Our mind is such a powerful part of our brain as it controls our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. We operate on a subconscious level so much every day that our actions are automatic. When you wake up in the morning, you automatically head to the bathroom, the kitchen, and then to your car to head off to work. It’s not easy to realise that we’re stuck in the same situation or unable to ‘see the woods for the trees’ as we’re on auto pilot.
It helps to slow down, pause and take stock of our lives before we burn out or become ill. When we take the time to reflect on our lives, we often realise that we’ve been using thoughts that do not serve us. Enter self-limiting beliefs! These are negative thoughts, beliefs and blocks which sit in our subconscious. This is the 90 per cent of our brain which we don’t access as much as we need to.
These beliefs affect our ability to reach our goals, as our brain knows its assignment very well! It wants to keep us safe and protect us from failure, rejection or disappointment. It remembers past traumatic events or experiences that we would have gone through as a child.
To move forward in life, it is often helpful to seek the services of a therapist, coach or mentor. You may find that you want to apply for a new job but don’t take any action or procrastinate without knowing why. This could also be due to low self-confidence or self-worth. But that’s another topic for another day!
Self-awareness is very important, as we become aware of the stories we tell ourselves. We can then start reframing them into more empowered stories. Imagine seeing a job advertisement on your organisation’s portal for the role of Group Human Resources Director. You’ve been in your current role as the Human Resources Manager for three years. What thoughts come into your head?
1.I’m afraid to fail.
2. I don’t deserve this job.
3. My colleague James can do it, I can’t.
4. I don’t have enough experience.
5. I don’t want to miss out on my family time.
How did these thoughts make you feel? Did your chest tighten? Did your stomach knot? Did you break out into a sweat?
These self-limiting beliefs may have served us at one point, and we don’t realise that they have been embedded into our minds. If you were raised in an environment where you were constantly in survival mode, this would have been a very useful survival mechanism.
Have you heard the saying ‘move out of your own way’? Many times, we look externally if we feel we can’t achieve our goals. It may be that you don’t have time, or don’t have the support from your team, or you don’t have financial means to improve your skills. It also affects our health and mental wellbeing. We feel like we’re a failure and become frustrated as we’re trying our best but can’t move forward.
Our self-limiting beliefs have the power to make or break us. Have you heard of another saying that says ‘energy flows where attention goes’? It means that if we focus on the positive things in our life, we will change our mindset, aka beliefs, and look at how we can reach that goal. We become more confident and unstoppable! If we focus on the negative things in our lives, then we find more blocks and barriers.
Instead we can tell ourselves ‘I do have enough experience’. We will then focus on the skills we have already accumulated and identify the gap of how we can become a Group HR Director. We will look at people we admire and find out how they achieved that goal.
When you first saw the job advertisement, you may have thought of the five self-limiting beliefs listed above. When you reflected further, you may have realised that what you’re actually saying is ‘I’m not good enough for this role’. This is the core self-limiting belief, and sits under the five other beliefs. Once you identify the core belief, smashing the others will become easier and easier! It does take time, but you can do it! The more the belief raises itself, the easier you can identify and reframe them.
Think about the core belief you may have – ‘I’m not good enough for this role.’ Where do you think it may have come from? A parent or teacher telling you that ‘you’re not good enough’, perhaps? Do you fear failure and avoid taking action in case you are rejected or judged by other people?
Society told you that you fall into a certain group of people and don’t deserve success. Or a priest may have told you that ‘we must be humble and not chase money’. Did you witness a parent take on a senior role and spend a lot of time away from home? Were they frustrated and complained about their team members all the time? Did one parent spend the extra income the other parent earned, which caused arguments in your home? Did family members think you were spoiled?
These comments and experiences would have become part of your story. They will hold you back from applying for this role as you don’t want to experience any negative outcomes.To help you move forward, you can ask yourself the question ‘Why’ five times. Why is usually seen as an interrogatory question, but this exercise will help you get to the root of your belief.
1. Why do you feel this way?
2. Why do you think you will fail?
3. Why does this matter to you now?
4. Why have you avoided taking action?
5. Why do you feel you don’t deserve this?
Another exercise you can use to help you reframe your self-limiting beliefs is the mirror technique. This will feel awkward at first as we’re not used to looking within and getting to understand ourselves a lot better. Listen to your intuition – it is your soul’s guide. In our busy lives, we tend to push our feelings down, but a powerful way to overcome your self-limiting beliefs is to sit with them. Sit with your feelings – the good, the bad and the ugly! Your mind, body and soul are telling you something.
Learning to become comfortable with ourselves will help us when we are speaking to other people. It could be in a meeting, one-to-one supervision or an interview for the Group Human Resources role! When we remove our mask and step into our authenticity, we show up with confidence, clarity and courage.
We get better at identifying these beliefs as they come up time and again. Another saying is ‘new level – new devil’. As we move out of our current comfort zone, we move into a new one. Again, our mind steps in as it wants to protect us. The more you do this, the more empowered you will become. You will soon hear yourself saying ‘I can do this!’
Founder and Director of FEMINACT (Females in Action), Nazlee Mayhew is also a Mindset and Inclusion Coach, Business Mentor and speaker. She partners with emerging mid-level HR leaders to help them create inclusive workplaces. They learn how to become better leaders by increasing their self-awareness and enhancing their communication and interpersonal skills. Being an inclusive leader also enables them to stand up for those who are afraid to and use their voice to speak up without fear of judgement or backlash.
An Inclusive workplace also helps employees feel valued, appreciated and have a sense of belonging. By learning how to recognise biases and barriers, they can attract, recruit and retain talented people from diverse backgrounds. Embedding diversity and inclusiveness models into their policies, processes, and practices will help pave the way for all employees to have equal opportunities.
Nazlee offers one-to-one coaching, group coaching and business consulting, and organises networking events for individuals and organisations. Nazlee is a certified Life Coach with The Academy of Modern Psychology (2019) and uses the International Coaching Federation’s competency framework as part of her practice.
If you’re interested to learn how you can become a better leader, overcome self-limiting beliefs and enhance your communication skills, you can book a free 30-minute consultation call here or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set up a coffee chat.
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