We all have limiting and enabling beliefs, the challenge is to try and stay focused on the more enabling ones and not be disabled by the limiting ones. That can be difficult though, as the negatives seem to stick a lot flippin harder in our minds than the positives! Limiting beliefs can often come from our childhood years and may be the voices of parents, teachers or bullies that you encountered as a younger person. Ex-partners, Line Managers, work colleagues, friends you’re no longer friendly with and other family members might also get added into the mix. The world has changed, thank goodness in terms of the language we use towards each other but that won’t necessarily shift those very entrenched beliefs that we can have about ourselves. And that might limit our potential.
Peter Kay defines how things were beautifully in one of his stage shows when he talks about being sent to the ‘thick table’ to sit with Paddy McGuiness! Peter reminds us of all the daft things that Teachers used to say to us (“silence when you’re talking to me!”) and years later that makes us laugh because of his great delivery but if you were sent to sit at the thick table years ago and repeatedly told you were ‘thick’ then your ability to achieve might have been severely dented. As a child you’re unable to challenge and rationalise negative messages from an adult. They’re the adult, they must know what they’re talking about, right? You may well have achieved great things anyway but it might have taken a lot more determination and resilience than it would have done if you’d been told that you had lots of great qualities, other than being able to pass the 11 plus, for instance. Not good 🙁
Do you still have limiting beliefs rumbling around your mind? They might sound a bit like this:
- I don’t deserve success and happiness
- I’m not worthy of love or respect
- I need something (such as alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or medication) to cope with stress
- I’m not clever enough to be successful, I didn’t do well at school
- I’m too old, or too young to achieve
- I don’t have enough time so there’s no point trying
- Things are always going to be like this, I can’t change it
If those beliefs resonate with you, think about whose voice you hear when you think of them. Is it your voice, or that of a parent, teacher, bully or someone else? It’s no defence but years ago things were different and words were said (“stop being stupid!”) or not said (“we love you, you’re amazing”) and that was seen as fairly normal. The person who said the thing that upset or hurt you might not have meant it to be as damaging as it has been. Although sometimes that is exactly they meant to do and that is usually more about their own self esteem than the negative messages they gave you being true.
If you have limiting beliefs, see if the following questions can help you to disconnect from a negative event, belief or expression that’s welded itself into your psyche:
- Is what happened your fault?
- Was what was said to you true? If so, is it still true or was it just a single event?
- Was the person who made you feel bad being kind to you?
- Could they have had issues which made them behave the way they did?
- What would you do and say if you could replay that event? (A cartoon image of knocking someone’s block off might help at this point!)
- Can you reframe the event now and dis-connect from the negative emotion of it?
It does take time and repeated challenge of those negative messages and limiting beliefs in order to disconnect from them so keep going if you feel it’s not working. I wish a Psychologist could tell me why the negatives get so entrenched and the positives can so easily be ignored but one thing I do know is that conscious thought around these issues is really important, they will not magically fix themselves I’m afraid. Try to find some time to focus on these thoughts and write things down or draw them if you find that useful. Your first step might be a list of ‘people who were mean to me’. Think about what those people said and your limiting beliefs might come from there.
Once you’ve processed those thoughts you get to think about your enabling beliefs, the positive messages people have given you over time and the strengths you know you have. It can feel uncomfortable to write that list because we’re more accustomed to the negatives but I have a great image of you with a bottle of wine (or slurpy equivalent), a flip chart page with loads of writing on it and a Bridget Jones-style kick ass tune where you write down all of the positives and enabling beliefs you have. Sometimes we need a little help to turn up the volume on our self belief and as long as you write things down so you don’t forget them the morning after, there’s nothing flippin wrong with that in my view! 😉
If you’re limiting your potential with messages from years ago, see if you can kick them to the kerb and realise your full potential. And that isn’t what someone told you it is, it’s what you decide it to be. Working towards the goals you’ve defined will make you smile and that’s an enabling belief in itself – “I can decide what my future is and make it happen”. Enjoying the journey puts you in a more positive mindset and then anything is possible! You are now the person you decide to be, there’s great strength in that 🙂
Take good care please and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen