Changing Self-defeating Beliefs & Limiting Behaviours

One counselling strategy I employ in working with clients is to enable them to uncover and where possible eliminate those self-defeating beliefs which are driving discomfort and self limiting behaviours.

The session and dialogue facilitates your own processes, helping you find and explore those beliefs that support your insecurity (familiar but often unhealthy comfort zone) and replace them by inherent beliefs that help you to change the way you think, feel and behave.

An example of an insecure and unhealthy belief - mistrust

An example of an insecure and unhealthy belief could be an inability to trust yourself and other people in a close relationship. Whilst this may have been a belief which has helped sustain and protect you earlier in life, the origin of which may be embedded in childhood, you have now reached a stage in adult life where you have become aware that this belief and behaviour is now constantly endangering potentially fruitful relationships.

At one level you may perceive the relationship as offering potential for longer term fulfilment but at another level one which promises a threatening high degree of intimacy (which you have often consciously strived for) but which is often outside your experience and comfort zone. For the untrusting it may feel scary to allow someone to enter your intimate zone and so risk losing yourself in this new and unfamiliar but potentially richer and healthier partner relationship. Your behaviour is therefore, instinctively and often unconsciously, driven to push away this unfamiliar 'treat or perceived threat' of intimacy by withdrawing or sabotaging the relationship.

As a consequence you may at the same time, depending on your level of self awareness, both castigate yourself as hopeless and project these unwanted and painful feelings onto the other.

This situation is exaggerated when the 'partner' exhibits comparable behaviours to yours such as an inability to trust and commit. This raises the spectre of a relationship where your, often unconsciously, choosing a partner who is emotionally unobtainable, perhaps vulnerable but who may represent a familiar and insecure figure. This is what you may recognise as a pattern of belief and behaviour in adult life where you are attracted to insecure but familiar figures. Ironically this behavioural pattern is often one of relative safety but also mutual mistrust, a self destructive behaviour which is exaggerated over time.

After exploration a decision can be reached by you that the belief is no longer fit for purpose and there is a felt need to learn a new way of being, one of learning to trust yourself and others in order to seek out and sustain potentially productive relationships. This is a lengthy process which requires both courage and commitment, a practice which will invariably be fraught with difficulties and the prospect of reversions to familiar and unhealthy type.

Ultimately with commitment and practice you have the ability to change the way you think and thereby over time, change the way you feel and act. This process has the capacity to increase your sense of purpose, self-trust, passion, confidence and day to day happiness.

The process, also called the Option Process Dialogue (OPD), is a non-directive and non-judgemental method of therapy. It also draws heavily on the psycho-dynamic model.

This non directive technique has been employed both on a one to one and couple client counselling basis.