Although most people think that behavior change usually is difficult and does not happen overnight, I disagree.
About 23 years ago I developed the first in a series of interventions that literally do produce rapid and permanent change. The primary one, the Lefkoe Belief Process(TM) (LBP), eliminates the beliefs that cause our behavioral and emotional patterns.
To get a sense of how the LBP works, please try the following mental exercise: Assume your parents were very critical of you most of the time and rarely acknowledged you for your achievements. No matter what you did, they focused on what you didn’t do and how you should have done better. If this was the pattern of their interactions with you, there literally would be thousands of them by the time you were six or seven years old. What would you have concluded about yourself by this time?
If you are typical of most children, you would have concluded that There’s something wrong with me or I’m not good enough. You would have experienced these beliefs as “the truth” about you as a child. Today, as an adult, even though you might consciously realize the beliefs were silly and illogical, on some deep level you still would experience them as the truth about you.
If you were to recall your childhood, it would seem to you that you could “see” that I’m not good enough. In other words, when you visualized your parents being critical, it would seem as if you also were visualizing I’m not good enough. It’s as if your parent’s behavior inherently meant I’m not good enough. It would be so real to you that you could see your belief in the world that it seems you could say to someone: “If you were there watching my interactions with my parents, you also would see I’m not good enough.”
But if you looked carefully at the events that led to the belief, namely, your parents’ behavior, you would realize that their behavior could have a number of different meanings, each one as valid as the one you chose. For example:
· My parents thought that being critical would motivate me to excel.
· My parents had lousy parenting skills.
· My parents may have thought I wasn’t good enough, but they were wrong.
· Maybe I wasn’t good at doing certain things, but that doesn’t mean I, as a person, am not good enough.
· Maybe my parents were dissatisfied with my behavior, but they didn’t think I wasn’t good enough.
If you now tried to visualize I’m not good enough “out there in the world,” you would realize you couldn’t, because you really never did see it. All you actually saw was your parents’ behavior. And if that behavior could have a number of valid meanings, it has no single inherent meaning. At which point you would be forced to conclude that the only place that meaning has ever existed has been as a belief in your mind.
When you reach this point, the belief has been transformed from “the truth” to “a truth” and is no longer a belief. If you were to state the words of the belief, they would sound silly and meaningless.
This short exercise explains why it usually is difficult to get rid of beliefs: We think we “saw” the belief inherent in our observations. It is difficult to talk someone out of something they think they “saw.” As soon, however, as we realize that we never saw the belief (i.e., the meaning) in the events, that the meaning existed only in our mind, the belief disappears.
Obviously I can’t provide a detailed explanation of how the LBP works here, but I can give you a case history that will illuminate the steps of the LBPs.
Because a belief is nothing more than the meaning we attribute to what we observe, when a client identifies a belief that is responsible for some undesired or dysfunctional pattern of behavior or emotions, the next step is to find the observations that led to the belief.
For example, David complained that whenever his wife pressed him to express his feelings, he felt fear. He generally was very reserved and had a hard time expressing any feelings to anyone. One belief he had formed that contributed to this pattern was My feelings don’t matter. When I asked David what happened early in his life that led him to that conclusion, he replied: “Dad was always telling me to stop crying. He’d get annoyed when I got really excited about things. He’d always say, ‘No one cares what you feel.’”
After telling David that his belief was, in fact, a valid child’s interpretation of his father’s behavior, I asked him for a few additional interpretations of what his father did and said. His answers included: My father isn’t interested in what I feel; his reaction might not be typical of others. No one is interested in what a child feels, that might not be true of an adult’s feelings. In my family my feelings didn’t matter, in other places they might. My father might not have literally meant what he said; he just might have had lousy parenting skills.
I then asked David, “If your father’s behavior could have had many different meanings, can you see that what you’ve been living with as a fact, as “the truth” is only “a truth,” just one interpretation out of many?” He nodded agreement.
“Didn’t it seem as a child when your father was yelling ‘No one cares what you think,’ that you could see that My feelings don’t matter.”
“I did see it,” he exclaimed.
“Take another look, now. I know you saw your father and heard his words, but did you literally see My feelings don’t matter?”
“I guess not,” David replied.
“What did you see?” I asked.
“I saw my father yell at me and I heard what he said.”
“And what is the inherent meaning of that?”
“Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“David,” I said, “Do you still believe My feelings don’t matter?”
He answered, with surprise: “No. No, I don’t believe that any more.”
When David realized that his beliefs were only the meaning he attributed to his interactions with his father, not meaning he discovered inherent in the events, and there were a number of other equally valid meanings, the beliefs were gone.
I realize that the LBP sounds very simplistic and that many people will be skeptical of the claim that the beliefs are completely and permanently eliminated in a matter of minutes. Nonetheless, my associates and I have used the LBP successfully with well over 12,000 clients. Some of the feeling patterns that clients have presented and gotten rid of after eliminating the underlying beliefs include social anxiety, fear of public speaking, hostility, shyness, anxiety, depression, and worrying about what people think of them. Behavioral patterns they have eliminated included phobias, relationships that never seem to work, violence, procrastination, unwillingness to confront people, eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, and sexual dysfunction.
Because anecdotes are usually not acceptable in scientific circles, early in 2004 I joined with researchers at the University of Arizona to demonstrate that fear of public speaking can be eliminated in a matter of hours, despite the fact that it is for most Americans the most intense fear they report having. The researchers used The Lefkoe Method to eliminate the beliefs and conditionings that cause the fear.
The study concluded: “Overall The Lefkoe Method is an effective, quick, and convenient procedure to eliminate the fear of speaking in public. … The Lefkoe Method was effective in virtually eliminating the fear of public speaking in, on average, only three one-hour sessions.” The researchers were Lee Sechrest, Ph.D. and Victoria Cunningham, Ph.D., psychologists at the University of Arizona, and myself. (The link to the complete study, which was published in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 13, 183-193, 2006, is http://www.speakingwithoutfear.com/support-files/EliminatingFears.pdf.)
I don’t mean to suggest that the LBP is a magic bullet that is appropriate for all clients and all problems. It is not meant to replace other effective interventions. It is, however, a very valuable additional tool that can significantly speed up the therapeutic process.
If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using The Lefkoe Method, go to htp://www.recreateyourlife.com/free where you can eliminate one belief free.
Steps of the Lefkoe Belief Process(TM) © 1985-2008 Morty Lefkoe