THE BLOG

The Power of Your Unconscious Beliefs

05/18/2011 09:50 am ET | Updated Jul 18, 2011

Have you ever been faced with a result or an outcome that is exactly the opposite of what you said you wanted?

For example, you might tell yourself that you really want to lose weight, and you commit to shedding X pounds. You might diet mercilessly and go to the gym and work out, and at the end of one month or six months, not only have you not lost weight, but perhaps you've even gained a bit. Or you might lose the weight, but after a short time it creeps right back on again.

Or perhaps you decide that you really want to get your finances under control. You've been hemorrhaging money, frittering it away carelessly on things you don't need and can't afford. So you tell yourself that you're going to learn to live within your means. And for a few months, perhaps you're really good about following through. But within four or six months, your credit card balances have returned to their maxed-out levels, and you're right back to your old habits.

Or maybe you realize that you need more balance in your life. You work too much and come home so tired and exhausted that you're not available to spend quality time with your family. Perhaps your relationships are suffering, or maybe even your health is compromised as a result of your working too much and not taking better care of yourself. You tell yourself that you're going to get a grip on your priorities and get serious about having more balance in your life. And maybe for a few weeks you succeed. But eventually, you fall back into your old patterns, and nothing has changed.

What is going on here? Is it really possible to change old habits and patterns, or are you forever doomed to fail? And if it is possible, how do you go about doing it?

Here's an assertion that might not make you feel good, but it is an important step in understanding how to change your results. I assert that based on results, in every area of your life, you have exactly what you intend to have -- no more, no less.

How can that be, you ask? How is it possible that in spite of what you say you intend, your results can be very different? The answer to that question sounds quite simple at first glance. When we don't have the results that we say we intend to have, it's because something else is more important. "But no," you say. "Nothing is more important! Losing weight, saving money, spending more time with family, taking care of my health is the most important priority in my life!" Sorry, Charlie, not so. But let's look a bit more deeply.

Consider the story of Sarah. Today Sarah is in her 60s and overweight, and she wants to lose 50 pounds. At age 11, Sarah was sexually molested by someone in her family. This began a cycle of repeated sexual assaults that lasted well into her teen years. The person who molested her told her that she was "very sexy." At such a young age, Sarah had no idea what being "sexy" even meant, except that it wasn't a good thing. Sarah felt ashamed and blamed herself, so she told no one what happened. Because being seen as "sexy" brought her a great deal of pain, by her late teen years, Sarah decided, at an unconscious level, that it would be better to hide her sexiness than risk more sexual violations. So she began to put on weight.

To make sure she was well protected, Sarah packed on the pounds and has struggled with her weight ever since. Today, Sarah acknowledges that she has gained and lost the same 50 pounds repeatedly. Each time she loses weight, Sarah experiences those old memories of being "cute and sexy," and her fear of being hurt is alive and well, just as it was when she was a teenager.

Even though Sarah says she wants to lose those 50 pounds, her unconscious belief says something else. That belief tells her that it's not safe to lose weight, that she might get hurt again. Sarah can't lose the weight and keep it off because unconsciously, she really believes it's better to be fat and safe than sexy and in pain.

Here's the truth about Sarah: Beyond how she looks or how much she weighs, she is a dynamic and vibrant woman. She's intelligent and caring and has a sparkle in her eyes and a smile that can light up a room. There's something very attractive and magnetic about those qualities in anyone. One could even say that being dynamic and vibrant is also "sexy"! Sarah can't run away from who she is, no matter how much she weighs or how old she is. Sarah is simply a woman who commands people's attention in a positive way.

In order to break the cycle of continuing to carry the excess weight, Sarah needs to accept her beauty and embrace the vibrant being that she is. Her excess weight does not and cannot hide her best qualities, and it's those qualities that draw people to her. In truth, Sarah doesn't need the extra weight anymore. It served its purpose when she was young, protecting her, but since then she has grown beyond needing its protection.

In order for Sarah to now begin losing weight, she must first acknowledge how she used it for protection at a time when she didn't have the wisdom, maturity or outer resources to help her deal with the sexual molestation. Today, Sarah is working on taking back her personal power. She no longer needs to be a victim of anyone else's ideas about her sexuality.

The Power Of Our Unconscious Beliefs

Like Sarah, most people carry around unconscious beliefs that often come from childhood and limit their ability to be present, here and now. If, based on one's childhood experiences, one came to believe that they were not worthy of being loved, or that life was a struggle, or that there was never enough, or that they needed to protect themselves because the world isn't a safe place, to the degree that those beliefs are unconscious, they become the operating system that determines and influences the choices one makes today. And even if, at the conscious level, we say we want one thing, if our unconscious beliefs are in conflict, those deeply held unconscious beliefs will rule the day.

But how does one become aware of what, up until now, has been submerged in the unconscious? Begin by looking at your results. My assertion, that we always have what we intend, is a good place from which to begin to understand your intentions, both the conscious and the unconscious ones. When we say one thing but create a vastly different result, you can be sure that there is an unconscious, conflicting belief at work.

What Are The Benefits Of Our Limiting Beliefs?

Some of our beliefs support us to open and grow, and others keep us stuck in the status quo. The key is to become aware of what purpose the conflicting, unconscious belief is serving. What is the benefit? What are you getting from it that's more important than having the results you say you want?

  1. Protection and safety: Sarah's extra weight gave her protection. It allowed her to hide her sexuality and feel safe. Protection and safety were much more important to her than losing weight, even though she said that that's what she wanted.
  2. Being right: But what's the benefit of not having enough time, money, education, intimacy or good health? How could these conditions produce a benefit? Think about it. If you have an unconscious belief that you don't deserve to have money or are unworthy of being loved or successful, you won't create it in the material world. No matter what you say, you'll sabotage yourself and thus your results. And the benefit of self-sabotage? You'll get to be right about what you unconsciously believe to be true. Being right is a huge benefit! We'll do almost anything in order to be right, including sabotage our ability to have what we say we want.
  3. Avoiding pain: If you believe you're not worthy of love, that no one would want to be with you, or, if they did, that they would eventually leave, the idea of an intimate, close relationship sounds pretty painful. Why risk being hurt if you're convinced that that's what you'll get? Why even try? The pain of loneliness seems safer than the pain of a broken heart. At least if you're lonely, you can keep it to yourself and no one else needs to know. Or so you tell yourself. But what's the truth here? Pain is pain, no matter the source. You're not really avoiding anything but rather just maintaining the illusion of control.

What's The Solution?

What can you do to move from a pattern of consistent self-sabotage and producing results other than what you say you want? Do the inner work necessary to becoming aware of what's driving your results at the unconscious level. This work isn't for the faint of heart. It requires that you face up to your fears and be honest with yourself. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to solve one's problems from within the same box that created them.

Find someone who can help you see beyond what you can currently see. You might seek a counselor, a therapist or a clergy member to help you tackle what might be deeply embedded, unconscious beliefs. You might benefit from working with a life coach or a close, trusted friend who can support you seeing what you can't yet see. The solutions lie outside the box.

Breaking through old patterns takes courage, commitment and a willingness to see yourself differently. Whenever you're confronted with conflicting results, ask yourself, "What's more important than having what I say I want?" And instead of coming up with a good story or an excuse, be willing to take responsibility and know the inconvenient truth, the "what have I been in denial about?" truth.

I contend that life is occurring just the way we order it. Our words, thoughts, actions and beliefs are all working together to order up the results we're creating. You have the power to forever break the hold those old habits and patterns have on you. When you discover that you are the source of your own safety, worthiness, abundance and love, that you are 100-percent responsible for creating your life, you will no longer need the excuses or benefits your limiting beliefs have provided, and a new life of freedom, passion and aliveness awaits!

What patterns have kept you stuck? What limiting beliefs have you held that are responsible for you having exactly what you have? What benefits have these beliefs provided? How can you get those benefits directly and let go of the old behaviors? I'd love to hear how this lands with you.

Blessings on the path.

Please leave your comments here and/or come visit my personal blog and website at Rx for the Soul. Click "Fan" at the top of this page to be notified when new posts appear every Wednesday. For personal contact, email me at judith@judithrich.com. I love to hear from you.