by Pamela Slim
The other day, I was talking with my client Laura (not her real name) about her big, audacious business idea. She had shared lots of background information on the project over email, and it was clear to me she was wildly informed about the idea and extremely competent to implement it. Then she said:
“I want to talk to some other people who are doing similar projects, but I am not prepared enough to talk to them yet.”
As soon as she said this, I heard a big “SCREECH!” sound in my mind which is an indication that some belief busting is in order.
How do beliefs get in our way?
If you read magazines or watch news shows, you should have no problem knowing what to do to improve your life. Articles and stories abound about things like:
- How to lose 10 pounds in 2 days while eating chips and salsa
- 3 steps to turn your potato chip-loving kids into tofu enthusiasts
- 7 ways to find the mate of your dreams
- 8 ways to reduce your debt and have financial freedom
- And my personal favorite that has been covered by Cosmopolitan Magazine at least 5,000 times in the last 40 years: 5 ways to make your man deliriously happy in bed!
The fact is, we know what to do and how to do it. So why don’t we?
Because of unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs.
Using my earlier example, my client wants to get her business off the ground. She knows that in order to do it in the most efficient way possible, she needs to learn from others who have already walked that road. But her belief “I am not prepared enough to talk to other business owners” is getting in her way.
To help shake loose this unhelpful thought, I used the four questions from Byron Katie’s pioneering book called Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life
As Katie says in her book:
“The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light. It’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about the problem. Contrary to popular belief, trying to let go of a painful thought never works; instead, once we have done The Work the thought lets go of us. At that point, we can truly love what is, just as it is.”
The Four Questions from “The Work.”
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it is true?
- How do you react when you think that thought?
- Who would you be without that thought?and
Turn it around.
Here is how my client and I used it. I added my commentary in parentheses under each question:
Me: You said that you were not prepared to talk to other business owners about your idea. Is it true?
Laura: No, it is not true.
(When asked directly, she immediately realized that this belief was not true.)
Me: So you can see specific reasons it may not be true?
(If someone is not as clear as Laura when asked the first question, I might clarify this second question with an example like “Is there any possibility that this is not true?” Usually this is enough to shake up some of the belief)
Me: How do you feel when you think the thought “I am not prepared to talk to other business owners about my idea?”
Laura: I feel my energy level dip. Lack of confidence creeps in. I get overwhelmed.
Me: Who would you be without that thought?
Laura: I would be strong and confident. I would not be afraid to talk to anyone.
Me: OK, so if we wanted to take your original statement and turn it around to its opposite, what might it be?
Laura: I am prepared to talk to anyone about my project.
Me: Is this belief as true or more true as your original statement?
Laura: It is more true.
Me: What about, “Other business leaders are prepared to talk to me?” I asked.
Laura: “Yes!” Laura said. “I’m asking them for guidance–I just have to learn.”
“People like teaching others who seem fascinated in their stories,” I put in. “I think you’ll find they like talking to you even more than you enjoy listening to them.”
(I could hear over the phone that Laura was more relaxed and upbeat about the thought of talking to new partners after walking through the 4 questions. Most importantly, the thought “I am not prepared enough to talk to other business owners” was not holding her back from action which is the special talent of unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs.)
Is it really as simple as that?
Well, yes and no.
When you approach The Work with an open mind and really tap into your own truth, you will find that the most negative beliefs about yourself are rarely grounded in reality. Replacing these thoughts with positive, action-oriented and empowering thoughts will at the least make you a happier person and at the most allow you to experience mind-altering progress in all aspects of your life.
The Work lives in the Ring of Fire that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. It literally burns up beliefs that hold you back and replaces them with lighter energy and forward momentum.
But it will only work if you approach it with an open mind and a clear heart.
Try it yourself with sneaky thoughts that creep in your head like:
- I will never get out of debt
- My kids will never eat healthy food and will blow up like Violet Beauregarde, the blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- My troubled past makes me unlovable
- I am not experienced enough to start my own business
- These 20 lbs of baby weight will be permanently attached to my thighs until I draw my last breath
I would love to hear how The Work works for you! Try it and report back in the comments section. It is best if you can do it in partnership with a trusted friend or coach.
Happy belief busting!