Do you have any limiting beliefs? What do you tell yourself you can’t do?

Since I was a child, I have been told that I am not creative. I was a bookworm as a child and every time I had to do art or creative writing I struggled and found it difficult. I didn’t get great grades and I was strongly encouraged to give up and focus on maths (which I loved) and stay reading my books. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I had no idea how much it would impact me in later years.

When I changed careers six years ago, I moved out of a very structured profession (finance and change) into a world that asked me to be creative every day. The first time I tried to write a blog I froze. I realised that I had a very strong belief I couldn’t do it. The same was true of writing social media posts and any other content. I never even tried to do anything more creative such as drawing or painting. Even in my personal life I struggled to choose home décor or clothes – I kept everything as plain as possible because I was certain I didn’t know how to do it.

I worked hard to overcome my fears around writing and just forced myself to keep doing it until I stopped worrying. I told myself my style is my style, and I am not trying to pass an exam – just to show people who I am.

However, I have steadfastly avoided anything more creative – until the last year. I now go to a crochet group once a week and have become more and more creative. I attended an art workshop and amazed myself with the results – that is now proudly displayed on my wall. I also spent a wonderful day with my friend in her art studio and created a picture that emotionally connects me to my happy place – the sea. I am now learning to say, “I am exploring my creativity,” instead of, “I am not creative”.

Once I Ditched My Limiting Belief

Believing I am not creative definitely held me back in some areas, but it has not impacted me anywhere near as significantly as one of my other limiting beliefs, “I am not good enough”. This comes from childhood, and I have allowed situations over the years to strengthen this belief. This belief has led me to not pursue opportunities, allow people to treat me poorly and I developed self-sabotaging behaviours in order to try and numb my feelings.

I regularly hear clients talk about limiting beliefs as if they are facts – I can’t do maths, I can’t make friends, I can’t do interviews, I can’t be consistent, I can’t pass exams…  These may be activities they don’t like but they often only have examples of being successful! The limiting beliefs that they hang on too can stop them even trying activities or, if they can’t avoid them, they cause immense stress and anxiety.

Limiting beliefs can be trivial or they can be truly impacting – either way we can do something about them.

Step 1 – Noticing your limiting beliefs

“A habit is only a habit until you notice it – then it is a choice”.

The first stage of any change is to notice our behaviours and beliefs. What are you telling yourself? Look for situations where you say, “I always…” or “I never”. Where are you dismissing actions without even considering them?

Write a list of your beliefs – it doesn’t matter if they are big or small – write them down. Also notice where you use them. Which situations are most likely to surface them – are there situations where they don’t appear? The closer you look at them the easier it is to deal with them.

Step 2 – Look at the facts

For each of the beliefs you have identified, write down as many facts as you possibly can. Be completely factual about what has happened in the past when you have attempted these activities. Focus on outcomes, preparation, actions – as much as you can.

I love the expression “Facts are friends” and I frequently use it with clients to bring us back into the world of reality and out of the world of catastrophizing.

If you have experienced failure in the past then examine what happened and consider what, if anything, you could have done differently.

Step 3 – Change your language and behaviours

I am not a believer of fake it ‘til you make it, or saying affirmations you don’t believe. I believe other people can see through the façade and if we are saying affirmations we don’t believe, then they don’t have the desired impact.

What I do strongly believe is that, if we start with a positive fact and remind ourselves of it regularly then it will create a new belief. That belief will encourage us to start new behaviours that, in turn, will create new bolder beliefs.

Start a journalling habit to actually look for things you can appreciate about yourself. Whenever you find yourself thinking about the limiting belief – read your journal.

Language is a huge part of this. When I changed my language to say, “I am exploring my creativity,” it opened a lot of new possibilities. I can try things without worrying if I like them or if I am any good.

I also changed my language to look for areas where, “I am enough”.  I’m not perfect (by any measure) but I know there are areas of my life where I am very proud of what I have achieved. I am working on adding in the word “good,” but it already feels better. I am also focussing on my own opinion rather than what I think other people think – as I will never know!!

Feed the wolf you want to win

Many of you will be aware of the story of the two wolves that live inside us. If you aren’t then you can watch it here

Remember that we always choose which wolf we feed.

Coaching can help free you from limiting beliefs

If you would like any help learning to ditch your limiting beliefs, then please contact me for a free initial chat via the link below.