Are your thoughts keeping you stuck? Time for some belief busting


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.”

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you react when you think that thought?
  4. 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?

Laura:  Yes.
(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)

MeHow 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.

MeWho 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.

MeIs 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!

12 replies
  1. gabriel ryan
    gabriel ryan says:

    this resonates with me so deeply. for the past year-and-a-half, i have begun a journey into what i truly believe. what i have found… a lot of false beliefs, some that i may have even openly opposed [though truly, subliminally, deeply believed]. i am excited to take on ‘the work’ and start ‘busting’ all my false beliefs.

    i believe [for real] that this kind of work is so important, and so overlooked. thanks for sharing.

  2. Carol L. Skolnick
    Carol L. Skolnick says:

    As a certified facilitator of The Work, I’m delighted to see it applied here in such a practical way. And, I’d like to clarify a couple of things…

    First, The Work isn’t simply about replacing one belief with another more “positive” one, although one may indeed emerge from inquiry feeling more positive and action-oriented. If it were that simple, we could just jump to the turnarounds, and that doesn’t work so well because the stressful belief hasn’t been fully addressed.

    In other words, this isn’t self-hypnosis, or affirmation; it’s a way to meet thoughts with understanding. Once we’ve “called the mind’s bluff,” stress diminishes and there is the freedom and creativity to see what else is available, other than the self-limiting thoughts we have been believing and, sometimes, using as excuses.

    Also, giving genuine examples in the turnarounds is very helpful. Your client’s statement, “I am not prepared enough” became, turned around, “I am prepared enough. Specifically, how is this as true or truer? What has the client already prepared? You asked her this in the beginning of the inquiry when she said her thought was not true; now we’re providing some evidence of that: real-world stuff. As you answer the four questions and provide examples of your turnarounds, the deeper you go into the specifics, the more grounded (and actionable) your turnarounds can be.

    Thanks for the specific examples and feedback Carol! I really appreciate it, as I am not the “The Work” guru like you and Martha. 🙂


  3. Lynn Jericho
    Lynn Jericho says:


    I am a huge fan of your work and of Byron Katie’s. I am always delighted with your writing and the warm, insightful and efficient way you bring valuable knowledge, process and inquiry to your readers.

    Using The Work to turnaround beliefs is essential but there is another dilemma beyond belief which I want to mention – this is the dilemma of Will.

    Will is the soul function that energizes manifestation. Will can fuel manifestation in thought, word or deed. Thought is manifestation in consciousness. Word is manifestation in social expression through written and spoken speech. Deed is manifestation in the body or limbs that gives birth to new realities that live in the world independent of the doer.

    There are neurochemical and biographical aspects underlying the distribution of our will forces between thought, word and deed. This means that due to our neurotransmitters, our hormones, our adrenal function or the wounds and acknowledgments of our childhoods, we will find our will forces going primarily into our thinking about doing, our talking about doing or our doing. Ideally we will think about walking, we can talk about walking and we can walk with equal force.

    Many of my clients are brilliant thinkers. They learn quickly, create amazing possibilities, articulate their ideas with clarity and enthusiasm. Yet they struggle with bringing their initiatives into visible, fruitful existence.

    They can change their beliefs, heal the cognitive wounds of their childhood, open up to the truth of their feelings and find a new self-compassion and emotional empowerment and still have difficulty showing up in the world.

    This is when it is time to look at chemistry. Candace Pert wrote about this life-shaping complexity of our chemistry in Molecules of Emotion. There are tests that measure neuruotransmitters and hormones. One lab that does this is Neuroscience, Inc.( I have also found Emotional Freedom Techniques ( to be helpful in rebalancing the flow of energy from thought to deed.

    Pam, thanks for all your fine work. Clearly, your will flows beautifully between thought, word and deed.

  4. Denise
    Denise says:

    Thanks for this wonderful information! It really speaks to me. I am completely guilty of holding myself back. I am going to try to some of these techniques to make my blog, Blessings from Above, more successful.

    Thanks! Blessings!


  5. Cameron Rushton
    Cameron Rushton says:

    I don’t believe that we should be putting loincloths made of dingo skin, much we’ve been excited to turn out. Since we understand it has the beneficial determining, it’ll be fabulous.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Once you zero in on some thoughts or beliefs that cause you suffering, apply the 4 questions from The Work: […]

  2. […] The is a more robust explanation of The Work in a past post:  Are your thoughts keeping you stuck?  Time for some belief busting. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *