When I told psychologist Lawrence LaShan about 20 years ago that I had created a process that permanently eliminated beliefs, he replied: “Anyone who claims to do that is a fraud.”
Despite the fact that LaShan, most other psychotherapists, and the average person think that getting rid of beliefs permanently is very difficult, if not impossible, I have thousands of clients whose experience proves otherwise. Over 25 years ago I developed the first in a series of interventions (Lefkoe Belief Process®) that eliminates the beliefs that are responsible for most of our behavioral and emotional problems.
How The Lefkoe Process Works
To get a sense of how the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) works, please try the following mental exercise: Assume you are a very young child with parents who are very critical of you most of the time and who rarely acknowledge you for your achievements. No matter what you do, they focus on what you didn’t do and how you should have done better. … Really take a moment and imagine this. …If this is the pattern of their interactions with you, there literally would be thousands of instances by the time you are six or seven years old. What would you have concluded about yourself by this time?
If you are typical of most children, you would have concluded that There’s something wrong with me or I’m not good enough. You would have experienced these beliefs as “the truth” about you as a child. Today, as an adult, even though you might consciously realize the beliefs were silly and illogical, on some deep level you still would experience them as the truth about you.
If you looked carefully at the events that led to the belief, namely, your parents’ behavior, you would realize that their behavior could have a number of different meanings, each one as valid as the one you chose, I’m not good enough. For example:
· My parents thought that being critical would motivate me to excel.
· My parents had lousy parenting skills.
· My parents may have thought I wasn’t good enough, but they were wrong.
· Maybe I wasn’t good at doing certain things, but that doesn’t mean I, as a person, am not good enough.
· Maybe my parents were dissatisfied with my behavior, but they didn’t think I wasn’t good enough.
If you were to recall your childhood interactions with your parents, it would seem to you that you could “see” that I’m not good enough. In other words, when you visualized your parents being critical, it would seem as if you also were visualizing I’m not good enough. It’s as if your parent’s behavior inherently meant I’m not good enough. It would be so real to you that you could see your belief in the world that it seems you could say to someone: “If you were there watching my interactions with my parents, you also would see I’m not good enough.”
If I asked you to describe what I’m not good enough looks like, you would realize you couldn’t, because you never really did see it. All you actually saw was your parents’ behavior. And if that behavior could have a number of valid meanings, it has no single inherent meaning. At which point you would be forced to conclude that the only place that meaning has ever existed has been as a belief in your mind.
When you reach this point, the belief has been transformed from “the truth” to “a truth” and is no longer a belief. If you were to state the words of the belief, they would sound silly and meaningless.
This short thought exercise explains why it usually is difficult to get rid of beliefs: We think we “saw” the belief. It is difficult to talk someone out of something they think they “saw.” As soon, however, as we realize that we never saw the belief (i.e., the meaning we created) in the world, that the meaning existed only in our mind, the belief disappears.
Purpose of Lefkoe Belief Process
While the goal of psychotherapy is to help you cope better with your problems—and it frequently does that very well—the purpose of the LBP is to help you eliminate the problems totally, by eradicating the beliefs that are at their source. For example, if you get rid of the beliefs that cause a lack of confidence, a concern with the opinions of others, or procrastination, those problems will disappear totally.
The following case history will provide even more details about how the LBP works.
At the start of our first session David reported to me that his wife complained that he generally was very reserved and had a hard time expressing his feelings. I helped David identify several beliefs that contributed to this pattern, including My feelings don’t matter. When I asked David what happened early in his life that led him to that conclusion, he replied: “Dad was always telling me to stop crying. He’d get annoyed when I got really excited about things. He’d always say, ‘No one cares what you feel.’”
After telling David that his belief was, in fact, a valid child’s interpretation of his father’s behavior, I asked him for a few additional interpretations of what his father did and said. His answers included: My father isn’t interested in what I feel, but his reaction might not be typical of other people. A lot of people aren’t interested in what a child feels, that might not be true of an adult’s feelings. In my family my feelings didn’t matter, in other places they might. My father might not have literally meant what he said; he just might have had lousy parenting skills and wasn’t careful about the words he used.
I then asked David, “If your father’s behavior could have had many different meanings, can you see that what you’ve been living with as a fact, as ‘the truth’ is only ‘a truth,’ just one interpretation out of many?” He nodded agreement.
“Didn’t it seem as a child when your father was yelling ‘No one cares what you think,’ that you could see that My feelings don’t matter.”
“I did see it,” he exclaimed.
“Take another look, now. I know you saw your father and heard his words, but did you literally see My feelings don’t matter?”
“It seems like I can see it,” David said hesitatingly.
“Well, if you can see it,” I responded, “tell me what it looks like. What color is it? What shape is it?”
David grasped the point I was making, “I got it. I really never did see My feelings don’t matter.”
“What did you see?” I asked.
“I saw my father yell at me and I heard what he said.”
“And what is the inherent meaning of that? In other words, what do I know for sure about you or anyone else as a result of knowing that your father told you that no one cares what you feel?”
“Nothing. His comments didn’t mean anything.”
“David,” I said, “say the words of your belief out loud: My feelings don’t matter.”
He said the words slowly and then looked at me with surprise and exclaimed: “I don’t believe that any more!”
When David realized that his belief was only the meaning he attributed to his interactions with his father, not meaning he discovered inherent in the events, when he realized he couldn’t really see the belief in the world, and when he realized his father’s behavior had no inherent meaning—the belief was gone.
Study on the Lefkoe Method
I realize that the LBP might sound very simplistic and that many people will be skeptical of the claim that the beliefs are completely and permanently eliminated in a matter of minutes. Nonetheless, my associates and I have used the LBP successfully with well over 13,000 clients in one-on-one sessions. Over 50,000 people have used a free on-line version of the LBP. You can try it here: http://recreateyourlife.com/free
Some of the feeling problems that clients have presented and gotten rid of after eliminating the underlying beliefs include social anxiety, fear of public speaking, anger, shyness, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, and worrying about what people think of them. Behavioral patterns they have eliminated included phobias, relationships that never seem to work, procrastination, a fear of confronting people, money issues, eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, and sexual dysfunction.
Because anecdotes are usually not acceptable in scientific circles, early in 2004 I joined with researchers at the University of Arizona to demonstrate that fear of public speaking can be eliminated in a matter of hours, despite the fact that for most Americans it is their most intense fear. The researchers used The Lefkoe Method (which includes the LBP and other related processes) to eliminate the beliefs and conditionings that cause the fear.
The study concluded: “Overall The Lefkoe Method is an effective, quick, and convenient procedure to eliminate the fear of speaking in public. … The Lefkoe Method was effective in virtually eliminating the fear of public speaking in, on average, only three one-hour sessions.” The researchers were Lee Sechrest, Ph.D. and Victoria Cunningham, Ph.D., psychologists at the University of Arizona, and myself. (The link to the complete study that was published in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 13, 183-193, 2006, is at http://www.speakingwithoutfear.com/support-files/EliminatingFears.pdf.)
Over 65,000 people have used The Lefkoe Method to eliminate the beliefs that had kept them from doing what they had always dreamed of doing and living the way they had always dreamed of living. That’s probably the most successful “fraud” LaShan or anyone else has ever seen.