You’ve heard of the power of positive thinking? The act of thinking positive to get a positive outcome? I am sure you also know about how negative thoughts can lead to the one thing that you dread happening?
Well, limiting beliefs are on the same wavelength but are far more sneaky and difficult to detect. Let me take you through a few scenarios that contain limiting beliefs, how they are negatively impacting you, and how you can change the situation to be positive.
Consider that you might be overweight and have struggled with your weight for years. You start making some progress on a new diet and exercise regime. Progress slows because you have a bit of a binge over the weekend, have a holiday, or life gets in the way. To make yourself feel ok about it you jokingly say:
“Maybe I am just meant to be fat! Haha!”
WARNING! Limiting belief! You might be saying it as a joke, but your body doesn’t understand the joke, forgets the word “maybe” and responds only to the phrase “I am just meant to be fat.” You have just given your body permission to be in control again.
Trust me; I have lived a previous life where I would joke about the things I didn’t like about myself to take the thunder out of what I thought others were saying behind my back. I allowed myself to be trapped by my insecurities by negatively acknowledging them. I thought I was making the sting of others’ words less, but I was instead fulfilling the prophecy.
But getting back to our scenario, imagine yourself in that situation, but instead of the “fat” phrase we replace it with a positive and supportive thought:
“I am a fit and healthy person whose outside doesn’t yet match who I am on the inside.”
There are two fundamental concepts here. The first one is the acknowledgment of who you want to be in your mind. You are “a fit and healthy person.” This style of thinking encourages your subconscious to make decisions and take actions that are in line with this identity.
The second important concept here is that the “outside doesn’t yet match the inside.” Think about when you put your outfit together in the morning, how easily you can eliminate a component that doesn’t match without putting much thought into it. It’s the same concept, but it takes more effort and consistency with your decisions to get the desired result.
Another example might be that you know this person that you admire. They seem to be out achieving things every other week. You tell them how great they are and that you could never imagine doing what they are doing!
STOP! There is that sneaky limiting belief again!
You actually CAN imagine doing what they are doing; they are just like you! They are just another human being, just like you. They are flesh, blood and bones. They have lots of things in their life, just like you do. The only difference between them and you is that they decided to focus their energy on doing something that you didn’t choose to do.
It is important to have people that you admire, but don’t put them on an untouchable pedestal. Make sure you tell them that their achievements are admirable, as they have undoubtedly worked hard. Give compliments when they are deserved! Additionally, take the opportunity to ask them how they did it! You might not have the same goal in mind, but there is always something to be learned from someone else’s process.
Now imagine an Olympic athlete. You are discussing them with your friends. You say,
“They are only good because their parents pushed them into it as a kid, and spent a lot of money on training and didn’t let them have a childhood.”
or, “They must have really great genetics.”
WOW! Really? This person, regardless of the decisions made by their parents, or their genetics, has worked INCREDIBLY hard. They did not get where they were because of their parents or genetics. They got there because of their desire to achieve something great. Look at your children: do they put effort into anything they don’t want to do, even if you have spent money on it? Probably not. Why should this athlete have thought any differently?
An important concept here is that saying things like this out loud gives you an excuse to not be doing anything. You did not have somebody else spending money to help you, and you don’t have elite genetics. Therefore you have a pass. You don’t even have to try.
This is a really damaging way to think.
It is so important to acknowledge when others have achieved something great even if it is someone you don’t know personally. Encourage positive acknowledgment and encouragement within your family and peers. This will promote them to become more encouraging and supportive of your goals. Don’t down-talk achievements or give external influences credit. When someone achieves something, they have undoubtedly worked hard. It reinforces the idea that if you want to make something of yourself, you can! But you need to work hard!
Lets recap on the lessons in these scenarios. If you don’t like something about yourself, then focus on acknowledging yourself as the opposite of the negative identity. Even high achievers are the same as you; they just chose to do something that you didn’t decide to do. In theory, you are capable of achieving too; you only need to determine what it is you want. Take the time to acknowledge what they have accomplished and to ask them how they did it. Don’t discredit the achievements of others by suggesting they had it easy; this gives you an excuse to stay the same. Instead, focus on encouraging and supporting performance, and in doing so, the people around you will become more encouraging too. Achievements take hard work, but they are there for everyone who wants to work for it.