Imagine, if you will, a field of long grass. Now, for whatever reason, you need to get to the other side. You start walking and eventually reach the far side. Job done. You congratulate yourself and think that when you come back in a few days to repeat the process, the journey won’t be half as bad.
Except, when you return, the path that you created has gone. Disappeared. Swallowed up and reclaimed by the grass you so valiantly beat out of your way a few days ago.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because this tale perfectly represents a process that I’ll bet you’re pretty familiar with.
I’m referring to your response to negative self-talk.
The thoughts of “I’m not enough,” “I’m going to fail, I always fail,” “I’m going to be seen for the fraud I am”, or even, “I’ll start that later when I’m thinner/fitter/richer/better… (you fill in the blank).
You see, we’re very good at holding ourselves back and limiting our own potential for success. Our brains give house-space to negative self-perceptions that are rooted in past experiences, the values and beliefs often handed to us by family, friends and even messages from the dreaded social media.
Not to get too “Science-y,” but these negative beliefs come from the amygdala, that primitive part of our brain that controls the “fight, flight or freeze” response. In giving us the negative chat, the amygdala is just trying to do its job and keep us safe.
But therein lies the issue. Whilst we’re safe and “comfortable” we’re not predisposed to stretch ourselves. (I mean, why would you? It’s called a comfort zone for a reason.) But if we don’t stretch ourselves, how can we expect to grow? To explore? To flourish?
So, we need to control our inner bully. Notice I say control. (Spoiler alert: you’ll never rid yourself completely, so let’s opt for control) And the first step in this process is to be self-aware. Know when your self-limiting beliefs are rearing their ugly heads. What are you doing? Thinking?
The next stage is to reframe the self-talk. Instead of “I’m going to fail, because I always do”, create a counter statement of, “If I prepare well, I’m going to smash this!”
Thirdly, ask yourself this simple question, “Is this the truth?” The chances are, your brain will have no evidence to support your thought, so if that annoying voice tells you it is true, ask for the evidence! I’m going to wager that voice has suddenly gone quiet!
And that brings us back to our field of grass. You see, that field of grass is our brain and our path across, a new neural pathway. It’s no good walking a new path once and expecting it to be established. Only by repetitively walking that “pathway” can we embed our new thoughts so that they, in turn, become new, more positive beliefs.
So, keep walking your pathway to growth and banish those limiting beliefs!