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Limiting beliefs can limit our outcomes

The mindset of pessimism and limiting beliefs can run deep. I was struck recently by a headline in the UK’s “Telegraph” that “We’ll never have it so good again“, with a report about the declining opportunities facing today’s middle class young. From the self-development perspective, it was the mindset and outlook on life of having disappointed expectations and also that the outcome was bound to be worse that grabbed my thinking. Whilst appreciating that young people are having a particularly difficult time in the current Great Recession and acknowledging that this is far from acceptable in public policy terms, it was however the assumptions behind the article that were to me striking. Why should it be never “so good again”?

A downward spiral of negativity is probably something many readers will be familiar with, where we can get locked into seeing only the negative and can struggle to reframe a situation in more positive terms. It can get addictive. In this context, having the underlying assumption that your life can’t be “so good again” sounds very much like a set-up for getting what you don’t want. It you take this course of thinking, then what happens won’t be so good, and you’ll get what you think about. Events will play out in consequence. Our creativity, according to this way of thinking, will be focused on the “not so good” outcomes.

This is of course a good example of the negative power of holding limiting beliefs. It doesn’t allow for the notion that the said young people might individually and collectively decide to buck the trend and start having “good” outcomes. We can change our thinking, we can “change our mind”, and different outcomes can follow. Such is the power of the mind.

Of course macro-economic trends can be powerful, as can the power of living within collective mind-sets, where if many think the same it will be a much stronger force. Then it’s about stepping outside the force of the collective and thinking for yourself, including challenging assumptions.

Expectations are very powerful, and can themselves be limiting too. It may not seem an obvious point but an expectation does not allow for change and can be inflexible. It is something about expecting things that might actually involve other people’s choices, and they might want something different, and also by holding on to expectations we might rigidify the process when we might be better served by stepping back and allowing things to be. So, expectations can also be a set-up for not getting what we want. When we instead set an intention and then let go, we allow the creative forces to work unhindered by the ego. We’re letting go of the ego investment in an outcome, for example a fear-based expectation. If, while attached to expectation, it doesn’t work out, then we’re disappointed, and thus we create more suffering for ourselves. This is why the ego characteristic of expectation is a powerful one to let go of. Then we’re no longer holding on to a given outcome through fear. We’re not invested in it.

Thus to step back and allow the possibility, through intention, that we will create a “good” outcome brings with it a letting go of expectation, having no attachment to whatever occurs. This gives freedom to the universe to flow in abundant ways and we can, as per the Law of Attraction draw to us what we really want. There is wisdom here too, because what we attract may be far more beneficial to us that what we were attached to in ego terms. Maybe the real “good” is far more valuable to us that what we had conceived of in ego terms. It’s an excellent example of how real freedom lies in letting go.

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Having self confidence to ask for what you want

What can really limit people getting what they need in life can be not having self confidence to ask for what they want. This flags up a general issue, simply not asking for what you want. People will go all round the houses to avoid actually putting the question. Why is this?

For some, it doesn’t occur to them to ask. We can carry on complaining that life isn’t delivering to us what we need, and we can feel dissatisfied in consequence. However, we just haven’t actually asked. This is a powerful point. In terms of the Law of Attraction, to ask for what you want is to set in train processes at a subtle level that bring to you what you want. If we don’t ask, the universe doesn’t know what we want and so how can it deliver? Of course, with the Law of attraction, we then have to get out of the way, or rather get our egos out of the way. This is where we need to let go of our negative emotions, since it is positive emotion that draws what we want to us. So while we’re caught up in negative emotions like fear, anxiety or anger, not a lot will happen, and in fact we may get what we fear since that is where our energy is invested.

Some of us simply expect we should get what we want without having to ask, like it is an entitlement. Hence the anger and sense of injustice when it doesn’t happen. We expect our boss to give us our promotion, when we really need to put something in and earn it, and so demonstrate the capabilities for the level in the organisation.

Some of us are afraid to ask. We don’t like to speak up. We don’t like to address our wishes to others. We’re afraid of what might happen, like people might (we think) be displeased or angry with us, or we’ll get rejected, or not liked and approved of. If we put ourselves “out there” and be visible, we’re exposing ourselves to the (we think) negative gaze of others. Perhaps we’re afraid of what people might say. Perhaps we’re afraid of being shamed and “made to feel” unworthy. It potentially puts us in touch with our own (perhaps) deeply-held negative views of ourselves.

It’s worth getting a handle on what barriers we put up for ourselves that stop us taking action for what we want. For some, it can be immobilising.

When people lack self confidence, they can lack a voice, and part of the work can be to find that voice, and the courage that goes with it, to speak up, and find that our fears are really illusions.

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To keep going is also to hold to your vision

Keeping going despite the odds is also about holding to your vision and your intention. The Law of Attraction says that while we are focused on adversity, that is what we get more of. When we focus on what we want, and do that with positive intent and in a feeling-good state, then we are vastly more positively attracting.

What can be a really striking example of this is how when we are in a state of fear, our minds are much more closed off to creative thinking. The emotional part of the brain is engaged, our fear hormones are being released and we experience stress. This is the flight/fight/freeze response. In a state of fear it gets very hard to think of creative solutions to our difficulties. All we can see is the problem and then we think of negative solutions. We can get so disliking of the fear that we’ll do anything to avoid it. After all we are drawn to pleasure and seek to avoid pain. Yet fear is an illusion and can be released without changing direction.

When in a creative, resourceful state, we can see multiple options. In any one moment there are always multiple options. This is one very important point from the Quantum world. If we get into an open resourceful state, we get to think outside the box. This is how successful entrepreneurs operate. There’s the well-known story of how Richard Branson was marooned in the Caribbean with a whole lot of other passengers when his flight was cancelled. However he went off and chartered a plane, advertised the flight to the others and so recouped his costs! Not one to miss a business opportunity! Thus, the fear doesn’t get in the way.

If you get fearful, you close off the options. The key is to get into that positive, unattached resourceful state. This is one reason why it is so important to learn to manage your state, to manage your mind. Our minds can create utter bliss for us, or utter hell. And the more you progress on this journey, the more this can come up, to point the way. Hence the great value of the dark night of the soul alluded to in the last post. We might be doing really well, and then we might flip off somewhere really dark. yet the dark is an illusion. We get tested.

Hence adversity is an opportunity to re-connect with purpose and align yourself with your truth. Out of adversity comes real strength.

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People don’t like confusion and uncertainty

Recently it was being claimed that the reason why period dramas like “Downton Abbey” were such a success was that in these times of global turmoil and uncertainty people were turning to the old and familiar, complete with rank and hierarchy, as reminders of the cosy, simple, solid and stable. In a time of major, perhaps even unprecedented change, people look for stability.

Apart from an uneasy twinge of a reminder of the appeal of fascism at about the same time as these dramas, with its appeal to “order and hierarchy” as against the economic and social turmoil of that time, it raises an interesting question about how people respond to change and uncertainty.

We don’t like confusion and flux, particularly when our own economic futures are at stake. So we revert in our thinking back to what we know, even if it’s in the past. The function of fear is to enlarge the sense of danger and exaggerate more the issues on the downside. All we can see are problems and potential threat.

Yet if we could step aside from all this, it might appear that a new situation is emerging, which we are blinded from, where we have new advantages for ourselves. The elements of the new situation are there, in their ingredients, but they haven’t yet come together in a form that we can see as useful. We can visualise it and imagine it, which of course is a powerful part of manifestation. But, until it happens, we need faith. And, according to the Law of Attraction, we also need to get out of the way, let go and let it happen. If we worry about it, we hold it up. Pure and simple.

Just hard to do.

So it needs practice, working on, and managing the mind which keeps going off on one.

It is hard to get that things are constantly changing, everything is impermanent. Sometimes it’s imperceptible, sometimes it’s obvious. The way humans operate, we cling to the old when in terms of transition we need to let go, allow the state of confusion to occur and trust that clarity and a breakthrough are about to happen. This “in-between” state is crucial. It is actually highly creative, when people innovate, get hold of all sorts of new ideas and start preparing for the future.

So, if this resonates for you, start working on your new ideas for the next stage of your life – and let go and trust! Remember, it’s work in progress.

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Recessions are opportunites for those willing to seize them

It’s been interesting to read that the UK economy is stagnating at the moment. That sounds like it could be a revealing mirror image for many of us perhaps of our own lives. Life on hold, not adventuring forward, fearful of going back, perhaps an inability to get things done, businesses and individuals not spending, nervousness, a fear of things getting worse. Yet this can be just the time to be planning and making preparations for the future.

Recessions are opportunities. They are often when new businesses start, often with new ideas. Well-known examples are GE, when Edison developed the light bulb, Microsoft, HP and CNN. So too with individuals. Economic difficulty is often a stimulant to new thinking, new ways of doing things, action to overcome the current limitations, new perspectives. A challenge many of us face is in what we think and our motivation. So often we can allow the current perceived situation to describe for us what we think is possible, what in NLP is referred to as the boundary conditions of our thought. What we believe to be so, is so.

In seeking to manage the mind, we can challenge that mind set. We can choose another way of seeing things. Yes, it takes an effort of will, and we need to combat the tendency of the mind to get sucked back into its habitual ways of thinking.

There’s masses of material on this out there, dating back to books like Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think and Grow Rich”, which was based on a study of the most effective lines of thought. An interesting contemporary and very accessible study of this process is available to anybody who reads for example the books by Esther and Jerry Hicks about the Law of Attraction, or the material surrounding “The Secret”. Of course, we don’t have to limit this to what we can learn about making money, although that is probably the big draw for very many people. We can apply this to life in general, and whatever change you want.

This is about challenging the habitual thoughts of the mind. It also means thinking about your vision and purpose, where you are going and why, and about setting intentions, with clear goals that you are motivated to act upon. And it means doing it. All through such a process, we are watching and monitoring our thinking. When setbacks occur, it’s about re-focusing. It means managing our own morale, taking care of ourselves, having practices which sustain us, and which serve to support us in staying on track. It is of course an effort, as any successful entrepreneur will say, and the same applies to any life-change work.

At the beginning of all that is the re-think of your vision, purpose and goals, based on a thorough assessment of the current situation. This is exactly where getting a good coach is important, someone to support in developing your thinking, challenging the resistances and keeping you on track moving forward.

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Being aware of limiting thoughts and feelings

If you study a lot of the material around the Law of Attraction, you’ll probably see lots of injunctions to monitor your thoughts and to remember to “think positive” since your thoughts, and the accompanying feelings, are likely to affect your results big time. You might find that you are encouraged to switch your thoughts out of negative ones and into positive ones. What perhaps isn’t always so clear perhaps is what you do if you are stuck in some familiar and very strong “negative” feeling cycle and shifting that isn’t so easy. Some no doubt will be compounding their “negative” results by worrying they are seemingly unable to “get off it”.

And it’s not easy at all. Unless that is you’ve set yourself the task to unmask what the patterns and belief systems are that hold that state in place. It is important to train yourself to shift your state, to “pivot” as Esther and Jerry Hicks say in their book “Money and the Law of Attraction”. This in itself is invaluable practice. However, you may in addition need to build your awareness of the patterning of the limiting state you want to get out of.

For example you may have a “root thought” that there is never enough money, that you are always short of money, and whenever some financial issue crops up where you have to find the money for something, your heart will start beating faster and you will, say, break out in a sweat. While you’ll probably find the money, you might be aware that it’s hard work and you never seem to get out of the cycle of feeling like this. So, it can pay (pardon the pun!) to delve a little deeper and explore the roots of this poverty consciousness, one very many of us have. Let’s say that with further awareness work you find you were scolded by a parent for wasting money and that you were acutely your parents went without for lots of your young life. So when you looked around to get some money what you learned to feel was anxiety. The anxiety you might have learned from your parents.

I’m not saying you were like this or that you function like this. It’s just to be aware that we develop root thoughts at a very young age that condition out thinking, and particularly our feeling state. Despite your efforts to “think positive”, you might not get a handle on what’s going on that persists in keeping those feelings in place until you understand what lies behind those feelings. Such feelings are an invaluable alert to a need to shift state, but it would be helpful if you knew what you were shifting! Knowing what the root thought is and learning to let go of them can in time prove to be a blessed relief.

Such training in awareness of our subtle states is what we provide in our awareness work.

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Do you like where you mind has been this last week?

In theory today for many of us is time off, time out from our busy week. Has your week been one of toil and effort or of interest and fun? Just check it: where has your state predominantly been this week?

It is an important self-check to make. It is invaluable to regularly check out our state of mind. For many of us we live a lot of the time on autopilot and don’t notice where our mind is predominantly, till we look back at things some time later, if at all. The point here is that, without being aware of it, we can be busy negatively attracting big time. If our minds are for example caught up in some negative emotion a lot of the time, we’ve got a powerful negative attraction at work drawing to us more of what we don’t want.

The clue is in how we feel. If we don’t feel good, this is a major alert that we are very disconnected from Source, from Who we really Are. And we’re very likely attracting more of the same to reinforce it.

It can be hard to get how powerfully addictive this is, since we’re living it all the time and there’s no reason to question it – until it finally bites us and perhaps if we’re lucky we wake up and start to ask questions. We can “normalise” it, such as believe this is how life is and how we are – who we are.

To use awareness, to become aware, in this context means noticing what our thoughts are, what we keep thinking, and crucially how we feel. The feeling is likely to indicate to us what thoughts we’re having that don’t serve us. To then deal with this, it is important to manage the mind and re-focus it. This is where technique is so powerful, both to develop awareness and spot when your mind has gone off somewhere you don’t want it, and then to use mind-management and focusing technique to bring your awareness back into alignment and, of course, to stay there!

Most of us are too used to letting our minds do their own thing, and we therefore need to build up our power to focus. This means spotting and learning to interrupt and change habits, often ones built up over a lifetime.

If in contrast you are focused on feelings of love, you are powerfully connected to Source, and are in a very positively creative space. Hence also feelings around joy, laughter, contentment, peace, stillness, enthusiasm, aliveness, etc., all have far more positive potentiality. Thus we train people to focus on this aspect of life more and more, as deliberate Connecting to Inner Peace. That way, we’re far more likely to get more of what we want!

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How desire and wanting are inimical to inner peace

As you begin your week, you may be conscious of what you need to get done, what needs to be achieved, to meet your goals. What you will be doing is likely to be linked to something you want. Dealing with our wants may seem like an essential ingredient of living. However, for those who seek inner peace and contentment, to have more joy in their lives, this is also something that contradicts that search.

Desire, wanting, is regarded in many traditions as inimical to achieving inner peace. It is a great interrupter to inner contentment. If you meditate, you may be aware of how thoughts related to unmet desire can interrupt the stillness of meditation, maybe thinking of something you need to do, something you are missing, something you want to happen…the list can be endless.

We can eat our hearts out about unmet desire. You might want more money, a better job, a girl or boyfriend to attend to you more, certain material goods, a better car for example. To be absorbed by wanting is also a statement of lack, of something missing. So the message we put out to the universe is of what we haven’t got. In Law of Attraction terms, we then get more of lack. For example, if you invest thinking and feeling into a lack of money, what you create is a powerful negative energy which attracts to you more lack.

There’s something over there you want, and you are aware of not having it and needing it. So we set up a duality, a polarity, a separation between us and what we want. This we get to play out more of the ego experience of duality, of separation, of subject and object, rather than unity.

Of course, with desire as with so many other things, what we need to do is to become aware of it and let go. But what we find is that there’s so much going on around us to remind us of what we’re missing, that it keeps coming back to plague us. This is where a deeper understanding of the function of desire can be useful.

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Getting the consequences of our actions

We started this week exploring what it is like to anticipate something good, to look forward to things. Now it is the end of the week, how has your week been? Has it worked out as you expected?

Things can have a curious way of working out the way we think they will. Not that that may always seem to be the case, if you think about how the seeming unexpected can suddenly crop up out of the blue. It’s worth thinking about, how our persistent line of thinking about matters tends to produce consequences in line with our thinking. The Law of Attraction has a lot to say about this: we get back what we put out, at some level. Even the unexpected can fit in with our thinking, if we reflect on it. For example the unexpected could be something we were afraid of happening, and so have thought about before. We’ve given energy to it, and drawn it to us, perhaps unconsciously.

This often mystifies people, the idea that we get the consequences of our actions, even those we don’t intend. “Why,” you might think, “do I get what I don’t want?” I mean, why would you do that?!

The point of this line of thinking is that “like unto itself is drawn”, birds of a feather flock together. What we think about, happens. An easy test is to notice how what you are thinking about suddenly tends to be going on. You notice it more! It becomes figural, as we would say in Gestalt. So, what you fear you give energy to, and thus draw the experience to you, even if you don’t want it!

The key is to shift the feeling, and the thoughts too but especially the feeling, and let it go.

So as you reach your weekend, if this article is resonating with you, maybe it would be good to notice, become aware of, those things in your life that you don’t want, and think of ways to shift your thinking, and crucially your feeling, about those matters. The weekend is a good time for letting go. So, practice letting things go. After all, it is a crucial self-development skill to develop

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What you think, you become

“One’s own thought is one’s world. What a person thinks is what he becomes – that is the eternal mystery. If the mind dwells within the supreme Self, one enjoys undying happiness.” (Maitri Upanishad).

It can easily be overlooked that focusing on the mind as Eastern mystics did was not merely to challenge the patterns of thinking that kept people enslaved. It was also to open them to the greater potential that the mind offers.

Basically you get what you think about, what you think you become. What you focus your mind on will occur at some level. See for example the Law of Attraction: “That which is like unto itself, is drawn”. If you think about it, you get more of it.

So it’s is very important to become aware, to notice what your mind gets up to and to learn to manage it, not only to get more of what you really want (which can be a bit of a trap if you aren’t coming from a higher perspective), but also to use the mastery of mind that you can gain to focus more and more on that which uplifts you.

What Eastern mystics learned was that if they focused the mind in this way, by going within, they discovered that the very self that had appeared to be a source of unhappiness was also the gateway to the bliss of the Self. Once through self-awareness they could become more skilled at being aware of when the ego was getting in the way and could learn to manage that, more and more the underlying peace, contentment and joy of the Self would reveal itself.

This of course takes skill and practice. But the start is to become aware of what the mind is doing, what tricks the ego gets up to and to learn to manage that and let it go. Thus the mind becomes no longer our enemy but our great friend, our Source of joy.