“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” ―Mary Kay Ash
The only thing that matters is what’s happening right now
I spend too long thinking of the past – wishing I had done certain things, or not, rerunning the script in my head and berating myself for choices made. But we make the best choice for us given the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Does it help to look back? Yes, if it’s for fond memories but not if we wish we were there again.
But it can be helpful to look again, to reflect and to see what lessons can be learned. This is one reason that journaling is helpful, and whilst I’m not doing this every day, I am doing it several times a week. It would be more helpful if I had a notebook beside my bed, rather than a digital version. The one thing that stops me is that I’ll then be getting more possessions as they line up on a shelf.
One message I seem to have from childhood is around the need to work hard – that it is only by working long hours that you know you are doing a good job. My belief is that was one way my parents showed their love for me, look how hard we are working to give you the best. Now, this isn’t something they ever said to me but a message that I picked up. For many years I worked long hours, both when working as an employee and later in my own business. It helped to validate me. But does this serve me? No. Life has changed and over more recent years I have better balance in my life, but still this message was in the background. Talking this through has helped me to reduce its impact.
Limiting beliefs can hold us back, so we don’t do things we want to do. These beliefs can go deep inside us.
We can say that we do or we don’t do things – I don’t run; I don’t do marketing. Or even deeper I can’t run, I can’t do marketing, I can’t sing/dance. This can stop us from taking lessons where we would learn to e.g. dance.
We can also be constrained by telling us that we must, or I mustn’t do something. One I hold is I must finish my work before I do fun things, or I must write the article today.
Some people say I am or I’m not. I’m not clever, I’m stupid; I’m an artist/ I’m not creative. This can lead to reframing certain activities. So, when something doesn’t work out we could say that’s because I’m stupid. It’s far better to think of it as – that’s a stupid thing to do.
We can also hold beliefs related to other people – this can stop us asking for help or making other assumptions that can be wrong.
How do we get our beliefs?
From experience, starting with childhood. Messages from parents and schools. Some are helpful – look both ways before crossing the road, don’t touch a hot pan. But others … you must work hard, girls don’t do science/ boys don’t cry – do not serve us well.
Our limiting beliefs are thoughts, and these thoughts lead to action, or inaction. If we change our thoughts change can happen.
Overcoming limiting beliefs
The first step is to recognise that a belief is limiting, so over the coming week pay attention to your thoughts and make a note.
Later look back and think to when you first had this belief. Did someone say something to you, did you experience something?
You may recognise, as I did, that this belief isn’t real – it’s just a thought. You can then change your thinking. Come up with a realistic alternative, you don’t want to set yourself up to fail. Stop thinking of yourself as stupid – you could say that you are not stupid, but sometimes do stupid things. As you identify alternatives you can act – ‘as if’ and pretend, like an actor. You can then collect examples (evidence) to back this up.
If you want to go deeper, there are many resources available on line, or this could be something that you want to work on with coach.