Being our own worst enemy is something that we’ve all been guilty of from time to time. Perhaps you’ve put off applying for a job role because you believe you aren’t good enough. Or maybe you’ve avoided going to social events due to fear that you might say or do something silly.
Thoughts like these can be distressing and may prevent us from growing and moving forward.
We all know that some of the best things happen when we’re prepared to take the leap and step outside of our comfort zone. So, if we choose to give in to our inner critic and take no action or the ‘safe’ option, then we may never reach our full potential.
However, overriding our inner critic is rarely an easy feat. Many of us will have self-limiting beliefs embedded in our minds that were formed in childhood, or that are attached to specific experiences that we struggle to forget about.
So, how can you silence your inner critic and start believing in yourself? The good news is that with some time and determination, it’s possible to go from being your own worst enemy to your own best friend. Here are three tips to help you do just that.
Identify the Self-Limiting Belief
It’s easy for a re-occurring negative thought to become so normal that we see it as ‘truth’, rather than a belief that we’re creating. Therefore, the best way to denormalise a self-limiting belief and work on changing it is to first call it out.
It can also help to understand why we have self-limiting thoughts. Usually, it’s because we’re trying to protect ourselves from hurt or disappointment. But in protecting ourselves this way, we can also shut out the potential for greatness.
You can usually tell if a belief is self-limiting because it will prevent you from doing something that you would actually quite like to do. For example, going out for a drink with work colleagues or signing up for a marathon. You might convince yourself that you aren’t good enough to partake in these activities and so, to avoid rejection or failure, you steer clear of them altogether.
But, in order to work on becoming the people we want to be after 60, we need to challenge and change negative thoughts about ourselves. While we might be comfortable in the ‘safe zone’ that our self-limiting thoughts create, it’s unlikely that we will thrive or grow there.
Work Out Where This Self-Limiting Belief Came from and How It’s Holding You Back
Working out where your self-limiting beliefs stem from can be a helpful step in changing them. This is because it can help to show them for what they really are – which is usually inaccurate and overly critical.
For instance, if you believe you’re useless, then consider why. Perhaps you can’t shake the thought of an old teacher telling you how useless you are, and, in turn, you’ve subconsciously adopted these thoughts as your own. These beliefs might then become the reason that you pass up applying for a promotion at work, or the chance to learn a new skill.
But the reality here is that the teacher who said this to you was unsupportive and discouraging, and probably wasn’t very good at their job. Their opinion isn’t fact and doesn’t represent what others think of you. Nor should it shape what you think of yourself.
Another example is if you’ve never really been one to put yourself out there and believe that because you haven’t done certain things, you now can’t. This thought is powerful and could hold you back from saying yes to all kinds of different opportunities; some of which could be life-changing.
The truth in this scenario is that just because you haven’t done something previously, this doesn’t mean that you can’t. It simply means that there could be a whole new and exciting chapter ahead of you that you haven’t had the chance to start writing yet.
Challenge Your Inner Critic and Create Some New Self-Beliefs
The final step in getting on the road to self-belief is to challenge any negative thoughts that you hold about yourself and replace them with positive ones.
So, rather than telling yourself that you’re useless and will never be any good at something, you could try thinking or saying, “I’m going to try my best to do X or Y and see where it takes me.”
Or, if stepping outside of your comfort zone feels too unfamiliar and you think that you can’t do it, then you could replace this belief with something like: “I haven’t done X or Y before so it feels a bit daunting, but it’s also exciting. This opportunity could open so many doors for me, and I’ll never know if I don’t give it a go.”
You could also practise positive affirmations daily to remind yourself of your ability and worth. For example, each morning you could tell yourself, “I am enough” or “I deserve happiness.” It might feel uncomfortable to say these things at first. But the idea is that the more you say them, the more you will believe them.
And finally, it’s important to remember that the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. So, try to work on taking every opportunity to build yourself up, rather than tear yourself down.
As British actor Robert Morley once said, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”
Are self-limiting beliefs holding you back from reaching your full potential? Have you managed to challenge and change negative thoughts about yourself? Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share on how to overcome self-limiting thoughts?