I've met a lot of unique individuals with equally singular dreams and goals over the years. Every dream I've ever heard about has merit -- it's the inalienable right of human beings to define their own version of success.
Some of those aforementioned people are laser-focused. They have crystal-clarity about their end goals. They know the life they want to look back on in their old age.
If only we were all that lucky.
The majority is another story. They've got an inkling about what they really want out of life or they know what they want but haven't committed to it. And among those who haven't gotten aggressive with their goals, I've noticed one recurring obstacle that is often so subtle they couldn't recognize it: themselves.
Obstacles and Excuses
If you read my article on excuses, you know we have a talent for making things up on the fly. We like to blame everything and anything for why we can't or shouldn't _____________ (insert important action here). But making excuses is exhausting. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep creating more complex stories as to why you won't be excelling today. Eventually, we get weary and surrender to the ultimate inquiry. We fall into the natural question: "Is it them or is it me?"
I'm not saying that external forces don't exist. Life can keep you from doing certain things at certain times -- it is in life's nature to change constantly and that provides challenges. But we're so often caught on the obstacle that we forget about climbing over it or searching for a way around it. So who's to blame in that situation? Is it the obstacle for being there or is it you for not taking initiative to overcome it?
At least in my experience, chances are that you are the worst villain in your own story. That's not to say that most people outright sabotage everything so they can stay in their comfort zone (though sometimes they do just this). Sometimes you can't identify your self-inflicted villainy through your behaviors. But where you could be doing the worst work against yourself is right above your nose.
The Brick-Wall Building Brain
It's possible that your biggest obstacles on the road to success are your limiting beliefs. These beliefs are often just that -- beliefs. They could be based on past failures or misinterpreted shortcomings, but they all feel like the truth. Limiting beliefs are more powerful than excuses. They're not behavior related -- they preclude behavior so you can't even get started.
Here are just a few examples of common limiting beliefs that people carry around with them. See if any sound familiar to you:
- I'm not creative enough to do it.
- I'm too old to start it.
- They won't like me.
- I'll look stupid.
- It's pointless.
- Things are fine as they are.
- (For those who want to start a business) Selling is evil/sleazy. This one's more common than you might think.
This is just a small handful of beliefs compared to the thousands upon thousands we can refer to when our backs are against the wall. The brain is a spectacular mason, building massive brick walls whenever we think of progressing in our lives. But here's the thing about these "unbreakable" walls -- they've either gotta end somewhere or there's a crack we can exploit.
But how do we get started exploiting them? By becoming aware.
Questioning Your Limiting Beliefs
Here are some questions to get you started on tearing down your limiting beliefs. Awareness is the first step -- it shines the light on things that may not be true. That's all it takes to begin on the path to identifying and re-framing how you view yourself and your potential.
Remember: a limiting belief is a negative appraisal of the possibilities that may not be true. Unless you have absolute and undeniable evidence of something (i.e. "I'm not creative"), it's a belief, not a fact.
Copy these questions into your word-processor or copy them into a notebook and answer all of them honestly. You might be surprised how many "limitations" are self-defined. The process of inquiry, by itself, is a powerful tool to change your thinking.
You don't need to take any steps after answering them or re-evaluate things. It's a powerful tool all on its own. I hope these questions help you find peace and steer your thinking to a more poisitve place. This Thanks for reading!
If you had to identify some of your limiting beliefs, what would they be?
Where did these beliefs come from?
Did people give you these beliefs?
What is a lack in belief in yourself costing you?
Where do you think your thoughts could be getting in the way?
Where are you too hard on yourself? (Make a list of 8)
I should always:
I should never:
Where in your body do you feel stuck or held back?
What holds you back?
What is the positive intention of holding on to some of these limiting beliefs?
Is it useful for me to continue believing these thoughts?
What concrete evidence do you have to back up any of your limiting beliefs?
Write a narrative of everything that must be removed in order for you to journey into who you need to become to live that life.