A belief is the linguistic expression of something someone believes what someone believes to be true. Beliefs are in NLP an expression of inner models that each person continuously designs and must continuously design in order to orientate themselves in the world. Other terms for this are: convictions, attitudes, beliefs, opinions.

think (Unsplash: © Elijah Hiett)

Table of Contents

  1. What are beliefs?
  2. Examples of restrictive beliefs
  3. Examples of positive and negative beliefs
  4. How do beliefs influence our life?
  5. The consequences of beliefs
  6. How does a belief emerge?
  7. Finding beliefs
  8. How can beliefs be changed?
  9. Changing techniques for beliefs

What are beliefs? definition

Beliefs are generalizations (generalizations) about the "relations between experiences".

Beliefs are generalisations about:

  • Connections / Causes
    "It runs in our family."
  • meaning
    "To smoke means weakness."
  • limits
    "This is impossible."

with regard to:

  • The world around us
    "You can't concentrate when there's noise."
  • Special behaviour
    "You must not do that."
  • skills
    "I'll never learn that."
  • Our identity
    "I am competent in my profession."
  • spirituality
    "The universe is a friendly place."

Belief systems control the focus of our attention and thus determine what information we take in and how we interpret it.

Beliefs are the big frame of any change work you do. When people really believe that they cannot do something, they will unconsciously find a way to prevent change from happening. They will find a way to interpret the results so that they are consistent with their existing beliefs.

We have all adopted convictions, attitudes, expectations, beliefs from our culture and social form, derived them from our personal experiences, accepted them from other people, generated them from possible past traumas and generalised them from repetition.

The American sociologist W.I. Thomas was one of the first to hold the view, which is known today, that reality is in its consequences as people perceive and define it. This means that the way I construct my world, the way I imagine it, influences my actions and activities.

Everyone has belief or belief systems that are closely linked to their personal values and criteria and can have a significant impact on motivation, decision-making, performance.They shape both the will to live and the ability to cope with stress and also enable the development and shaping of positive life plans and needs.

belief systems consist of several beliefs that support and reinforce each other.

free E-Book

Believe in your limits and they are yours.
"What man believes, he can achieve."
"All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in our belief patterns."

Anthony Robbins

Examples of limiting beliefs

Below you will find some of the most common limiting beliefs, along with some facts and examples to help you think about them.

"I'm too young."

  • Boris Becker won Wimbledon for the first time at the age of 17.
  • At the age of 12, David Stuart gave a scientific lecture to a group of 150 archaeologists and Maya researchers about a character of the Maya language which he had deciphered.
  • At the age of 15, Judit Polgar became the youngest chess grandmaster of all time.

"I am too old."

  • At 60, Hulda Crooks did not know that at 70 she would discover mountaineering as a new hobby. At 90, she was the oldest woman ever to have climbed Fuji Jama.
  • Livius wrote the history of Rome at the age of 75 and Goethe wrote "Faust" at 80.
  • George Bernard Shaw broke his leg when he was 96 years old when he fell off a tree while picking plums.

"I do not have enough training."

  • About 80% of the most successful entrepreneurs had neither a high school diploma nor a university degree.
  • Albert Einstein did not have a high school diploma. He failed his first entrance examination at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Nevertheless, he established the theory of relativity and became the most famous physicist of the 20th century.
  • .
  • There is no one to prevent you from starting a new education today.

"I don't have enough money."

  • Even Robert Schuller, the well-known master of possibility thinking, had no money. Without a dollar he founded a church congregation, held services in a drive-in cinema and finally built the Crystal Cathedral, which is now worth over 100 million dollars.
  • Andrew Carnegie started in a reel factory with a weekly wage of 15 DM. In the last 18 years of his life he donated over DM 1 billion.

"I lack the ability ....."

  • Robert W. Woodruff could not even read properly because of dyslexia. Even when he was a big entrepreneur, he had to pronounce every word individually. Nevertheless, until his death in 1985, he ran the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, creating one of the most successful corporations in the world. If Robert Woodruff succeeded in building such a group with this weakness, what is it that prevents you from being successful?

"I come from a simple background."

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger came from a simple background. But that didn't stop him from becoming the most successful bodybuilder of all time, being a Hollywood star and marrying into the Kennedy family.

"My physical impairments prevent me from being successful."

  • Demosthenes stuttered and yet became the greatest speaker of antiquity.
  • The blind José Feliciano played 38 golden records.
  • The blind Stevie Wonder has also become world famous.
  • Sylvester Stallone became one of Hollywood's greatest heroes despite his paralyzed eyelid and slow speech.

Examples of positive and negative beliefs


I effortlessly attract money like a magnet.I need a lot of money to be happy.
I feel rich and successful. I feel rich and successful. The rich people have all come to their wealth through lies and deceit.
I love money and feel good to own a lot of money. I am not worth anything without a lot of money.
I deserve wealth and prosperity.My fellow men envy me my prosperity.

Self value

I accept myself as I am. I am a failure and I am no good.
I am thankful for what I have. All others are better than me and achieve their goals in contrast to me.
I am a wonderful person. I am unimportant.
As I am, I am valuable, complete and happy. I can't do all this.
My opinion is important.If I make a mistake or fail I will be rejected.


Living and eating healthily is fun for me.Losing weight is much too difficult.
I may be slim. I can't be slim anyway, because I can't keep up with a diet.
I feel good in my body. Everyone in my family is overweight.
I allow myself to be slim and to be proud of it.I just have bad genes.
I reduce and maintain my weight with ease. No matter what I eat, I gain weight anyway.
My weight settles down where it is right and good for me.If I want to lose weight I have to do without.


I am worth one loves me.
I am surrounded by people who love me. I am alone.
Love and harmony fill my life.No one wants me.
My family gives me love and affection. I do not deserve love and affection.
I live in love and harmony with my dream woman/dream man/ woman. My relationships are doomed to failure.
I have an infinite source of love within me. Other people do not love and respect me.


being healthy is the normal state of my illness is incurable.
I feel healthy and fit. I can never be completely healthy.
I have my health in my own hands. Age is to blame for my state of health.
Every breath fills me with new healthy energy when I am completely healthy. Then nobody cares about me anymore.
I am choosing a conscious lifestyle. I am choosing a conscious lifestyle. I am choosing a conscious lifestyle.


I am something special.I am unattractive.
Despite my limitations, I can do anything I want. I am disadvantaged compared to others and have no chance.
data-label="Positive">I love and accept myself as I am.My limitation prevents me from achieving my goals.


My relationships consist of love and affection.I am unable to relate.
I have a great partner by my side.I feel constricted in relationships.
relationships I enjoy to the fullest. relationships cannot always be simple and harmonious.
I find a partner who suits me.It is normal in a relationship to argue a lot.
My relationship gives me security and support. My partner does not respect me.
I respect and love my partner as he/she is.I don't become happy in a relationship.

How do beliefs influence our lives?

Faith influences our body functions. Our body reacts as if what the mind believes were true. In addition, your behaviour is also significantly influenced by your beliefs and your faith. Once we have a really firm belief anchored in us, even massive information to the contrary will not upset us. We simply ignore them or consider them wrong. The mechanisms of generalisation, eradication and distortion described above are also good for this. Some people even believe they have to change the whole world just to get their faith right.


  • The body

    A fine example of this is the story of a man who believes he is a corpse. He just sits there and claims to be a corpse. A psychiatrist comes and both argue for a while about whether the man is a corpse or not. Suddenly the psychiatrist gets an idea.

    He asks the man if corpses can bleed. Since all bodily functions have come to a standstill in a corpse, the man denies it and the psychiatrist stabs him in the finger with a needle. When the finger starts bleeding shortly afterwards, the man says: "Oh, I must have been mistaken. Corpses can bleed after all."

  • Cancer study

    In an interesting study, one woman interviewed 100 "cancer survivors" in the hope of finding out what all these survivors have in common. She defined a cancer survivor as someone who had been diagnosed with "terminal cancer" with little chance of recovery, but who was still alive and healthy and still enjoying life ten or twelve years later.

    Interestingly, the researcher could not find any common patterns in the treatment of these patients. Different people had received different treatments, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, diet programmes, surgery, spiritual healing, etc. But there was one thing that all these survivors had in common: they all believed that the treatment they were getting would work for them. It was the belief, not the treatment, that made the difference.

  • Hypnosis with ice

    Faith also sorts our perceptions. Through the network of beliefs in our head, messages get different meanings. This happens even on the level of the nervous system. We are able to reinterpret stimuli coming from outside via our faith. The description of an experiment will make this thought clearer:

    One touched test subjects under hypnosis with ice and at the same time suggested to them that it was a piece of hot metal. All of them developed burn blisters at the point of contact.

  • Intelligence tests at school

    The two psychologists Rosenthal and Jacobsen in 1968 gave primary school pupils an intelligence test to work through. Then it was explained to teachers that these intelligence tests were not ordinary intelligence tests, but that the tests could predict the future intellectual development of the children.

    In this way, the teachers were given the expectation that these children would improve significantly in the future. By chance, 20% of the children have now been selected and named to the teachers as those who will show exceptional improvements in performance next year. In fact, the children were as good or bad as the others.

    When the children were retested a year later, it was found that the selected pupils had (significantly) higher increases in intelligence test scores than their classmates. The positive expectations of the teachers apparently had a direct effect on the performance of the pupils.

The consequences of beliefs

Beliefs are always associated with emotional reactions. The most common consequences of beliefs can be classified into the following categories of feelings:

  • Hope:
    A belief that the desired outcome is not achievable, regardless of one's skills and resources of a person, e.g. cancer is incurable.

    a conviction that the personal skills and resources are there to achieve the desired result

  • Helplessness:
    A belief that the desired goal is basically achievable but not for the person in question e.g. Others can do it but it won't work for me.

    Capable of action:
    a conviction that achieving the desired result or state is quite possible, and the person is capable of learning

  • Worthlessness:
    A belief that one does not deserve the desired goal because one has done or not done something, or because one simply "is" in a certain way, e.g. It is not my place to have an easy life.

    a conviction that the person deserves to achieve the desired result because the appropriate services are provided for it

  • Insignificance:
    A belief that the desired results have no meaning for the individual or for others.

    a conviction that the desired result will also be used for other people and social relationships

  • Nonsense:
    A belief that life is meaningless and that achieving a desired result is not even aimed at in the first place

    a conviction that the desired result achieved is fitted into the whole life process, and that the person considers life to be meaningful.

How does a belief come into being?

In our development we go through three different phases.

  • Period of embossing
  • From birth to the seventh year of life, we live through the period of imprinting, in which we absorb all events, images, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells.

  • Modelling period
  • In the subsequent modelling period we imitate our parents and other people we admire. This period lasts from about eight to thirteen years of age.

  • Socialisation period
  • Then we are in the socialisation period, when we leave the family as adolescents and meet new people. During this period our social values and belief systems are trained.

An important source in the development of belief systems and beliefs are the direct personal experiences, which we have gained as conclusions and assessments about our environment, about the people in it and about our past experiences. Much of the information we receive about the world, about human relationships or about ourselves is also gained through language (media, books etc.) and in communication with other people.

Information gained through direct experience or through verbal communication with other people forms the basis for conclusions and generalisations from these experiences and messages and shapes our belief systems and personal convictions. Subsequently, it plays a role which elements of present individual experiences we distort or erase in order to be able to maintain our beliefs as a generalisation from the past.

During the child's development, it is primarily the parents who play a significant role in these generalisation processes. The personal "model of the world" is communicated to the child through verbal and non-verbal messages and meta-messages. These results become prerequisites for the child, because messages from the parents about the child, for example, can become messages from the child about itself. From the parents' statement about their daughter "You are so clumsy" becomes a girl's attitude of faith, "I am so clumsy, I can't."

Find belief sets

Decisive factors for the formation and maintenance of our beliefs are reference experiences, environment, models and our self-programming through self-suggestions. Analyse yourself in these areas and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Which models have you had in your life? What did these people believe? What was important to them?
  2. In what environment did you grow up and grow up?
  3. Which reference experiences have you collected so far?
  4. What self-suggestions have you given yourself so far?
  5. What are your beliefs? What do you think about life, your identity, your career, work, time, money, love, etc.? Often these beliefs start with the phrases "I am...", "Life is...", etc.

How can beliefs be changed?

How do I have to perceive the world to get what I want?
Which assumption supports me best in achieving my plans and goals?

  • What beliefs does the person you want to be have?
  • What experiences or reference experiences are necessary to realise your dream and become the person you want to be?
  • Use the experiences of other people (mentors) and study the biographies of successful people Who could be your mentors? Which biography do you want to start with?
  • Which environment would optimally support you in achieving your goals?
  • Which self-suggestions suit your new person?

Change techniques for belief systems

  • Generate a new faith (New Belief Generator or Mentor-Technik)
  • Installation of a faith on the timeline
  • Change of historical coinage (Re-imprinting)
  • installation of faith systems by submodalities
  • Dickens Pattern

Mentor Technique: Generating a new faith

The model is suitable for someone who wants to change their behaviour in a certain situation and does not know exactly how. The mentor technique is therefore suitable for stucco states that are to be enriched with new ideas.

A mentor is a counsellor, an advisor, a benevolent or wise friend. The mentoring technique uses real or fictional mentors as a resource. These can be people that someone knows, has heard or read about, people from novels or films, fairy tale characters, animals, plants, mystical figures, abstract beings, guardian angels or even natural phenomena such as the ocean or mountains (basically anything that has a place and makes sense in the client's belief system).

In situations where the client cannot identify the resources within him or herself to effect change, the mentor's position helps to identify or provide the desired resources.

The use of mentors to find resources is known as the mentoring technique.

  1. Identify a problematic situation in your life or with another person where you felt helpless, confused, overwhelmed and now you want to make a difference.
  2. living through a key event associated with this experience (1st position). Install a ground anchor for the problematic situation.
  3. Go into a meta-position (3rd position) and dissociate yourself from the problematic situation, recognise and distinguish the messages and meta-messages from this experience.
  4. Find 1-3 mentors who have had a decisive and positive influence on your life. Think of someone or something who embodies exactly this quality, ability, etc. to a high degree and who can help you as a mentor (consultant, idea provider). These mentors should therefore be a role model for the behaviour you want to achieve, so that you can model it.
  5. Associate the position of each mentor (2nd position) and identify yourself with the mentor. Describe what advice or message each of the three mentors would give you about the problem situation.
  6. Go into a meta-position and find out the connecting meta-message of all three mentors (meta-message).
  7. Check the validity of the common message by taking the position of each mentor (2nd position) and pronounce the meta-message aloud, with the aim of doing so congruently and coherently.
  8. Integrate the message / advice: Stand in a position in front of the mentors and feel their hands on your shoulder. Hear the common, unifying message from within and speak with a common voice. Visualise this message and feel it enter your body as light or melody or temperature and spread through your body. Set an anchor to store this new resource.
  9. While you are still hearing, seeing and feeling this common message go back to the context of the problem. Perceive how your perception of the situation, the message and the meta-message have changed the original problem situation.
  10. bridge the common message of your mentors into a corresponding future situation and consider how you will behave.

Installation of an attitude of faith

To install an attitude of faith, you can use the following instructions:

  1. Table the client's timeline and a meta-position (3rd position) outside the timeline.
  2. Develop the client's desired future outcome and the associated beliefs that support the desired outcome. Consider the conditions of well-formedness for the desired outcome.
  3. Let the client step associated in the present on the timeline and walk with his face to the future, until he knows that he will have achieved his desired result. Allow the client to experience the desired result in association with all the senses. Guide him to make desired changes (optional).
  4. reorient the client back to the present and consider with him the steps necessary to achieve the desired result.

Re-imprinting according to R. Dilts

An imprint is an incisive experience from the past from which the person has formed a belief or set of beliefs. Such imprinting usually also involves an unconscious assumption of roles by other important people who have been involved in the process.

The purpose of re-imprinting is to find the missing resources, change the belief system and adapt the role model developed there to the real and current circumstances of the person concerned. The format is as follows:

  1. A identifies a restrictive behaviour that he wants to change.
  2. B identifies the associated symptoms (feelings, words, ideas) that go with the behaviour. B asks about the underlying belief system.
    Number plate: Hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness, anchor, Ask the corresponding submodalities (what A thinks of first).
  3. A now goes back in time with this anchor to the place where he had the earliest experience of the emotion/symptom. Let A here find the generalisation or the belief system he developed from this experience.
  4. Let A go back one more step, to the point where the experience had not yet taken place. Then A steps out of his timeline and returns to the present, dissociates to his timeline, and looks back at the formative experience in his past. Ask A to note the impact of this experience on his later life. Let A also identify other generalisations and beliefs, if any, that he may have developed later from this experience.
  5. Find the positive intentions, secondary gains or positive effects that might be associated with this experience. Find important other people who were part of this experience. Some symptoms have to do with the fact that the person has taken on/modelled a role as a participant in the experience. Find the positive intention for these people and their behaviour too. To find this out, you can let A ask these people, for example.
  6. Go through the following steps for all persons connected with the imprinting situation:
    a) Find from the dissociation the resources or choices that the person would have needed at the time but did not have. You can stack resources - anchors, collect experiences on the timeline, send energy, colours etc. Let your imagination play. Pay attention to the logical levels of the resources.
    b) Let A, with all these resources, enter into the experience of the one who would have needed them at that time. Activate the anchor, the resources. Now let the person re-experience the whole situation with the resources. c) Let A step back out of the and reassess the experience gained from the dissociation: How have the perception of the situation, the generalisations, the beliefs formed from them changed? What new learning experience does A want to draw from the entire experience now?
  7. Please ask A to find the most important resources he would have needed and anchor them. With this anchor let A go back to a point just before he had this experience. Let A absorb these resources into his younger self and go through the entire timeline to the present. "Notice the changes that have taken place through this process."

Zurück zum Seitenanfang