Mental Housekeeping

Have you ever had a time when you’ve wanted something, but you weren’t sure how to get it? It could be a six pack, a dream job, an audition, a date with someone you admire or a chance to meet your role model? You’re nodding your head, aren’t you? I’ve been there too! After having read so many self-help books, I firmly believe that it all comes down to one’s beliefs. Maybe your mother told you that you’re terrible at mathematics because you failed a test, perhaps you were told that the person you like is way out of your league or you were always compared to your siblings. It’s hard to let go of these beliefs since they were formed at an age when you were still trying to create your own identity, and the last thing you needed to hear back then is all the negative comments for learning and exploring things. While you cannot undo your past, it’s never too late to make the changes now. You can sit on your butt and blame your family for the insecurities that you still have today because of certain experiences that may have had an impact. But you also need to cut them some slack and realise that they did the best they could with the experience and resources they had.

You may be wondering, “I get all these demotivating thoughts about myself but how do I fix them?” Hold on roadrunner; you first have to understand what they are to be able to address them. They’re nothing but negative thoughts you have about yourself in reaction to events or to what you were told by your family or people in general, which you now believe to be facts. It’s that “I’m not qualified enough for the job”, “I can’t speak in front of a large audience because I’ll be judged” or “I can’t trust anyone because my ex cheated on me.” These unhelpful beliefs must have killed numerous opportunities. Imagine if you could unlearn all the negative beliefs you have about yourself? You’ll be surprised as to how these beliefs have blocked your healing and progress in life. It may not seem as easy as sliding into someone’s DM, but it surely is POSSIBLE. The challenge is not in making the changes but in finding out what they are. Such beliefs define the way you think which have an impact on your daily actions and those actions govern your results. It’s crucial that you don’t judge yourself for them. We all desire clarity because having a sense of certainty reduces anxiety, stress and brings in peace of mind.

Here’s how you can identify limiting beliefs:

The first step is to observe your self-talk and gain awareness. Have you ever noticed that some people could see a lot of potential in you? There might be sufficient evidence that proves you could be an entrepreneur or a great leader. But somehow, you can’t see yourself that way. Maybe you’ve grown up as a shy kid that wouldn’t participate much in the classroom, and you had overheard your teacher saying that you’re more of a follower than a leader. Fast forward twenty years later, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re a follower even if you’ve always wanted to lead thinking that you don’t have the skills to be a great leader.

If you always find yourself saying “I’m not smart enough to be a leader” in spite of being asked to take up leadership opportunities at work, it’s evident that the limiting belief behind this statement is “not smart enough”. You fail to see the skills that you have because of this limiting belief. The beliefs that we hold onto are usually intertwined in our language patterns.

Have you been that chubby kid who was made fun of in school? No one’s judging you now so if you were one of those kids, #1 You’re such a badass because it’s humiliating to be around bullies! Moving on, you entered adulthood, and you genuinely wanted to shed the extra weight. You joined a gym, started eating right but you noticed that your efforts hadn’t made much of a difference and today you’re still labelled as chubby by your peers. It’s quite apparent to feel unsatisfied and discouraged when you’ve spent a considerable amount of time working towards your goal. Here’s the part where you’ll be able to tap into specific thoughts that may have held you back. Let’s dig a little deeper into those hidden fears. Recurring negative thoughts such as “If I lose weight, I’ll have to struggle to maintain it” or “Some people are naturally thin; I don’t think I can ever lose weight.” I’ve had these thoughts too, so much that I thought they were all true until I challenged them! There’s a part of us that may also see this hurdle as an advantage which seems comforting in a weird way than getting fit — especially when we’ve made that our identity. We then go on to blame our genes, reinforcing that belief and looking for evidence to comfort ourselves. Just so that you know, a new science called “Epigenetics” suggests that genes may make us susceptible to certain conditions, but they do not decide that we’re going to develop a particular illness just because someone in the family has diabetes and so on. So, it’s important to realise that your lifestyle could be a more significant predictor of risk than your genes, which will help you keep some of the bothersome genes deactivated.

Bare with me while I explain how you’ve picked up have those useless limiting beliefs that are stopping you from becoming the best version of yourself! See, your conscious mind is usually doing everything to reach that goal, but then your subconscious mind, on the other hand, is giving excuses/reasons not to heal or move forward in the form of limiting beliefs. Each time you visit an old memory, like the examples mentioned above, you’re reinforcing that deep-rooted belief and the way you respond to it. These beliefs may have served you when you about were younger, but holding onto them as an adult will only stunt your growth. Imagine if you’ve picked up a negative belief when you were six years old, and today you’re thirty letting that six-year-old run your life.

It’s time to bid adieu to these useless limiting beliefs and say hello to new possibilities:

Take Charge: By now you may be a little shocked that you’ve been self-sabotaging all these years? List down all your limiting beliefs. Keep in mind to note down what you think about your current situation and the possibility of things turning out in your favour? It might be a little scary at first to realise that you’ve been building barriers for yourself. Remember only to identify the limiting beliefs but don’t be defined by them.

Some of the most common limiting beliefs are:

I’m not capable enough

It’s too late to change

I don’t have time to focus on my own needs

I don’t have the motivation

Asking for help is a sign of weakness

Acknowledge and rewrite the limiting belief: Acknowledging the belief is half the battle won! Once you’ve identified and acknowledged your negative thoughts, now it’s time to change the script. Ask yourself if you’re gaining any value by holding onto that belief or is it just a way to feel safe? Start by rewriting the script, pick a negative statement that you always say to yourself. For instance, “I’ve always had problems in life, nothing ever seems to go right”, rewrite it by saying “My experiences have only made me stronger and courageous. I’m prepared to deal with anything that life has to offer.” You may feel uneasy to say it in the beginning, and this is where you need to practice reframing the statements until they become habitual. Don’t berate yourself for having these limiting beliefs, we’re all human, and we’re constantly evolving. Take one day at a time.

Break the pattern: It’s time to push yourself out of your comfort zone to get rid of all your limiting beliefs. While questioning it is step one, you’d have to take necessary actions to challenge the belief. You cannot laze around on the couch and expect to lose weight, or you won’t be able to get your dream job if you don’t work towards it. Every small step such as noticing your thoughts as well as your response can help break the pattern of limiting yourself from reaching your highest potential.

IDENTIFY -> ACKNOWLEDGE -> TAKE ACTION

Changing your thoughts and behaviour need not be terrifying. Become mindful about the decisions that you make, and you’ll notice a significant change in your life — be it your health, work or relationships, things will slowly start falling in place. If you’re going to let other people’s opinions control your life, you’ll always be a victim. Take back your power and remember that it’s the feedback you give to yourself and the actions that you take are what define you!

IG — @Befettle

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Pooja Naik

Pooja Naik

Psychologist (Health Psychology). Health Coach. Lover of anything that radiates positivity.