Image courtesy of Reckon
Many years ago a pop singer named Peggy Lee recorded a song titled, “Is That All There Is?” She sang about how her life had turned out, ending each verse with the plea: “Is that all there is?”
Unfortunately those words could sum up the lives of millions of people today whose lives have not fulfilled the promise they felt as children. Our romantic relationship (if we even have one) is okay, but “is that all there is?” We go to work (if we do) but the excitement about our jobs (if there ever was any) seems to have dimmed. We get by financially (if we do) but there never seems to be enough. And life in general is okay (we don’t need a therapist), but life would be so much more fulfilling if only…. Is that all there is?
I’d like to suggest that there is a simple explanation why this feeling is so common and that there is a simple solution also.
Imagine that as a child you formed several beliefs about life, including There’s never enough, Nothing I do is good enough, No matter what I have, it’s never enough, No matter how good things get there always seems to be something missing, I’ll never get what I want, and I’ll never have enough money/love/friends/success.
If you held beliefs like these, how satisfied do you think you would be with life? … Wouldn’t you be feeling, Is that all there is?
Ultimately all of our thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and perceptions are the result of the beliefs we formed earlier in life. So if you want to change your experience of life you have to change the beliefs that determine your view of life. When limiting beliefs are eliminated, new possibilities open up and we quickly discover that there is a lot more we can do and have than we ever thought possible.
Let me give you another example. Assume you had the beliefs: I’m not loveable. Relationships don’t work. Men/women can’t be trusted.
With these beliefs, you’d never form a really good, nurturing, long-term romantic relationship, would you? And you’d be thinking about the absence of such a relationship in your life, wondering: Is that all there is?
Now let’s assume you completely eliminate those beliefs. Can you see you have just created the possibility of a good, nurturing, long-term relationship that literally didn’t exist before? There is no guarantee you will ever find such a relationship, but the possibility exists now that didn’t exist before.
This is one of the most powerful consequences of eliminating beliefs: You not only change your behavior and feelings, you actually change the reality you live in. And you realize that there is a lot more to life than you ever thought possible.
The possibilities that exist in your reality are defined by your beliefs. When you say something is impossible it actually becomes impossible for you. If you believe Life is difficult, you will experience things not going the way you wanted them to go as upsetting obstacles rather than exciting challenges. If you believe I’m not capable or I’m not competent, would you likely try to do something you thought was difficult? And if you tried, do you think you would succeed with these beliefs?
About 25 years ago I developed the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) that has helped over 13,000 clients eliminate many limiting beliefs. Let me explain how you can use it to eliminate some of your own negative beliefs.
To get a sense of how the LBP works, please try the following mental exercise: Assume your parents were very critical of you most of the time and rarely acknowledged you for your achievements. No matter what you did, they focused on what you didn’t do and how you should have done better. If this was the pattern of their interactions with you, there literally would be thousands of them by the time you were six or seven years old. What would you have concluded about yourself by this time?
If you were typical of most children, you would have concluded that There’s something wrong with me or I’m not good enough. You would have experienced these beliefs as “the truth” about you as a child. Today, as an adult, even though you might consciously realize the beliefs were silly and illogical, on some deep level you still would experience them as the truth about you.
If you were to recall your childhood, it would seem to you that you could “see” that I’m not good enough. In other words, when you visualized your parents being critical, it would seem as if you also were visualizing I’m not good enough. It’s as if your parent’s behavior inherently meant I’m not good enough. It would be so real to you that you could see your belief in the world that it seems you could say to someone: “If you were there watching my interactions with my parents, you also would see I’m not good enough.”
But if you looked carefully at the events that led to the belief, namely, your parents’ behavior, you would realize that their frequent criticism and lack of acknowledgement could have a number of different meanings, each one as valid as the one you chose. For example:
· My parents thought that being critical would motivate me to excel.
· My parents had lousy parenting skills.
· My parents may have thought I wasn’t good enough, but they were wrong.
· Maybe I wasn’t good at doing certain things, but that doesn’t mean I, as a person, am not good enough.
· Maybe my parents were dissatisfied with my behavior, but they didn’t think I wasn’t good enough.
If you now tried to visualize I’m not good enough “out there in the world,” you would realize you couldn’t, because you really never did see it. All you actually saw was your parents’ behavior. And if that behavior could have a number of valid meanings, it has no single inherent meaning. In other words, the events—as unpleasant as they might have been—had no inherent meaning. You can’t draw any necessary conclusion about yourself as a human being based on the way your parents treated you as a child. Therefore, you would be forced to conclude that the only place that meaning has ever existed has been as a belief in your mind.
When you reach this point, the belief has been transformed from “the truth” to “a truth” and is no longer a belief. If you were to state the words of the belief, they would sound silly and meaningless.
This short exercise explains why it usually is difficult to get rid of beliefs: We think we “saw” the belief inherent in our observations. It is difficult to talk someone out of something they think they “saw.” As soon, however, as we realize that we never saw the belief (i.e., the meaning) in the events, that the meaning existed only in our mind, the belief disappears.
Try eliminating a few of the beliefs that make you feel, Is that all there is?, and discover that much more is possible in your life than you ever dreamed.
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