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Are These False Beliefs Controlling Your Life?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 20, 2018

What limiting beliefs are controlling your life? Do you identify with any of these common false beliefs?

Young woman sitting at a table and looking sad while holding her cell phone. All of us absorbed numerous deep false beliefs as we were growing up, and these beliefs now govern much of what occurs in our work and our relationships. It is sometimes challenging to uncover these major beliefs.

Below are some examples from my clients:

"I have to completely give myself up to be in a relationship, and I have to take responsibility for my partner's feelings. If I don't, he/she will leave."

Many of the clients I work with grew up with controlling and invasive parents and learned to give themselves up in some areas and completely resist in others. Now, they find that as soon as they really like someone, they take responsibility for the other's feelings, by going along with what the other wants. Then, what frequently happens is they feel engulfed by the relationship, and then they shut down and resist, which leads to feeling that this is not the right relationship. Or, they continue giving themselves up and eventually feel angry that they are not receiving what they are giving. Without a loving adult, willing to take responsibility for their own feelings instead of others, this pattern will continue. The other side of this belief is "Others are responsible for my feelings - for making me feel happy and safe."

"I'm not enough - not smart enough, attractive enough or good enough. Validation from others determines my worth."

When you believe that you are, in some way, not enough, then you are constantly trying to prove that you are enough. Until you develop a loving adult who internally validates you, you will continue to try to have control over getting others' approval.

"My intelligence, abilities, character, and/or talents are fixed qualities. Working hard is pointless since I can't change these. If I fail, I am a failure."

When children are told that they are very smart and talented, or that they are stupid, they come to believe that making an effort is pointless. Kids who are told they are smart become afraid to really try, for fear of not being smart enough, and children who are told they are stupid believe there is no point in trying. It is vitally important to understand that intelligence, ability, and character are not fixed qualities, and improve with effort.

"I can be happy only if I'm in a relationship."

This belief seems to be more prevalent in women than men. While men are often taught that their happiness and value comes from their financial success, women are taught that their happiness and value lies in being in a relationship. When you have this belief, then you put all your effort into finding the right relationship, rather than in developing a loving internal relationship with yourself and your spiritual guidance. You look for a relationship in order to get something - love, validation, sex, safety, approval, fun - rather than to share the fullness of your own being, which you can do only when you learn to love yourself.

"I'm not safe."

Raymond, one of my clients who comes from a highly abusive background, keeps himself emotionally distant from people to feel safe. As much as he would love to be in a relationship, he is unable to be emotionally intimate for fear of getting hurt. The only way he has been able to feel close is through sex, and he is sexually addicted as a result. As long as his inner child cannot rely on his loving adult to make him feel safe, he will be unable to have a close and emotionally intimate relationship, and will continue to feel distant even in social situations with friends and family.


If I’m perfect, I can control how others feel about me.”

How often do you tell yourself that you have to do everything right and be perfect and then you can get love? How much joy are you getting from life by trying to be ‘perfect’ rather than being yourself?

These are just a few of the many false beliefs that may be governing your life. Step Three of Inner Bonding is about discovering the beliefs that may be keeping you unhappy, anxious and stuck in your life. I encourage you to explore your underlying beliefs whenever you are feeling badly - anxious, depressed, angry, ashamed and so on, and bring in the truth from your Guidance in Step Four. When, in Step Five, you act on the truth, instead of on your false beliefs, you will eventually move beyond being governed by these limiting beliefs.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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Loving action is always true to ourselves. Any action that denies our truth is an unloving action. Giving - of time, money, sex, approval - when we do not want to give is unloving to ourselves and others. Notice if you are giving to get or giving for the joy of it.


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Loving action is always true to ourselves. Any action that denies our truth is an unloving action. Giving - of time, money, sex, approval - when we do not want to give is unloving to ourselves and others. Notice if you are giving to get or giving for the joy of it.



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