How to Find and Clear Core Beliefs

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Published in ICF’s Coaching World Magazine

Your client explains why they didn’t do what they committed to do in your last session. You’ve seen this pattern before – and know that it has led to their failures in the past. It will likely lead to failure in their future, including your coaching process, unless you can help them change it.

By getting to the heart of the matter, you can help determine the cause of your clients’ resistance to taking action and shift the pattern at the core of their psyche. When you remove the resistance, forward movement comes easily, and naturally.

Coaches are taught to focus on the present and the future. This leaves us with methods for creating change only from the outside. We help them clarify their goals, make plans for their future, and be accountable for creating results. This works for a while, but they soon return to their old, frustrating patterns. Significant shifts are rare.  And yet, this is why they came to us – for deep, profound change in who they are, what they do, and how they show up in the world.

You can create profound change by helping your client change their beliefs.

A belief in this context is not “a commitment to an idea,” but rather the building blocks that form our experience of reality and our personality. It includes our pictures, stories, and assumptions about who we are, what we’re capable of, and how to act. Many of our beliefs were indoctrinated into us, and many are conclusions we formed of our circumstances.

Beliefs act like colored lenses we look through, filtering what we see. They are the hidden maps of meaning beneath our perceptions, behaviors, and reactions. They shape, in large part, the circumstances we find ourselves in.  Most importantly, they create both our limitations and our possibilities.

When a client expresses dissatisfaction with their personal or professional life, it is almost always filtered by their beliefs about themselves and their circumstances. Beneath the surface of their “presenting problem,” are limitations in their thinking about the issue. When a person changes their belief about what they are capable of, new possibilities emerge for their future. This is true empowerment.

The first step to achieve this shift is to identify the core beliefs beneath your client’s presenting problem. You can uncover beliefs by asking questions that dive down, layer by layer, to the subconscious programs that drive their perceptions and their behavior.

The ICF Core Competency, “Powerful Questioning,” is key to discovering core beliefs beneath the surface. This is a way to “ask questions that evoke discovery, insight… and challenge the client’s assumptions,” because those assumptions are core beliefs. Here are some powerful questions you can ask based upon the situation.

How to foster self-inquiry and exploration:

  • What do you believe about this situation you want to change?
    • Are your assumptions absolutely true? Or are there other possibilities?
    • What would you need to change inside yourself to enable this change?
    • What do you believe about your ability to transform this in yourself?

How we see our external circumstances reflect our beliefs about ourselves, our capabilities, other people, and the world:

  • What are the repeated thoughts you have about this issue?
    • If you have inner voices that say the same thing over and over, what are they saying? What do they sound like? Who said those things to you?
    • What beliefs are you aware of underneath these thoughts and voices? (Many people are already aware of their beliefs.)

How inner voices and repetitive thoughts reflect core beliefs, including those indoctrinated into us by others:  (For example, the voice that says “There’s something wrong with you!” is a direct expression of the inner belief, “There’s something wrong with me.”)

  • What do you believe that makes you feel that way?
    • Where did those beliefs come from?
    • What would you rather believe? Try that belief on, like trying on clothes. How does that new belief make you feel?

Once you discover your client’s core belief, you can use any method of belief-change, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Byron Katie’s “The Work,” or the Clear Beliefs Method. When you help your client change their beliefs, their perspective will change, and so will their world.

The real test of any belief-change method is: Did the old belief disappear completely, and not return? An ideal methodology will remove the belief completely from all aspects of the self: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and psychological. It needs to impact the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the superconscious mind.  It should also reach into the distant past to release inherited familial, cultural, societal, and even karmic beliefs.

When you can evoke change at the deepest levels of your clients’ psyche, you become a powerful agent of change – a successful coach.

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Lion Goodman
Lion Goodman
liongoodman@gmail.com
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