Time to ditch the self limiting thoughts
If you had someone by your side telling you ‘You can’t do that, you are too old or ‘You aren’t sporty’ or ‘You were never any good at art, music, dancing, singing, planning, maths - what ever it is.
What would you think?... hopefully you would tell them to be on their way that they are no friend of yours. And yet we do this to ourselves all the time, thoughts and beliefs which limit what we do in life every day. Think about it, I’m not any good with technical stuff. I could never do that. I was never very coordinated, flexible, sporty, I can’t ever be on time, I have no patience, Life has passed me by – I’m too old to do that, I can’t lose weight, give up smoking’,
If you tell yourself you can’t do something then you are absolutely right, you won’t be able to do it – our brain is biased towards the negative in order to keep us safe but this will also limit us and our abilities to succeed at something, The reason for this can be explained by the phrase ‘Neurons which wire together fire together’ . Every experience, thought, feeling, and physical sensation triggers thousands of neurons, which form a neural network in our brain. When you repeat an experience over and over, the connections are strengthened as the brain learns to trigger the same neurons each time and over time and this becomes imbedded. This is extremely positive in that it can help us store information, learn, and remember things, but can also cause problems because negative thought processes follow this same pattern and the more we think about something negatively the more entrenched that thought process becomes. Thus, the belief becomes entrenched and becomes your truth.
We often do this without even really realising it and we often do it out of fear of some sort - of being hurt, rejected, looking silly, failing, having people judge us. Actually, these beliefs mean that our life is so much smaller than it could be because think of all the things we don’t do because we have told ourselves we won’t be able to do them. How about recognising these as limiting beliefs and telling yourself that its o.k to feel those emotions but not o.k to let them stop you doing something you would really love to. Habits are hard to break because of the aforementioned neurons but the wonderful plasticity of our brain means that this pattern of negative thinking and beliefs can be broken.
It’s best to pick the one you tend to revert to most often and work on it by figuring out why you have this belief and reminding yourself of all the evidence you have to the contrary – not just personal evidence but any evidence. Then each time you catch yourself, counter this with a strong image or statement of the opposite – which ever works best for you. Craft your own or choose from :-
Age is just a number;
I can lift that, I have been training for this;
I’m going to give it my best shot and enjoy myself;
If I plan it properly there is no reason it will fail – and even if it does failure is just an event, it doesn’t define me;
I don’t care that I don’t win the race, I’m having fun;
Or my own personal thought when someone says ‘Sure we are 50 now, we are too old to be doing X or Y; then I say ‘Fe** that, I’m giving it a go’.
I was married before I met Dominic but he died at 33 from sudden death and it was like my life went into freeze frame and everything stopped for a very long time but eventually I had to make a decision about surviving and having the life I wanted and pursuing a new track, new interests, new hobbies as a single person. No longer a married person with my old map of what I thought my life would be, I had to embark on a new journey all by myself. I had great friends and family who cared and tended for me but I had to essentially do things by myself again. I went on holidays on my own, I moved to a new city on my own, I learnt a new language – was I terrified – Yes, Often, Did I worry about being on my own, Yes, often but I learnt something which acted as a powerful motivator for me to lessen the fear. I used to say to myself, what is the worst thing that can happen – you won’t like it? – sure you can come home if you don’t. You will pronounce something wrong? Sure they will get over that. I learnt to not let any self limiting beliefs or fear of failure get in my way and every day I do my best to live my life like that and not stop myself from doing something I like just because I might fail, look silly, not like it after all. And for anyone who has seen me in the gym work on my toes to bar or the much sought after strict chin up, will know what I’m still failing but always trying.
Written by Grainne Parker