We build our entire lives around what we’ve been conditioned to think of as ‘truth’, but our perceptions, interpretations and beliefs are not based on fact. They developed from our earliest experiences—interactions with our families, culture and the media. Much of what we believe in is far from the truth, and unfortunately, limits how we see ourselves and experience life.
To top it off, neuroscientists tell us that our conscious mind is only in control about 5% of the time. That means 95% of the time we make decisions and act without much thought at all. In other words, our unconscious mind is basically running the show!
This is especially evident in the way we perceive ourselves. Too often we think we are so much less than we are. Less beautiful. Less interesting. Less capable. Through our thoughts, we set limits that hold us back and block us from reaching our potential. Our most challenging struggle therefore, is psychological. Most of us quit before we even start!
As it’s the beginning of the New Year, many make resolutions to help bring them closer to success. Rather than creating another list of promises, we’ve put together five techniques to help you develop the awareness of self-imposed limitations and challenge yourself to overcome them. The work is not easy, but well worth the effort!
- Be aware of limiting thoughts—The first step in making any kind of change if to become aware of your limiting beliefs. Start by making a list of thoughts in which you criticize yourself. You may find it easier to jot these down throughout the day as you catch yourself having a limiting thought such as, “I can’t do that”, “I’m so stupid”. You can also list when your lack of confidence creates a road block in front of something you’d like to try. It’s important to remind yourself that a thought is just a thought and not reality. As you become aware of disempowering thoughts, you can consciously choose to let them go and replace them with more positive ones. The better you feel about yourself, the more confident you will become and be willing to take risks to try new things.
- Push the envelope—Pushing the envelope entails challenging yourself to stretch in ways that make you feel uncomfortable. We all tend to back away from new situations, people, and activities that are new and bring out fear or doubt. Successful people have learned to take action despite these feelings. When these types of thoughts or feelings arise, ask yourself what is the worst thing that can possibly go wrong. You will find that your worst-case scenario is not that scary after all.
- Dig deeper. When self-imposed limitations arise, question them. Try to understand where they came from and why you adopted them. These disempowering thoughts usually have to do with your self-image. Much of our power is given away to thoughts that are not even based on truth. How you feel about yourself is intrinsically tied to what you think your capable of. From that new level of awareness, strive to develop more compassion and kindness toward yourself. As you take that bold leap to love yourself more deeply, taking action toward what you want, becomes easier.
- Be aware of distractions. As humans, it’s natural to want to be comfortable. Because of that, subconsciously, we may be making excuses or distracting ourselves from anything that takes us out of our comfort zone in life. Whenever you notice a pattern of behavior such as constantly making excuses or distracting yourself, ask if you are avoiding something. If you are, is it worth it? To be successful, you must recognize when your mind attempts to protect the ego, preventing you from taking the bold steps to expand.
- Keep inspiring company. You are influenced by the people you choose to spend your time with. If you want success, surround yourself with people that inspire you to Be and Do better. You can support each other in many ways such as teaming up to be accountability partners for each other. If that person lives too far to get together in person, you can set up weekly phone sessions to motivate each other, help work through challenges and to acknowledge each other’s accomplishments. As studies have shown you are much more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down, you may find it helpful to use a tool such as our 90-day goals planner, The Life Coach in-a-Book.
It can be empowering to realize that most of what holds you back is self-imposed. Since people are more hopeful and willing to make big changes at the start of the New Year, this is a great time to use the techniques suggested above to help you start the year off right.
Challenge yourself to go deeper every day by observing, questioning, and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Shifting to a more positive perspective will support you through the rough patches and transform you from the inside out. Are you ready for an empowering 2017? Then, let’s get started!