Everything we think and believe constitutes our thought system. The individual is nothing but beliefs, some are neutral, others are positive (e.g.: you will always get away with it), and finally, negative (e.g.: you are useless, you will never do anything good). We spend a significant part of our time validating our beliefs.
A belief is something we accept as true without having verified it. It is mostly unconscious. For any individual, beliefs are "useful". They are true (become a presupposition) and natural, universal or shared by "common sense people".
We distort reality (distortion) to confirm our beliefs. We also create generalities from our experience (it becomes a rule). Beliefs create repetitive, stereotyped reactions (see next page). Beliefs come from :
- from our education (unconsciously validated): e.g. "you will always be a shy boy or girl. "
- our life experiences.
The belief (or thought) at the origin and source of the behaviour will always be expressed in the form :
During stressful experiences, we pass "THE reality" through different belief filters: perception, thoughts, internal states, feelings/emotions and behaviours that reflect and reinforce the stressful experience.
The vicious circle of negative thoughts and emotions
The repetitive, stereotyped reactions are of different kinds :
- Passivity: not acting, not taking risks, staying in one's comfort zone. The disadvantage is that the person does not develop self-confidence and is likely to withdraw again at the first opportunity.
- Maintaining the problems: refusal to see the difficulties, can turn into an obsession, dramatisation, exaggeration of one's incompetence, or seriousness.
- Maintaining utopia: unattainable goals and assured failure. Two types of utopia: The more paradisiacal the world is, the less hellish life is, or pleasure is to be proscribed.
- Illusion of freedom: confusion between expression of freedom and systematic contestation.
- Refusal to give up: Permanent struggle. The person is unable to let go.
Beliefs can be:
- Neutral: no impact on our daily lives.
- Positive and stimulating: "I can ask for help", "I believe in my value and the value of others"...
- Negative: "I am useless", "I am not good at ... public speaking".
We call negative beliefs "limiting beliefs" because they limit you in your daily life and prevent you from releasing your potential.
2. How to change your limiting beliefs?
2.1 The Cognitive and Behavioural Switch
Stemming from Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the Cognitive and Behavioural Switch (C.B.S.) approach is a very effective approach to uncovering our limiting beliefs and mental representations in order to change them. CBT is a brief, scientifically validated therapy that focuses on the interactions between thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
The Cognitive Triangle is a tool that will allow you to identify and switch your limiting beliefs into positive beliefs and consequently your behaviours, especially in situations that could lead to a breakdown.
The Cognitive Switch
If we analyse all the steps, we realise that the situation captured by your eye and your senses has the first repercussion by generating a feeling or an emotion that arrives, more or less strong. We could say that it is this emotion that generated the behaviour you had. Yes and no. Emotion is a great indicator of what I'm experiencing but is only an indicator.
However, I can do something with it if I have developed "emotional intelligence". I am able to listen to my emotion of the moment, to identify it, to put a name to it and to know what it is telling me. Indeed, the emotion that I experience is a message that the body sends me which has meaning for me. While many of us feel that it is taboo to talk about emotions, it is important to emphasise that we can make our emotions a source of energy. This is a great way to reconcile with our emotions and see them positively.
Let's go on and try to understand the true root of this emotion, which was undoubtedly sparked by the circumstances. The answer is to be found in our "thinking", in the "mental representation " that I make of what I am experiencing, that is to say, our "beliefs", whose expression is always of the type: "If.......................................then...........................................”
So here we have the solution.
If we want to change our behaviour when faced with situations that are repetitive scenarios, then let's change our beliefs. However, it is not easy to "wake up" our rational brain, our "neocortex" to tell it to make a belief switch. We still need to be aware of this!
Let's share an example of the limits we set for ourselves.
- Let's imagine the situation (triggering event): a salesperson has a meeting with a unit manager to explain the benefits of his offer.
- His behaviour: After introducing himself very quickly, he doesn't dare ask him questions about his real needs, his background, his interests, his stakes...
- In fact, this salesperson is afraid (emotions): This fear prevents him from freeing himself and restricts him to a role where he has only presented his offer in the most succinct way possible.
- What can he say to himself (thoughts) in this situation if he had enough distance to analyse himself? (many salespeople have experienced this):
- " If I ask him questions, THEN he won't like me.”
- " If I ask him questions and expose myself, THEN he'll see that I'm not up to it.”
- " If I ask him questions about himself, THEN I'm not a good person because you can't ask questions.”
We see here his limiting "belief": which is to tell himself internally (for example)that he is not up to it to address this gentleman whom he "considers" very important.
5. Hence the coach's job is to suggest a cognitive SWITCH.
This one could be decided and verbalised by the accompanied client:
SWITCH: " I must and I can allow myself to ask him questions because he expects me to be a professional who must understand his stake and his need, with the aim of proposing the best offer for him!" "
2.2 Positive intent and unmet needs
Our belief systems have "served" to protect us during our childhood. This is why every belief has a positive intention and a need. If we take the example above, we can analyse the following steps:
1- Identify the positive intention: "I will protect myself from judgment"
2- Identify the unmet need by holding this belief: the unmet need is the need to understand the client's needs. "I will not understand the customer's needs and expectations and this may impact the closing of the sale and my career.
3- Bring in someone you respect: If this salesperson asked someone close to them what they thought of the situation, what would they say? How would they react? He would probably say: "Have confidence in yourself! You were the best salesman in your previous position, go for it! Ask the customer questions! You know that this is the basis for being able to offer the best solution to the customer and satisfy him!
4- Change your limiting belief into a positive belief:
- While preserving the positive intention (protecting yourself)
- While maintaining the positive intention (protecting yourself), and moving towards satisfying the previously unmet need: meeting the client's expectations
"If I ask him/her questions, I will understand his/her needs and I will not be judged negatively because I will be showing my professionalism.”
5- The first step to validate this belief: dare to ask questions (meetings/personal...)
6- Make sure the belief has changed or is less present: ask clients questions and evaluate how I feel