Ian Weinberg in Emotional Intelligence, Life coaching, Healthy Living Developer and facilitator of neuromodulation program. Practicing neurosurgeon. • Netcare Linksfield Hospital Jul 26, 2016 · 2 min read · 6.5K

Challenging Limiting Beliefs

Challenging Limiting Beliefs

This is still one of my favorite articles. Written in 2015, it was the first article that I posted on beBee when I joined the platform in July of 2016.

Much is being said about seeking and embracing authenticity. Implicit in this authenticity is a mind state free of  limiting subjective beliefs and the identification and adoption of a universal objectivity, a connection to a greater truth. Transcending the limiting subjectivity and evolving to universal objectivity appears to be a relatively simple task when viewed from the idealized, cozy armchair perspective. At the coal face however, much blood, sweat and tears complicate the transition. For here is where the deprivation heritage determinants and the resulting limiting beliefs conspire against our best intentions.

Many studies are emerging which indicate conclusively, the profound influences that early life experiences have on adult wellbeing and success. One of the most notable studies in this regard was published in 2013 by The Centre for Economic Performance which showed that emotional health in the child was far more important for later wellbeing, life satisfaction and success than even education. Other studies have convincingly shown that compromised early childhood emotional health is an important determinant of adult inflammation, heart disease, certain carcinomas as well as several other medical conditions. Clearly then, the formative period (which includes in utero influences) can be regarded as the definitive determinant for the rest of the life path of the individual.

Fortunately all is not lost in the face of this seemingly rigid deterministic heritage. For superimposed upon this heritage is our inherent potential for neuroplasticity – the process whereby redundant neural circuitry is cleared and new connections formed. In this way the brain continues to remould according to new experiences and thereby diminishes limiting beliefs. New connections support learning and ultimately, change. Neuroplasticity appears to be mediated at the neurochemical level by dopamine and noradrenaline. At the neuropsychological level this neurophysiology manifests as mind states of curiosity and awe. Add to this gratitude and respect and you’re well on the way to establishing sustained neuroplasticity-based change. These are also the essential components required amongst others, for enhanced wellness, effective performance and inspiring leadership.

The potential for neuroplasticity would vary however depending upon the early life narrative . In regard to intervention, one assumes adequate intrinsic receptivity in the narrative at the outset. In practice however, degrees of receptivity and potential for neuroplasticity become apparent, thus setting the limits for positive change. Positive change may also be impeded by the inertia created from being embedded in a comfort zone. By this I refer to default behaviours which arise out of a deprivation heritage but which in themselves generate levels of dopamine and adequate, albeit short-lasting, moments of gratification. Examples of these would be substance abuse and addiction, eating disorders and even aspects of schadenfreude – deriving gratification from the misfortune of others (shown to generate increased dopamine activity!). To shift such individuals, the intervention-based alternatives would need to offer higher levels of gratification (and dopamine activity) to be effective and sustaining. Based on our own research and experience we have identified five specific source elements which have been shown to enhance neuroplasticity and which have therefore been incorporated into our neuromodulation approach. These source elements include - meaning and purpose, self-efficacy, reward/recognition gratification, achievement and value contribution.


1. http://www.pninet.com/articles/Surge-app.pdf

2. http://www.pninet.com/articles/Neurocoach.pdf

3. http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1245.pdf

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19213918

                                                                    Copyright reserved - Ian Weinberg 2015

Tim Noonan Oct 9, 2020 · #63

Great article!

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Ken Boddie Jun 13, 2020 · #62

I stumbled across this oldie in the ‘related buzzes’ section of a post I was reading and thought it worth stirring the honey pot again for those newBees interested in @Ian Weinberg’s observations on brain material mechanics.

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Fay Vietmeier May 18, 2020 · #61

@Ian Weinberg
I was wondering if you had any thoughts about how spiritual well-being impacts neuroplasticity

Fay Vietmeier May 17, 2020 · #60

@Ian Weinberg
I somehow happened upon your excellent post ... illuminating ;~)
It made me wonder how spiritual well-being impacts neuroplasticity

I am sharing your wisdom on neuroplasticity Dr ... it is timeless

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Victor Alston Oct 22, 2019 · #59

Thanks for sharing!

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Ian Weinberg Jul 28, 2019 · #58

#57 Gotcha @Ken Boddie I agree - things tick over in the comfort zone without too much in the way of neuroplasticity (well within the tensile strength range). In my experience however, serious challenges (beyond tensile strength) generally result in fight, fright or freeze with a frequent default into hopeless-helplessness. It is a small minority of souls that are able to transcend when the wheels come off and through a process of kick-started neuroplasticity, re-invent themselves.

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Ken Boddie Jul 27, 2019 · #57

#56 Perhaps, Ian, I was too vague in my description? When I looked at the elasto-plastic behaviour of materials and asked if there might be a comparison with changes in the brain, I omitted to postulate that, while materials are strained (elongated or compressed) by mechanical stress, could it be possible that psychological stress might be the equivalent in neuropsychology? In other words, could it be that the brain behaves in an analogous elastic way at small imposed psychological stresses, returning to 'normal' when stress is removed, and that neuroplasticity is only induced when larger psychological stresses are imposed, beyond some elastic limit such as say a comfort zone.

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Ian Weinberg Jul 26, 2019 · #56

#55 I'm chewing on that one @Ken Boddie The one thought that comes to mind is the significant deterministic factors that give rise to our neuro-psychology. These include the potential for change or neuroplasticity. So carrying the analogy further, the properties of the material including its plasticity and tensile strength would be equivalent to the unchanging brain. Perhaps we don't change that much, but with maturation and life experience we manifest all the latent stuff that is intrinsically within our heritage potential? Manifest change then reflects what we've decided to emphasize and what we've ring-fenced or suppressed. Just thinking aloud - needs more work!

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