Are you doing a good job? Are you happy with your progress in life? In my masterclass for the National Association of Black Accountants Twin Cities Chapter, the audience fell silent when the questions appeared on the screen. In today's busy culture, we can get focused on tasks and lose sight of our vision, goals, and values.
Do you know what you want and how to make it happen?
Did you know during our early childhood, we soak up everything we hear, and our young brains believe everything we feed it? During these years, if we teach our minds a love of learning, health, and kindness, we develop our most strong beliefs about what we deserve and who we are. At the same time, if we are exposed to negativity, doubt, or fear, we can take on life-limiting, beliefs, and habits that can stick with us for the rest of our lives.
All of this information stays in our subconscious, and it's there to keep us safe. It's how we learn that the fire is hot by burning our hand, or how we know not to talk to strangers because our parents drilled that fear home for us every single day. In reality, some of these beliefs hold us back in life and keep us in a state of fear and ignorance.
Typical limiting beliefs take the form of:
"I can't do that because"
"I don't deserve that because"
"If I get this opportunity, I/my family can't handle the consequences."
"If I do this, then people will think."
"They'd never let someone like me do something like that."
"I'm sure other people are better than me."
Sound like you? No judgment, I know I've said them on more than one occasion. So what do we do now?
It's never too late to change your thoughts, behaviors, and habits. The truth is there is no such thing as balance when things are evenly beautiful across every area of your life all the time. Instead, most of us experience waves of wins, gratitude, pain, loss, or fear. Things shift and can trigger feelings that hold us back without understanding why. To encourage you to keep going, I have a few rules for my clients.
Use everything you have.
Commit to take action and try something new.
Breakthroughs, not breakdowns.
Okay, let's start with ten questions we can ask ourselves to dig deep into our subconscious and identify our limiting beliefs.
Pro tip: Focus on one area of your life at a time. Consider what's happening in your life, career, and relationships, where is your attention needed in the next six months? Now that you've identified an area take out your journal and respond to the questions below.
10 Questions To Let Go Limiting Beliefs and Do Better in 2020
1. What's got you stuck? It might be impossible to see all of our limiting beliefs, try noticing at least one thought that has held you back throughout your life. Reflect on your life and career experiences and see where you might feel stuck. It might not be apparent when it happened, but if you look back on the things you've done, you can usually see it.
Maybe you didn't apply for that dream job you wanted because you didn't think you were ready or "smart enough." Or that trip to that destination far away that never happened because you didn't feel that you could make enough money to afford a luxury vacation. Perhaps you missed out on asking you that person you sparked with out on a date because you knew it was the wrong "time" or convinced yourself they were "out of your league."
2. Why do you believe this? Now that you've identified your most significant limiting belief, ask yourself, " why is this true?" list all of your responses until you can't think of anymore. Reflect on your childhood, even consider recent events or beliefs passed on through your family. Could it be you've just never heard it's okay or seen someone who looks like you accomplish the goal?
Give yourself time to explore here and be curious. Ask a sibling or someone who may have greater insights into where you learned valuable lessons. Write down every answer you come up with, so you don't forget them.
You are the expert of you.
3. What facts will prove your belief wrong? Most beliefs are just that, beliefs. Beliefs and facts are two very different things. Minnesota is cold in winter. Period. We know that because we can see our breath in the negative temperatures. We can see the snow and frozen icicles. There's no question; cold is cold.
The fact that you believe you aren't smart enough for that job is subjective and just your opinion. There's no way to prove it with 100% certainty. Even if you've applied for hundreds of jobs and never had an interview, that just means those jobs weren't the right fit for you. If you look hard enough, I'm sure you can find someone not as smart as you who is doing what you want to do.
The only thing stopping you is your belief.
4. What have you missed out on in life because of your belief? Let's stick with the job application example, how different would your life be right now if you applied for your dream job? Your life would most likely be completely different. Even if you applied and didn't get it, you could've learned something valuable from the person interviewing you, maybe expanded your network, or gained a mentor. In my book I talk about my fear applying for my dream job as a writer, I'm so glad I took action because no one can hire you if you don't apply.
If nothing else, you failing teaches you that you can survive and move forward.
5. Is there any truth in your belief? Is there truth to your belief? Has something happened to you recently to reinforce the belief? Or is it something you've believed for as long as you can remember, and you don't really know why? Maybe the root is a cautionary, folk tale, or even a movie you saw once?
When I traveled over 8,000 miles to Australia for my dream vacation in January 2012, I signed up for a tour. I wanted to experience everything, including the Great Barrier Reef. As we walked up to the tour boat, I suddenly had flashbacks of the scenes of Jaws. On the ride out to the reef, I debated not getting into the water out of fear of sharks. I wrote in my journal about my conflicting feelings. On the one hand, I didn't fly around the world to die, but on the other hand, I could see how my fear was preventing me from fully living.
The snorkeling instructor said there were plenty of sharks living around the reef, so the likelihood I would see one in the water was very high. But in all his years he'd never seen an attack. In his Aussie accent, he confidently assured me, "they've got better options then you mate."
When the boat stopped I jumped out. I prayed the whole time and soon I was swimming the great barrier reef with sharks, octopus, jellyfish. We even saw a manta ray! The instructor was absolutely right. There were far better creatures than me for a shark to stalk. Plus, facing my fear gave me the confidence I could apply the same logic to other obstacles in my life like losing weight and committing to a healthy relationship.
When taking advice from others, consider their experience, authority, and motivation. Also how their experience differs from yours and always remember every person has their own limiting beliefs that they can often unconsciously project on others. Be open to questioning what you believe. It's easy to pick up second-hand loneliness listening to the advice and opinions of others. It might be time to re-evaluate if you reflect on the last 12 months and don't notice anything that confirms your belief.
6. Question its impact. How long are you going to live like this? Imagine how I would've felt if I went all the way to Australia and let fear keep me from doing what I wanted. I'd be mad at myself and resent that I was the one who held me back. Now imagine what would happen if you challenge your belief. Let's say you wake up one morning and tell yourself you're not going to let that fear control your decisions anymore. Would your life change for the better?
Now is the time to do things that you've never done before. Consider how doing those things can change your life for the better. Usually, the worst thing that can happen is a failure. And even when we fail, we wake up the next morning with a new chance to try again. Let each sunrise give you the confidence to make it a great day.
7. What is your fear? What's the worst possible thing that could happen if you challenge your belief? How does this change your daily life? Most of our concerns boil down to being rejected, humiliated, embarrassed, isolated, or hurt. How debilitating would these things be if they were actually to happen? Could bettering your life and giving up the limiting belief worth the risk?
8. How are you contributing? Don't get stuck pointing fingers at others without examining your behavior. Ultimately your freedom is your control over your actions and emotions.
What are you doing regularly that's contributing to your limiting belief? Are you reinforcing your negative thoughts related to the belief? Are you letting the opinions of others influence what you believe? Are you avoiding doing things that would eliminate the belief? Write down all the ways you might be contributing to the belief so you can start changing those behaviors.
9. What would you have to give up if you let go of this belief? I struggle with perfectionism, and it shows up in various ways. To let go of it, I have to let go of the idea that any person can be perfect. When I think about it, that's not a belief that is likely serving my kids or my spouse.
Consider what you are overcoming and ask yourself:
What part of yourself will you have to let go to give up your belief?
How will giving this up impact the people around you?
Will you be a better person for letting this go?
Would it get you unstuck in your life and move you in the right direction?
As Marianne Williamson said in her book, A Return to Love, " our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world." it is that we are powerful beyond measure."
10. What would improve in your life if you let go of this belief? If you've never taken the time to ask yourself what you want, this might feel awkward or even, selfish. Imagine what your life would feel like if you simply stopped believing in something that has no longer serves you? Think of the freedom you could experience if you let some things go. Think of how much more energy you could have.
Could your choices make the lives of people around you better by overcoming this belief? Most success and happiness are just on the other side of fear and negative feelings. Make sure you aren't standing in your way.
Journal about these questions whenever you find yourself thinking, "I can't" or "I shouldn't" or "I don't deserve it." Be sure your thoughts reflect your current reality, and you are not allowing limiting belief to hold you back. You deserve a career and life you love.
If you are feeling stuck, take time to go deeper into your strengths by signing up for the Getting Unstuck Career Package. Get three one on one coaching sessions to explore your career narrative, refresh your resume, and update your LinkedIn profile. You'll get the confidence to apply for the job you want.
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