Tag Archives: self limiting beliefs

How to face your fears

 

fears photo

How to face your fears

What are you afraid of? Do you avoid relationships because you fear rejection? Do you avoid job interviews as you worry you will fail? Fear is everywhere but it’s mostly in our minds. I know that seems a contradiction but it is only when you face your fears that you will realise that fear exists mainly in our minds.

We have a choice about how we want to view things in life. We can see the world as a scary place where others can’t be trusted and people are out to get us, or we can accept that parts of life are like that but we can still carry on and live life without allowing self limiting beliefs to limit our opportunities.

When you face your fears, you break down the huge threat that exists in your mind (eg. I will never be able to do that, that person is better than me, no one will ever love me, I am not good enough to do that, I will embarrass myself, no one understands me, I am the only one who is alone etc) and you build up confidence in your ability to cope with the tough times and your fears.

How to face your fears

Make a list of the things you fear. For example: talking to a stranger, opening up to your partner, going to the gym, etc

Rate each fear out of ten. Ten being the most stressful, one being the least stressful.

Example: Speaking to someone on the phone  2/10

Go shopping when there’s lots of people          4/10

Speak to a stranger                                               6/10

Ask my boss for a raise                                        7/10

Being assertive with a friend                               9/10

Telling my partner how I really feel                    10/10

Start with the lowest rated fears and begin working your way up. It’s all about baby steps. The more you face your fears the less you will fear them. Either, the worst won’t happen as you probably worry about and even if it doesn’t go well, you will be challenging the fearful thoughts and showing yourself that you can still cope.

Each step requires repetition so do each one regularly. The more you do it the less it will create fear for you. The less we fear the more opportunities we get in life.

If you think you would find it difficult to try the above steps on your own, speak to a Cognitive Behavioural therapist who can help you through the process. I have done it and it works!

Mandy X

 

Thoughts on core beliefs

 

core beliefs

Thoughts on core beliefs

We all look at the world differently but it is easy to believe that others see things the same way we do. Two people can have the same experience but come away from that with a very different reaction/thought process. We all interpret the world differently according to our upbringings, genetics and past experiences.

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that can be hard to shake. Often, they are dysfunctional and inaccurate. For example – someone who was constantly told as a child that they are worthless will most likely internalise that and make that part of their identity, believing themselves to be worthless. Think of core beliefs like a pair of sunglasses – a kind of filter that we see the world through. We are more atuned to pick up on things around us that confirm our core beliefs and will reject or not notice things that don’t confirm our core beliefs. Events that happen that prove a person isn’t worthless may be dismissed as it doesn’t fit. This is how core beliefs can limit us unnecessarily.

How core beliefs can limit us:

Situation: You meet a new person and think about asking them to go for coffee.

Core belief – I’m not worthy = Consequence: Why would they go out with me? Don’t ask them for coffee

Core belief – I am worthy = Consequence: We might have fun if we go out together. Asks the person to go for coffee.

Many people have negative core beliefs that cause harmful consequences and limit their opportunities. They hold on to self limiting beliefs without realising it.

To begin challenging your core beliefs, you first need to identify what they are. Here are some common examples:

I am unworthy; I am  unloveable; I am unworthy; I’m ugly; I’m undeserving; I’m a bad person; I’m stupid…

What is one of your core beliefs? _______________________

List three pieces of evidence contrary to your belief_____________

Beliefs can be changed, that’s the good news. Some beliefs are old, outdated and just not true. Do a stock-take on your core beliefs and make sure you have core beliefs that support and empower you.

Mandy X

How to break through mental barriers

 

mental blocks

 

How to break through mental barriers

What’s stopping you from achieving your true potential or attaining your goals? We all have ideas of how we would like to improve our lives but very few of us actually set in motion the practical steps to improve our lot. Most just talk and never do.

Here are common things that get in the way and create obstacles to us achieving what we want:

  1. Negative thoughts/limiting beliefs

We all have stuff that our minds tell us that stop us from moving forward. We think about everything that could possibly go wrong, we lack self belief and we experience fear. All of these ‘nonsense’ thoughts stop us and effectively remain as mental barriers to self actualisation.

2. Unrealistic goals

Goals are sometimes set that are unrealistic or too big for us to achieve. You may lack the skills, time, money, health or other resources to reach your goals.

3. Avoidance of discomfort

Often we are unwilling to make room in our lives for the discomfort a certain challenge will bring.

4. Losing direction

At times we lose our true selves and move away from our core values. When we lose touch with, or forget what is truly important or meaningful we can end up on the wrong path and be unable to reach our goals.

Write down everything that has stopped you from following through:

1)

2)

3)

4)…..

 

Now revisit your reasons and label them as one of the four reasons above. Was it a limiting belief (I will fail; I’ll do it later, I’m too weak) or was it unrealistic? (you lacked money, time etc).

Was it avoidance of discomfort? ie. you were unwilling to make room for the anxiety, frustration, fear of failure or other uncomfortable thoughts/feelings…or finally was it losing direction?

How to fix it:

Go through your barriers one by one and work out how you can deal with them. Name the story (the thoughts you are telling yourself), accept the thoughts are there and acknowledge them for what they are. – They are unhelpful and judgmental. Recognise the critical inner voice and simply let it pass – like cars passing on a highway.

Acceptance strategies: name the feeling, observe it like a curious scientist, rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, commit to allowing it, breathe into it, make room for it, give it a shape and a colour.

Realistic goal setting: If you lack skills, set new goals around learning them. If your goal is too big, break it down into small chunks. If you lack resources, brainstorm how you can get them; if you lack time, what are you willing to give up in order to make the time? If the goal is truly impossible eg. due to health or financial issues, or external barriers over which you have no direct influence, then set a different one.

Embracing values to find direction: connect with what matters to you about this goal. Is it truly meaningful? Is it aligned with your values? Is it truly important? Is it moving your life forward in a direction you wish to go?

Using these ideas, write down how you can respond to the barriers you have listed above.

Finally, ask yourself this question: Am I willing to make room for the difficult thoughts and feelings that show up without getting caught up or struggling with them, and take effective action in order to do what matters?

If so, go ahead and give it a go.

If not, consider these three questions:

  1. Does this really and truly matter to you?
  2. If it does, then what is the cost to you of avoiding it or putting it off?
  3. Would you rather have the vitality-draining pain of staying stuck, or the life-enhancing pain of moving forward??

Mandy X

 

 

What’s stopping you?

 

what's stopping you

What’s stopping you?

When you look at your life, do you feel that the life you have is the one you wanted? Often, misery and dissatisfaction comes from the wide gap between how our life really is and how we wished it would be. Thing is, many of us place mental barriers in the way that stop of us from achieving what we’d like to. Let’s see if you are grappling with any of the following:

  1. Negative Filter

If you like to use your ‘negative filter’ too often, you may as well give up now. It is one of the most self defeating strategies that we can use to stop us from getting what we want.

Statements like “It will never work”; “I am too old” or “No one else is doing it” are examples of negative filter. Instead of looking at the possibilities, we focus on all the reason why something won’t work out. As a result we don’t even try. We use negative filter for a variety of reasons. If we don’t even try, we can’t feel embarrassed if it doesn’t work out. So, in the short term we avoid failure but in the long term we remain frustrated and fed up with our mundane lives.

Force yourself to consider possibilities and use the words “Why Not??”

2. Limiting self belief

If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re unlikely to be brave in life. Self belief overrides what others thinks and keeps us on the path that is true for us. When we lack self belief, we are easily swayed by the fears and negativity of others. Learn to believe in yourself more. Yes, you may fail – that’s a part of life but failure is just a learning curve, it doesn’t mean YOU are a failure, it just means that what you tried didn’t work. Pat yourself on the back for being someone who tries – you’re ahead of those who are all talk and no action.

3. Fear

This is a biggie. Fear cripples many of us. Squashing dreams and leaving many cowering in the corner instead of living their lives to their full potential.

Yes, we all have fears and life offers no guarantees. Learn to harness your fears so that they don’t control you. The more we give in to our fears, the greater they become. The  key to reducing fear is to face them head on. If you worry that showing your true self will lead to rejection, set up an ‘experiment’. Test it out. For example – reveal something small about yourself that is quirky or particular to you and that you feel someone else might judge or reject you for. See what happens…either they won’t judge or reject you and will have won a small victory over a long head fear OR, they will judge/reject you – I know the second option may seem unbearable but we almost ALWAYS overestimate the threat and underestimate our ability to cope.

No doubt, if your fear did come true you would find the reality isn’t half as bad as the nightmare versions you anticipated in your mind. Get out there and start experimenting – it’s called LIFE.

4. Too much “what if” thinking

There are real problems in life and then there are hypothetical (What if) problems in life. Make sure that you know the difference. A real problem requires immediate attention – eg. the dishwasher has broken down. A hypothetical problem is something like “what if I make a fool of myself and no one likes me at the party tomorrow?”. It is wasted emotional and mental energy engaging with ‘what if’ thinking.

What if thinking leads to negative filter, fear and lowered self belief – learn to dismiss those thoughts. Say to yourself – “There I go again trying to find certainty and plan ahead”. What if thinking won’t change the outcome. Deal with issues as they arise rather than worrying about something that might never happen.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? I like this question because it removes many mental barriers that we create for ourselves. Live a life that is brave and open minded. See yourself as a winner who is experimenting with life. You will be happier for it. Rather try and fail than live a life full of regrets.

Mandy X

Coping with social anxiety

 

social anxiety

Coping with social anxiety

Do you dread the idea of having to socialise? If you do, join the club! Many people get anxious in social situations, worrying that they will embarrass themselves somehow or not measure up to the people around them.

Cognitive behavioural therapy works well for people with social anxiety as it looks at people’s fears as well as the probability that these fears will in fact take place. More often than not, the fears we have never happened yet we still worry endlessly about what might go wrong. The anticipation in itself can be hell.

A useful technique is to visualise everything going well. It is also very effective to talk to yourself in a positive manner. Say things to yourself such as “I am good company, why wouldn’t people enjoy being around me?”. You may not believe these thoughts/statements at first but it is important to replace self doubt and self criticism with more positive statements. Behaviour that is warmer and shows you as more approachable then follows.

More often than not, it isn’t the situation that stresses us out, instead it is our perception that causes anxiety. If we imagine we will embarrass ourselves and we focus on our insecurities we are far more likely to feel anxious and dread the situation. We can challenge our perceptions though – any time, any place. We always have that choice.

Ask yourself what you are thinking – grab the relevant thoughts. Then ask yourself if there is another way to look at the situation. Would someone else see it differently?

Look for a revised, more realistic version of your original thought.

Example:

I don’t want to be here.

Why don’t I Want to be here?  I don’t want to be here because …?

People will look at me and know that I feel uncomfortable.

And that is bad because?

Well, people will know something is wrong with me…

And what is so bad about that?

People will think I am crazy…

And what does that say about me?

Well, it says that I am crazy.

Become an expert at identifying your assumptions and negative thoughts. Be as specific as you can when identifying a thought and become a thought detective asking yourself questions such as:

Where is the evidence for this thinking?

How do I know that my thoughts are true? Is is fact?

What other explanations could there be?

Is it helpful for me to think this way?

What would someone else say/do in this situation?

The more able we become at disputing our negative thoughts, the less intense the negative associated emotion will be and the more adept we are at looking at what we are telling ourselves, the better we become at discovering our core beliefs- these are ideas that lay the foundations for our negative thoughts and the most common ones I have come across are: I am  not love-able or I am not good enough.

See if you can figure out what your core beliefs are. They often take the form of a “if this..then that” statement. Eg. if I socialise, no one will like me.

The next step is to try find real life situations where we can test out our core belief. Start with a small experiment. Again – more often than not (I have assisted many clients in putting together behavioural experiments to test out beliefs) we find that our core belief is not true. When this happens, our need to believe and hold on to a core belief that limits us lessens. It loses it’s power as we prove to ourselves the exact opposite of what we thought.

Repetition is key – keep challenging, keep looking for evidence and keep setting up situations where you can test out your core beliefs (also known as “rules for living”.)

Tips for a healthy happy life:

Keep a balanced routine and healthy lifestyle

Develop a good social network – the key to contentment!

Develop a good professional network

Expect slip ups, failures and down days.

Don’t let fear get the better of you and remember that we often all feel anxious when we are out and about. especially on down days. Don’t be hard on yourself and stop the high expectations. Learn to live simply and never take life too seriously.

Mandy X

 

 

When we let ourselves down

 

disappointed photo

When  we let ourselves down

We all want a better life for ourselves and there are always things that we can improve upon. We can get ourselves into a cycle of self-loathing when we have expectations about either losing weight, attracting someone from the opposite sex, eating more healthily, finding a better job and so on. The self-loathing occurs when we are unable to attain our goals. Most of us beat ourselves up over something that we have not managed to do. So why are we so hard on ourselves?

We actively stop ourselves from feeling happier when we spend time in our thoughts, thinking about everything that we are getting wrong for not achieving to the correct standards. The question is- who put these expectations there in the first place?

While it’s okay to want to improve, it’s not okay to actively dislike yourself until that point that you do achieve your goal. What a waste of precious moments that could be happier.

Sometimes our self-loathing comes from our upbringings. If we had strict parents who expect a lot of us, we may feel that we never measured up. We end up engaging in patterns of behaviour that we used when we were children and often these patterns of behaviour are no longer valid as adults. We choose what we want to believe about ourselves. How does it help us think the worst of ourselves? Well, it doesn’t-being hard on ourselves only makes things worse.

Instead of labelling yourself “fat”; “ugly”; “worthless”; “unlovable”… it is more helpful to accept that you are human with strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of us. When we have confidence in ourselves, others accept us at that level. They do not ask you where your certificate is in confidence or feeling good about yourself, and believe it or not others are less likely to judge you if you do not judge yourself.

Many of us received ‘false’ messages as children that we have internalised and now use to describe ourselves. Now is the time to reset this…look for the evidence. You will find many examples to refute what you think about yourself – just look for them.

Choose to believe healthier and happier thoughts about yourself. The past cannot be undone but we can update our beliefs about ourselves. The kinder we are and the less pressure we place upon ourselves to be an improved version – the more likely it is to happen naturally.

There will be less guilt and less judgement – who wouldn’t want that?

Mandy X

The rules we live by

rules photo

The rules we live by

Last week during my drive home from my day at University, a new perspective on how we look at life came to me. The idea emerged from a relatively simple event. I was watching the car in front of me and saw how the car wiggled and rose over a bump in the road. Further along there was dip in the road and the car in front of me lowered itself slightly before continuing on. Of course my car was subjected to the same manoeuvres as the car in front of me. It reminded me that we are all experiencing the effects of the physical laws around us. We will all feel that same bump in the road as we drive over it.

Some parts of life however are much less clear-cut. When there are many ways to look at something they will inevitably be many different versions of that same event. For example if someone does not greet us when we treat them, we may come to the conclusion that they are having a bad day. But that may be only one of the possible reasons for their behaviour. Could it be that I have done something to upset them? Or could it be that they just did not hear me greet them? There are so many grey areas when it comes to interpretation of life but there is a positive side to this.

There are many instances in life where we can choose what we wish to believe about something. I have learned that a happier, calmer life involves choosing the most positive option from the thoughts that emerge. Unless someone has clearly given me concrete evidence as to their thoughts or intentions, I’d take it upon myself to select the thoughts that protect me and keep me feeling happy.

Some may say that doing this detaches you from reality but I do not agree. Reality is made up of many different versions. That is why we have so many versions of the truth and it is also why there are so many “grey” areas in life.

Take a look at the rules that you have chosen to live by. Ask yourself whether these rules enhance your life or hinder your options. When you really think about it you will find that you have a lot more freedom to choose the rules you want in your life. Good roles involve self-preservation, healthy boundaries and protecting your sense of self. Rules that are foisted upon you by significant others and society in general should regularly be assessed. You do not have to live a life in chains. The only rules/laws that we all have to abide by the physical ones.

Mandy X

Photo by pshutterbug

stuck in a rut

Get out of your life rut

tied up photo

 

There are many ways to get out of your life rut. When you feel stuck remember that this is a feeling, not  a fact. How have you been thinking about the problem? Are you focusing on how you are stuck and all the negatives or are you focusing on empowering thoughts that help you to feel that it is possible to break free? Switch your slant on the problem and new solutions will present themselves. When we are stuck in a rut, more often than not, our thinking is stuck in a rut too. A stuck record of negative inner talk that keeps us feeling powerless. When we feel stuck it is a sign that one of our needs is not being met. In all likelihood, you need to explore a bit more…

Yesterday is over, you may have made mistakes. You might have embarrassed yourself or let yourself down but it is done now. Instead of mentally reliving something that you have no way of changing, focus on the present moment. The power is in now, not the past. So no matter what has happened. Focus on resolution – what can be done now?

What exactly is stopping you from taking the next step? Do you even know the steps that need to be taken to move you from your place of powerlessness to a place where you feel as if you are back on track? What is your excuse? Is it valid or is it nothing more than a way to justify your lack of action? Focus on the gains and the exciting possibilities that may emerge when you start making the moves to get out of that rut.

Ignore the mutterings and opinions of others. The more you listen to others, the more likely you are to live a life that is less than authentic.  What would make you happy? Why aren’t you chasing after it? If you can’t do it now can you at least begin preparing for it? There are many ways to begin the process of becoming unstuck, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Believe that you are much stronger than you know. Believe that you will be able to face whatever comes your way. Believe that you can get out of your life rut. One thing at a time. Anything is possible.

Mandy X

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it with serenity and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Emerson

Do you have an interesting story to share or wisdom that could help others? Mandy is looking for guest bloggers.Please get in touch via the contact page.

Photo by Bombardier