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Let Go - What Not To Believe

Week Three of the How To Be Happy Program


Updated December 31, 2008

Letting Go

Letting Go

Deborah Harrison / Getty Images
This is Week Three of the How To Be Happy program. Give the skill outlined below a try for one week. Consider it a one-week experiment. Commit to follow these simple steps every day of the week.


What You’ll Do: One source of unhappiness is the set of limiting beliefs we carry around with us. These beliefs about ourselves, other people and our lives can be like background music playing in our minds that keeps us from being fully happy. This week, you’ll work on techniques to let go of any beliefs that are contributing to your unhappiness and holding you back.

How It Works: You’ll create a "Not To Believe" list. On this list you’ll put any thought or belief that is holding you back or causing your unhappiness. You’ll brainstorm actions to remove that belief from your head. When you finally let go of an item on your list, you can cross it off.

Get Motivated: Imagine waking up one morning with all your limiting beliefs about your life gone. You have complete confidence and determination that you will have the life that you want. We can’t promise that your beliefs will change that fast, but we can give you a method to get started.

The Steps

  1. The Not To Believe List: Set aside 30 minutes to create your Not To Believe list. Make your own form by creating a table with four columns of equal width. Label them: “Limiting Thought,” “Counterexample,” “New Statement,” and “Plan.” Write down any thoughts, beliefs or memories that you want to get rid of in the first column. Here are some examples: “I am terrible at public speaking.” “My husband is lazy.” “I never have enough money.” “I’m stuck in a dead end job.” “My life is boring.” “I always feel tired.” “I don’t have many friends.” “I can’t be happy until I can travel more.” “My house is a mess.” “I always end up in bad relationships.” Just write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t think too much about editing your thoughts – just get them down on paper. After you finished making your list, complete the following steps for a few of the items. Repeat this process every day this week.
  2. Counterexample: In the second column, try to think of one counterexample to your limiting thought. If you wrote “My husband is lazy,” think of at least one time when your husband worked hard. Often limiting thoughts are considered to be absolute truth, when in fact they describe reality just some of the time. Think of one counterexample for each of your limiting thoughts.
  3. New Statement: Now that you have thought about a counterexample, rewrite your limiting thought. For example, you might be working on the belief “I am terrible at public speaking.” Your counterexample could be “Everyone said I spoke well at my friend’s wedding.” Your new statement may be “I enjoy public speaking when I really care about what I am saying.” Another example could be “My husband is lazy.” Your counterexample might have been “He can work hard when taking care of the yard.” Your new statement is “My husband doesn’t enjoy working inside the house.”
  4. Your Plan: Finally, write your plan based on your new statement in the last column. In our example on public speaking, the plan might become, “I will try to find a reason to care about my topic next time I have to speak in public.” In the example about the lazy husband the plan might be “I will ask my husband to take on more of the yard work.”
  5. Cross It Off: When an item on your list no longer bothers you and no longer holds you back, cross it off. Crossing off an item means that you have “let it go.”
Commitment: I will work on my Not To Believe list every day this week.


  • Don’t sell yourself short. Even if you think that some of your beliefs can never be changed, write them down anyway. You never know when a thought or new observation may come along to change them.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t finish all the steps for one of your beliefs. That’s OK. Just do as many as you can. The rest will come with time.
  • If you are having trouble adding items to your list, include the times you use the word “should” in your thinking. Thoughts like “I should be a better wife/husband/mother/father” can create a tremendous amount of unhappiness in your life.
  • If you can’t come up with counterexamples, ask your spouse or partner to help. You may not realize or remember how many times in your life you have overcome challenges.
  • If you get stuck on a particular belief, picture another person in your same situation – how would he or she handle the situation? Why can’t you do the same thing?
  • Focus your list on beliefs and thoughts that hold you back from being happy and accomplishing what you want to do.
  • Just work on one or two beliefs each evening. Don’t try to solve everything all at once.


While you are working to let go of your limiting beliefs, focus some energy this week on creating new and inspiring beliefs about yourself and your world. Think about the person you would like to be and make a list of those beliefs. Next to each one, write some steps that you can take to make those beliefs become reality. Believe first, then take action.

Here is the whole program. Give each one a solid one-week try, and then come back and do the next one. If you want a reminder, sign up for the How To Be Happy E-Course. It is free, and you’ll get short e-mail reminders each day to help keep you on track.

The How To Be Happy Program

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