Here we are – ready to rock n’ roll in 2019.
We are ready, right?
Many of us use the New Year to start afresh. Others use each new month to reboot. Some people reset each week on Mondays. And some of us begin again every single day. It doesn’t matter what your preferred time frame for flipping the page is – what does matter is the way we go about it.
If you subscribe to my newsletter, (and if you don’t – ummm…. why not? There’s always lots of good stuff in it – events to attend, freebies to access and sometimes a few laughs too! Get it here.) then you are probably crystal clear that I am NOT a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Because so few people – me included – are ever able to achieve these mostly rigid and self-flagellating pronouncements.
I do think honest reflection on what went right and what held us back is important though. As is some contemplation on what strategies and tool and support you are going to need to get there. Because setting the exact same goals every year and getting stalled out every single time is not good for the psyche.
When it comes to setting the exact same goal every time, (“This year – THIS year – I’m going to lose that 20 lbs I was supposed to lose last year and the year before and the year before that…”), it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider what other factors are at play if we’re not accomplishing what we set out to do.
You’ve probably come across this quote before: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” (Henry Ford) – and well, it’s famous for a reason. It speaks volumes on how much your internal dialogue and thinking can influence your circumstances. If you go through life thinking that you’re a failure and that you can’t do anything right – everything that happens to you will be interpreted as such.
If you’re thinking that it’ll be impossible to lose that 20 lbs, or find fulfillment in a new job, or connect with someone special, or meditate everyday – whatever goal you’ve set will be influenced by the mindset you carry into the challenge. And worse yet, every little set back will feed into your capability to succeed or not.
Even the positive changes can be perceived as “not enough progress” – so despite your best efforts, you’ll always be judging, judging, judging. And harshly. And soon you’ll be quitting, quitting, quitting. Because you’ve convinced yourself that you just don’t have it in you to succeed. That your progress is limited. Because you suck.
We’ve all got that “mean girl” voice in our heads. Sometimes we can use it to our advantage – it can light a fire under your tush and really get you revved up and moving towards positive change…but other times, she just takes over and all you want to do is scream “ShutUpShutUpShutUp”.
If your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.
Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.
If you’re sick of having the same old conversation with your inner “mean girl”, being stuck in the same cycle of “set lofty goal – listen to voice in my head – start to doubt – believe I suck – quit – feel guilty – listen to voice in my head – curl up and live small and invisible”, then why not try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality.
Your Negative Nelly Narrative usually goes something like this:
I won’t ever be [this]…
I can’t do [that]…
I don’t have [this]…
I don’t deserve to be/have [this]…
And, one really common one that comes up for many people…
I am not good enough.
Hold on there. That’s crapola. But in order to change up that narrative that you may have been having with yourself for a very long time, you have to re-frame the conversation and it starts with truly understanding the impact of these limiting beliefs.
Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs
Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all.
The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief — even the ones that are lifelong.
You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.
Whoa! Sounds a little woo-woo doesn’t it? But really, it’s simply about questioning those beliefs instead of letting that inner Mean Girl be the one who sets your agenda and decides how big your life can be.
Your mindset is ALL that matters when it comes to being a success or staying stuck in a place that doesn’t serve you well. Whether it’s losing those 20 lbs or growing your business or falling in love or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – it starts in your mind.
This is a gigantic subject area and one I will tackle piece by piece in a few upcoming blogs and newsletters and programs because it’s just too important to gloss over.
But, let me offer up a few tips to get you started thinking and maybe setting yourself up for success this year, this month, this week, today:
When you find yourself feeling “stuck”, or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to seek out the help and guidance of a life coach, counsellor or therapist. Simply having someone else – who is objective and trained to listen and help you to question your perceptions – assist you as you start to reframe the narrative can be a way forward. Be sure to pick someone who is supportive – but firm in not letting you get away with your own bullsh#t because believe me – you’re going to try (it’s not you, it’s that Mean Girl Voice but she’s mighty sneaky!)
In addition to investing in yourself and your well-being with a coach/therapist, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space.
→ The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS.
Time to bring those disempowering thoughts out of hiding! Once you do that, know that you have choice. Grab your journal or notebook and just begin to jot down the negative thoughts as you get them. They can’t hide when they are written down, right? Often times when we become aware of our thoughts – we can see the patterns we’ve created and trapped ourselves in. That’s a good thing – so don’t be afraid to be honest. You don’t ever have to share this information with anyone. It is simply yours as a tool to get to the bottom of the beliefs that are holding you back.
I wish I could say – ta-da! You’ve cracked the code! But just simply being aware or having knowledge of these limiting beliefs is not enough, it’s just the first step.
To achieve some belief-bustin’, you must understand and truly believe that you have a choice about how to react to stressful situations. And you 100% do!
→ Possible thinking, not just positive thinking
Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift. This is a subtle but very important distinction. I know life is hard, change is hard and sometimes we are dealt a card in the game of life that just plain sucks. And that’s hard.
So I am not saying that you have to be Miss Perky Positivity all the time. That’s exhausting. But simply by believing that even in the toughest times, it is POSSIBLE to succeed, to get to your goal, to overcome – you can shift your mindset and build your resilience for when the going gets tough.
Possibility starts to build and fire new connections in your brain – for real! – and then instead of dismissing the small, positive steps you are making toward your goals as ‘not enough’, instead your positive feelings will intensify, new neural connections in your brain will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice you’re seeing things through a different lens – one that allows even the littlest ‘wins’ to continue to feed momentum.
Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to authentically, without reservation accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are!
I know – no small task, but again, take to your journal and commit to writing down at least one thing a day about yourself that is flawed – and why that flaw is wonderful! One of my favourite Canadian icons Leonard Cohen once wrote “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
How do your cracks allow your light to shine?
→ If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true. They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve.
Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend?
Can you even imagine if a friend came to you and said: “I am such a loser because I ate a cupcake today at my sister’s birthday party when I have been trying so hard to stick to a healthier diet” and you replied: “Wow, you sure are a total loser. I don’t know why you bother to try. You’re probably always going to be fat because you can never stick to anything. I don’t think I even want to be around you anymore.”
Hell no! You would never ever say that to a dear friend. And yet – we say it to ourselves all the time. So unfair. So wrong. So harsh.
So make yourself your own best friend. As hokey as it sounds, start treating yourself with the same kindness, compassion and respect as you would treat your bestie. Write down in your journal a kinder, more generous and supportive narrative for yourself when those Mean Girl voices start up. And say it out loud to yourself, maybe even in front of the mirror. It feels a teeny bit uncomfortable at first – but loving kindness writ large to ourselves is the foundation of self-acceptance.
→ Adopting empowering beliefs such as:
“It is not my job to please everyone else.”
“Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.”
“I am enough.”
“I will be my own best advocate.”
“I have the power to choose and I choose me.”
“What other people say or think about me is not my business.”
“My cracks let the light of the world come in and let my shining gifts explode out.”
→ Take some time and space that’s all yours
Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Maybe just 5 minutes in the morning and 5 at night of quiet time, to reflect, breathe, write is enough to get you started on the reframing. Take action – however small – and get into the habit of shaping your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Wouldn’t it be awesome if your destiny was about possibility? Just remember – you have the power. It’s in your mindset.
Health.com: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
Thrive Global: What are Limiting Beliefs and What Causes Them?