The biggest regrets that people have in their lives are the things they didn’t do. The adventures they didn’t go on; the job opportunities they didn’t take; the lovers they let go; the life they didn’t fully live. And why is that? Because most of the time they BELIEVED that they could not afford the adventure; were not smart enough for the new job; not deserving enough of the love; not courageous enough to live the life they wanted.
My sole purpose in my life it to tell you, a thousand times if I have to, that you do not have to have regrets of a life not lived if you BELEIVE that you can have it. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. If you feel, as many of us do, that you are stuck in your life, not fulfilling your true purpose, then it is highly likely that the limiting beliefs that you hold about yourself are the ball and chain that is dragging you down.
In this months letter to you, I want to explain what limiting beliefs are and how your current behaviour is reinforcing your beliefs, keeping you rooted in the exact place you don’t want to be. What if I told you that you could choose new beliefs about yourself, and how making that choice could change your entire life.
As a coach, I want to empower you to make a choice to make a change.
What are beliefs?
At some stage in your life, probably when you were very young, you created a story about who you are and what you want. These stories are your beliefs. Like any story, the narrative didn’t just materialise out of thin air; it was stitched together from a yarn made up of thousands of little threads of your subconscious thoughts and experiences. These thoughts and experiences came together to create the beliefs that you hold about the world, others, who you are, what you want and what you deserve. It is critical to understand this because when you do, you will realise that your beliefs are stitched into the very fabric of your life, and therefore, have created your experience of life.
What are limiting beliefs?
Not all the beliefs that you hold about yourself, others and the world are positive and productive. Your experience of life so far will have created limiting beliefs which are unhealthy because they hold you back from reaching your full potential. Limiting beliefs usually fall into three groups:
- Limiting about yourself: These are about your own character, believing that you are lazy; undeserving; poor; unlovable; unhealthy; fat; stupid; incapable; unlucky.
- Limiting about others: These are about the character of other people, usually formed from your own experiences or the experiences of a primary caregiver passed on to you. Believing that others are untrustworthy; unforgiving; liers; intolerant; greedy; spiteful.
- Limiting about the world: Believing that the world is unfair; unjust, against you or just a bad place.
The problem with beliefs, and especially self-limiting ones, is that you inherently believe them to be 100% true. Your beliefs are the foundations for your behaviour, and your behaviour creates outcomes that reinforce your beliefs. Therefore, self-limiting beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Self-limiting beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies
This might sound a little “out there”, but it is the truth. The way that self-fulfilling prophecies work is that someone has told you something will happen, or you believe it will. You believe it so much that you have created a “vision” in your mind of what that outcome would look like, and how you would feel when it does.
I will tell you a fascinating truth. The brain does not know the difference between make-believe and reality. FACT. When you daydream, your brain does not know that what you are dreaming about is not real. Think about that for a moment. If your brain creates your behaviours based on your beliefs, and you BELIEVE that “X” will happen to/for you one day, do you think that your behaviour would change if you suddenly felt a different future awaited you? Of course, it would! Your brain subconsciously alters your behaviour to ensure that outcome, as it always wants to be right.
I have been tempted many times in my life to go to a fortune-teller, but one of the main reason’s I haven’t is because I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies far more than predictions. If someone told me I was going to marry twice in my life, but the second marriage would be the one I was most happy in, and I truly believed that, it is highly likely that my behaviour would change to make that happen. I would probably be more likely to find faults in my partner, become more irritated with him, perhaps even have a keen eye out for other men that would be “the one”. This behaviour would affect my relationship, possibly to the point where we were no longer together. When I next found a man I wanted to be with, and I believed he was my destiny, my behaviour would be more loving and caring, thus making it more likely for the relationship to be a success. Thus, the prophecy is fulfilled.
This all stems back to what you believe. With limiting beliefs, you believe the most negative, destructive and unproductive things about yourself. Thus, because you believe it, you make it so.
Beliefs and habits
Are you beginning to see how destructive limiting beliefs are? And how they could be holding you back from realising the life you so long for? When you repeat a behaviour enough, it is locked into your brain as a habit so that you can “habitually”, or automatically do it with very little effort. Of course, your brain is incredibly powerful and intelligent. It has identified that you repeat this same pattern, and therefore very limited brainpower is needed to complete it. Why not just store it as a habit and free-up valuable computing power for more important decisions or problems? Psychologists have found that, depending on the person, as much as 40-95% of their daily activities are habitual. That means that you are running between 40-95% on auto-pilot.
What has this got to do with self-limiting beliefs? Everything! Unfortunately changing your beliefs is incredibly difficult to do. It involves psychological expertise, a huge amount of determination and time spent unravelling and understanding your past. This is what a psychologist does, and it is something I would recommend everyone dives into at some point in their life, it is something I have personally done three times.
As a life coach, I help you to create NEW beliefs about yourself that are not self-limiting. Together we work to develop new behaviours that eventually become habits, reinforcing the new mindset. When done correctly, and reinforced, these new beliefs can shadow the old beliefs enough for you to reach your full potential.
I have studied habits; and the biggest take away from my studies, practice and experience is that you cannot CHANGE them. They are always there, in the back of your mind, ready for you to fall back into. Creating and reinforcing new ones, and cementing a mindset around them is the surest way for you to change the trajectory of your life.
After all, if you don’t like the colour of your life’s tapestry, change the yarn.