“This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows” Olga Korbut, Four-time Gymnastics gold medallist
I have been mesmerised by the Olympics. Each day we share the experiences of Olympians from every discipline you can imagine. Yet they all have one thing in common. Whether they are a synchronised swimmer or a marathon runner each person believes in the possibility of winning a gold medal. However, what is important is that it is not just our abilities and talent that bring us success but whether we believe in our potential for success.
So I’m curious…
- What’s holding you back when it comes to living your potential in whatever area of your life whether that be in your career, relationship, personal development and so on?
- What do you have in your life that feels heavy and what do you have in your life that feels light?
Becoming the observer of your own thoughts and beliefs is a great place to start. It will eventually lead to you follow through on decisions and actions that light you up and make you feel more alive.
The Voice inside our Head
We all have a voice in our heads that is driven by our experience of the past and what we believe to be possible. This voice tells us things all day long. It tells us what is possible and what is not. It can expand you for a second.
‘What if I left this company where I feel unfulfilled and miserable?’
We have learnt to ignore this feeling of possibility and let go of it. We make excuses to ourselves and hang onto the reason that shrinks us. For example, we might tell ourselves:
‘I can’t leave my job as I have a mortgage to pay and family to provide for.’
Does this sound familiar to you? We learn to ignore the first voice and stay stuck. By the way, this is not only about your job, it could be about your relationship or any other area of your life. We can miss opportunities because of how we diminish ourselves.
The Paralysis of Fear
We stay stuck because of our fear. However, your fear is only based on what you currently know. Fear tries to predict future outcomes based on our previous experiences, and thus, holds us hostage to old patterns from our past.
I recently listened to Kyle Cease talking about the fact that, in every situation in life, we have three choices:
- We do something different and/or we leave
- We ask ourselves ‘Can I learn to love this?’ And we choose to stay and make changes
- Worst of all, we hate the situation but we choose to do nothing so we stay stuck.
I advise my clients to either move on or improve a bad situation but don’t use it as the excuse to stop being you.
The first step is to become more aware of your own limiting beliefs that drive what is possible for you.
What are beliefs?
Our beliefs are views about ourselves, other people and situations that we hold to be true. They are emotionally held views not based on fact. They are feelings of certainty that we have about something. For example, if you believe you are fit, what you’re actually saying is that you have a feeling of certainty that you are fit. Alternatively, if you have lack of belief or, in other words, a limiting belief that you are fit, it is likely to hold you back.
Morris Massey, a sociologist, in his book ‘People Puzzle – Understanding Yourself’, describes the imprint period between the ages of 0 and 7 as the moment when our beliefs are formed. They are shaped by key people in our lives at that time. For example parents, teachers, religious leaders, close family, etc.
In actual fact, most of our beliefs are generalisations that we create from the past. Most of us do not consciously decide what we will believe; most of us are generously donated our beliefs by influential parent figures during our imprint period, and once we have a belief we forget that it can be changed and it becomes our reality.
We rarely challenge our long-held beliefs and they become a filter through which we sieve all our life’s expectations and experiences. For example, as babies we seek out unconditional love from our parents. We learn to start limiting ourselves in order not to get hurt. It grows into a false story that is not who you are but you get very good at it. One way to unravel your limiting beliefs is to reflect on your parents’ attitude to relationships, money, sex etc. You may be unconsciously modelling them or rebelling against their behaviour.
To get a bit more technical for a moment. We know that we are bombarded by far more information into our nervous system through our senses every second of the day than we can deal with. In fact, it has been estimated that we can only process 129 bits of the 2 million pieces of information the brain receives per second!
This means that we delete mountains of data. Often our limiting beliefs mean that we learn to filter information in a particular way which ignores or deletes useful information that might help us to make new choices about our lives.
For example, if I believe that I find it hard to learn new skills I am likely to operate from much more of a fixed than a growth mind-set. Limiting beliefs about ourselves act as a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the way we filter our experiences. If our beliefs are limiting us, we act in a way that proves our beliefs to ourselves. However, if we have empowering beliefs we act and behave in a way that releases our potential and allows us to be our true selves.
How to Start to Shift a Limiting Belief
Here are two connected ways to begin to shift beliefs that are holding you back. Self-awareness is a huge first step towards change.
Start to recognise the clues to a limiting belief that you hold. Listen to your inner voice especially when you want to do something different or to improve a current situation:
- Any negation – for example, ‘I’m not capable’, ‘I can’t make money if I start my own business.’
- Any comparative – for example, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘others are better than me’, ‘I’m too old’.
When you hear yourself saying these things to yourself or others check out the following:
- What’s my evidence for this?
- Where does this belief come from?
- Is it real?
I can guarantee that the majority of the time it will be driven by your experience of the past that has become your truth. Yet it is not true. You can begin to shift these thoughts. Use this next activity to start the process.
Focus on your character – what would your family, boss, co-workers, partner, friends say about you that you might not have noticed yet? Write out your gifts. Put each one on a separate piece of paper and put it into a nice box that you can open whenever you feel less positive about yourself to remind you of your potential.
Our limiting beliefs are based on evidence from the past. Start to let go of the old story and your constant resistance to it. If you have an interest in learning you will develop a growth mindset. Be vulnerable to experiment and learn to make adjustments all the time.
This takes practice.
Wake up every day and observe your thoughts. It can be painful to let go and make room for the new you because it means taking action and choosing to do something different in your work, your relationships, in your whole life.
Visionary teacher, Michael Bernard Beckwith asks:
‘What is trying to emerge that I’ve not been before?’
You are only this moment. We think who we are is our past story. If you are totally stuck right now stop arguing with what is. Accept where you are no matter how much of a victim you are. You cannot start to fix something unless you accept it. Stop this constant battle with yourself and start to let go of what feels heavy.
Ask yourself what your old story will cost you in 1 / 3 / 5 / 20 years if you don’t change? I promise your old story will start to shift as soon as your beliefs and thoughts start to shift and you will have gained the gift of self-awareness along the way.