If you’ve used some of the tools I’ve been teaching, you have probably identified fears and beliefs about yourself, the world, life, and “the way things are” that are consciously or unconsciously keeping you from realizing your dreams. It’s only when you identify these limiting beliefs that you can work to dissolve them, which you must, if you don’t want them to continue to sabotage you. An effective way of working with beliefs involves challenging them cognitively. Byron Katie has developed a powerful technology for challenging beliefs in her Work, and I’ve adapted a few of her methods here.

Cognitive Inquiry
We can challenge our beliefs by asking ourselves questions and being scrupulously honest in our answers. Often we believe things that we’ve never questioned, that we just assume are so. Now is the time to challenge all assumptions!

For instance, if one of your main reasons for not moving forward on a dream is that you think you’re too old, ask yourself if you know for a fact that that is true. I like to ask, would it hold up in a court of law? Remember, if there is even the shadow of a doubt, the jury cannot convict, and neither should you. It is your supposition, not a proven fact. Collect evidence that might actually support the opposite – search out examples of people your age or older who achieved what you desire or even greater things. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

If you believe you cannot succeed, can you absolutely know that to be true? Obviously you cannot. Yet you act as though it were a given. Notice how your behavior is based on myths you have created and which you never question.

Another thing to look at is, “How do you react when you believe that thought?” When you tune into your felt sense of your body/mind/feelings in relation to the belief that you can’t succeed, what do you notice? Do you feel stronger or weaker? More happy and hopeful or more despondent and collapsed? How does it affect your energy and mood? Do you like it?

If it affects you negatively, how does this impact your chances of succeeding? What is it really that makes you unlikely to succeed? Your age or your negative beliefs, that lower your energy? Ask yourself, “Is this belief productive?” Does it support your goals or undermine them? Is this what you want? Which beliefs would support you better? Make a list of beliefs that would be your allies, not your enemies.

A very liberating question to contemplate is: “Who would I be without this thought?” Let yourself temporarily let go of your limiting belief – just let the idea that you can’t succeed completely dissolve and evaporate - and notice what that feels like. Realizing it is actually only a thought helps you do this.

Once you let it go (temporarily) you may get a glimpse into a state of freedom you didn’t know was available to you. Linger awhile there, taste and enjoy that freedom and spaciousness, and what it opens for you as possibilities..

Continuing the courtroom metaphor, you might also try on the argument for your defense instead of always being the prosecutor. Taking the question of whether or not you can succeed, search your memory for examples of yourself succeeding, going all the way back to Kindergarten if necessary. Do an inventory of your little and big successes. Most of them you probably have forgotten, dismiss, or diminish in value, but they all count! Your friends and family may be helpful here.
When you’ve done all of these steps, you will have seriously loosened the grip of that negative belief. You will no longer be able to believe it naively, as you once did.

If you’re still having doubts, consider the insight that something can be possible even if it’s not probable. In other words, you don’t have to believe it’s likely that you’ll achieve your goals, only that it is remotely possible! But then you have to take action and invest in that possibility!

It helps greatly to find role models -- others in your category (too old, no education, whatever it is) who have actually succeeded. And believe me, they are all around if you look for them. A book I heartily recommend (in which I happen to have a chapter) is Overcomers, Inc.: True Stories of Hope, Courage, and Inspiration. If that book doesn’t convince you that anything is possible, nothing will.

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