My all time favourite method for clearing limiting beliefs is Time Line Therapy, or one of the now numerous descendants and variants of it (like the one we teach on our NLP Practitioner training). However, before a limiting belief can be cleared, the client has to recognise it as a limiting belief (unless it clears as a side effect of an intervention aimed at something else, which can happen).

Which opens the question of how do we identify limiting beliefs, and also how we define them.

For me a limiting belief is one that the client recognises as limiting – the client, rather than the coach, decides what’s limiting. The issue is of course complicated because it may be that the client is not initially aware that some of their beliefs are holding them back – it’s part of the coach’s role to help them realise that.

How do we assist the client in identifying them? After all, if the client was aware of their limiting beliefs to start with, they probably wouldn’t believe them any more.

One way can be the NLP ‘meta model’ (which has some overlap with CBT/REBT questions around how rational beliefs are). The meta model identifies generalisations, ‘shoulds/musts’ and so on and provides questions to help the client reconnect their belief system to their sensory experience (or ‘reality’ as most people would think of it).

Another very powerful method is the Option Process or Option Method, as outlined in Barry Neil Kaufman’s book ‘To Love Is To Be Happy With‘ (which Michael Neill recommended to me ages ago and I highly recommend) but also described out there on the web. This uses some simple questions to help uncover beliefs which the client may not be conscious of (probably formed ages ago and not thought about for years) which often don’t survive the light of attention.

Limiting beliefs can also be overcome by having enough experiences which contradict them – as when someone becomes more confident by taking up martial arts, or just by spending time in the company of people with a more empowering belief system. I highly recommend Steve Andreas’ book ‘Transform Your Self: Becoming Who You Want To Be‘ as a guide to how people form their concept of themselves and how to change it.

Identifying and clearing limiting beliefs

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