Invest in Yourself
Table of Contents
Understanding Excuses & Limiting Beliefs. 2
Working Through Excuses & Limiting Beliefs. 3
Getting To Grips With Limiting Beliefs. 10
The Confidence To See Things Differently. 12
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is strictly for informational purposes. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability of its contents or any omissions.
Have you ever looked around at your friends and family and wondered how they seem to constantly achieve their goals while you seem to be standing still? There's nothing more frustrating because as much as you want to be happy for them and celebrate their wins, it's difficult not to beat yourself up for being unable to do the same.
You're not alone dealing with this. There is good news, though, because you can invest in yourself to ensure you do achieve your goals, but first, you must identify what holds you back.
You have to remember, moving forward, that you are the only person who has the power and control to move forward or to hold you back.
Understanding Excuses & Limiting Beliefs
Are you guilty of making excuses? It's easy to get caught up in excuse-making when we allow complacency, fear, or insecurity to drive us. They will only ever hold you back.
A limiting belief is generally influenced by a circumstance, situation, or event that left you feeling powerless. Both excuse-making and limiting beliefs can hold you back and hinder you from making progress.
Limiting beliefs are often unconscious, they are there underneath everything driving your actions, thoughts, and words. They are quietly shaping your reality and they are creating the gap between what you say you want and what you actually do.
I want you to think about that for a moment. Imagine that deep in your unconscious mind there is a set of instructions or values embedded. This set of instructions is what will determine the thoughts that you think, the words that you speak, and the actions you follow-up with. Your experiences and the situations that you have lived through created that unconscious set of instructions. You created that programming, you embedded it, even if it was unconscious.
If you have had overwhelmingly positive experiences throughout your life, then you are being empowered by a positive set of instructions. However, if you have been through a lot of trauma, experienced a lot of negativity, or had a difficult life, then there's a good chance those experiences have tarnished your set of instructions and may be creating a negative view of the world as a result. That's where limiting beliefs come from.
In some cases, it's easy to spot patterns of limiting beliefs, negative excuses, and emotions because they pervade your every thought and conversation. But sometimes they can be challenging to pinpoint because in those cases we layer the excuse in some form of truth. It makes it difficult to argue against those excuses because there is evidence to hold up as truth.
Working Through Excuses & Limiting Beliefs
What do you want? Why don't you have it? What's stopping you? That should help uncover some of the limiting beliefs and negative emotions hiding beneath layers of excuses, whether there is truth in it or not.
You can work through some of these excuses and limiting beliefs by journaling about specific areas of your life where you experience the most frustration or where you feel as though things have stalled. Then, you must gain awareness of when a negative voice chimes in to tell you that you're not good enough or that you don't deserve to have it all. Pay attention to when those feelings crop up and write about them.
When was the first time in your life you started to experience those types of feelings? How old were you when they first arose? There's every chance it was somewhere between three and eleven years old because those years are known as the imprint period (https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gemma-bailey/the-imprint-period_b_14242854.html). The point at which your experiences in childhood have the most impact on who you will become, how you feel, how you behave, and how you will represent yourself later in life.
This is an important stage of childhood and children must be empowered to understand their emotions and feelings during this time. If they aren't given the opportunity to do so, then there's every chance that child will struggle to achieve their potential as they grow up.
When you look back on those feelings and determine when they began, you have to ask what happened, who was present for it, how you felt, and see how that negative belief or excuse grew from the experience. You need to understand how it affected you at the time, how it limited you thereafter, and how it continues to hold you back now.
You might not have learned anything from the circumstance, situation, or event at the time. However, it isn't too late to take the lesson forward with you. When you look back on key moments you can change it from a negative experience to an empowering, positive one. You can replace that limiting belief, negative thought, or statement with one that empowers and motivates instead. It's making a commitment to challenging old beliefs to spark your true desire.
The negative voice that speaks to you quietly, telling you that you can't, shouldn't, won't, or aren't good enough, is something most people hear from time to time. The problem is when you listen to it you make excuses for the voice and when you make excuses for it you effectively accept what it is saying as truth. You might not realize it, but it's an act of giving up.
You have to challenge those assumptions and you have to look at the stories that you built around untrue things. Assign a new story to the situation and make it an empowering one. Let's look at the ways you hold yourself back by layering excuses in truth.
Wait & See
When a new opportunity rolls around, there's an excitement. When it feels right it's thrilling because you can recognize that it makes logical sense. Yet, there's a voice in the back of your head and it's whispering to hold off, it might even be screaming for you to think on it longer. There's no harm in a wait and see approach, is there?
It sounds like the mature thing to do, but the reason you feel it's right is that you are scared of what may come next. That fear is filtered through your limiting beliefs and negative emotions. It isn't logical, it's fear. When you continue to wait and see you set yourself up for failure because you start failing to recognize the many opportunities that come your way.
If opportunity knocks you have to be ready to take the call. You have to be strong enough to evaluate the pros, as well as the cons. If you get to the end of the process and all that remains is fear, then you have to act appropriately.
You can't sit around waiting for the perfect moment because the perfect moment doesn't exist (unless you make it yourself), it won't come and you will be waiting forever.
Test The Water
Can you think of something you desperately wanted, but instead of going after it, you decided the safest bet would be to dip your toes in just to test the water first? Living in this gray area will only lead to conflict and confusion. But how much you put into things matters, the universe will respond in kind. You will only get out what you put in in any given situation. Are you making a positive contribution to your life?
An obstacle is a milestone, it's an opportunity to endeavor beyond to overcome. You wouldn't run into any obstacles if you weren't making progress. So, when you run headfirst into a challenge or an obstacle, remember it's only natural to run into resistance when you're making strides. Enough of this dipping your toes in, you're either in or you're out.
It's Holding You Back
What do you think is holding you back? You probably spend a lot of time thinking about what you want from life. How often do you think about why you haven't yet achieved what you want from life?
You want a promotion, but what have you done to make it happen? What's standing in your way? Perhaps the company offers no room for growth, or there's no opportunity for you to move up the ladder. Maybe it's worse, maybe your boss doesn't recognize the value you offer and keeps overlooking you when promotions roll around. Perhaps you struggle with co-worker cooperation and people make things difficult for you.
Whatever those obstacles are, I want you to understand this – in the majority of cases, the obstacles that stand between you and what you want, the problem is you. You know what you want and when asked to determine why you're not there you seized on a multitude of excuses.
If there's no room to grow at your company, then you could have moved onto another company. If your boss doesn't recognize your value, then you make sure they do or you move onto another company. If you struggle with your co-workers, you sit down and come up with a plan to ensure their cooperation. Or you move on.
There is always a choice and by erecting these barriers and holding onto them, you are choosing to fall at the first hurdle. Let's work on eliminating what holds you back.
How you think about opportunities (and yourself) directly align with your results. If you believe in your abilities, skills, and yourself, then you will be able to create results. When your negative thoughts are so deeply embedded that you aren't aware of negativity, they will always derail your efforts. You have to make a conscious decision to examine your thoughts and correct the negative ones that crop up. Replace the old one with a new, positive one, and retrain yourself until you root it out.
If there is anything that will weaken your progress quickly, it's a lack of clarity. If you know what you want and it's something different from the life you lead now, you won't get anywhere without first finding clarity. You're stifling your progress.
If you invest in yourself by allocating contemplation time to seek clarity, then you invest in your future. This is a great place to start if you are confused or frustrated about what you want. Create a safe environment or habit that allows you to fully clear your mind to seek clarity. Make it a habit.
Habits, Actions, Choices
The habits you allow to take root result in your actions and choices. It might not be consciously, but it is what brings about the results you have thus far. If you want to shift the results you're experiencing, then you have to begin by changing your habits to positively influence your actions and choices. Once you've spent time seeking clarity with your thoughts you can bring those habits into your realm of awareness.
No More Justifications
Stop making excuses, stop finding a way to justify the position you're in. While there's nothing wrong with trying to better yourself, it's important to understand that by constantly making excuses and justifying your position you are knocking yourself out of the game.
You explain it away by saying it'll take too long, it's just too difficult, I'm not clever enough, no one understands, it doesn't feel safe to change, everyone is struggling now so it's not time to rock the boat. It's all justification. It's all excuses.
You're just going in circles and arguing with yourself and it's getting you nowhere. While your head wants to keep you safe and your justifications sound logical and intelligent, you're only holding yourself back.
No More Blame
Unless you are prepared to be fully accountable for your results you will always fall back into the blame game. When you blame others (whether it's people, circumstances, or situations) you paint yourself as a victim.
When you cast yourself in the role of a victim you are only playing yourself because you convince yourself that positive results are impossible to attain. When you lay blame, you tell yourself that you had no control over the result. You're suggesting that you had no say in the way your life has evolved. Someone else should have taken care of the results you wanted, not you.
By eliminating blame from the equation, you remove the lurking negative shadows that loom over your thoughts and feelings. When you embrace accountability, you become more aware of the many opportunities in your life.
When you know what your goals are you have to think about what it will take for you to achieve those goals. Then you have to rely on yourself to get the job done. It isn't just taking accountability and responsibility for your results, it's also about adopting a positive attitude to encourage success. For every goal you set, you should consider what you need, what skills you have, and who will support you on your path.
Accountability and responsibility walk hand-in-hand. The more clarity you gain around your results the easier it is to take accountability for your progress. Without it, it is easy to justify when you veer off track. When you do that you simply prolong the journey and it takes longer to achieve your goals.
Often, people suggest that there is just one thing standing between your current position and where you'd like to be and that's learning something new. Knowledge and education are valuable tools and something you should consider if you want to move forward in your life. Your school days may be long over, but education does not cease just because you graduate. Look at each of your goals and consider what learning or education you may need in order to achieve your desired results. Plug that knowledge gap!
One of the most powerful emotions humans deal with is fear. It can be an overwhelming force, so consuming that it can feel like you're drowning under the weight of it. That fear, whether it's of failure, pain, or humiliation, can interrupt any momentum you have built and it can shut you down and shut you out from any further progress. Where there is a fear of failure, pain, and humiliation, there can be no forward momentum.
Fear impacts everyone differently. If yours is allowed to expand it may intensify and if it is allowed to intensity then you may struggle to ever break free.
Ultimately, you will either live up to the standards of the people you spend the majority of your time with. Or you will down to their standards. What type of standards do the people around you have?
Think about the standards at work, the standards in your relationship, those of your family, and at home. While it's important that you set your own standards, it's just as important that you evaluate the standards of those around you because those may be negative influences contributing to your inability to progress. Don't keep negative influences around just because you're worried about letting go of an old friend.
Remember, your relationships influence your habits, actions, and beliefs and that is one of the first places to start your self-improvement journey, especially when you want to identify what holds you back to properly invest in yourself.
Getting To Grips With Limiting Beliefs
Let's circle back to those limiting beliefs because that is going to be the biggest obstacle for you to overcome. I'd like to begin with a story. Tammy received difficult news a few months ago. It was the type of news that shook her to her core.
The foundations that she had relied upon her entire life began to crumble. She was angry. She was upset. She was scared. She started to create stories in her mind to try and make sense of it all. She looked at the challenges and possibilities from her past experiences and she tried to make them make sense. Her experiences shaped how she viewed obstacles and opportunities after that.
Challenges are rarely flexible. You have to spend time listening, coaching, supporting, and growing in performance and confidence. Sometimes you will deal with people who are high-performing at work and hopeless when it comes to their personal life (and vice versa). Sometimes people get muddled up and lose their path. That's what happened to Tammy. One difficult situation was enough to shake up her entire world and it caused her to question everything.
She was lost. She lost sight of her abilities, traits, and strengths, and allowed the situation to consume her and stall any progress she had made. The stories she told herself, those made up stories she used to try and explain things, stole her momentum, and started holding her back.
When Tammy faced up to the challenging situation, she had to draw from all of the resources within her to make sense of what was happening. The toughest thing she faced was separating the made-up stories that hindered her progress from the factual stories that could help. Not all made-up stories are equal.
Are you dealing with challenges of your own? What stories have you been telling yourself? How might they be holding you back? Let's get to work overcoming those limiting beliefs. It's time to take control back and start investing in yourself to move forward.
The Real And The Imagined
You have to look back on the stories to understand the emotions behind them. There's this invisible barrier that holds all of your hopes, emotions, experiences, and fears and you have to step through it to determine which stories are real and helpful, made up and helpful, or made up and harmful. By doing this you can gain clarity into your mindset and get a clearer view of the fears that have been driving you (and your decisions).
Take Back Control
When you are caught up trying to make sense of a confusing situation (or world, for that matter), it can be incredibly challenging to remain strong. However, the times when you feel at your strongest as generally the times when you feel the most in control.
You feel in control when you believe that you have a) a choice and b) the influence to determine what comes next. There's a choice when you are faced with challenges and you can choose to take back control.
The human brain craves completion. Control is the main thrust between achieving your potential and altering your behavior. You always need to believe that the choices lie in your hands because only you can activate the choice.
When you do so it triggers motivation and suddenly, you feel a sense of achievement which automatically makes you feel as though you're in control. You've completed something and it sets off a chain of events to stimulate the brain's pleasure chemistry. It might not sound much, but it's a small way to take back control and change those stories you have been telling yourself.
As much as the human brain craves completion, it bemoans uncertainty, especially when facing unexpected bad news, change, or challenges. When you have a good idea about what happens next your brain naturally calms and is capable of thinking through the worst-case scenario realistically. Which, of course, makes it much easier to plan what comes next.
The Confidence To See Things Differently
When you are faced with difficult news, challenging situations, or trouble, I would encourage you to ask yourself some questions before you lose confidence and control of what's happening.
- What control do you have in this situation?
- What can you do about this?
- Where can you seek additional information?
- Who can you turn to for support and guidance?
- What will you need from the people around you?
- What lies outside of your control?
From there, you can make a list of your concerns and fears, as well as recording the facts and opportunities. You will know what can do, what you need, and who will be by your side. When you have it all on paper you will immediately feel as though you are in control. The key to taking control of any situation is to be brave and believe in yourself. Perfection does not exist, you cannot make comparisons, you have to stick to the facts.
Once Upon A Time
We touched on our propensity for telling stories. What's key is understanding that those stories are obstacles holding you back.
Let's address your limiting beliefs by reviewing the most common limiting beliefs that people struggle with.
Deletion is our habit of only paying attention to certain aspects of our experiences while excluding others. For example, imagine yourself looking for your friend in a crowded room. There is noise everywhere, but you focus in on the voice of the person you're searching for. You dismiss the other voices and the background noise to hone in on that voice. We do that with the stories we tell, too. We delete information to focus on a specific piece we decide is more important.
The more intact your story remains the easier it is to ensure it won't hold you back. While deletion is sometimes necessary to retain the important things, it's just as important that you don't let go of what will help you while holding on to what hinders you.
You choose how you view something, but unfortunately, it can be an incorrect view. For example, when you go for a hike in the mountains you might panic when you see what you think is a bear, but as you get closer you realize it's someone bundled up for cold weather. You might see parts of your story that are simply inaccurate.
We are often guilty of drawing conclusions and that is usually on the back of one or two things. I am terrible at giving presentations because the audience always looks bored when I am speaking. We generalize based on our perception of a single event and then we call it a personal truth. By using language like all and always, never, and none, or every we set ourselves up for these unhelpful generalizations.
I'm a really good judge of character. Maybe you are. I can read body language like a profiler. Perhaps you can. We often convince ourselves that we know exactly what someone else is thinking. We think we can recognize their motivations and intentions, the meaning of what they are saying, and how they're feeling. There's no specific information to suggest any of it, we just convince ourselves we are capable of reading minds.
The all or nothing thinking where we seize on the absolute worst will happen or the absolute best will happen. Life isn't black and white, you have to leave room for plenty of shades of gray.
When faced with a difficult situation or challenge it's normal to experience a range of emotions. But when we do experience those emotions, we use them as evidence. Know this – your emotions and feelings are a natural response and they are always valid. However, your emotions and feelings are not always accurate.
You are entitled to them, but you cannot believe them to be true. Well, I feel these emotions so they must be true. Your emotions can be a result of several things. Like, when you are standing at the front of a room giving a presentation and you glance at the audience and see serious faces or people distracted by their phones. It's easy to feel embarrassed and convince yourself that no one is listening or that you give poor presentations. That doesn't mean it's true.
The What Ifs
You're standing at the crossroads. You can see your biggest challenge looming large, written on a sign in front of you. As you read the challenge you notice the arrows pointing down different roads, the arrows pointing to the many what-ifs that are unfolding.
They may be what-ifs that lead to better outcomes, perhaps they are what-ifs that lead to worse outcomes. The more you think about the what-if the more what ifs pop up. Suddenly, you are faced with so many different arrows and roads that you don't know what to do.
That's all what-ifs do for you. Remove the what-ifs and focus on the realistic choices that you have, relieve your pressure, and battle the stress.
You're the hero in your story, reader, and the outcome of your life is entirely in your hands. If you want to invest in yourself and chase success, then you have to identify what holds you back. Think about that as you choose what stories to tell yourself and believe. It's within your power to rewrite it where necessary. It's within your power.
Rooting For You!