It’s incredible how an experience from childhood can impact us into adulthood.
The reality is we all have self-limiting beliefs, rooted in our past, that hold us back. Our challenge is to become aware of them so that we can take action to conquer them. I’ve had a self-belief about my intelligence, which I can clearly trace back to a very young age.
I’m an identical twin. It’s a wonderful thing, but from the moment we were born, people couldn’t help but compare us. In school my sister Hayley was “the intelligent one” and I was “the sporty one.” This generalization from my past formed a belief deep within me.
But here’s the thing: Beliefs are not facts. Unfortunately, without action, our interpretations of experiences from when we were young form limiting beliefs that become rules for our lives. Our subconscious mind uses these rules to direct our behaviour. Yikes! That’s quite a scary prospect when you stop to think about it.
I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to let this tainted subconscious lens of mine skew my vision any longer. Life-limiting mindsets serve no one. I’m now all about supporting rather than sabotaging myself.
So what actions can we take to mitigate against our limiting beliefs? Here are two techniques:
1. Identify them. We have to make the subconscious conscious, which is not always easy, as limiting beliefs can be sneaky. Common traits that might give them away are when we generalize about an element of ourselves with words like always or never. Often, they trigger strong emotions such as embarrassment, failure, sadness or frustration, and cause a derogatory internal dialog. My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn’t say those things to my children, then I shouldn’t be saying them to myself.
2. Catch yourself in the act and test your limiting belief. What’s the evidence? When a client asks me to do something outside my comfort zone and my immediate reaction is “I can’t do that. I’m not bright enough!” I’ve learned to stop and test it. Is this something that I genuinely don’t have the skillset to do? Or am I just protecting myself because that little voice in my head is telling me that I’m not intelligent enough?
I then do a quick mental checklist of my supporting evidence: my academic qualifications (first-class class honors degree ✓), business achievements (founded four companies ✓), previous experience (successfully completed a similar project for a global client last year ✓), etc.) Sometimes I even go online and read my own Wikipedia page, just to reassure myself that I’ve achieved a bunch of stuff so I can probably handle whatever it is that has activated my limiting belief this time! Expose it as the phony belief it is – in whatever way works for you – before it negatively impacts your business or personal life.
What’s the alternative? Fast-forward a year, three years or even five years and ask yourself, “If I keep honoring this belief, what will it cost me?” If we continue to let our limiting beliefs set rules for our lives and subconsciously dictate our behavior, then we have to accept the consequences. Or, we could just name and shame them, then catch ourselves in the act and correct it. What follows is a liberation from our tainted subconscious that allows us to move forward with confidence. Seems like a no-brainer, even for someone with limited intelligence, like me!