I am sitting here learning to juggle. I know I should be getting on with some other work, but this is just as important.


I know it may be bit late to talk about New Years resolutions, but it is never to late (or too early) to talk about change.

I have been thinking a lot about what do to this year in terms of changing my “self”.

I don’t like terms like “self development”. It is not about developing your sense of “self”, usually that is developed plenty enough, if not too much (and often what cause the problems in the first place)! It is about changing or “moulding” your “self” into what you want.

And as part of that moulding process it is useful to actually undo your “self”, especially the parts of your “self” that you don’t like very much.

You know, those ideas or beliefs about who you are or what you can do that stop you from doing what you want. Or, in NLP terms, “limiting beliefs”.

There is a lot talked about limiting beliefs in NLP, some of it very good and interesting. Some of it a load of old rubbish. But the reason limiting beliefs are talked about so much is that they are usually where problems arise. Limiting beliefs are like brick walls that you hit in the change process, whether they be conscious or unconscious.

They can be identified when people talk a lot about “I can’t do…”, “I couldn’t possibly…”, “I should(n’t) do…”. You get the idea? Well have a listen to the people around you and listen to how often people use limiting language. Oh whole sense of “self” seems to be made up of what we can’t do, rather than what we can do. Listen to yourself and see how often you say things like that, or like ‘Oh, I don’t like that…”.

Limiting beliefs are often over generalisations that preclude alternative choices. So, as well as the sort of statements about what you are not into, or can’t do, listen out for statements of strong association. If you consider your taste in a certain music as an important part of your personality, for example, that implies a restrictive viewpoint.

We imprint our understanding about the world/beliefs/maps/whatever would you want to use to call it, at a very early age and we are often unaware that we have imprinted them. Because we have imprinted them so young and reinforced them for so long, they often become very much about who we are and we don’t really notice them anymore.

Some are quite innocent and innocuous and make up part of the interesting tapestry that is our personality. Others can be very damaging and insidious.

I have been thinking a lot about my own limiting beliefs recently. The more change work you do on your “self”, the more aware you will become of your own limiting ideas (or you should if you do it “properly” and forget about “self development”. Some people, sadly, become very good at ignoring and hiding and convincing themselves that they have dealt with all their limiting beliefs, even though they haven’t, and get very adept at pointing out other peoples. But that is a subject for another blog!).

For 2010 I am talking steps to break some of my limiting beliefs. I am starting with a simple one: I recently realised that I had picked up a belief when I was younger that I had “rubbish hand eye coordination” and therefore was never very good at tennis, catching balls, that sort of thing.

So, to break that belief about my “self” I am learning to juggle. It is good fun and I am getting there (admittedly slowly, but I think that is just a lack of motor function due to lack of practice, more than a belief about my “self” – is that just a belief?!). The great thing about breaking useless beliefs like that is once you break one you get into the habit and breaking the next one and then the next becomes easier and easier.

So, identify your limiting beliefs (or at least the ones you don’t want any more), this takes honesty and mindfulness (see my Mindfulness based NLP training course here), pick one that is quite simple to deal with and think of a fun way to challenge and break that belief (in my case juggling!). Do only one at a time, but the minute you seem to have broken one, move onto the next.