“Your negative self-talk is like a virus that infects your self-esteem and self-confidence.” ~ Jerry Bruckner
Negative thinking and limiting beliefs do not support healthy self-esteem. They make it difficult to obtain. These thoughts are indicative of anxiety in our minds or fear about the future. They hold us back from feeling good about ourselves, our accomplishments, and keep us stuck in a cycle of negative thinking. As you dig deep into why you believe something about yourself, you may find that limiting beliefs are based on other people’s opinions and their own limitations. You just adopted them. They may not even be true!
How to Deal With Limiting Beliefs
So what do you do about a limiting belief? Learn to hear what it is saying and challenge the heck out of it! The truth is most of these thoughts are not true. They may have happened once or have felt true because of a negative experience. “I’m not good enough for…” due to a past break-up or problem with your job could be one example. Or they may be a fear you have “What if I….” anxiety about something that hasn’t happened yet. Either way, they are not based on reality and keep you stuck in a crummy place. (read: Get A Grip on Negative Thoughts With Distraction Skills)
Detect, Delete Negative Thoughts, Limiting Beliefs
3 Steps for Powerful Change
1. Identify it. Write down these limiting beliefs and negative thoughts. Notice when they come up throughout the day. Keep track of them in your notepad on your phone or make a mental reminder to check-in with yourself to see if and when they did pop up. Write them down! Examples include
- I’m not smart enough to get that promotion.
- I will never make enough money.
- No one will ever love me enough to marry me.
- I am destined to always be unhappy at work.
- I’m not beautiful.
2. Challenge it. This takes a little practice and motivation but is necessary. Start with one limiting belief at a time and ask yourself these questions:
- Is this really true?
- What evidence do I have to support this?
- Are there real life examples to support it?
- Is it possible that the opposite might actually be true?
- What would I tell a friend in this situation?
3. Practice Turning Your Mind. What would it look like if this wasn’t true? Use imagination every time you notice a limiting belief coming up. For example: “I will never be happy at my job.” What does a happy or fulfilling job look like? Once you identify what it could be like for you, it can push your mind in a more positive direction. Look around at others that have or appear to have what you want – the job, the relationship, whatever. Observe or inquire about their path to their current state. Get inspired.
Patience and persistence is necessary. Is reprogramming yourself to get rid of toxic thoughts an easy task? No way, but you don’t have to allow the negativity to dominate. The more and more you identify and expose these negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, as well as talk back to them, the more you are letting go of their weight in your mind.
Start talking about what you want to shift. You can do this by using positive affirmations about yourself and consistently using positive self-talk to build your confidence. Use your friends or an accountability buddy and have them call you out when they hear you going down that negative path.
“The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.” -Tony Robbins
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.