One important difference between a person who has it all and a person who doesn’t is that the first believes that having it all is possible, while the second holds an opposing belief.
Beliefs are distinct from hoping or wishing for things to turn out in a particular way. Hopes and wishes are deliberate thoughts, while beliefs operate far beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. In fact, once our beliefs are created, they often get pushed so far out of our sight that we don’t even realize we’re being informed by them. What we defend as “the truth” is oftentimes nothing more than an unconscious belief that we’ve given our allegiance to. The belief then filters our perception and brings our attention only to those conditions that support or confirm what we already believe to be true.
Let me give you a really common example of how beliefs filter perception. Phil is a friend of mine who is getting ready to move from San Diego to Cleveland and is staying with some longtime friends for a few days because his house in San Diego sold sooner than he expected. Now, the friends he is staying with absolutely adore him; they invited him to stay, and in fact want to spend as much time with him as they can while they’re all still living in the same city. And yet, even though everyone has been extremely friendly and welcoming, Phil shared with me that he feels uncomfortable staying in their home.
Because his experience was one of constriction rather than abundance (which is our original and natural state), I knew that a limiting belief was coloring his perception of the situation. After a few more minutes of talking, we uncovered what it was: Phil was raised with the idea that being a “strong man” means taking care of others and providing for their needs. Staying with friends and allowing someone else to assume the “caretaker” position directly opposed his long-held belief about what it is to be a strong man – and at a time when he most needed to rely on his strength. No wonder he was feeling uncomfortable!
The next part of the story reflects the really great news about limiting beliefs: As soon as we distinguish them for what they are – an outworn way of viewing ourselves and/or the world – we no longer relate to them as “the truth,” but rather as a choice. Phil saw that he could choose to keep viewing this situation with his friends through the limited lens of that old belief, but doing so would prevent him from experiencing their love and generosity. Instead, he decided to adopt a more updated belief – that allowing others to care for and nurture him is vital for his happiness, and an important part of being a strong man. The more he focused on the appreciation he felt for his friends, the more he was able to receive their love. Limiting beliefs always diminish our ability to receive. Releasing them opens a floodgate, and we discover that the outcomes we’ve been seeking were always right within our reach.
Any time we are experiencing some aspect of our lives as uncomfortable or unfulfilling, and any time we desire a different outcome than the one that’s currently showing up, we can be sure there is a limiting belief at work behind the scenes. How do I know this? Because there is no end to the amount of love, prosperity, joy, happiness, laughter or abundance in this universe. These states of being exist in an unlimited supply. The only factor that determines how much or how little of these experiences we draw into our lives is how much we allow ourselves to receive. Limiting beliefs are like a kink in the hose. To increase the flow, we don’t need to add more water; we only need to open the conduit.