In my last blog post, I explained what limiting beliefs (or “stories) are, and offered some big questions to help you uncover any beliefs that may be so deeply ingrained that you don’t even know they’re holding you back. (Read the article here.)
Today’s blog will focus on helping you take the next steps of clarifying your limiting beliefs and creating new, empowering beliefs to replace them. This work will help propel you toward who you really want to be so that you can receive what it is that you really want.
Discovering Patterns in Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is the lifeblood of limiting beliefs. Our internal negative chatter reinforces and supports limiting beliefs, and identifying patterns that show up in negative self-talk can be a really helpful way to ultimately uncover the limiting belief below the surface.
When you start to notice negative self-talk, observe: in which areas of your life does it come up? What phrases, in particular, are on repeat? Can you pinpoint the belief that is fueling the chatter?
Very often we hear a voice that says we are somehow “not enough.” Not smart enough, not attractive enough, not athletic enough, not rich enough, etc. Conversely, sometimes we hear a voice that says we are “too much.” Too smart, too loud, too bossy, too educated, too fat, too funny, etc.
Becoming aware of the main story you are telling yourself is necessary before creating a new story, one that is more up-to-date, truthful, and empowering.
“I’m Not Flexible”
When I shared the idea of limiting beliefs with a friend, the concept instantly clicked for her. She told me that she had recently joined a class for women to increase their flexibility and mobility, and as part of the online program, participants got to share progress and challenges in a Facebook group.
My friend talked about one post that stood out to her in particular. It was written by a woman who declared outright, “I am not flexible. My body just can’t do it, and I’m too old for things to change. I don’t know why I joined this program.” She was about to quit.
Fortunately for her, the other members of the group jumped in and acted as a sounding board. Stories flooded the comments from members sharing their own doubts and how, despite age, lack of flexibility/time/focus, and other challenges, people were overcoming the exact same obstacles that were about to make the original poster quit. People shared before and after photos, demonstrating their progress.
The woman was astounded. Thanks to the support of the group, she was able to spot her limiting belief and see that it was possible to overcome her lack of flexibility to achieve the mobility she longed for, no matter her age.
A more empowering story in her situation might be, “My body is plastic and adaptable, and over time I can achieve the mobility I desire.”
“I Don’t Want to be a Failure”
Another woman I talked to shared her creative journey with me. She is a quilter and loves to spend her free time piecing together beautiful fabrics that will transform into stunning quilts to keep her family members warm.
She told me about the first time she tried making a quilt. “I kept it a total secret, and didn’t let anyone see what I was doing,” she explained. She told me that she never figured out where the idea to make a quilt came from in the first place — none of her family members made quilts, and she hadn’t been exposed to much sewing in her life.
“I found some fabric scraps and started piecing together a design with the pieces I had. I sewed it by hand because I didn’t even know how to use a sewing machine.” It wasn’t until she had secretly worked on the quilt for several weeks and could tell that it would be a success that she showed anyone her project. “I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid that I would fail, and I thought someone might laugh at me. Even laughing good-naturedly at my expense was something I couldn’t bear to imagine,” she said.
How many of us have done that? We keep new ideas and endeavors a secret because we don’t want the world to see our vulnerability… we don’t want others to think we are a failure, whether it’s making a quilt, giving up sugar, or applying for that stretch job that we don’t think we deserve.
I’m happy to report that my friend, the quilter, has finished two quilts and four blankets to date (among many other sewing projects), and she is now the proud owner of a sewing machine, which she taught herself to use. Imagine what joy she would have missed out on if she had let negative self-talk sabotage her inkling of inspiration! At some point early on, she created a new story for herself that probably sounded something like, “I’m just going to try this, and if I can do it well, then I’ll share it.” And that story has probably already evolved to something like, “I love quilting, and I’m a capable seamstress!”
How many things have you wanted to try but didn’t dare because of a limiting belief? In the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Create a New, Affirming Story
There’s been a lot of talk lately about “toxic positivity,” and it’s important to note that creating your new, affirming story is not about glossing over or covering up the tough emotions that come with negative self-talk. We need to feel the hard emotions. If we feel like a failure, we need to acknowledge that feeling and move through it in order to get to the deeper level of what’s going on. We must be brave enough to ask questions like, “Why am I feeling like a failure?” And be willing to sit with the answers that come up.
The new story shouldn’t feel anything like toxic positivity. It should be believable enough to you that it creates a shift from “I can’t,” to “I’m going to try.” If that’s too much of a leap, it can be, “I’m curious.” Whatever moves you from the “I can’t” space into something more open and flexible is a success.
It should feel authentic, real, possible, and achievable.
This process, while you can do it on your own, is much more enlightening when it is done with somebody who knows you very well, or a coach. We all have limiting beliefs. Sharing them, showing up, being vulnerable, and knowing that we all have something to share is incredibly empowering. If you would like assistance in diving deeper, let’s talk [LINK: Contact Page].