Many of you who have eliminated at least one belief using the Lefkoe Belief Process have asked me for more details on how it actually works.
In order to provide you with a relatively complete answer (it would take me several days to teach you how to use it effectively), I’ve written a two-part post.
The Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) begins with the client describing an undesirable pattern of behavior or feelings that he has been trying unsuccessfully to change. Feeling patterns could include fear, hostility, shyness, anxiety, depression, or worrying about what people think of you. Behavioral patterns could include phobias, relationships that never seem to work, violence, procrastination, unwillingness to confront people, an inability to express our feelings, sexual dysfunction, or anti-social behavior.
One client presented the following undesirable pattern: “I can do enough to get by, but I don’t apply myself completely to one thing. I always feel as though I haven’t done enough, both at home and at work. Wherever I am, I should be someplace else, doing something else. I never do a good enough job. Sometimes I’m satisfied with what I do, but I never have a sense of a real completion. Never any rest.”
I responded by pointing out that people frequently explain their behavior by pointing to a cause other than themselves, such as their spouse, their boss, the economy, or some other “circumstances.” I requested that the client assume that the source of our behavior and feelings is our beliefs, not anything in reality. Many clients already agree that their beliefs have this power, but agreement is not required for the LBP to be effective. One must, however, be willing accept that idea for the duration of the session.
Finding a Belief
I then asked the client what he believed, at the moment, that logically could account for the current, undesirable pattern that he just had just presented to me. This step is not the same as asking the client “why” he acts as he does. Most people either will say they have no idea why they do what they do, or they will come up with a multitude of reasons. A client’s “story,” interpretations, and analysis are not at all relevant in the LBP. This step is designed to elicit one or more beliefs (that he probably was not conscious of before the LBP began) that logically would manifest as his undesirable pattern.
One belief that this client discovered is I’m not good enough. This belief at least partially explains why he never had a sense of doing a good job, of really being satisfied with whatever he did. In other words, the pattern is the result of the belief(s), and it would be virtually impossible to permanently change the pattern as long as the belief(s) existed. (There were several other beliefs and all of them had to be eliminated before the pattern disappeared totally.)
The Source of Beliefs
Once the belief is identified, the client is asked to say the words of the belief out loud to confirm that he actually does hold this belief. Then, the client is asked to look for the earliest circumstances or events that led him to form the belief. Fundamental beliefs about life and about oneself—for example, self-esteem-type beliefs—usually are formed before the age of six. For the most part they are based on interactions with our parents and other primary caretakers, if any. Beliefs in other areas of life, such as work and society, are formed at the time those areas of life are encountered.
Although the client usually can identify the relevant early events in five or ten minutes, at times he spends as much as half an hour recalling various events from his childhood. At some point he identifies the pattern of events that led him to form the belief in question. My experience with over 13,000 clients indicates that beliefs rarely are formed based on only one or two events. Usually a great many similar events are required.
When I asked this particular client the source of his belief, he described a childhood in which his mother was always telling him what to do and what not to do. Nothing he ever did was good enough for her. He never received any praise and was criticized a lot.
Don’t Invalidate a Client’s Beliefs
The next step is to have the client realize that his current belief was, in fact, a reasonable interpretation of his childhood circumstances and that most children probably would have reached a similar conclusion, given their experience and knowledge at that time in their life. Our beliefs are almost always a reasonable explanation for the events we observe at the time we observe them. Thus the client is never told that his beliefs are irrational or wrong.
The client then is asked to make up some additional interpretations of, or meanings for, the same earlier circumstances, which he hadn’t thought of at the time. In other words, the client as a child observed his mother doing and saying various things over a long period of time. The meaning he gave to the events was I’m not good enough. What the client is asked to do in the session is make up additional meanings or interpretations of his mother’s behavior.
To continue the illustration we’ve been using, other reasonable interpretations of his mother’s behavior could include:
· My mother thought I wasn’t good enough, but she was wrong.
· I wasn’t good enough as a child, but I might be when I grow up.
· I wasn’t good enough by my mother’s standards, but I might be by the standards of others.
· My mother is a very critical person and would act that way with everyone, whether they were good enough or not.
· My mother’s behavior with me had nothing to do with whether I was good enough or not; it was a function of my mother’s beliefs from her childhood.
· My mother’s behavior with me had nothing to do with whether I was good enough or not; it was a function of my mother’s parenting style.
Each of these statements is as reasonable a meaning for his mother’s behavior as the one he came up with as a child. The point here is not to convince the client that his belief is unreasonable, he just needs to realize that there are many different meanings, each one of which is logically consistent with the events he experienced.
Did You See It In The World?
Next the client was asked if, when he formed the belief as a child, it seemed as if he could see in the world that I’m not good enough. Because it feels as if we “discovered” or “viewed” our beliefs in the world, the answer is always, yes. It seemed to the client that every time his mother criticized him or failed to praise something he was proud of, he could “see” that he wasn’t good enough. He was so certain that his belief was out in the world to be seen that he said to me, “If you were there in my house, you would have seen it too.”
The distinction you want the client to make is between the events of his childhood, which have no inherent meaning, and the meaning he attributed to the events. The principles that underlie this distinction are: Events have no inherent meaning. There’s no meaning in the world. All meaning is in our minds. All beliefs are merely the meaning we assign to events.
The way to get the client to make that distinction is to then ask: “Is it clear, right now, that you never saw the belief in the world?”
In other words, you want the client to realize that he never did see that I’m not good enough. All he really saw was his mother’s statements and behaviors. I’m not good enough was only one interpretation of the events he actually did see.
After the client realized that he never really did see his belief in the world, I asked: “If you didn’t see I’m not good enough in the world, where has it been all these years?” He pointed to his head and replied: “In my mind.”
At this point I asked the client, did the events that led you to form the belief have a meaning before you gave them a meaning? Do they have an inherent meaning? It usually takes a short conversation before most clients really understand that events have no inherent meaning, that all meaning is in our mind.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
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