Have you ever wanted to do something, only to hear that voice inside you saying: you can’t do that…what, are you crazy?
Then, once you begin to listen to that voice, self-doubt arises, any creativity is quashed, and the “practical” you sets in, listing all manner of reasons why you are best to not do whatever the initial thing was.
If this sounds familiar, you may be up against something called a limiting belief.
We all have them, and many of us have lots of them. These are beliefs that become our “realities”, and I use that word in quotations because they are not real…they are simply thoughts that we believe to be reality. And even though they are not technically real, we treat them as if they were, and then we don’t move forward.
Let me give you an example:
For instance, let’s say you don’t think you are very smart. Somewhere along in your upbringing…could have been a comment made by someone, could have been a score you got on a test…could have been any one of a number of instances that caused you to believe you weren’t smart. The mind then sets about stacking up evidence to support this untrue and limiting belief.
“Oh, look at that. I didn’t get a top mark again, must be because I am not very smart.”
“No, I’m sorry I can’t take that project on, you want someone smarter than me. ”
“College? Not me…not smart enough.”
You see how this can happen? This belief and all of the thoughts around it have formed a large storehouse full of instances, experiences and evidence to suggest the belief is correct, and who are you to argue?
Often they are subconscious, and until you begin to examine what it is you really want to do in your life, you may not come up against why you can’t seem to get there. Often, part of the mental clutter around the goal you would like to reach, there are limiting beliefs.
“I would like to work from home and be successful in my business.”
Ok, so what could be some limiting beliefs around that statement?
-It’s too hard
-it’s lonely to work from home
-I won’t earn enough income to pay my bills
-I won’t be successful and I’ll get laughed at by my family and friends
-It’s a dumb idea. I should just get a regular job.
Those are just some of the possible limiting beliefs that could be in the way of someone reaching their desired goals.
At first, when you design a goal and begin to work on it, things will tick along nicely.
Then, often one at a time, you will come up against the limiting belief and find evidence to support it.
Sometimes this will be in the form of researched evidence (statistics, things you read, stories you hear) or it might be in the form of another person who isn’t interested in your success and “supports” your doubt by saying something like, “yeah, I’ve heard it’s really hard to work from home and that it’s lonely and you make no money at all the first two years. Probably not a great idea.”
Have you heard things like this before?
You will be seeking evidence, even if you don’t know it, to support the limiting belief. That’s how the mind works.
Fear instigates the part of the brain that wants the body to survive, and supports that response. You basically end up talking yourself out of what you wanted to do, because it is safer to not risk…to not do it. And the mammalian brain wants you to be safe.
Limiting beliefs come with powerful emotions that can all but paralyze: fear being one of the biggest ones.
Negative thought patterns, pessimism, doubt…all of these will thwart efforts at clarity around an idea, and will clutter up and support any limiting beliefs that surface.
Unless you pay attention and deal with these beliefs…you’re hooped. The longer you hold on to a limiting belief, the more solidified it is in your brain circuitry. Like any habit, the connections in the brain are used to this thought-pattern, and it is most comfortable to revisit those connections rather than to break free of them and think something new.
So what can you do?
Well, being aware that there is such a thing as a limiting belief is a start.
Once you decide that you might have one or two (or twenty-six) around a particular topic, it’s good to get out a big piece of paper and a pen and start listing them. Put your goal at the top and all the reasons you can possibly dream up that would cause you to not reach your goal. That’s step 1.
Once a limiting belief is written down, it’s somehow easier to deal with…it’s right in front of you in ink and it’s exposed. A whole page of them might take you a while to deal with, but not a problem. Start with the first one and work your way down.
Take each statement and begin to examine them one at a time…and I mean really examine them.
What are the feelings that are evoked when you think it? Are there images in your mind? Are there sounds or colours? Be very thorough in describing what it is that goes along with this belief and write it all down. Let it all hang out and expose every ugly thought.
Ask yourself what evidence or proof you have that this thought is true. Ask yourself whether or not you can be absolutely certain that what you have written is an accurate statement. Be kind as you do this, and see what happens…and be sure you are honest too.
The idea is to not resist thoughts or judge them or to be upset/ashamed/embarrassed with yourself about them. Thoughts are natural and cannot be stopped easily. Allow them to come up and just notice them without grabbing on and following their story…because every thought has a story attached.
Let the river of thoughts flow past you and just notice them. Be curious….and let them flow by.
Once you are no longer grabbing on to a thought or limiting belief, tell yourself a new story:
“I would like to work from home and be successful in my business.”
My new story is:
It’s not too hard, in fact, it’s easy.
I look forward to the solitude and peace of working alone.
I will earn more than enough to pay my bills.
I will be successful and my family and friends will be happy for me.
I am full of fabulous ideas and am going to begin now.
Once we have exposed the limiting belief, examined the emotions and images attached to that belief, allowed thoughts and judgments and stories to float past without getting attached to them, and then told ourselves a new story, we are ready to take on the world.
It takes practice.
The mind is really good at adapting and rerouting and figuring out alternative ways to keep you safe. In order to be really free of limiting beliefs, you have to be aware of them in the first place.
So, are you ready to begin?
Identify at least one goal you have wanted to achieve for some time and begin to expose all of the limiting beliefs around why you have not progressed by writing them down in full detail and description. Practice just watching judgments and thoughts float by and eventually the beliefs will begin to dissolve. Tell yourself a new story around your goal, and take the next step to get yourself there.
You don’t need anyone to do this with…you already have everything you need.
The first step, as with many problems, is awareness.
If you would like help with this process, or would like to work with me around your goals, I do have coaching space available at this time. Please see my coaching page at www.communicationdiva.com/coaching, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave me a voice message through the Speakpipe voicemail button to the right of your screen.
You CAN reach your goals!
until next time,