Our beliefs motivate or inhibit us

Beliefs.  As we are nearing the end of the year we start to think about the changes we want to make in our lives in the New Year.  You may have a clear goal in place or just a sense of what needs to change but the vital ingredient for success is now ensuring that you are really motivated to see through your promise to yourself, no matter what obstacles and challenges get in your way.

The word motivation stems from the Latin for movement, motivus.  All change requires movement, so along with your beliefs (which can either propel you forward or hold you back) and being cognisant of your needs and values your motivation is one of the most important elements on this journey of change.

In this newsletter we are going to focus on beliefs; identifying what beliefs you hold, whether they are serving you or not.


We often have such good ideas or plans in place but somehow never get around to putting that idea into action.  We give ourselves negative labels such as ‘lazy’ or ‘weak’ when we don’t follow through but the truth is that the very thing that is blocking us is deep down we maybe don’t believe we’re capable of executing our plans or even we don’t really believe that we deserve to be happier than we are at the moment.  Your beliefs learnt, or given to you, in childhood can be very powerful indeed, and if the beliefs are negative, they can really hold you back from seeing and then fulfilling your true potential.

In life coaching, a belief is simply a feeling of conviction about something, specifically about yourself – and strong positive beliefs about something are the foundation for action.  Holding negative beliefs or beliefs that no longer serve you well has the opposite effect and keeps you stuck.

Some of the greatest achievements in history have been things that were considered impossible.  Whenever you feel that you can’t overcome your limiting beliefs remember:-

• Thomas Edison persisted in his many thousand attempts to invent the light bulb in the face of skeptics who said that gas-light was the only feasible option.

• Roger Bannister ran the 4-minute mile despite the medical experts who said that the human body was not capable of the feat.

• James Dyson created a vacuum cleaner that never loses suction

The belief that’s holding you back is no truer than a belief that spurs you into positive action, so choose to focus on the beliefs that get you great results!

Many of your beliefs are so much a part of you that you rarely have a good, objective look at them.  Building a strong positive belief system starts with looking at them in greater detail to see what they are doing for you.  The following activity will start this process:-

Activity 1

What do you believe about yourself?  Eg ‘I’m lazy’, ‘I’m smart’, ‘I can’t sing a note’.




What do you believe is possible in your world?  ‘I can do anything I set my mind to’.  ‘I’ll never kick my smoking habit.’




What do you believe about other people’s relationships to you?  ‘People are generally supportive’.  ‘Work colleagues don’t co-operate with my plans.’  ‘I’m lucky to have great friends.’




As discussed, your beliefs are not always true.  You might have evidence that you are not good at sports because you usually come last in a race but the fact is if you really wanted to be good at sports you could improve if you put in the effort and practice that it requires.

Your most limiting beliefs about yourself get in the way of the action you need to take.  Many people are surprisingly attached to their limiting beliefs and reluctant to let them go.  This is because all your beliefs serve you in some way.  If you believe that you’re not bright enough to get a promotion, then you can give yourself permission not to try.  If you believe that all the men or women you date are selfish and untrustworthy you can build up comfortable protective armory so that you don’t get hurt.

All limiting beliefs have a function, but a very limited one.  Empowering beliefs, on the other hand, serve you far better by helping you to expand the range of what is possible in your world.  The following activity will assist you in seeing what your beliefs are actually doing for you.

Activity 2

In the first column of the following table take your original list and enter all of your beliefs from the three questions, both limiting and empowering.

Consider now what your payoffs are for each of these.  What does this belief give you?  Be specific.  Is it a feeling of pride, safety or love?  Or something very tangible such as a great salary, too much stress, or a massive bank overdraft?

I have put some examples in the table.

My Beliefs



Beliefs and Payoffs



I am lazy



I can let myself off the hook



I can’t sing a note



I don’t have to risk embarrassing myself



I am smart



I feel confident that I can hold my own



I’ll never kick my smoking habit



I don’t have to try





























































































For your negative beliefs, now ask yourself the following questions:-

• Is the payoff worth it?

• Does holding that belief give you enough to justify keeping it in your life?

• Is the payoff something that makes you feel okay in the short term but doesn’t move you forward in the long term?

So now you know what beliefs you have, both positive and negative and you can decide   whether you would like to change some of your beliefs. Just by recognizing a limiting belief, you take all its power away.  Whatever you believe about yourself (negative) you can find plenty of evidence to support it if you look hard enough.  If you need help in taking further steps to reach your goals you can attend my full day life coaching workshop on Saturday 12 February, the cost is R650.  Alternatively if you prefer one on one coaching, contact me to book a session.

In the next newsletter I will tell you about identifying your needs and values.

Until next time…


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