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How to quiet your inner critic and overcome your limiting beliefs

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You finally get some courage to do that one thing that has been sitting on your never-ending to-do list when you hear that faint but clear voice in your head that whispers “why even try, you’re not good enough”… or “you will never be able to be as great as them, it’s so easy for them.”

Then, you feel your anxiety rising. Your heart rate speeds up out of nowhere and you notice that it’s a bit harder to breathe normally. The feelings start to take over, becoming more intense as the voice gets louder. Sound familiar?

Yes, I know all too well the screams of an annoying inner critic. An inner critic who is there to remind you of every negative thing that has happened to you in your past, every mistake you have made, and the long laundry list of things that could go wrong, but more than likely won’t. For you, this may be fear of rejection, judgment, or failure.

Anxiety certainly has its place, like when there is potential danger or when you have a big decision to make and even when there is so much uncertainty that you don’t know what to do with.

Anxiety hurts us when it stops us from taking risks that can make us a better person. Risks that can help you achieve your goals and become the person you know you were created to be.

In your gut, you know that you are capable of more, but these limiting beliefs and your relentless inner critic are keeping you from walking in your true potential.

What exactly is a limiting belief?

To put it simply, a limiting belief is a belief that has developed inside your mind that prevents you from doing something. Whether unconsciously or consciously, you believe this belief to be true and it limits you in some way.

Limiting beliefs can show up in many different ways. They can limit the types of opportunities you go for. A limiting belief affects how you view yourself, your position, and your interactions with others, and influences your perception of the situations that happen in your life.

For example, you might have the limiting belief that “nothing good ever happens for me.” The next day, your tires pop on the way to work and you now have an unexpected bill. This situation reinforces your preexisting belief that nothing good ever happens to you. With this limiting belief, it would be hard for you to see that you have an amazing group of friends and a job that you absolutely love because you see the world through the lens of your limiting belief. Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for experiences that fulfill this limiting belief, creating a negative cycle that impacts your emotions and behaviors.

So, where do limiting beliefs come from anyways? Glad you asked.

They can develop from family members and early caretakers. If your caregiver only gave you attention when you did great in school or made the sports team, then you may have developed a belief that love is conditional and that others only love you when you are achieving something. This need for achievement could continue into adulthood and may make you a key candidate for the hustle culture mentality — I have my own thoughts about hustle culture and will share them with you at another time.

Experiences can also shape your limiting beliefs and give fuel to your inner critic. We are constantly processing information from everything we go through in life. This could be a job that you really wanted and you did not get or maybe you went through an unexpected breakup. These experiences may have led you to think “Why should I bother trying? I am going to get rejected anyway.” The feelings and thoughts become unrelated to the specific experience but develop into a roadmap of rules that influence the way that you live your life. You might choose not to apply for a job, pursue a passion, or try to date someone you see as ‘out of your league’ because you think you won’t be successful.

So, now for the part that we’ve all been waiting for. How the hell do I challenge and overcome these beliefs?

Think of any negative words that you constantly say to yourself.

Think of the things you say to yourself when you make a mistake or make a decision that didn’t go the way you had expected. What thoughts come up for you when you feel rejected or want to apply for that new position?

Think of specific times when you felt each limiting belief.

This one may take a little more time to dig deep and reflect. For each limiting belief, list the experiences that reinforced that belief about yourself and the ways you interact with others.

Reflect on where you feel these limiting beliefs started.

Think back to your childhood. Reflect on your relationships with family members and how things were communicated. What were your experiences with other kids or your siblings? Does anything stick out to you about those relationships and interactions?

Challenge the limiting belief.

For each limiting belief, write down the complete opposite. For example, if one of your limiting beliefs is “no one cares what I have to say”, write down all the times others have listened to you. If you think that you are already too “behind” in life, write down all the things you have already accomplished, even if something seems too small to write down, put it on the list.  

Write down the complete opposite.

If you have the limiting belief that “you are behind in life”, write down a phrase that resonates with the fact that you are exactly where you need to be. Maybe it’s “everyone’s journey is completely different” or “I am embracing who I am and what I am doing at this moment.” It may even help to look some affirmations up if you are feeling stuck.

Rewriting these limiting beliefs provides you with a new set of glasses. Glasses that highlight the experiences and interactions that show you that you are enough, that you are deserving of that position, that you are worthy in your current form, that you deserve healthy love.

How would your life be different?

Think about the areas in your life that would be different if you accepted this new belief. What connections could you make? What opportunities would you go for? How would your relationships with your friends and family be different? Would you make different decisions? How would you deal with uncertainty? Thinking about your new lens and visualizing the impact of changing your limiting beliefs serves as motivation to continue to challenge them.

Tackling limiting beliefs is not only for the purpose of quieting the voices in your head, but also changing the direction of your life. How we view ourselves is directly related to the way we navigate this world of ours.

Your inner critic may question what will happen if you change. I am going to ask you what will happen if you stay exactly the same?

Stay Mindful,

Lynell

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