How limiting belief creep in
A friend of mine has just had her first book published. It was signed by a trade publisher who specialises in travel guides. My friend has written a hilarious book about a family holiday in Asia. The book has been released in the Australian, UK and US markets, which is fantastic because it took her many years to write and sell this manuscript. She also accepted an invitation to speak at a writers’ festival interstate, but a few days before her flight she was wracked with self-doubt. She told me that she felt like an imposter. She didn’t belong among those other high-brow writers. She hadn’t even finished school and had no right to be speaking at a renowned writers’ festival!
The story of my friend
My friend is a busy woman. She cares for children and her husband runs a successful business. I had no choice but to give her some honest advice. She simply didn’t have the time to indulge in self-doubts. She had a lot to do before leaving on the trip. Her husband was accompanying her. They needed to make arrangements for the business, as they’d be away for a week and they had to make sure their house and pets were cared for. She also had to write a media release, announcing her appearance at the writers’ festival and do phone interviews with journalists covering the festival. My friend had always dreamed of becoming a writer and her dream had finally come to fruition. She has a book released in three countries! So what did she do? She did what all of us do from time to time – try to sabotage her success with negative thoughts. She told herself she wasn’t good enough and didn’t deserve this good fortune. However I am happy to report that my friend abandoned her self-doubts, and returned to preparing for her appearance at the writers’ festival. Her presentation to a packed house was a great success.
Do you have limiting beliefs?
Does the way you think sometimes get you down and erode your confidence? If the answer is yes then you need to assess what you’re saying to yourself. You need to reject negative thinking and start thinking upbeat thoughts that will prime you for success. Negativity serves no purpose other than to undermine you. The way you think will cultivate either failure or success in your life.
The terrible thing about negative thoughts is that we believe the dreadful things we tell ourselves. You wouldn’t tolerate someone describing your friend as dumb, so don’t let that mean voice inside yourself tell you that you are dumb or unworthy or inadequate. People experiencing depression frequently think self-defeating thoughts. If you can’t throw off the negative aspects of your thinking seek help and share that you are experiencing frequent depressing, self-defeating thoughts. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, never weakness.
Changing your pattern
It is incredibly difficult to change a pattern of thinking, particularly if you have been having negative thoughts for a number of years, or even since you were a child. Were your parents optimistic people or hard-core cynics? Were they negative and always criticising you, telling you that you were no good? Too often our thinking patterns are established in childhood. I came from a family with alcohol problems. It has taken me years to learn how to think affirming thoughts that lead me towards success, not failure.
Changing your mantras
Here is one way to turn your thinking around. Whenever you feel sad, anxious or angry, immediately stop and examine your thoughts. No doubt you’ll be thinking something like “This will never work. The situation is hopeless,” or “this person is impossible and is always letting me down”. What you need to do is flip the thought. Instead of thinking “the situation is hopeless”, take a pragmatic approach and ask yourself how you can fix the situation. If another person is causing you grief, try to step away for some time. Sometimes you need to get out of your head and ask a friend for a fresh perspective. It also pays to keep positive mantras in your head, such as “where there is a will, there’s a way” or “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. If you are feeling defeated say a mantra out loud or just tell yourself, “I am smart and strong. I can and will do this”. You will be surprised to discover that you almost automatically feel better.
Get some perspective
If you find yourself in a pickle, are thinking negative thoughts, stop and ask yourself if your thoughts are helping solve the problem or are they just making you feel defeated. Again, ask yourself what you need to do to fix the problem. Try to get some perspective. Will any of this matter in a couple of years? Is there anything good that you can learn from the challenge?
Everyone needs to set some life goals. What do you want to achieve this year, next year, in five years? These goals need to be at the forefront of your mind. If necessary, write them out and stick them up in your bedroom. When negative thoughts creep into your head, look at whether your mode of thinking is helping to achieve your goals or are you just undermining yourself.
Look to the future
Another form of negative thinking is regret. It is easy to feel guilty or depressed over life’s bad choices, but as Fleetwood Mac say – yesterday is gone! You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. You need to forgive yourself for making mistakes. Everyone does! You are only human. It’s time to look to the future. When driving a car, if you spend all your time looking in the rear view mirror you will crash, and in life if you spend too much time looking into your past, you will fail. You need to look out the front windscreen, straight ahead into your future.
The sky is the limit
When it comes to thinking, pretend you are a pilot and your thoughts are an aeroplane. If you point the nose of your plane down and think negative thoughts, you will hit the ground hard. But if you think positive thoughts and point the nose of the plane up – then the sky is the limits!
ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.