconscious content.
  4. Now, begin to interact again with the person or environment by slowly starting to move or talk or express yourself in a way that is more adaptive, constructive or helpful for your thriving. Become aware of your body, your sensations, and your approach and withdrawal impulses by starting to move your body and assessing if it’s a positive or negative value that you are experiencing and modify the movement and the expression in an attempt to find what resonates more. This is an ever evolving and continual process of exploration, adjustment and modification from moment-to-moment – in other words, a process of self-attunement.

Change

  1. Utilize the respective tool(s) based on the results of your exploration OR apply the tools proactively in a sequential manner for general self-development and perform the following exercise first in imagination and then in a role-play:
  2. What action would reflect this new perspective or way of being in the context? Engage in this action slowly and mindfully, and as you do
    1. What are you feeling as you are engaging in the new perspective or way of being? Imagine the felt sense of this in your body.
    2. What thoughts might go along with this new perspective or way of being?
    3. What kind of sensations in your embodied experience might you feel with this new perspective or way of being?
    4. What would you want your child or loved one’s experience to be if they were in your place?
      1. Imagine what you would want their action to be. Take your time with this. Slowly and with embodied awareness gradually engage in the action in the imagined and role-play situation and interaction. It’s okay to not get it right the first time. This is exploration and it takes time to develop and find what works for you. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise when you engage in the situation or interaction. If there are any that arise, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the new embodied experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
      2. What would you want them to feel? Imagine the felt sense of this as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise as you do this. If there are any, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
      3. What thoughts would you want them to have? Have those thoughts now as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise as you do this. If there are any, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
      4. What sensations and experience in their body would you want them to have in the situation. Imagine the felt sense of this as you are aware of your body and as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise as you do this. If there are any, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
  3. Imagine or roleplay the whole experience and interaction in a slow, embodied, and mindful manner paying attention to the action, feelings, thoughts, sensations and point of view experience in your body. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise as you do this. If there are any, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
  4. Become aware of whether what you are trying to cultivate is actually true or more adaptive to your life in the present and, if so, be aware of this felt sense of this for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  5. Savour the emotionally rewarding and enjoyable experience of the new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  6. Be aware of the new and fresh aspect and emotionally rewarding feeling of this new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  7. Become aware of the benefits to your health and thriving from feeling, believing, and acting this way as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  8. Imagine/sense the new positive experience sinking down into your muscles and bones for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  9. Imagine/sense the new positive experience filling up your body for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  10. Be aware of a similar time when you have felt this way even if it is a little bit. Stay with both the new positive experience and the old positive experience for 10 seconds and savour as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  11. Put your hand on your chest or other part of your body for 10 seconds as you are aware of the felt sense of the new positive experience as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.

Regulation

  1. Gently become aware of your body and stay with this embodied awareness. Move or shift your body to get comfortable. Slow your breathing down. Breathe in a little deeper than usual making sure it’s comfortable for you. Breathe out a bit longer than you normally do in a way that feels pleasant for you. Make your breathing smooth, even, and rhythmic.
  2. Scan your body and notice where you feel tension. Sequentially and slowly move each tense part of your body while slowly being aware of the movement as it’s happening. When you exhale as you are moving this part of the body, gently and gradually allow this part of your body to start to release and let go. Notice any enjoyable sensations when you exhale and gently allow the muscle to start to let go a little. Allow yourself to experience the sensations as these are occurring in your body. If you are not aware of any at all, imagine the feeling and sensation of what a little bit of relaxation might feel like in the whole of your body. Just gently imagine the felt sense of this in your body. Now, savour any enjoyable sensations there are for about 10 seconds at the same time you are gently aware of your body.
  3. Think of or recall a place – real or imaginary – where you feel safe, protected, calm, clear, and content. Notice what you see in this place specifically. What do you smell? What do you hear? What tactile senses are you noticing? Stay with and linger on this experience as you are aware of your body. Notice any enjoyable sensations of calm and relaxation – even if a little – and stay with this for 20 seconds.
  4. Choose something to look at that is enjoyable where you are.
    1. Be aware of what you are looking at for 10 seconds as you are experiencing looking at it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  5. Become aware of sounds that you hear around you. Choose one that is relatively calming.
    1. Stay with what you are hearing for 10 seconds as you are experiencing hearing it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  6. Become aware of any scents where you are.
    1. Be aware of the scent as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  7. Notice any tactile sensations you are already experiencing or you can pick something up to engage your tactile sense.
    1. Be aware of the tactile sensations as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
  8. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  9. Gently become aware of your body as a whole again and stay with this embodied awareness for 10 seconds noticing
  10. Move or shift your body to get comfortable.
  11. Take a slow deep breath and exhale slowly.
  12. Well done. You may wish to pause or take a break before embarking on another exercise, or you may choose to continue on throughout your day now. Best wishes in your journey.