Self-Limiting Beliefs: Opponents of Progress

Dear Friends,

From our earliest years, we are socialized to adopt certain beliefs. If we’re raised in a nurturing and supportive environment, our beliefs will be quite different than if we grew up in an abusive and shameful environment. The meaning we attach to our experiences can limit or enable the possibilities in our lives and minimize or maximize our potential for success.

A belief is an assumed truth that we hold without necessarily being able to adequately defend it. We create beliefs to use as a framework to understand and make sense of the world; but our beliefs can become so deep-seated that we confuse them with facts and limit our fullest potential.

Self-limiting beliefs are often defense mechanisms — conscious or unconscious — that we use to mask fear and anxiety. Examples of self-limiting beliefs are: There’s only one way to solve this problem; or My viewpoint is the only right one, so it’s needless to consider other perspectives; or I cannot succeed no matter how hard I try, so there’s no need in trying; or I was born with certain characteristics and abilities, and they cannot be changed.

Disempowering beliefs create a downward spiral that paralyzes our actions. However, identifying, dissecting and challenging our counterproductive beliefs and expecting favorable things to happen set events in motion to support our expectations.

Identifying Self-Limiting Beliefs

All change requires self-examination. Before you can break any non-productive cycle, you must raise your consciousness through honest self-assessment. To develop awareness of your self-limiting beliefs, consider how the following conditions are manifested in your life:

1. Recurring Problems – You repeatedly face the same problems.

2. Behavioral Patterns – You have conditioned responses to the same situations.

3. Verbal Expression – Your verbal communications emphasize your perceived shortcomings and inability to overcome obstacles.

4. Thoughts – Your thoughts and mental images are focused on negative experiences, expectations and outcomes.

Transforming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Our thoughts drive our feelings; our feelings determine our behaviors; and our behaviors produce results. When self-limiting beliefs emerge, it’s an opportunity for you to get still and focus your attention on some reflective questions: (1) What am I feeling? (2) What situation is driving this feeling? (3) What negative self-talk am I engaging in to reinforce this feeling? (4) What assumptions are embedded in my self talk? (5) If these assumptions are true, what supporting evidence do I have? (6) If these assumptions are false, what new beliefs could I adopt to cancel the self-limiting beliefs? (7) How can I begin to model my newly adopted beliefs?

Successful people have an absolute belief that they can succeed, persisting in the face of obstacles. They understand that there is always a sunrise (beginnings) and a sunset (endings), so continuously seek ways to improve their circumstances and lives.

Regardless of your experiences, you possess the power of this moment to create change in your life. Remember that your effectiveness and ability to produce extraordinary results are limited only by your beliefs.

Until Next Time,

Mary

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Learning the Language of Silence

Dear Friends,

In modern society, we have become so accustomed to a frenetic pace and the gravitational pull of noise that we rarely consider what it means to be silent. Noise allows us to temporarily ignore our inner dysfunctions, because it’s often too distressing to face our own struggles. Yet, our outer world mirrors our inner conflicts.

Noise and constant activity separate us from the essence of who we are by leaving us in a fast, furious and futile attempt to manipulate ourselves around our psychological, emotional and physical discomforts to escape our painful realities. Despite our efforts, there will always be situations to come along that we cannot wish away, cure or escape. 

When we cease to wrestle with our circumstances and their outcomes and let go of our agenda, its through calming stillness that our breakthroughs will often emerge. Control produces known patterns and results; but silence invites us to face our unpleasant experiences and feelings, and makes room for the unknown and unexpected.

Silence challenges the purely intellectual thinking of our times with a deeper truth emanating from within. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonious’ immortal advice to his son Laertes is, “This above all: to thine own self be true… [and] thou canst not then be false to any man.” Our life’s answers do no lie in the external environment, they lie within us — the last place we often consider searching. Self-understanding increases our ability to have a more fulfilling and productive relationship with ourselves and others. Silence heightens self-awareness of our own attitudes, emotions, behaviors and intentions and is a key ingredient for personal transformation and our capacity to be of service to others.

The Encounter with Silence

To tap into the power of silence, we must move beyond the noise of words and chaotic experiences to reconnect with our inner voice. While learning to be comfortable with silence takes practice, here are some ways to begin the cultivation process:

1. Take a walk alone, so you can naturally listen. Consider a quiet neighborhood, park or nature trail where you can listen to your thoughts, interact with them, and pay attention to the feelings that emerge. There’s no need to draw conclusions, just be present with your thoughts and emotions.

2. Make room for self-exploration. Use the practice of silence to increase self-awareness, gain clarity about purpose and assess progress towards your goals. For example,  you might ask, Who am I? What am I here to do? How are my activities aligned with my purpose? What areas of my life are calling (or screaming) for attention?

3. Pose a provocative question, then stop talking. The next time you’re having a conversation with a boss, peer, direct report, or client, ask them, “If success was guaranteed, what bold steps would you take to make a dramatic improvement in company productivity (or sales, marketing, staffing, operations, morale, etc.)?”  Then despite any overwhelming urge to interject your own thoughts or ideas, wait in silence for a response. You’ll learn a lot more about others’ perspectives regarding organizational issues, challenges and potential solutions.

4. Quietly reflect on your experiences. After a meeting where something important was mentioned, discussed or decided, or after a stressful experience, a period of silence can help you to become clear about your interpretations, feelings, conclusions and next steps.

Regularly planned periods of silence allow us to become quietly reflective, blocking out the distractions of our mental chatter and the busyness of the world around us. A period of silence can occur at any point during the day. Morning silence allows us to focus and picture ourselves moving through the day on purpose. Evening silence allows us to reflect on the day’s experiences and how we can use them for personal growth and change. A silent interlude can last anywhere from 10 minutes to a week-long retreat. The length of time is not as important as how intentional we are about making the time.

Silence speaks more profoundly than all the collective words in the universe. Tap into your inner realm of silence to call forth your highest truth, ignite your deepest passion and achieve your greatest potential!

Until Next Time,

Mary

What Are You Tolerating?

Good Day Friends,

To increase self-awareness and inspire change, I often ask my clients “What are you tolerating?”  Since we can’t lead others to places we haven’t been, we must be willing to confront our own demons.  Therefore, after pondering this emotionally-charged question, I’m ready to admit that one of the things I’ve been tolerating for months is procrastination

Time and again, I’ve promised myself that I would reignite my passion for reflective journaling to promote greater self-awareness and understanding.  However, I have repeatedly broken this promise by using my demanding schedule as an excuse for not taking action.  As a result, I’m feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and unfocused.

Now that I’ve come clean and shared with you one of my life’s major frustrations, I’m going to get personal and ask, “What are YOU tolerating?”  Is it self-limiting beliefs?  Unproductive attitudes?  Unmet needs?  Other people’s bad behaviors?  Your own bad behaviors?  Ongoing frustrations?  Violated boundaries?  Paralyzing fear?  Poor performance?  Unfinished business?  If you’re honest with yourself, you can probably name at least five tolerations that are robbing you of personal power by depleting your time, energy, enthusiasm and spirit.

Each time we choose to tolerate an unfavorable situation in our lives, we sacrifice a piece of our soul.  Over time, it chips away at our self-esteem, joy, and inner peace which can lead to denial,  depression, stagnation, and even irrelevance.  To anesthetize or block our feelings, we may resort to unproductive behaviors such as procastination, lying, cheating, self-deprecation, or overindulgence — all of which ultimately render us powerless and ineffective.  Whenever we are tolerating any situation that impedes our progress and well-being, our mind, body and spirit respond in kind.

To make a positive shift and reclaim our power, we must honestly confront those hindering forces that chain us to mediocrity.  If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired of draining life forces, here’s a reflective exercise to help raise your consciousness, remove self-imposed limitations, and propel you to new levels of performance and satisfaction:

1.  What am I tolerating?  (Make a list of those things that you are tolerating.)

2.  What am I doing to help sustain the things that I am tolerating? (Make a list of your behaviors that help sustain the things that you are tolerating and sabotage your success.)

3.  How does this make me feel?  (Write down how what you are tolerating makes you feel.  To really expand your awareness of feelings, you can find a comprehensive list of “feeling” words at http://eqi.org/fw.htm.)

4.  What are these tolerations costing me on a mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, social and professional level?  (Make an honest assessment of the high price you are paying in every aspect of your life for the things you are tolerating.)

5.  What can I do differently to let go of the things that I am tolerating?  (Write a positive statement of change for each of the things that you are tolerating and what it means to achieve this goal.  Identify the beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, knowledge and skills that will better serve you in making this change.)

6. How can I model my new behaviors?  (List the ways in which you begin to model your new behaviors to become the best of who you are meant to be — then do it!)

Change is a step-by-step process that requires awareness, commitment, action and perseverance; so be patient with yourself.  However, don’t use the fear of change or a temporary relapse as an excuse for not taking control of your circumstances and your life.

Some tolerations are much easier to release than others.  Sometimes, we have endured situations for so long that we unconsciously accept them as normal or think “that’s just the way life is.”  In such instances, we may need to seek professional assistance from a therapist, counselor, coach or mentor to help us get unstuck.  Regardless of what helping resource(s) you choose, know that taking direct action — sooner rather than later — to eliminate tolerations from your life will help you reduce stress, access your hidden potential, seize new opportunities, and produce breakthrough results.  If that’s not enough, it will redirect your focus and give you a better sense of control by releasing time and energy, so you can fully enjoy more of the things that bring you pleasure.

In closing, I am making a personal (and now public) commitment to create change in my own life by carving out at least 10 minutes each day for personal reflection, refocus and renewal around the things I want to accomplish in myself, my career and my life.

What personal commitment are you making to free yourself and move forward on purpose?

Until next time,

Mary