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3 Step Process to Uncovering and Deconstructing Limiting Beliefs to Unlock Your True Potential

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On a recent episode of The Science of Success Podcast with Matt Bodnar, Matt discusses something we have all dealt with at one time or another, limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are those tiny thoughts we experience every single day that run through our heads and hold us back. “Limiting Beliefs are stories you tell yourself that cause you to self-sabotage.” Explains Matt.

Your brain is hardwired for survival, “Your subconscious doesn’t care about you being happy. The only thing your subconscious cares about is keeping you alive.”

With your subconscious working against you it’s hard at times to be able to identify these limiting beliefs. So what can we do to eliminate these thoughts that climb into our head and hold us back?

Here is Matt’s three-step process to overcoming these thoughts from our subconscious:

Step 1: Become aware of the limiting beliefs

Matt begins, “There’s a couple different ways to cultivate the ability to be aware of your beliefs… one of the most powerful, is meditation. Meditation is an incredible tool for really becoming aware of your thoughts.” Simply identifying that these beliefs exist will pull them from your subconscious and into your mind. “You can then peg these thoughts and say, Hey, wait a second. That was a limiting belief.”

“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” – Saint Francis de Sales

Step 2: Write down your limiting beliefs

I love to use something like Evernote and just keep a running list of limiting beliefs as they come up.” Says Matt. Writing down these beliefs enables us to become more aware these beliefs exist and that grows our ability to see them for what they are. “It requires a brutal self-honesty and cultivated reflection…you have to accept reality as it is… These thoughts are there and ignoring them is only going to cause self sabotage.”

 

Step 3: Challenge the truth behind this belief

We do this by putting these beliefs through a four-question framework. The first of these questions, Is This Belief True? There’s really no right or wrong answer, “Many times you’ll say yes, I think this is true. I don’t want to come off sales-y, I don’t think I have what it takes to execute this project. Or sometimes even at a surface level, the belief is just not true.” The first question is simply, is it true?

Next we ask, can we absolutely know that it’s true? “This is a more metaphysical question about what the nature of this truth is. Is it really true?” Matt recommends looking to others, “Has anybody in history ever proven this wrong? Done something different?” We then ask how do you feel? How does this belief make you feel about yourself? “How do you react when you think you can’t be successful?” write it all down. “Feel the anger, frustration, whatever it might be.”

Lastly, ask yourself who would I be without that thought?. Think about how different your life might be if you weren’t holding on to this limiting belief. “You’d be achieving everything you want, you’d be Elon Musk!… as soon as that belief is gone, you can be that person… this question enables you to visualize a reality where that belief is no longer true.”

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”- William James

To really ingrain these new frameworks in your head Matt recommends writing down the whole process. These beliefs might seem impossible to overcome at first, but the closer you get and the more in touch with these beliefs you become the easier they are to eliminate. Using these steps you can find yourself controlling your beliefs and ultimately your actions in a way you never thought possible.

You can listen to the full hour long episode with Matt on Limiting Beliefs and how to overcome them for positive change on Matt’s website.

How do you deconstruct your limiting beliefs? Please leave your thoughts below!

Matt Bodnar, named a “Rising Restaurateur Star” by the National Restaurant Association and a “Strategy Pro” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, is a partner at an early stage investment firm Fresh Hospitality where he focuses on deal making and strategy. Bodnar is also the creator and host of "The Science of Success" a #1 New & Noteworthy podcast, with more than 1 Million+ downloads, focused on improving decision-making, understanding psychology, and sharing insights from experts. Bodnar previously worked as an import/export consultant in Nanjing, China and spent several years at Goldman Sachs before returning to his family roots in the hospitality space.

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Do to Fend off Boredom and Stay Focused

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Curiosity is human nature and it’s only natural that humans will lose interest in a topic after a while. This has been a topic that has been extensively explored among children, teenagers and adults by a psychologist with similar results being reported from each of the categories. Human’s minds are therefore prone to boredom, making it important for each professional to spend some time to understand the factors that drive boredom and strategies the individuals needs to use to overcome boredom and focus on their profession and development. (more…)

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