How do you see yourself? Do you think that your view is affected by your perception and experience? I will start by telling you a story. When I was about 11, I once had the smart idea of asking my Mum a question that would freeze any conscious parent. I just said, ‘Mum, do you think I look pretty or ugly?’ My mum looked at me for a long instant, probably pondering the long term effects of putting me down or praising me too much, and then she declared, ‘Well, you are not pretty…but you are not ugly for sure. You are just normal. Average.’
So that was it. I didn’t have to worry because I was not ugly, but neither I could rejoice in my prettiness. I totally believed my Mum. For years I acted as if I were exactly that and I fulfilled her declaration of being just ‘average’.
Then I grew up and a lot of boys started to pay attention to me and telling me I was pretty. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘No I am not, I am just normal.’ No matter how much they complimented me, it would not sink in.
Even at 30, 40, I still automatically rejected compliments about a pretty photo I might have posted. I even taught myself to say, ‘Thank you.’ To which I would usually add, ‘The photo is good because I used a very good camera.’ Or, ‘Here is what happens when you hire a good photographer.’
In other words I kept putting myself down and rejecting praise for the rest of my life.
Then I realised that I can safely say I am pretty. Granted, I am not model material, but I can let go of that old belief that started 40 years ago. My parents – and maybe the culture where we lived – were not used to dispense praise because they thought it would ‘spoil the child’ and make him ‘soft.’
My guess is that something similar might be happening to all of us as we speak. We all grew up with a family that taught us certain beliefs – maybe you were told you were a pretty child, a nerdy one or a wild child – and now you feel you can’t move away from that idea.
If that old belief is not serving you now, it’s time to let it go.
To achieve that we need to challenge it and to compare it to facts and reality. You might say, ‘Well, Franz, but this is very easy to do!’ Sure, but not always so. For example, some of my hypnotherapy sessions work exactly on those beliefs. Let me share some examples.
A woman I worked with, grew up thinking that intimacy is a secret, somehow dirty activity that men like, and that women are not expected to enjoy it. They are just supposed to endure it, it’s almost a duty when you are married. Of course she was not completely aware of this subconscious belief because it had been built over little fragments of a larger puzzle during many years. Still – it affected her in her marriage.
I wonder how many women have grown up with that belief, and how that has worked out when their husbands realised that they had to earn intimacy? I am glad to report that after a session and a bespoke recording, my client was happy to… report a renewed approach and enjoyment of that part of her life.
Another client grew up with one parent only and built the belief that nobody could love him. After all, didn’t the other parent leave him? So of course if his own parent had not found him lovable enough, nobody else could love him. This old belief was so strong that he would sabotage all his relationships – until he found out why he was doing it.
It’s hard to believe that a small child can make such conclusions at a subconscious level, but in this case, the client really believed that all the people you love will leave you, and to avoid rejection he would reject his partners first. He is now building on his current relationship and has pushed the old belief aside because it is not serving him.
I once saw a coaching session on YouTube and there was a man who found it really hard to get job promotions or ask for raise of salary. He would walk towards the director’s office and then suddenly his legs would turn into jelly and he would almost have a panic attack. After some discussion it came out that when he was a little boy, he had an authoritative father whom he feared very much.
To keep himself safe from the yelling and maybe the beating, he had learned to stay quiet, remain in the corner and basically be invisible.
That was a very good strategy when he was a tiny child, but as he grew up, it was not useful for him to keep that belief, and yet it was subconsciously showing up whenever he confronted a father figure – such as his boss. The coach skilfully led him to do an exercise that allowed him to figure out a dialogue with his dad, and the man was finally able to let go of the old belief and climb the success ladder at work.
So perhaps by now you have recognised that you too are holding an old belief that is hindering you and giving you emotional blocks. Sometimes with some pondering and a bit of practice, we can come up with a way out and remove this belief. Other times we might want to work with a coach to find out what this belief is and how we might remove it. In some cases we realise that a deeply ingrained belief is associated with a strong emotional component.
In this case talking to a therapist will help the most.
In hypnotherapy sessions, I find that belief during the regression part of our time together and then we reframe it so we can move on. To ensure that the new belief becomes embedded in our thinking patterns, I prepare a bespoke recording that the client listens to for 30 to 60 days. I love to see that transformation and how the client emerges feeling stronger.
Sometimes that belief comes from a difficult childhood that caused a child to think he is unloved, unwanted, or not enough. It is even more special to see that inner child working to get out of his shell. It’s tough work and in the beginning it might really hurt! Especially if we have been abused or betrayed, the pain is real and we might have become attached to our story.
We confuse our identity with our problem. We are the victim of an accident or our parents’ divorce and we see ourselves under a sad, dim light. This is where reframing helps to build up a new concept of who we really are. I just love to see how, within weeks, the recording turns those old beliefs into a pile of dust and the client starts to believe in himself.
If this resonates with you, feel free to leave a comment in my website or send me a message. I am always happy to help!
Thank you for reading this article – If you find it useful, feel free to share it with your friends! Next time we will talk about the telltale signs of trauma.
Watch this space, and until then, have a good week!