Do you know those excuses that you tell yourself when something doesn’t go your way? Let’s go with a personal example that you might be able to relate to, male or female. Say you’re having trouble finding that person that is right for you and you explain it away with something like, “women only want men who drive expensive cars” or “men are only interested in women that look like models.”
These are examples of limiting beliefs – statements that you believe to be a fact even though there’s evidence proving otherwise – for example, many men find all female body types attractive, and there are plenty of women in relationships with country boys with pickup trucks.
These altered realities are holding you back from exploring all the possibilities that are available to you because you’re allowing negative thoughts to control your perspective.
The trick to overcoming your limiting beliefs requires taking the time to educate yourself and ask plenty of questions. It’s also important to try and figure out what fears and anxieties caused those negative thoughts in the first place.
Be “YOUniquely” You
When we put other people on a pedestal and tell ourselves that we’re incapable of doing what they do, we’re doing significant damage to our confidence.
Although it’s perfectly alright to admire another person, it’s unhealthy to assume that they are superior and that there’s no way to measure up.
Remember, people are just people and as they say, these people that you think so highly of put their pants on one leg at a time just like you. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Although it might seem as though someone is “perfect,” no one is perfect, and if you think that they are, you likely don’t have the whole story.
Consequently, if you perceive someone as “better” than you, know that it’s not a matter of fact, but opinion and your perception is NOT reality.
There will always be someone with more expertise and more experience, and this has nothing to do with you. Two people born on the same day have very different life experiences that impact the people they become, the skills they have acquired, and the passions they develop over time. One is not better than the other.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Stop Letting the Past Define Your Future
Everyone has made mistakes, and it can be difficult to forget about events and circumstances that caused us pain, but we can’t let those mistakes keep us from moving forward and trying new things.
If you feel anxiety about your past, remember that not everyone recognizes the event the same way. In fact, chances are that your version of the story is entirely different (and probably much more exaggerated) than what other people may recall.
Keep in mind also that mistakes and failures act as a way for us to learn and grow. When you’re having trouble letting go, take a step back and ask yourself what lessons can be learned from the event.
Some of the most significant discoveries throughout history are a result of mistakes! It’s all a matter of perspective. Remember that the past doesn’t have to define you OR limit you.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
From Defeatist to Empowered
The options we’re faced with when it comes to tackling our future can often feel overwhelming. Instead of throwing up your hands and saying, “I don’t know,” ask yourself a few of these questions instead:
“What do I need to learn?”
“Who could I connect with to help me learn more?”
“What would I do if I did know?”
“What am I doing to grow today?”
By changing the narrative from defeatist (“I don’t know”) to empowering and growth-driven, you’re actively shifting the way that your brain thinks and processes information. This small change can also help you start making real steps toward transformation and improvement, instead of wallowing in frustration and confusion.
The choice is yours; are you willing to change your narrative?
“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado
Broaden Your Horizon
Just because you’re not sitting in a classroom doesn’t mean that you can’t be learning new things. The biggest piece of dismantling the beliefs that are currently limiting you is taking the time to educate yourself about new things.
Each one of us has a library of memories and experiences that help to create our perceptions of reality. That reality can stay very small if we don’t actively seek out more information and experiences.
If your goal is to broaden your perception of reality, take time to read more articles, listen to more podcasts, and have more conversations. Find something that interests you, but you know little about it. You can set up alerts on your phone for news headlines or look for video tutorials on YouTube to teach yourself new skills.
A great way to start challenging your current perspective is to take some time to learn about history, the topic that I have struggled with as long as I can remember. Many of us get a very watered-down and summarized version of historical events in grade school that doesn’t cover content that is crucial in developing an understanding of the world that we live in today. After all, history does repeat itself – so it would be of use to learn more about it! I know I haven’t stopped trying!
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.“ – Brian Herbert
Expand Your Circle
Our brains naturally develop stereotypes. Why? Because categorizing the things around us helps us to make sense of the world.
We stereotype based on experiences, which can either be crafted via real-life encounters or through perceptions in the media. As most of you know, the stereotypes that we see on TV aren’t always accurate or realistic.
To challenge your perception of the people around you, make it a point to talk to someone outside your current circle. This person could be of a different cultural, political, or religious sector – or it could be someone in your office with a different job title.
See if you can prove yourself wrong by engaging in active listening and by asking respectful questions. This conversation by no means has to be a debate – instead, the goal should be that you walk away still thinking about the discussion.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
If you’ve made it this far, you must be ready to put those limiting beliefs behind you. What’s the first step you are going to take? Don’t wait! Find an accountability partner, share this with them, and make them a part of your journey. I can’t wait to hear all you’ve achieved.