By Alex Sutcliffe
Eighteen years ago, when I decided to quit my London life and move to France, a colleague looked at me in horror. 'I could never do a thing like that,' she said. We've lost touch now, but I sometimes wonder what she's up to, and why she was so adamant. Was she genuinely happy with her life as it was, or was she holding herself back with a self-limiting belief?
Self-limiting beliefs are the negative thoughts that plague most of us, such as: I'm no good at this; I couldn't possibly do that; I'm afraid of this; I'm not good enough for that, and so on. Invariably they develop in childhood, when we create an image of ourselves, and the world at large, based on the opinions of our parents and other authority figures.
The other day a friend was grumbling about being 'useless' at learning French. I asked how much he'd tried, and he admitted not much, down to his being 'useless' and all that. But why did he really feel that way? As I suspected, his belief stemmed from a teacher's overly-harsh criticism, many years ago, which he'd thoroughly absorbed as fact.
In some respects, his 'uselessness' had become a comfort zone, where he no longer had to try to learn French, despite the obvious advantages. In such comfort zones we feel safe, secure and protected, but a comfort zone can end up like a limiting prison.
Take the following generalisations, such as 'only pushy people do well in life', or 'men only want to date younger women'. They are beliefs, not facts, yet they often become the reasons we hold ourselves back, either at work or on the dating scene.
Usually negative beliefs revolve around issues of self-confidence and self-esteem. We believe we'll be no good at something, such as public speaking, so we don't even try. Shyness may be the result of a self-limiting belief – what stops us from approaching someone? Do we think we're not good enough, bright enough, witty enough, attractive enough?
'The scariest thing about our core beliefs is that most of the time they operate on auto-pilot, without our awareness,' says best-selling author and life coach Christy Whitman. 'By bringing these hidden beliefs into the light and taking actions that challenge their validity, we shift our consciousness and we alter our reality.' https://www.christywhitman.com/
So how to do this? The first step is to identify the belief and find its root – that exasperated teacher, for example. Then consider how this belief serves you today – what good is it doing you? Does it really hold true today, or is there something you can do about it? Next, choose a new belief, one that is better aligned with who you are now and what you want in life – such as enrolling in French classes. Take action and start believing it's already true.
Does that last point sound outlandish? This is where affirmations come in, by imprinting positive messages into our subconscious minds and retraining our thought patterns. Affirmations need to be positive, spoken in the first person and in the present tense. Instead of thinking 'I am rubbish at learning French,' try repeating 'Every day I am learning more French', or rather than 'I couldn't possibly .….' repeat 'I am entirely capable of …..'
It may all sound a touch whimsical, but studies have found that repeating affirmations for between ten to fifteen minutes a day will condition our brains to begin thinking in these positive new ways.
So the next time you hear your inner voice saying, 'I couldn't do that,' ask yourself where this resistance comes from, and how well it serves you today. Then challenge that belief with a positive new affirmation – and see your life change for the better.
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Alexandra Sutcliffe is...
a writer and life coach,
specialising in creativity
Her website is: alexandralifecoach.blogspot.fr
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