‘The great weight of scientific evidence that has emerged over the last decade demands that we reevaluate the mental and emotional abilities of unborn children. Awake or asleep, studies show, they (unborn children) are constantly tuned in to their mother’s every action, thought, and feeling. The experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament, and the power of thought.’ – Dr Thomas R Verny, MD
Most Doctors are focussed on the expectant mother’s behaviour – is she eating well/ taking requisite vitamins? Does she exercise regularly? These questions focus on the mothers primary role as per medical teaching – provision of nutrients – that’s all. However, the developing child receives far more than nutrients. The foetus absorbs excess glucose if the mother is diabetic and excess cortisol and other fight/flight hormones if the mother is chronically stressed. Stress hormones prepare the body to engage in a protection response. Once these maternal signals enter the foetal bloodstream, they affect the same target tissues and organs in the foetus as they did in the mother. Therefore foetal blood in situations stressful for the mother, flows to the brainstem and the long muscles providing nutritional requirements needed for the arms and legs and by the regions of the brain responsible for life-saving reflex behaviour. Blood flow is thus moved away from the viscera organs and stress hormones suppress forebrain function.
The development of foetal organs is proportional to both the amount of blood each organ receives and the function they provide. When passing through the placenta, the hormones of a mother experiencing chronic stress will profoundly alter the distribution of blood flow in her foetus and change the character of her developing child’s physiology – (Lesage et al 2004, Sandman et al 1994)
It has been found that conditions of prenatal development significantly impacts IQ. As per Dr Bernie Devlin, MD, upto 51% of a child’s potential intelligence is controlled by environmental factors. Studies have also found that smoking impacted the to-be-born child’s IQ by exposing the foetus to the metal lead present in cigarette smoke. Known effects of lead include developmental delays, learning difficulties, weight loss, chronic sluggishness and fatigue. There have been studies in which the impact on Parents arguing has been seen on a foetus through a sonogram. The prenatal child is seen to physically jump – and that was what we call a Significant Emotional Event (SEE). [Video available for those interested on the site of Associazione Nazionale Educazione Prenatale, an Italian conscious parenting organisation.]
Right from the time in the womb, the human brain (of the foetus) builds up responses to stimuli. Multiple SEEs to the mother during the pregnancy would lead to multiple SEEs to the foetal brain as well. Each ‘test’ which came up with a sub normal result would create a fresh SEE and damage another part of the foetal brain and body. Prolonged stress would lead to lack of development of internal organs and lead to ‘special’ children.
Why did I start this article on beliefs with this information?
Because to solve any issue, we need to go back to the time when the issue started. Also to let you know that scientific evidence points to something that the medical community and the pharmacological community is hiding. That diseases are created by the brain. With the advent of better and more powerful machines than hitherto fore when a lot of medical knowledge originates from, we can now actually see what happens as they happen.
We worked on a lady who, at one point in her life, was told by a Dr that one of her legs was shorter than the other. She walked with a pronounced limp. We requested her to stand with both legs together. There was no discernible difference in height from the floor to the left and the right hip. I asked her to show me her walk and she promptly ‘created’ the limp – by dragging the right foot away from her body at a 45 degree angle while her left leg went straight. Her belief that one leg was short was getting her to create a limp – because if she has a leg which was short she would limp, right? We made her stand in front of a mirror and showed her that both legs were of the same length. And then made her place her right leg straight instead of the 45 degree right. with a little practise and cajoling from her 6 year old grandson, she walked straight – sans any limp.
Beliefs are not necessarily based upon a logical framework. They are, instead, notoriously unresponsive to logic. They are not intended to coincide with reality. Since we don’t really know what is real, we have to form a belief—a matter of, if you will, of faith.
This is really important for any Counsellor/Practitioner/Coach to understand when you are working with a person to assist him to change his limiting beliefs.
Abraham Maslow wrote about a therapist who was treating a man who believed that he was a corpse. Despite all the therapist’s logical argument, the man persisted in his belief. In a flash of inspiration, the therapist asked the man ‘Do corpses bleed?’ The patient replied, ‘That’s ridiculous! Of course corpses don’t bleed.’ After first asking for permission, the therapist pricked the man’s finger and produced a drop of bright red blood. The patient looked at his bleeding finger astonished and exclaimed, ‘I’ll be damned, corpses do bleed!’
Beliefs are responsible for behaviour. When you really believe something, you will behave congruently with that belief. There are several types of beliefs that need to be in place in order to achieve your desired goal. You will only achieve your goal once all these align.
One kind of belief is called outcome expectancy. Whether you believe that the goal that you have set for yourself is achievable. In relating this to health, it means that you believe it is possible for people to get over cancer, or renal failure, or Multiple Sclerosis or whatever ailment you are suffering from. When people don’t believe a goal is possible (like getting over a bad financial situation), they feel hopeless. And when people feel hopeless, they don’t take the appropriate action to get well.
Another kind of belief is the self-efficacy expectancy. Whether you believe that the outcome is possible and that you have whatever it takes to reach your goal. In relating this to business, this means that you believe that you have the necessary resources to be successful yourself (even if you believe you need to reorganize those resources). A person may believe that a goal is possible for others to achieve, but not possible for himself. When the person believes he doesn’t have what it takes to accomplish his healing, you’ll typically find a sense of helplessness. Low self-efficacy expectancy equals a feeling of helplessness leading to inaction.
Both types of beliefs are essential to taking action to achieve desired outcomes. When a person feels both hopeless and helpless, he becomes apathetic. This can present a real problem when he’s working with situations that are potentially physically, emotionally or financially life-threatening. So as a Practitioner, a Therapist or a Counsellor, when you’re doing belief work with someone else, you may need to work with one or both of these beliefs.
If you ask a person you are coaching/counselling or conducting therapy on – to rate his own outcome expectancy and/or his self-efficacy expectancy, you’ll almost always find incongruity. For example, when you ask ‘Do you believe that you’ll recover from this situation?’ the verbal reply ‘Of course,’ will be accompanied with shaking their head in the nonverbal disagreement. If you work with a person without analysing what he says and does, you’ll miss the message. When someone offers you an incongruent message like that, you want to work with the conflicting beliefs to build appropriate beliefs of self-efficacy and outcome expectancy.
Another belief that is useful to know about is called response-expectancy. Response-expectancy is what you expect to happen to you either positively or negatively as a result of the actions you take in a particular situation. For example, if I feel that working out is painful and I will be sore and sweaty and feel horrible after exercise – the response expectancy is negative and you won’t find me visiting the gym soon.
Now you know that ensuring a change for a client will work if you can change his beliefs. So how do you do that? By working with the model of the world of the client. By working with his reality. And showing him that it is no longer working.
Richard Bandler was volunteering in a Psychiatric Hospital in which there was an inmate who believed that he was Jesus Christ. He would go around giving advice and playing the saviour of the world. All kinds of therapeutic practises had failed to elicit any result.
Bandler came up to the man and asked, ‘Are you the guy who thinks he is Jesus?’. The patient answered, ‘Yes my son, I am Jesus.’ Bandler took out from his pocket a measuring tape and measured his height, his hand span and his chest and waist. Two hours later, Bandler was back with two planks of wood, a hard hat, and a workers belt from which hung a sturdy hammer and a bag of long nails.
He kept a plank vertically against the wall, placed the other one horizontally on the ground and had three nurses bring the patient to him. With a couple of nails held between his teeth and the hammer in his hand, he looked at the patient and said, ‘Well Jesus, I am the guy who crucifies you.’ Within seconds ‘Jesus’ remembered who he was, what he did, the name his wife, even his address.
So what causes change? Two things.
1. The knowledge that the old belief is no longer beneficial for you.
2. That you can change (or trust someone to empower you so that you can then change it).
Remember when you were a kid and got hurt, and your Mother or older sister or someone who you trusted kissed the bruise and told you that the pain would go away? And it did? Well, the explanation is the ‘Gate Control Theory of Pain’ propounded by Wall and Melzack in 1965. Works on belief.
So if people ask you….
Does Hypnotherapy work? Does Reiki work? Does NLP work? Does Numerology work? Does Astrology work? Does praying work? Does being blessed by a priest work? Does being molested by a Godman work? Does having your dog lick your forehead every morning work?
Tell them… if you believe it, it will work.
Because the only one who can change you is YOU.
Everyone else who works with you are only facilitating change – not performing it. If they are good at what they do, they will identify the limiting belief quickly using the language you use and therefore start work earlier and hence get results earlier. Identification of the limiting beliefs are the most important step in the process of change.
Trying to get the Universe to do something that only you can do doesn’t work! Unless you take responsibility, you will remain in the cauldron of self pity, and no one can drag you out of that, unless YOU want to get out.