Held back by my own thoughts…
For years and years, I held myself back from success and happiness. I used to put it down to bad luck “bad things always happen to me; life just isn’t fair”
At the time, I had no idea how powerful my own thinking was. I didn’t have a clue that it was actually me holding myself back in life.
As humans we are all prone to “thinking errors” and we all have unhelpful thoughts that lead to unhelpful behaviours.
The key to change is awareness! Understanding how my own thinking was holding me back was vital if I was to ever have the life that I always wanted; one where I was successful and more importantly, happy.
Which of these thinking behaviours are holding you back in your life?
I’ve tried (and failed) on many occasions to mind-read. I’ve more chance of winning the lottery than becoming a mind-reader (and I don’t even do the lottery) however that never stop me.
Have you been guilty to reading way too much into someone’s body language? A yawn mid-sentence must mean you are boring? Folded arms, oh god, they don’t like me. Someone doesn’t reply to a text must mean that they don’t like you or you have offended them in some way?
Truth is, you have no idea what they mean! For example, I always sit with my arms folded, because I have a dodgy shoulder and it’s the only way I can sit for long periods without it hurting! It doesn’t mean that I’m uninterested in what I am hearing.
I’ve also been the queen of making sweeping statements about myself!
- I always make a fool out of myself!
- No one likes me!
- I always fluff my lines when I have to speak in public!
- I always get stuff wrong!
Yup, I used to overgeneralise…lots!
When you start to question the stuff you tell yourself and write it down in black and white, it looks rather, well, silly.
I always make a fool out of myself…. ALWAYS? I always make a fool out of myself? In every situation I am in, I make a fool out of myself? Of course I don’t.
Listen to your inner voice closely and look out for words like always, never, everyone, nobody and everything.
Black and white thinking
Another thinking error I was really good at, black and white thinking!
- If I’m not perfect, then I am a failure
- If someone doesn’t like me then I am a complete loser
Our brains like to make things simple. We like to organise our thoughts into boxes, into black and white, good or bad because it makes everything much simpler. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work the way our minds would like it do, so it causes our thinking a few problems.
Only hearing the bad stuff
OMG, I used to be the world’s worst at discounting the good stuff and only hearing the bad.
I wasn’t happy with the result of my driving test. I passed but I got 4 minors…what did I do wrong? Who cares, it was enough to pass!
I once had a performance review at work, it was glowing. At the end, he said oh I have one area for development… All I could think about what the one, tiny thing he had mentioned in the development bit. I swore he just threw it in there as he didn’t want to leave an empty box on my form! Except, that’s all I took away from the meeting, not the hundred other things he said I was doing really well!
It’s a survival instinct that dates back to cavewomen days.
Making it personal
Have you ever taken life too personally and felt guilty and somehow responsible for something that really wasn’t your fault?
The company you work for loses money – it’s your fault
The bloke you went on a date with doesn’t ask you for a second – it’s your fault
Your friend hasn’t replied to a message – she must be mad at you
Should’s and musts
These are too words to remove from your vocabulary right away!
- I should have more savings
- I should be further along in my career by now
- I should be married with kids at my age
- I must be more confident
Erm, why should you? Who says? Where’s the rule book? I used to should all over myself all the bloody time and all it did was fuel my anxiety.
Should’s and must’s are not helpful or constructive, these small words have a big impact on us, holding us back from the things we really want to be doing.
Using these words is simply a habit you have picked up over the years. Dropping them from your vocabulary isn’t easy, but start becoming more aware of when you use them.
Seeking out evidence
Our minds are designed to seek out evidence to support how we feel. Even if we lack the evidence, we will find it, when it’s unclear we misinterpret it to fit with what we believe is true. Sounds ridiculous right? Well it’s true – you might have heard this part of your mind referred to as the Chimp.
I used to hold a limiting belief that I was thick! It was a belief I picked up as a kid based on how I felt. (Not on any evidence) Because my Chimp felt these emotions so strong, it searched for all the ways and situations when I wasn’t smart and at the same time ignore all the ways that I was intelligent. Crazy right?
Ever felt unattractive and totally miss the person flirting with you? I bet you can remember every time someone wasn’t into you!
Notice these thinking errors in action
Start to take more notice of times in your life when you experience these thinking errors. What are some of the common thoughts you have? Make a note of them so you can start to see patterns in your thinking.
Then question them!
It this true always? Never? Why should you? According to who?
Here’s something to help you…
If your own thoughts are holding you back from true happiness and success, download my free Self-Doubt Myth Buster workbook and finally work out how to get rid of that negative voice in your head.