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Shadow work is COMPLICATED. There are so many approaches and techniques and to top it all off, half the people teaching about it are talking to you in lofty, esoteric language that leaves you feeling like you need a Ph.D. in metaphysics just to understand them when all you want to know is what the heck to DO to make your life suck a little less. Good news, my friend. I’m about to make shadow work so easy that you’ll wonder why it ever took you so long to get started. Limiting beliefs are one of the things holding many of us back from creating the life we want, seeing our manifestations actualize in our reality, and really loving ourselves. Today we’ll be talking about why it’s so important to do shadow work with your limiting beliefs, and the four steps that you need to take to overcome your own limiting beliefs. Oh, and stick around until the end because I’ll be sharing the one major mistake that most people make when they try to fix their limiting beliefs.
Why Work With Limiting Beliefs?
When we first start using shadow work, there is so much to learn, and try, and do. It’s easy to get sidetracked by forms of shadow work that seem may be more important than limiting beliefs. After all, working with our trauma or healing the inner child can definitely seem much more high-stakes than a few puny limiting beliefs. But the truth is, working with your limiting beliefs gives you some major bang for your buck. It’s one of the simplest and easiest ways to do shadow work, but it can create some miraculous changes in your life if you do it right.
When I started working with my limiting beliefs about money, I saw some incredible transformations in my life. This was nearly a decade ago when I was starting my very first business and just getting started as a spiritual teacher. I was brand new, so I was making almost no money from my work as a spiritual teacher and coach. I was making something like 500 or $600 a month at most. Definitely not a mind-blowing income yet! This is when I stumbled onto the concept of limiting beliefs and specifically decided to explore what kind of results I could get by applying these techniques to my business and my energy around money. I’m all about seeing real-world results! I don’t teach anything that I haven’t tried myself and found to be useful, so I always start with myself as a guinea pig. I spent roughly a month working on my money beliefs. I ground through limiting beliefs like “people with lots of money are greedy”, “money changes a person”, “money is the root of all evil”, “I’m a financial burden on everyone in my life”, and “I’ll never be able to make money doing what I love”. One after another, these beliefs crumbled and were replaced with new, supportive beliefs, and the results were incredible. The very next month, my business made $8000 for the very first time. More than 10 times what I had been making just the month prior! I was absolutely blown away by how powerful this work was, especially given how simple it really is to work with your limiting beliefs. It can be challenging at times to confront and rework your identity, but working with your limiting beliefs is not a difficult process, especially consider the results you get!
How To Work With Limiting Beliefs
So, how do we begin to work with our limiting beliefs? The first thing I want to get out of the way is that you can work with limiting beliefs in any area of your life. I decided to try this out for the first time on my money beliefs because that was where I had a large goal that I wanted to reach. But you can use this on anything. You can work on putting beliefs around your relationships, your career, self-love, food and exercise, and how you feel about your body, you can work with beliefs around a specific goal or project that you’re working towards, around parenting, really anything that you would like to transform in your life.
The second thing you need to know before we get into the steps of working with your limiting beliefs is that your approach to these limiting beliefs needs to come from a place of compassion. You don’t have to like the limiting beliefs. You don’t have to love the limiting beliefs. But you do have to have compassion for yourself for having those limiting beliefs. The truth is, we don’t think up limiting beliefs for the fun of it. These limiting beliefs are created out of situations that we have experienced that have made us think that these things are true. This means that if you believe that no one will ever love you unless you do everything they want, someone taught you that in order to get love you had to become a people pleaser. And if you believe that money is the root of all evil, that means that someone taught you that money was evil. Neither of these beliefs are true! But you have adopted them as truth from other people and situations in your life. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are bad, or wrong, or stupid because other people taught you to think things that made your life hard. That is not your fault. But now it’s your responsibility to rewrite these beliefs with compassion and forgiveness for yourself. And, you can feel your anger and frustration and betrayal about the people who gave you these beliefs, but don’t get lost in those emotions. Feel the emotions, Journal it out if you need, but you cannot release your limiting beliefs and transform your life from a place of victimhood so get the emotions out and move on with your work and your life because you deserve that.
Now, let’s get into the four steps that you will need to take to rewrite any limiting belief.
1. Identify the belief
The first thing that we have to do is dig down and find these limiting beliefs. Sometimes a limiting belief is easy to find but often they’re pretty sneaky. This is where it helps to have a trusted friend or a coach who can help call out your limiting beliefs. If you’re someone who’s ready to make serious changes in your life and level of happiness, I cannot stress the importance of getting yourself someone who can be objective and honest with you about where they see you limiting yourself. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can fill that role right now, get yourself a coach! That’s what coaches like myself are for, we give you a way to see through the stories that you’ve been holding yourself back with. If you’d like to work with me 1:1, send me a message either in the comments below or by email.
Now, coaching is for those of you who want results ASAP but not everyone needs or wants a coach to help them with their shadow work. If that’s you, that’s cool! Many of your limiting beliefs can be ferreted out on your own so let’s take a look at how you can do that. I want you to start by choosing the area of your life that you want to work on. I don’t recommend trying to just work on your whole life at once, it’s easiest to break things down into specific problems, blocks, challenges, or categories in your life. If you’re not sure where to begin, think about what problems in your life you would most like to solve and start there. What problem, if you could snap your fingers and make it vanish, would have the biggest impact on your happiness and well-being? If you were given one wish, what would you wish for? THAT is where I want you to focus. Even if that area of your life is something that seems immutable and unchangeable, such as a disease or a ruined relationship, there are almost always beliefs down there that you can work with to change it into something that feels better.
Next, I want you to write down all of your beliefs around that topic, person, or situation. Every belief, good, bad, or weird. This generally takes 10-20 minutes so don’t rush through this. You might have to dig around to find some of those buried beliefs. And don’t lie to yourself! No one else needs to see this. If the belief makes you cringe, get it down on paper! We can’t ignore those cringy beliefs, those are the ones we need to work on the most. When you’re done, take a look at those beliefs. You should be able to find anywhere from 1 to 5 beliefs that are not serving you in this area. Use a highlighter to mark these beliefs or write your problematic beliefs down in a separate list. These are the ones that we want to work on. Choose one belief and progress through all of the following steps before returning and working on the next.
2. Dig Down To The Root
Now we want to track this belief back to its root. All you have to do is close your eyes, and ask yourself, where did I learn this belief? You don’t need to think terribly hard to come up with an answer. Just ask yourself the question and wait and see what your subconscious mind presents to you. It may show up as a word, a name, a memory, or something else. Just ask and relax and let your subconscious mind answer for you. If the answer seems vague or it doesn’t seem like the core of the belief to you, you can ask to go back further or to be given more details. Sometimes placing contemplative focus on a memory, an image, or word, can cause it to unfold. Again, this doesn’t mean you need to think super hard and try to remember things, just focus a bit and see what happens. Continue this process until you feel like you understand the belief and where it came from. Sometimes this process will take no time at all, and sometimes it might take several minutes, or even hours, to really get to a place where you understand the belief. Neither is wrong or right, just be willing to let your process be what it needs to be.
This is a great time to break out your journal. Writing down whatever comes up gives you clarity around the belief and, often, it can give you a window into a part of your shadow that you may be able to return to with other shadow work tools later. Write down any memories, feelings, emotions, words, names, or anything else that comes up. Don’t judge it or try to figure out if it’s all perfectly true and accurate right now. Just record what’s there. Many of us get into a bad habit of gaslighting ourselves and questioning the validity of every single thought and memory. This is not the time for that! The things your subconscious mind serves up may be literal and factual or they might be symbolic, skewed, or emotionally charged. Either is ok and good! Your subconscious is trying to communicate with you in the best way it knows how but in order for you to actually hear what it’s saying, you have to stop distrusting every thought and feeling and memory and start LISTENING. Write down what comes up, exactly as it comes up, and release the need for any of it to be perfectly true or accurate.
3. Interrogate the belief
Okay, now that you understand where this belief came from, it’s time to really begin to interrogate the belief. You can think of this process as you playing the lawyer in the courtroom of your mind and this belief is on trial. Your job is not to prove that the opposite belief is true. Your only goal is to prove that this belief is false. We’ll get to new beliefs later on in this process, for right now I just want to poke holes in the logic of this particular belief.
Ask yourself, is this belief true?
Are you absolutely sure that this belief is true?
The answer, no matter the belief, is probably going to be no because we all live our lives from subjective realities, not from objective truth. We cannot know for certain whether something is objectively true, so now it’s our job to prove that this belief is not objectively true.
It’s time to collect your evidence. Start to think about any moments in your life that contradicted this belief. If you believe that money is the root of all evil, find examples from your life and the world around you that prove that money can do good. Look at moments in your own life when money made a positive change to your state of being. Look at the world around you and the good that philanthropy and charity can do when it has enough money behind it. Look at the ways that you’ve used money yourself to do good in the world, to help a friend, or even a stranger. Try to collect as many of these pieces of evidence as you can. I want you to get at least 10 and write them all down, if you can get more, even better! Do this until you can say with absolute certainty that this belief is not actually true in 100% of cases.
4. Rewrite the belief
Now that you’ve interrogated your belief and come up with your evidence, it’s time for you to create a new belief that supports the life you want to live and the person that you want to be. Just disproving the old belief is not good enough! If you don’t provide a new belief for your mind, it will make one up on its own, and that belief may or may not be good for you. You want to decide, consciously, exactly what new belief you want creating your life. If the old belief was that money was the root of all evil, your new belief might be that money is a neutral tool and only as good or as bad as how you decide to use it. If you believe that no one can love you unless you do absolutely everything they want, your new belief might be that real love does not require performance or people pleasing and the world is full of people who will love you in this way. Take your belief and flip it on its head. Write multiple drafts if you need to get the wording exactly right. After you’ve written your new belief, ask yourself what reality this belief will create, play it forward in your mind, and pay attention to the details of your wording. If it’s not exactly what you want go back to the drawing board and try different words. Your words are incredibly powerful, so we want to choose them carefully. We are installing new thoughts in a new operating system into your mind. This is not something to take lightly!
Now take those new beliefs and plaster them everywhere. Put them on Post-it notes on your mirror, set reminders on your phone, recite them as an affirmation every morning as you get ready for work, and especially any time you notice your brain trying to slip back into the old belief, reiterate the new belief to yourself. The subconscious mind absorbs anything that it’s exposed to repeatedly. You don’t have to make this hard or a lot of work, find ways to get your environment and the people in your life supporting you in this process. You could have a friend, romantic partner, or coach remind you any time they see you falling into the old belief. Put it on your vision board. Do whatever will keep this belief top of mind for you. Over the course of just a few days or weeks, this new belief will begin to settle into your subconscious mind and take root as a part of your unconscious operating system, changing the way you think, and the way you act in every moment of your life. This is why working with your limiting beliefs is so powerful. It literally changes who you are and how you behave! It’s like suddenly opening the dam on your creative potential, without the block there, you can create and move and act in a way that allows you to proactively create the life that you want. And it won’t even feel hard because your subconscious mind will be doing all of the work for you!
You Can’t Skip Straight To The Affirmations!
Okay, so I promised I would let you in on the one major mistake that most people make in this process, so here it is. Most people unknowingly skip straight to the affirmation phase. Most people find a limiting belief or some problem in their life and they just start trying to use affirmations to bulldoze their way through the old beliefs. This does not work! You can’t skip ahead in the process! Doing this is like trying to plant a vegetable garden on a plot of land that is full of weeds. You’re going to be fighting against the weeds every step of the way! Every gardener knows that before you can plant anything new, you have to take out the old, detrimental plants that are going to fight your new plants for water and nutrients and sunlight. If you don’t rip out the weeds first, any new beliefs that you try to implant in your mind through affirmations will not have space to grow, because your unconscious mind is still feeding the weeds! If you’ve ever wondered why it seems like your affirmations don’t freaking work, this is it! Affirmations by themselves cannot rewire your old beliefs. You have to help them out by rooting out the old beliefs first so that your mind can be fertile ground for these new beliefs to grow and thrive.
Give this process a try and see how your life begins to transform.
And don’t forget to like and subscribe, I’ll be teaching you how to use so many more shadow work and healing tools in the videos to come.