Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Four Steps to Free Yourself from Limiting Beliefs

Freedom from Depression.jpeg
Psychologist and mental health blogger Elisha Goldstein quotes a favorite author of mine, Don Miguel Ruiz, in his post “4 Steps to Getting Free from Limiting Beliefs”: “You see everything is about belief, whatever we believe rules our existence, rules our life.”



I’ve been using Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements,” to help me process the beliefs of others, especially toward me (i.e. “people who struggle from depression are lazy”). But Elisha is right when he explains that the beliefs we hold about ourselves are just as disabling and disempowering as the ones other folks hold about us. He writes:

Of course, whatever we believe colors the lenses of how we see the world and our very next interaction. If we believe we can’t give that speech, lose that weight or live without our Blackberries or IPhones every minute it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder if not impossible to do so. The same goes for getting through anxiety, depression, or addiction.


We start to integrate fundamental beliefs in this world from the time we’re in the womb. We’re already beginning to sense the environment around us, taking in and processing information.

As life progresses we start to integrate this information as truths. Everything is fresh and new, so what we see must be how the world is. If our parents were erratic or abusive, we interpreted the world as unsafe or insecure and that stayed with us as a feeling of fear to this day. Maybe there is the belief that it’s impossible to love or be loved. Or perhaps they didn’t pay attention to us and so we sprout the belief that we are unworthy.

However, at the end of the day it’s all just a story, not a truth, not a fact.


We have the ability to change our stories and beliefs, of course. But the process is difficult and doesn’t produce magic overnight (unless you’re smoking weed as you try). Here are four steps that Dr. Goldstein suggests to form new neural connections that will assist toward mental health and develop breaks before we hit panic:

  1. Exposing the belief – The first thing we need is a sense of radical acceptance of the actual beliefs and feelings that are there. If there is a belief that you are unworthy or incapable in some way, you need to call it out, write it down, and expose it.
  2. Feeling into the emotional reaction – There will be some feeling that is tied to this belief. We also need to acknowledge the reality of this feeling and give it space. It also needs this same type of exposure.
  3. Relating to emotion with compassion – It’s not enough just to expose the emotion; we need to do something that is restorative and healing. This would be to get in touch with a part of yourself that exudes kindness, compassion and/or love. As you feel into the emotion see if you can hold it with this kind awareness. If that is difficult, imagine someone you know, living or dead, who symbolizes this kind of attention and allow that feeling to flow through you. If any judgments arise around this step (e.g., this is so Pollyanna or I can’t do this), notice those as thoughts, mental events in the mind that seemingly come and go, and come back to this practice.
  4. Rewriting the story – Saying to yourself, “In the past I have had difficulty with XYZ due to my old story, this story is not a fact, and moving forward I’m going to open up to new possibilities.”

If you get frustrated take a break. Cool the thoughts for awhile and take up the practice when you’re feeling better. Eventually you will arrive at your new belief system which, theoretically, will be much more kind to you than the old one.



To read Elisha Goldstein’s original blog post, click here.

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  • shut-eye doll

    Very sensible advice. One more thing I’d like to add is forgiveness. Forgive yourself for what you perceive as the wrongs you have committed or are committing.

  • john m sandoval

    At the end of his life – Gautama Siddartha (father of Buddism) said; I have reached a point in which I DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING ANYMORE!
    At the end of his life; Albert Eienstien (father of Nuclear energy ) was asked; what exactly is the truth?
    He answered;the World is not ready, to receive “the truth”.
    Personally;I have found “the truth” (I feel very good about it ) I find it very difficult to voice the truth, because generally people are prone to be superstitious (believe lies ) and prefer to believe what ever they (brain washed) prefer. ( This is called “Resistance to change”.
    I just leave them alone, with their stupid, superstitious inclinations.
    They remain like that, for an entire lifetime. (the curse of the Universe )

  • john m sandoval

    In speaking lies or truths, people say anything they want to say to convince you.
    They do it in religions and politics (to get what they want). Money & power.
    Sir Francis Bacon said; If a lie is repeated often enough, it will be accepted as the truth. Observe; the present condition of the United States of America.
    What fools these mortals be !

  • janet kaplan

    It amazes me how the “experts” can tell you that to feel better about yourself just takes some effort on individual to re-think into positive thoughts all the negative things someone has had for years and things will get better.Wouldn’t you think that any person with common sense would have thought of that ….you know keep telling yourself yes i can yes I can and things will get better. they might …don’t want to sound too negative on that point.
    then again you hear about folks going for years to therapist to help with problems….which to me says you are paying someone quite a bit of $$ to listen to you until you either talk yourself into feeling better or just give up.
    There are no quick solutions to the problems that plague so many folks and I just hate to see pop physicology spouted out .

  • Katie Wells

    My understanding of this article wasn’t that the author was implying that these four points are the be-all end-all solution to feeling better about ourselves. Personally, I believe that incorporating these steps into an overall effort to overcome depression would be worthwhile.
    For me, periodic stints in therapy have helped. I was finally able to come to grips with the fact that my belief that I was always a victim of circumstance and nothing was ever my fault has finally been replaced by reality — that life isn’t easy and sometimes painful — but by taking responsibility for my choices, I have more control over the course of my life than I ever imagined in the first thirty years of my life.
    My experience with self-help books and blogs is this: it’s not magic. It’s not a quick fix, but self-help pop psychology can “plant seeds” in the minds of those of us who do struggle with depression. For some of us, those seeds take root and ultimately lead to recovery.


    I agree with all of the statements above and thank you all for them. I want to especially thank “shut-eye doll” for the additional advice of FORGIVENESS. That’s one I struggle with and yet, when I can truly forgive myself, I know I will like the person I am much better. It’s all a journey and there is no special secret to doing it. There are times with my depression that I tell myself “it just is what it is” and the best I can hope for is to just get through it. It gives me the permission to “just be” for the time being and helps with the guilty feelings I get.

  • Belleo

    The answers to my mental health problems came my way because of loving Christian people . Feeling loved and accepted I could then believe in a loving God . Next step was conversion . I highly recommend ,”The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola .”During the Reformation and it still goes on today they were done by Catholics and Protestants .All one needs is a bible . I sat in front of mine for a year . Yes , I had opened it . The light of the Spirit flowed in me and healed me of childhood trauma .
    I know many promote New Age today . I don’t . Marie

  • Dale Netherton

    Belief should only be based on evidence otherwise the believer is flirting with fantasy.

  • SuzanneWA

    I had such a loving upbringing from my adopted family, that my belief system was…I trust everyone, until they give me a reason not to. You may THINK this is a positive belief, but it has gotten me in a LOT of trouble. I was raised to be a “modern woman,” assertive, intelligent, with the ability to achieve whatever goals I ever had. Then, mental illness caught up with me. The “trusting” belief was in question. When you’re so manic you give everything away – and I lost a LOT of money to people I “thought” were my friends – your whole belief system is in question. Fortunately, I had two husbands (both who died 5 years into the marriage) who did NOT take advantage of me. But, there were many druggies in my life who preyed on my good nature. I hope, by now, I can recognize these leeches, and turn the other way. I LOVE being the quintessential Christian woman, exuding faith, hope and charity, but it’s going to take some time to get those belifs back. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Therese. It really made me THINK.

  • Air Force Nike

    Bonjour, Wanted to make you aware this specific blog post is not showing up properly on my Blackberry Browser. Although, I’m now Air Force Nikebrowsing the RSS feed on my Mac, Thanks

  • HowToLiveHappily

    Thank you so much for spreading the word!
    For many years, my life was like a prison. I’d constantly hit glass walls and couldn’t understand what was holding me back.
    Now my eyes are opened, and while I still have a lot of work to do, everything looks so different. There are so many people though who are still trapped and don’t know why. It’s sad to watch them struggle.
    There’s a lot of work ahead…

  • jumeiren

    belief was in question. When you’re so manic you give everything away – and I lost a LOT of money to people I “thought” were my friends – your whole belief system is in question. Fortunately, I had two husbands (both who died 5 years into the marriage) who did NOT take

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