If I ask you to take up a challenge that is completely out of your comfort zone, something you’ve never done before; what would be your first reaction?
If you would have asked me the same question, my answer would have been a big NO. But this would have been the answer a year ago. Moreover, I would have given you 101 reasons to justify my ‘NO’.
I would have justified with every possible comforting excuse:
- My circumstances don’t allow me.
- I have never tried this before.
- My health doesn’t allow me.
- I simply don’t have the time.
I would have made sure that through my reasons, you understand and realize that I couldn’t take up the challenge. And I would be really happy about it, comforting myself to stay away from something that would have pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Would you have done the same?
Let me share a story with you all – THE STORY OF THE CHAINED ELEPHANT
There was once a man who would often go to the circus to watch the elephants. He simply loved the majestic creatures and used to be in awe of their strength, and how they could easily uproot a fully grown tree. But something that amazed him was that after their performance, these elephants were taken to a ground and tied to a thin rope. They made no attempt to free themselves or run away, even though they could easily do that. When he asked the trainer the reason for this behaviour, the trainer explained that when these elephants were babies they were tied to the same rope. At that time, they were not powerful enough to free themselves from the rope. And now even though they are grown up and strong enough, they do not even try to free themselves: simply because they have stopped believing that they can.
Are you like those elephants?
Do you have such negative and limiting beliefs about yourself and your circumstances?
Let me briefly share with you how these beliefs can unknowingly affect us in the long run.
- THEY HAVE THE POWER TO DESTROY RELATIONSHIPS
The beliefs we hold have a direct impact on our relationships and the way we connect with people in general. Having personal negative beliefs make it very difficult for us to open up or trust other people. Thus, our own beliefs are what hold us back from developing and maintaining personal relationships a lot of times.
- THEY LOWER CONFIDENCE
Limiting beliefs are firmly held convictions that constrain us a lot more than we realize. By believing things like – ‘I do not deserve happiness’, or ‘I am not good or strong enough to do that’, or ‘I will never accomplish my dreams’ – we only end up lowering our confidence and impoverishing our lives.
- THEY LOWER YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
Low self-esteem means not thinking much of yourself as a person, or not holding yourself in high regard. Psychologists believe that underneath feelings of low self-esteem are the negative beliefs and opinions we hold about ourselves. While some people know that their negative judgement of themselves is too harsh, other people hold onto those beliefs so strongly that they can feel like facts.
- THEY HOLD YOU BACK FROM SUCCESS
When we have a deep belief, even unconsciously, it can sabotage our potential through the actions or non-actions we take based on the belief. That then creates the less-than-desirable results that hold us back from real success.
It is true that we all may have some bitter past experiences that make us doubt ourselves, trust issues as well as difficulty in believing we can accomplish a particular task; but it’s all what meaning we give to an event or experience.
Stop believing negative things about yourself and just push yourself to take that first step. Let me tell you how to begin.
I want you to take out 10-15 minutes from your day and write down the answers to a few questions. Pick up a pen and paper and simply write down all your excuses or reasons that you make when an opportunity knocks your door.
I can assure you that reading out this list will make you feel sad, and if it does, all you have to do is simply throw these reasons away from your life. Burn or flush or tear that piece of paper so that you can make space for positive thoughts that empower you.
Some further steps you can take in order to overcome these limiting beliefs are as follows.
- Acknowledge and identify the negativity in your mind by observing the thoughts behind these negative emotions. Any thought that causes an unpleasant emotion is likely to be caused by an assumption, which can be redefined.
- Work on countering these thoughts with positive ones. Simple things can make a huge difference in fighting the negative thoughts – such as meditating, yoga, listing things you are grateful for at the moment, reaching out to people who bring positivity in your life and even just performing the physical act of smiling. Think of all the positive outcomes possible. Feed your mind with positivity.
- Have positive talks with self. Stand in front of the mirror and give yourself positive affirmations. Tell yourself out loud to practice self-love, to believe in your own success and not fear failure. Keep repeating to yourself all positive and strong beliefs about yourself.
- Challenge your self-limiting beliefs. Spend some time thinking about your potential and assessing the assumptions you make about yourself that keep you from living your dreams. This would help you understand the root cause of your self-limiting beliefs. Once you identify them, you just need to bring yourself to question them and really convince your own self that it’s made up.
Lastly, start believing in yourself and everything will seem possible. Believe me, I have done this for myself and if I can do it, then you can as well.
Special Thanks to Devishi Sabharwal.