Limiting Beliefs don't have to define you
1. Identify any self-limiting beliefs
Choose one or two beliefs to focus on and try to reflect on the detrimental impact that these beliefs may have had on your behaviour. Do they make you avoid doing certain things? Do they make you feel or act defensively?
By recognising how these beliefs manifest themselves in us, we build up a self-awareness that allows us more easily spot behaviours when they re-occur in our daily life. When we can spot and name these behaviours and beliefs, we have taken the first step to creating a new narrative with new behaviours for ourselves.
2. Consider where these beliefs might have come from
Reflect on what the source(s) of these beliefs could be. In some cases, it can even be as simple as interactions you have had with another individual or an event in the past that have helped to forge these beliefs. When I was a child my older brother made a thrown away remark about my singing. Guess what, I have gone through life thinking I couldn't sing. Despite others telling me otherwise, his remark cut into me so deeply that I believed it to be true and let it define me.
Nonetheless, by looking into the root causes of our beliefs and questioning them – we can realise that the evidence we have previously used to justify these beliefs is flawed, limited or circumstantial and in turn, we can begin to crack the foundations of these beliefs.
3. Reflect on instances where these beliefs have shown to be incorrect
If our self-limiting beliefs are deeply entrenched into how we perceive ourselves, we can find that we begin to interpret current or other past events as further “proof” that we are in some way deficient.
For example, if you have self-limiting belief that you can’t effectively handle team conflicts, you may fixate on any instances where your attempts to resolve a conflict has gone wrong and by doing so, allow these beliefs to become more deeply rooted.
In the process, we can ignore examples that would actually act as evidence against our self-limiting beliefs, e.g. all those times when we have managed conflicts well.
So an important next step when tackling self-limiting beliefs is to consider all the times that these beliefs have been proven to be incorrect.
By re-evaluating the “evidence”, we can begin to redress this balance and perhaps realise that we haven’t actually been fair to ourselves.
4. Explore what beliefs could better support you as a person
Once we have cracked the foundations of these self-limiting beliefs, to properly undo them and make real meaningful changes, we must then lay the foundations for new affirming beliefs about ourselves, which can be reinforced with new experiences.
To do so, it’s best to ask yourself what sort of behaviours you want to exemplify as a leader (and as a person) and then work backwards to what beliefs could best serve you in doing this. This direction will be vital in keeping you focused as you try to create new beliefs and develop new behaviours.
5. Challenge your thoughts
As you seek to develop new behaviours, it’s important that you work hard to respond to the old behaviours and thoughts when they re-appear (which they will). This means watching both your behaviour and your thought-processes closely, and consciously trying to respond to and modify these.
This can be the hardest bit as it is likely that these behaviours will be fairly entrenched and so are bound to show up whether you want them to or not.
The easiest thing to do early on, is to simply say “stop” when you feel these self-limiting voices in your head or find yourself exemplifying old behaviours, and refuse to let these take hold.
The next step is to begin to make small gradual changes/modifications to these behaviours or thoughts. For example, if you find yourself thinking “I am so disorganised”, remind yourself that this is a manifestation of these self-limiting beliefs that are not necessarily based in truth.
Then, where possible, consciously look to modify or challenge this with a more affirming statement such as “I can be organised”. Alternatively, if this feels a bit too much, at least modify this statement to one that recognises that you are in a process of growth and development, such as “In past, I have been so disorganised but I’m going to improve.”
6. Developing new behaviours – Practice and Reinforcement
The final step is to undertake actions that are aligned to the new behaviours you wish to develop. If you wish to develop ways of being more organised, seek out techniques and tools that can help you to do so.
If you find yourself worrying that everything you do must be perfect, try doing a few tasks to a level that is “good enough” (even if you feel it’s not perfect) and consciously encourage yourself to move on.
By practicing these behaviours and making small changes, over time this can lead to rather big changes to your thought processes, your narrative and in turn, your behaviour and leadership. It is important as we do this that we recognise that (like our pupils), we too need time, patience and understanding as we are undertaking this learning and development.
Finally, to complete this learning process, constant practice and reinforcement is necessary to properly embed these behaviours and ways of thinking into our lives and work.
To reinforce these new, more affirming beliefs, ensure that you focus on your new actions and the positive outcomes (which come from them) and use both these as evidence that your old beliefs were either incorrect, or have now become outdated.
If you would like private coaching to help remove limiting beliefs please contact me for further information.