A compilation of commonly held limiting beliefs that quickly reveal challenges facing clients.
Another fabulous tool for identifying thoughts is The Survey, which I love using with new clients. It’s also my absolute favorite tool when doing sessions with groups. Rather than finding unique thoughts within yourself, the Survey does the opposite. It uses a set of universal beliefs that many of us have to one degree or another. Before discussing it any further, let me show you how it works by trying it yourself. Let’s pretend you’re a new client of mine. Please complete the exercise below before we continue. It’ll only take a couple of minutes. Have fun!
Below is a list of thoughts that linger in many people’s minds. Rate your level of belief in each statement from 1 = Don’t Identify to 10 = Strongly Identify. Don’t think too hard on your response; simply write a number that relates to your first gut reaction.
1. Change is hard _____
2. I can’t trust people_____
3. I should work harder_____
4. I’m not lovable_____
5. I’m not safe_____
6. If people got to know me, they wouldn’t like me_____
7. There’s something wrong with me _____
8. Life isn’t fair _____
9. I’m not talented enough_____
10. I’m a fraud_____
11. If only I had the right look, I’d be happy_____
12. I have to take care of everyone else_____
13. It’s not realistic to go after my dreams _____
14. I can’t trust myself _____
15. I have to earn happiness _____
16. I’m lazy _____
17. I’m not experienced enough to get what I want _____
18. It matters what people think of me _____
19. My parents didn’t/don’t love me _____
20. I’m trapped _____
21. No one understands me _____
22. I don’t follow through on what I start _____
23. I’m not good enough _____
24. I don’t deserve to be happy _____
25. Trusting people is hard _____
26. I need to know how things are going to turn out before I start _____
27. Happy people are faking it _____
28. I can’t sell myself _____
29. Happy people are shallow _____
30. Life is hard _____
How’d it go? Did you find beliefs you didn’t realize have been lurking in your closet?
The above Survey is a condensed version of one I’ve used in workshops and sessions as an assessment tool. It’s modeled after a wealth and success Survey written by T. Harv Eker for his Millionaire Mind seminar. I attended the workshop with my husband and pre-teen son, and after we all filled it out, my son asked if we could compare notes. We laughed every time one of us scored high on a belief such as, “wealthy people are dishonest,” which deflated all the fear and tension around it. My son consciously observed his parents’ limiting beliefs around money and what might be holding us back from receiving abundance. It gave him an opportunity to assess the validity of these beliefs before they could become deeply ingrained in his subconscious as an adult. This experience is just one of the many reasons I love the Survey.
Benefits of the Survey process:
1. Most people believe their thoughts are unique to them or are ashamed of them. Having thoughts printed on paper makes it clear they’re common. We can easily talk about them without wanting to hide in a corner.
2. It may take weeks or months to uncover many of your subconscious beliefs without a survey. Starting with one gives you a solid foundation for discovering the beliefs that resonate most and can save time in getting to the bottom of your conflicts.
3. You can create surveys around specific topics to uncover patterns of belief. For example, a dating coach and I developed a survey of beliefs related to dating and relationships. We’re quickly ready to see what’s blocking them. By bringing these patterns up to the surface in tandem, we’re able to tackle the most significant obstacles facing our clients from the get-go. You can access topic-specific surveys I’ve created at: Hold.ChanaMason.com/bonus
4. They’re easy to use. Within five minutes, you can dismiss any thoughts you find ridiculous or give a 10 to those you believe to be absolutely true.
5. You can use them as a reference point to measure progress.
I have my clients retake the survey every couple of sessions. We can tangibly see how much they’ve shifted in their beliefs and where there’s still work to do. I suggest you do this as well.
I offered a health Survey to a client of mine; we’ll call her Wendy. She came to me because she wanted to lose weight and feared her obesity was going to lead to the heart disease experienced by her parents. The Survey included the statement, “skinny people are shallow,” which Wendy identified with the most.I suggested we focus the rest of our session inquiring about that one belief.
Chana: Is it true that skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: Yes. It feels that way.
Chana: Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Wendy: Hmm. Not for sure. No.
Chana: And how do you react when you believe that skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: I feel bitter and resentful when I see thin people. Even if I don’t know them, and I just see them walking down the street.
Chana: What else?
Wendy: I feel like sinking into my chair. I don’t really want to do anything.It feels heavy. Actually… it makes me feel fatter.
Chana: What are you unable to do when you believe that skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: I can’t think straight. I can’t make good decisions. I for sure can’t eat healthy stuff.
Chana: How do you benefit from believing the thought?
Wendy: The last thing I ever want to be is shallow. Like those ditsy girls in high school who were obsessed with their hair and make-up.
The upcoming question – and many throughout this book – follow the style of Barry Neil Kaufman’s Option Process, in which we question assumptions,seek to clarify the meaning of language, and explore the necessity of our emotions. The aim is to find answers within ourselves. Some Option questions are:
What do you mean when you say….?
Do you need to feel angry in order to make sure you don’t engage in that behavior?
Do you believe that?
Why did you do that?
How do you feel about that?
Here, I wish to lay out Wendy’s logic in a simple sentence so she can assess whether it serves her.
Chana: Do you have to believe this thought that makes you feel heavy and fat in order to be a deep person?
Wendy: Oh. I never thought of it that way. I guess not. I could just keep reading and thinking and feeling…
Chana: Can you reach your weight and health goals believing that skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: Well, I want to eat healthier, but I also don’t want to be shallow. Being a deep feeling and thinking person is really important to me.
Chana: So you’ve put yourself in a Double Bind. That’s a situation in which you want two things that you’ve made mutually exclusive. You want to be lean and healthy, and you want to be a deep person, but your belief only allows for one of those.
Wendy: And being shallow seems so horrific to me that I chose to be fat.
Wendy: So how can I change that?
Chana: You can explore other ways of thinking, particularly those that oppose the thought you’re currently believing.
Wendy: I can do that.
Chana: What’s the opposite of skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: Skinny people aren’t shallow?
Chana: Yes. Can you give me three reasons why that’s true?
Wendy: No. Not really.
Chana: Do you know anyone who is skinny and deep?
Wendy: Yes. Yes, I do. There’s Gene and Pamela and … Wow.
Chana: Why did you say, “Wow?”
Wendy: I just realized it’s a lot of people. As soon as I thought about it, I realized how many skinny, deep people I know.
Chana: Each one of those people is a reason why it’s true that skinny people aren’t shallow.
Wendy: That’s a lot of reasons.
Chana: Yes. Can you give me another turnaround for skinny people are shallow?
Wendy: Fat people are shallow.
Chana: Why is that true?
Wendy: Well, I can speak for myself. I end up spending so much time worrying how I look in my clothes when it gets really tight, and I probably shop for clothing more than my skinny friends who stay in the same dress size all the time.
Chana: And one more reason?
Wendy: There are plenty of fat folks reading People magazine and grooming themselves all the time.
Chana: Good to realize. Let’s do one more turnaround. Perhaps make yourself the subject this time. I’m…
Wendy: I’m shallow. Ooh. That hurts. And I can see how that’s true. I’m constantly looking at how others look or wondering what they think of me. I spend more time thinking about food, and I have less energy to do things because my body weighs me down.
Chana: Any other reasons?
Wendy: This is embarrassing. I assume skinny people have no depth just because of how much they weigh – can it get any more shallow than that?
Chana: You’ve put two human qualities, weight and depth, an correlated them. The bigger question here is whether they necessarily have anything to do with one another. Does physical size have anything to do with depth of thinking or feeling?
Wendy: You mean, does being skinny or fat have anything to do with whether you’re deep or shallow?
Wendy: Not when I stop to think about it. You can be skinny and either deep or shallow. You could also be fat and either deep or shallow. It depends more on your personality than on your frame.
Chana: So which of these qualities do you want for yourself?
Wendy: I’d like to be thin and deep. That way I can be healthy, have energy, and be able to contribute more in the world.
Chana: Sounds like an inspiring goal.
Through filling out a health Survey, Wendy discovered some challenging beliefs she had lurking under the surface. Wendy had trapped herself in a bind by believing that she’d be missing out on one of her core values, depth, if she worked on one of her life goals, losing weight. By engaging in Inquiry, she was able to see how much suffering she was causing herself with this belief, but also how untrue it was when she faced it head-on.
Summary of The Survey
Use The Survey when you want to quickly get to the core of what you are facing. You’ll easily gather beliefs for Inquiry. Surveys are versatile, can be as long as you want, and can focus on a topic relevant to you or your specific client population. They’re great for working with groups since they illustrate that many of us are struggling with the same beliefs.
Like what you’ve read? You can learn The Surveyalong with 21 other tools in my book, Hold That Thought. Download a free copy of the book here.
Want to dig deeper into The Survey? Download a Surveyworksheet from the FREE Bonus section of my website!