Secrets of Changing Minds: Changing Beliefs

by Travis Wright on September 25, 2023

by Alvin Soon

How did I shift the beliefs of a woman with a death wish into one so excited about living she took up salsa lessons? How did I persuade a man who had been carrying the burden of guilt for over 40 years that it was time to forgive himself? How did I use the power of words to propel my coaching success to become the fastest promoted senior coach in the history of one of the largest training companies in Singapore?

In the Secrets of Changing Minds series I reveal step by step the key communication tips & strategies from NLP and indirect hypnosis you can use to change minds and transform beliefs.

What’s The Real Problem?

How is it that 2 people can face the same challenge, and one ends up fumbling it while the other glides through it like a pro? Is there a difference and if so, what is it?

I once coached a lady for 2 hours straight, the first on the problem we thought she had, the second when I realized it wasn’t about the problem, it was the belief behind the problem that was the real problem. It’s not just the problem itself, but what you believe about the problem that’s even more important.

If someone believes that he doesn’t have the ability to learn things fast, you can teach him new learning strategies that can help him learn faster. But if he believes that he is a slow learner, no matter what you do, that belief about himself will hinder whatever you do to help him.

(To understand how powerfully beliefs can influence you, read about the Pygmalion effect)

3 Warning Signs of a Self-Sabotaging Belief

When you want to change someone’s mind over a problem, whether it’s about their lives, their relationships or your product, how do you know when the belief is more problematic than the problem itself?

The 3 warning signs of limiting beliefs are when people believe a problem in their life is:

1) personal - when they believe they’re the problem,

2) pervasive - when they believe that just because one area of their life is problematic, their whole life is problematic,

3) permanent - they don’t believe the problem can be resolved.

If you notice when someone feels this way about their problems, you know you have core underlying beliefs about that problem that you need to bust.

What Is The Root Belief Of All Limiting Beliefs?

If it could be generalized, it’d be this: that people are broken, or that ‘I’ am broken.

On the other hand, healthy beliefs have their roots in the belief that people are not broken, that people have the resources they need to overcome any challenge or they have the ability to get those resources.

The key, then, is to shift someone whose belief is that they are broken in some way into a belief that they are whole, that problems are not personal, pervasive or permanent, but impersonal, in one area of life and temporary.

How Do You Change Someone’s Beliefs?

Whole books have been written on the topic, so while there are many different methods, here are 3:

1) Offer counter-examples. A belief can be built because the person has never seen evidence to the contrary. If someone has never seen a TV, they’ll never believe that when you turn it on little people will appear in it. Bring them to a TV, and switch it on.

2) Break the belief down into tiny little bits. Use questions, but you have to be careful not to be too irritating with this one or you might piss someone off (see Empathy Before Solutions Part 3 on 9 ways how not to). Every generalization will break itself at some point, including that one. All generalizations? All the time? According to whom? How do you know that? Ever had a time when it never happened? What would happen if it didn’t?

Read Secrets of Changing Minds: The Essential 4 Questions for more questions you can use (fellow NLP lovers already pissing people off please read the Empathy Before Solutions NLP Special).

3) Re-frame the belief. It’s not that you can’t learn, it’s that no one has ever shown you how. It’s not that there’s no such thing as a TV, only that you haven’t seen one before. It’s not that you can’t change beliefs, it’s that you’ve never noticed you do it all the time.

Until limiting beliefs are shifted, any attempts to change minds will be blocked by these beliefs. It’s like walking into a room with the door shut; it’s not going to happen. The wonderful thing about going after beliefs rather than problems is that once beliefs are transformed, changes are usually generative: resources are freed up and solutions are often thought of on their own.


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