Using Stem Sentences to Change Your Beliefs

October 28, 2017


Since your beliefs drive your behavior and influence how you feel, it seems obvious that you should make sure the beliefs that are shaping your life are empowering, not limiting.  


That’s obvious, but is it simple?


I don’t think so. Changing beliefs can be difficult, for no other reason than that we oftentimes do not even know that we have limiting beliefs. If you have spent your entire life believing something to be true, you probably never even considered an alternative possibility.


So how do you identify limiting beliefs? Use stem sentences, which look like this:


  • My career…

  • My health…

  • My family…

  • My relationship with money…

  • My life…


Or they could look like this:


  • I am _____ in romantic relationships.

  • I am _____ with food/exercise.

  • I am _____ as a parent.


Get out a piece of paper and finish the sentences or fill in the blanks about topics that are important to you. This will usually include relationships, career, money, health, your family and your life in general, but could include other subjects as well. Don’t overthink it. Write the first thing that comes to mind. The best, most revealing answers will be your initial thoughts before you edit yourself.


Right away you will be able to feel whether your beliefs feel limiting or empowering by the emotions they evoke. Then you can explore how they influence your behavior.


For example, if your relationship with money is dominated by a belief that you never have enough, you will miss opportunities to take the risks that could propel you into abundance.


If you believe you are failing as a parent, your children will pick up on your insecurity and feel vulnerable themselves, which will perpetuate your belief in your failure.


If you believe you are unable to control yourself with food or stick with an exercise plan, you will continue to make choices that affirm your belief in your inability to control yourself.


I understand that you might not actually have enough money, that you might actually be failing as a parent, or that you truly cannot get control over your eating and exercise behavior. My point is not that these situations are not true for you. My point is that if you don’t start with changing your beliefs, you will never be able to change your behavior, which will prevent the situation from changing as well.


You have to open to the possibility of change before change can happen. But… and here’s the good news, if you crack open your belief system just a smidge, a new way of thinking and being can take root. You will feel better and act in a more empowered way, which will bring about results that match your new beliefs.


So, how do you replace a limiting belief with a more empowering one?


Try to find a way of looking at the situation that feels a little better while still being believable. Don’t jump too far. To continue with the examples from above, don’t leap all the way to something like, “My relationship with money is now fixed. I have more money than I know what to do with.” That won’t be believable.


Try something more like, “Now that I’m going to pay more attention to how my limiting belief about money makes me feel and act, I’m sure I will find new ways of looking at situations and making decisions that will allow more money to come into my experience.”


Or this, “Maybe there are some things I need to learn about parenting, so I am going to find resources to up my parenting game. And in the meantime, I am trying my best and I will do everything I can to get this right. That has to count for something.”


Or this, “So what if I have not made great choices in the past. I don’t have to change my eating and exercise habits all at once. I can take baby steps in the right direction and start to gain a sense of control. Other people change their habits. Surely I can too.”


When you realize how much influence your beliefs have over your life, you take the time to examine them. And while you might not be able to talk yourself into believing radically different ideas right from day one, you can always find a little better-feeling way of looking at the situation, which will foster more empowered behavior and manifest in meaningful, positive changes in your life.


How can you change your beliefs and more fully unlock your potential as a human being?


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