Amanda: Hey guys. Welcome back to the podcast. I am Amanda.
Laura: I'm Laura.
Kendra: And I'm Kendra.
Amanda: And today we are going to talk about limiting beliefs.
Kendra: So yeah, limiting beliefs or this idea of learned helplessness is a thought or belief about yourself that restricts you in some way. Usually these beliefs are actually false accusations that we make about ourselves. Usually they start somewhere in that non-conscious or subconscious mind. Sometimes we're not even aware that we have them because they've been a belief we've had maybe since our childhood and they've given us an action or result that we’ve always just done and blamed it on that’s just the way I am. So, sometimes we just need to be made aware of them. Someone usually has to point it out to us. And then once you become aware, we can actually do something about it. As humans, we do things that are comfortable or known because they require less energy and less energy means it's not a lot of effort and it just occurs. We are naturally risk averse. And so in that manner we tend to almost self sabotage before we even get started. Because we think things like, “I really wasn't equipped with this, or I'm not strong enough, or I can't do this. I've never been successful in this before, so I'm not even gonna try or I'm a middle child and so I can't achieve what the first child can” or whatever it is. All kinds of limiting beliefs that we grow up with. And so in our natural state we're risk averse. We don't even try cause it'd be too much effort and energy. And so we take the path of least resistance. We choose this option because of the results that it has produced in the past. And the fact is we believe that that same result will continue to happen. But in reality, we are choosing that option. So by not putting in the effort and not getting the desired result, we can just basically tell ourselves, well, see, that's what happens even before we even start or put any effort towards it. One of the examples that I constantly think of is, you know, working in the emergency department, usually your capital or your budget does not include keeping up on the most state of the art technology. And so I know that our group several times was wishing that we actually had an ultrasound that worked, or maybe even one that was more portable and a little more up to date. Somehow we could put the image in the charts. And I just remember getting price quotes and coming up with a whole proposal and then being told year after year, it's not in the budget, it's not in the budget, it's not in the budget. So you just deal with what you have and you like give the patient care that you can with that ultrasound. Then when the next thing comes up, like we need pelvic lights. The speculum that doesn't plug in. So we can actually be portable with these pelvic lights. And I remember finally getting a proposal together to get those portable pelvic lights. And then once again, it's not in the budget. So over time you start to not put that effort into not only getting the proposal together, but wishing that you had the better equipment. And then you just finally deal with what you have and provide the patient care with what you have. And then you become this learned helplessness that is reinforced because that requires too much effort. And the result was I never got the thing. So now we just don't even try. When in reality, the circumstance is you work in the ED and maybe the new idea is, well, maybe it's a different year and a different budget. And maybe we should try again. I just always know that part of my learned helplessness was going to administration and asking for nursing or new technology or better equipment and then being turned down year after year. Then also never getting anything in the meantime, like even just whatever, okay. What can we do? And just never being told, what could we do? And so then you just finally are like, I'm not putting effort into this. This is terrible. I never get what we ask for. And there's obviously never room in the budget and obviously we are the red headed step children and the ER gets trash and you just go down this negative portal.
Laura: Well, I'm inspired by your last little point there. I went to work in the pediatric ER yesterday and there was no Gatorade. There was Pepsi and Sierra Mist, but no Gatorade. And if you work in a pediatric emergency department, maybe you don't practice the way I do. But Gatorade is like central to my ability to practice pediatric emergency medicine. And I was told it was back ordered and they won't go to the store and get some. I'm just gonna, I'm gonna go ask for some Gatorade. Now that you have inspired me and I'm gonna believe that I'm gonna get some Gatorade for my patients.
Kendra: Well, I will support you in all of that decision making process, because I believe you can do it.
Laura: Thank you. Thank you.
Kendra: I too agree that the heart of every pediatric complaint is being able to tolerate Gatorade.
Laura: When you were talking about those limiting beliefs, I remembered examples I've seen of women who were obese, who had suffered sexual abuse as children. And they had the belief that if they were in this obese body, that it would not attract the attention of men and they would be somehow protected from further abuse. And I think that's not all that uncommon, but I think it's an interesting example of how our brains work and they're just trying to protect us and keep us alive. And many times it looks like our brain wants us to stay in our cozy cave and sit on the couch and watch Netflix. And if we tried to do something different with our lives, we would be out of the comfort zone and our brain thinks that's risky. And it's dangerous. And so that's what, that's what we're up against. But knowing that, is empowering. Knowing that the primitive brain is trying to do that to us. We can talk to our primitive brain and say, “Hey, I know. I see what you're doing. And thank you so much for keeping us safe, but it's okay. I can try this new thing and it's gonna be fine”.
So we have some examples from Tony Robbins. He's awesome with helping us identify our limiting beliefs and four of these that are from his website, which we will link.
Number one: “I don't have time”.
If it is really important to you, you make time for it. We have, you know, it's been said to the point of cliche that we have the same number of hours as did Leonardo DaVinci, the same number of hours as did Benjamin Franklin as any great person in the history of humanity. We have the same number of hours and we get to choose what we do with those, generally. If it's important to us, we will make time for it. Another alternative thought to that, that I use sometimes. And it's not always believable, but I can do twice as much as what I'm currently doing. And if you think about how we're spending our time, there's the ability to put other things in there. Certainly there are things we can switch out unless you are not on social media at all, unless you are not watching any television. There's time to be had to do the things that are important to you.
The second one: “I don't have what it takes”.
So this comes from a fear of failure. Or a fear of success. The reality is if there's something that you have felt inspired to do, you have everything you need to do that. It all just begins with your belief in yourself, that self confidence that we talked about in prior podcast, knowing that you are going to have your own back, that you're not afraid of enduring some failure and some negative emotion as you go on to do something new and challenging. It's okay. Failure is a step to success. We have to fail in our lives. Otherwise we're still just stuck in the cave, watching Netflix and eating Taco Bell.
The third limiting belief: “I'm not strong enough”.
Again, keeps us in our comfort zone and keeps us from experiencing any risk. Are you sure that you're not strong enough? What, what evidence are you basing that on? If you're a hundred percent sure you're not strong enough. Okay. But if you're not, what if we don't need to think that thought. What if we think instead, “I am strong enough or I'm becoming strong enough”. “I believe I can be strong enough”. So many better thoughts than, “I am not strong enough”.
The fourth one: “I don't deserve love”.
This is one that we might have in our relationship and it may not sound exactly like that. But it might sound like I don't deserve to be treated X, Y, Z way. I don't deserve to be with this type of person. This is just flat out false. As human beings, we all deserve love. We are here to love and to be loved. So that is wrong. Let's come up with some different beliefs than I don't deserve love. You do deserve love. You 100% do, and your ability to love other people is going to come from your ability to love yourself. And if you don't love yourself, or if you don't believe that you deserve love, it's gonna be harder to love yourself. And if you don't love yourself, it's gonna be harder to love other people. And think of all that love that is being erased out of the planet, just because you stubbornly hold onto the belief that you don't deserve love.
Along with this one, and this isn't one that Tony talks about, but is the “I am broken”. “I am broken”. Is that helpful? Like, did you just fall out of a five story building and like broke all your bones. Cuz if you did, forgive me, you are broken at that moment. But like brokenness as a condition of the spirit. If you're talking in terms of there's things about me I want to change. Fine. But if you're saying that you are broken as an excuse. Or as a thought that you're using that's keeping you out of relationships, out of experiencing life in the way that you want to, that thought is not serving you. And we invite you to think of some thoughts that would better serve you. Something like I am whole, or I am becoming the best version of myself. Not, I am broken.
So Tony says on his website, “The truth is that we all have unlimited potential. Success starts with this belief. When we deeply believe that we are capable and deserving of success, we're able to tap into that potential. This drives greater action, which in turn drives greater results. That reinforces our belief in ourselves and this cycle begins again, even stronger. Anyone can tap into this cycle of success. It starts with identifying your limiting beliefs and changing them”.
Amanda: I like that you pointed out that this belief that, “I am broken”, does not serve anyone. I know a lot of people and you know, things have happened even to me in the past that I could choose to think I'm broken. Some clients have felt this whole idea of I'm impure, I'm imperfect. I'm less than because of something that happened in the past or whatever. It's in the past, which means now, now at this moment, it only exists when we revisit it in our mind. And so you can continue to stay there and revisit your brokenness and all that sort of stuff. Or, you can start fresh. There's nothing that's stopping you from that. I have complete compassion for why that is. I mean, that's reinforced a lot with, “Oh, poor you. No wonder you're broken”. That's not, everyone who's saying that to you in your life. It sounds compassionate, but it does help keep you stuck. So choosing a new thought is good. Also, whenever we're talking about learned helplessness, I always want to, this isn't just like, this is science. So, Marty Seligman did an experiment. I'm trying to remember the dates. I can't remember the eighties, maybe seventies? Who knows? It doesn't matter.
Laura: I'm gonna look that up cause that it's gotta…
Amanda: Yeah. Look it up while I'm talking about it. But anyway, he had these dogs on this shock plate and some of them if they turned their head or whatever, they could stop the shock. But other dogs, it didn't matter. It was just completely random whenever they got shocked. So then the second part of the experiment was he put the dogs on one half of the plate was shocked and there was this tiny little divide where they could easily just step over that had no shock whatsoever. And the shocking thing was, not to be, not to be punny. The dogs who had either never been shocked or had some control over when the shock ended would easily just step over the shock plate and go over to the side where they wandered off and hopefully went to some playground or something like that. The dogs who had learned that they had no control over their situation, whimpered and laid down. Just kept getting shocked over and over and over because they had learned that they had no control, even though in the present moment, they had complete control over their situation. And that whole experiment is like just devastating. But it shows that your beliefs are based on what you've learned in the past and the thing is they may not apply anymore. And that's why it's so, so important to challenge what you believe with all your heart to be true, because it might have been true in the past, but it isn't true now. And so there is a children's book actually by Daniel Amen, called “Captain Snout and the Superpower Questions”. That kind of helps us, like in a childlike way, start to challenge our own beliefs. Ask yourself these two questions. These are the superpower questions. So the ants, so this Captain Snout is an anteater and he goes around devouring ants, A.N.T’s, automatic negative thoughts. So it's kind of a nice little metaphor, but anyway, whenever you have these automatic negative thoughts come up, ask: is that true? And then go further because your default is gonna be like, of course, it's true. It's always been this way. It's just who I am. Ask yourself, can you be sure that it's 100% true? Then that's when your brain starts thinking, well, wait a second. Maybe not, maybe, maybe there is another explanation. Maybe it's not all my fault. Maybe, you know, maybe this isn't who I am. Maybe this is just a label I've put on myself and I really am good at this, but I just have this learned helplessness or whatever. So, anytime you find yourself saying things like, “I've always been this way. This is just who I am. This is just how things are”. At one point we didn't have cars, right? Like it's time to challenge some of these things. Somebody had to have an idea that it's possible. The funny thing when Roger Banister broke the four minute mile, was that after he did it and proved what is possible. Several people did it right after, but up until then, nobody believed it's possible. And so nobody did it. So challenging what you believe is possible, is the most excellent thing that we can teach you. So choose to have more empowering thoughts. Like “Who better than me to have this challenge. I'm made for this challenge. I have everything I need for my life”. Anything like that is gonna be far more useful to you. We love the idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. Fixed mindset is that, “I'm not good at social situations”. Growth mindset is that, “I'm not good at social situations..yet”, but leaves the opening for the possibility that I'm still growing. Believe you can change and know that you are worth it. It is worth it to do this work for yourself. And then just as a side note, since we have been quoting Tony Robbins quite a bit in this. He does have a handout that you can download. If you want to. If you go to his website, TonyRobbins.com, “What do you believe? 16 limiting beliefs that are preventing you from thriving”. Just to kind of give you some examples of where you might not even know that you are holding yourself back. And we, we also like to call it failing ahead of time. When you keep yourself from even trying, then by default, that is a choice to fail ahead of time. So just things to think about in your awareness journey and love to see where you go with it.
Laura: I know. I love that. Especially challenge that, “I am broken” thought. Like I hear, I see that. I see people talk about that a lot. It's just a story. Probably not serving you and you've repeated it enough times that you actually believe it. Yeah. It's a lie. It's a lie guys, unless you just fell out of the building and broke bones.
Kendra: But even then it's, it's not your story. You will recover and you will believe that you are made for so much more than just falling out of five story buildings. But I love what Amanda said about, you know, thinking thoughts like “I've always been this way”, or “this is just who I am”. Another one is, I find myself listening to, but also saying to myself,”it is what it is”. Is it though? Like, can we challenge that? Can we challenge “it is what it is” and just that almost tolerant accepting of a thought or a feeling. And how about we challenge that? How about we say, “well, what if it isn't though”. What if it isn't the way that it is? What if the result that I want just took a little work to change my thought and have a more empowering thought. I don't know. We'll see. So, I challenge you if you've ever said that, “it is what it is”. Why don't we challenge that today. Why don't we say, “what if it isn't?” We'll include the link to that ebook, “What do you believe?” from Tony Robbins. Because it really is astonishing to read even just the 16 limiting beliefs, looking through those and thinking, “oh my gosh, I did think that”. And I wasn't even aware that that's a limiting belief. So sometimes awareness is the light bulb that you need to propel you forward.
So, until next time you are whole, you are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.