The purpose of all of the Sleight of Mouth patterns we have explored up to this point is to assist us to become more open to believe in our goals, our values, our capabilities and ourselves. They can also help us to 'reframe' negative generalizations, stimulating us to become more open to doubt evaluations and judgments which limit us. Sleight of Mouth patterns are simple but effective verbal structures that aid us in the establishment of new and empowering beliefs, and in changing limiting beliefs. They are powerful tools for conversational belief change.
People often consider the process of changing beliefs to be difficult and effortful; and accompanied by struggle and conflict. Yet, the fact remains that people naturally and spontaneously establish and discard hundreds, if not thousands, of beliefs during their lifetimes. Perhaps the difficulty is that when we consciously attempt to change our beliefs, we do so in a way that does not respect the natural cycle of belief change. We try to change our beliefs by "repressing" them, disproving them, or attacking them. Beliefs can become surprisingly simple and easy to change if we respect and pace the natural process of belief change.
I have spent a great deal of time studying and modeling the process of natural belief change. I have worked with many people, individually and in seminars, over the past twenty years, and have witnessed the sometimes miraculous consequences which result when people are able to release old limiting beliefs and establish new and empowering ones. This transition can often be both rapid and gentle.
I have also seen my two children (who are 10 and 8 years old at the time of this writing) change many, many potentially limiting beliefs in their short lives; and establish more enriching ones. Perhaps most importantly, they did it without psychotherapy or medication (although a little mentoring and Sleight of Mouth is often helpful). These limiting beliefs covered a variety of topics and activities, including:
IH never learn to ride this bicycle.
I am not good at math.
Ill never live through this pain.
It is too hard for me to learn to ski.
Learning to play the piano (or this particular song) is difficult and boring.
1 am not a good baseball player.
I can't learn how to pump the swing by myself.
At a certain point in their lives, my children actually made statements such as these. The degree to which they believed their own words threatened their motivation to keep trying to succeed. When such beliefs are taken to an extreme, people give up, and can actually cease to enjoy or attempt to do such activities for the rest of their lives.
The process through which my children changed their beliefs occurred as a natural cycle in which they became more and more open to doubt the limiting belief, and more and more open to believe that they could be successful. This has led me to formulate what I call the Belief Change Cycle (see Strategies of Genius Volume III, 1995).
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Since World War II, there has been a tremendous change in the makeup and direction of kid baseball, as it is called. Adults, showing an unprecedented interest in the activity, have initiated and developed programs in thousands of towns across the United States programs that providebr wholesome recreation for millions of youngsters and are often a source of pride and joy to the community in which they exist.