How this plays itself out for me is that most of us are unaware of the past experiences that control or influence our present behavior. Our innate tendency is to act habitually. This is a useful trait to make our lives more efficient, but it can have negative effects if the particular habit we have formed limits us. Some habits we develop all on our own. Others habits we pick up from our parents, teachers, priests, or other persons or sources of influence. Habits can become so ingrained that we no longer question their origin, we just accept the act as being who we are, as our nature, much in the same way we don’t question our breathing. We just do it. Or walking, we had to learn how to walk, now we just do it. So to that extent, I do believe our past experiences determine who we are and what is possible for us now.
For example, for some of us who claim not to be good at maths, we perhaps got a few bad marks on our maths tests back in the early days of our education. Based on these few bad marks, we start telling ourselves that we are no good at maths. We habitually tell ourselves this until the statement becomes fact and that fact becomes a belief. Then we go into our next encounter with maths believing we are no good at maths, do poorly on at it, and take that as evidence to confirm that we are not good at maths.
If I adopt this belief that I am not good at maths early on in my life, then chances are I will make decisions about my future based on the “fact” that I am no good at maths and steer away from careers or projects that involve maths. From my past experiences I now say, “I am no good at maths.” How that limits what is possible for me now is I stay away from opportunities that would require lots of math. To the extent that I am unaware of this limiting belief born of past experiences, the more control it exerts over me.
Make a list of all the things you find yourself habitually saying, I am no good at that. Or I could never do that because…
Now think back to what experiences you’ve had in the past that has led you to adopt that belief. No examine how that belief defines who you are and limits the possibilities available to you.
When our experiences become restricting “truths” they are, as Jack Elias, the noted hypnotherapist states, “no longer models over which we have power as creators; rather they have power over us as our ‘definers’.”0