How To Change Self-defeating Behavior And Limiting Beliefs
Every self-defeating behavior and belief has at one time or another served a useful purpose. It is good to stop for a moment and let this sink in. Every behavior was, at one time and place, in your best estimate at that time, set up for a useful purpose. Every belief was formed, at one time and place, with the best of your ability to perceive and attach meaning to those events, to serve a useful purpose—AT THAT TIME!
Behind the useful purpose is a very noble intention. You were operating in your own best interest with the resources you had at the time to protect yourself and meet your own needs.
The difference between NOW and then is that NOW you have more options. You have gained more knowledge, insight and experience since then. Your brain has developed more. Your willingness to be curious, although latent, is curiously stronger.
Right now is the best time to re-explore old beliefs, ideas and concepts because you have never been older or more experienced or more insightful than you are right now. You can decide for yourself now if the old limiting behaviors and beliefs are the ones that you want, or that they can use some updating.
There are causal chains that are N O W untrue, although at one time they felt like they were true and appeared to be useful.
Most early causal chains are manufactured by the creative functions of the early mind. The important thing to remember is that there is a difference between unacceptable behavior and a useful purpose.
Smoking, for example, may have served the purpose of reducing tension, allowing you to do otherwise stressful things. It may have made you feel socially acceptable at one time, or may have been an indicator of becoming a adult. While the behavior of smoking has now become unacceptable to you, reducing stress, being socially accepted and being an adult are still useful and desirable. The important thing now is to reduce stress and improve social interaction with more useful and personally acceptable behaviors. Do you see how these neural bond chains keep you faithful? You might call this creative fidelity; however, NOW it is stale.
The funny thing about some deeper analytical levels is that they are time-bound (fixed like concrete in time) and are not aware of deeper changes that have taken place, or of the new possibilities. While many of the goals are the same, the behaviors and thought sequences created back then often are no longer useful and sometimes limiting.
Time-bound material is literally fixed at the time it was created and often feels like it is the “real” you… You may find a challenge here the time-bound material may not want to be brought up to the present—you will know this when a lot of anxiety is present. In this sense, anxiety is useful since it provides you with important information. What do you do? Invoke a most pleasant memory and attach it to the anxiety. If you do this a number of times, pleasure will take the place of anxiety and you will be surprised—the time-bound material will leap forward to the present and, if you desire, you can consciously update the material.
An example is a woman who had great difficulties in experiencing pleasure while having sex. She remembered that when she was 12 her mother told her that sex was dangerous and evil. The purpose behind this communication was to protect her from pregnancy and social rejection from peers.
But in the mother’s attempt to protect her, she forget to communicate that what she said was useful only while her daughter was young and vulnerable, and not when she was older and more capable of discrimination. Remember, past useful information and behaviors are always time and space bound.
Fifteen years later, the daughter’s body was still reacting with rigidity and tension prior to and during intercourse with her husband. She was also having great difficulty getting pregnant.
The woman sought treatment. Once she realized that her mother’s communication was temporal (time-space bound) she began to relax and got pregnant easily. She was able to realize the useful purpose of the communication, which was to keep her safe by avoiding behavior inappropriate for a 12-year-old. She realized that there are other, more appropriate ways to keep safe besides abstinence, avoidance and guilt. But this girl-woman was faithful to her time-bound messages as well as to the image of her “mother” as omnipotent.
What this means to you is that you can choose to give up your self-defeating behavior now without giving up the useful purpose.
This way, you won’t have to worry about internal conflicts. Resistance to change comes from the part of you that is holding onto the useful purpose, but is not yet convinced that the new behavior will satisfy that purpose. Once you fully realize this, you can easily decide what behaviors you can begin letting go of, and what new behaviors you can put in their place behaviors that meet your useful purposes even better.
You might choose to think of things like excessive emotional reactions fear and anxiety, procrastination and co-dependency as behaviors, as things that you are doing, instead of things that always “just happen” to you. By developing the perspective that these reactions are not external or random will allow you to gain control over them and replace them with more suitable ones.
It is very common to think that behavioral and emotional reactions are “caused” by things outside of your control, things such as situational and environmental factors and, especially, other people. This belief only acts as a shield. If other things and people are doing things to you, then it is not your fault and not your responsibility. This terns that are holding you back. I imagine that you can find in your memory a few people who remind you of these incomplete perceptions of how things work.
There are also many stories of people who have started out as victims and then used that awareness to create extraordinary lives for themselves, overcoming all odds. Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called IT, is one example. It is highly likely that you can find someone who has had a similar experience to yours, and who was able to decide to evolve anyway.
More often than not you will find mixed types who switch between the aggressor and the victim. This type has sometimes been referred to as being “either at your throat or at your feet.” Can you name a few people like this?
While it is true that external factors may serve as the trigger, and may have been the reason you developed the patterns and beliefs in the first place, your patterns are still your own creation, and your reactions are still your own doing. It may not be your “fault” but now it is your responsibility. It is up to you to decide which things are no longer serving you and drop them. The good news is, you are free to change your style at any time. Or is being faithful to failure that important for ?
You may not like the carpeting in your home. It may be old, dirty and an odd color.
It may have been there as long as you can remember. Most likely you don’t want anyone else to see it either.
When you actually think about it, it might even “make” you feel bad.
But, don’t stop there. Remember that you can change it.
The solution is to begin to become aware of your limiting beliefs, behaviors and patterns. Acknowledge and take full responsibility for them. Let yourself off the hook, stop judging yourself and choose more suitable ones that allow In a moment or two it w i l l recede into the background as it continues to undergo constructive re-formulation.
As you gain more experience, your sense of power will increase. Whether you wish to change a belief or a behavior, engage it at its own level of communication—and always remember to be respectful to yourself even to your most hideous qualities. This was one of the major secrets of the ancients.
Self-change does not follow easily after self-deprecation and in a climate of self-hate. You want to cooperate with those parts of you, and you want their cooperation. Since some of your most powerful and emotional learnings were acquired before the age of 7, we urge you to treat yourself with the respect, kindness and understanding you would show a young child who is learning something new, or who is upset about something that has happened to them.