If you are like me, and like many people, your mind contains limiting beliefs. It tells you things like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” “I can’t do it,” “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m fat,” or “I’m a coward.” These cause you to suffer from low self-esteem and to have a harder time achieving your goals than you’d like.
Most of us attribute these thoughts to things that have happened in our past. We’ve been abused, a parent said something negative to us, we had our hearts broken, or we failed… Now we claim our unconscious mind controls our outcomes. As these limiting beliefs and negative thoughts rise unbidden out of the depth of our mind, we react to them in ways that make it hard for us to have good relationships, succeed in business, feel good about ourselves, etc.
Can you relate?
Take Your Power Back
I know I can. For much of my life I’ve blamed my failures on limiting beliefs, and I’ve blamed those beliefs, those thoughts, on past experiences. And no matter how much time I spent trying to understand them or my past experiences, the beliefs and thoughts remained in my mind. Focusing on understanding the past didn’t help, although it did give me some understanding.
One thing has worked: If I remember that I can control what I think about, I can make a decision in any moment about what I will believe and how I will respond, rather than react, to what is going on in my mind. When I do that, I take back my power. I don’t allow the past or my limiting beliefs to have control over my present moment.
You can do the same.
It’s not easy; it takes work. And this approach in no way lessens the importance of your past experiences—or even the need or benefit of therapy. It just focuses on taking positive action and regaining your power so you feel you have control over your life.
Simple Consciousness Process
The process itself is simple, although it is not always so simple to do. It takes great consciousness and perseverance.
You must watch your thoughts as much as possible all day long. You can do this most easily by becoming conscious of your feelings. For example, if you feel your self-worth moving from an 8 to a 3 on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), move your consciousness to your thoughts. What are you focused upon? (Thoughts of not being good enough? Fears about failure?) As yourself what you believe about yourself related to the situation or that particular train of thought.
Once you find the limiting belief or negative thought, shift your thoughts to something more positive. You can use an affirmation, or remember a time when you succeeded or when you were praised for your work, for instance. Or simply focus on something that makes you feel happy and good about yourself. The idea is to control your mind. Don’t allow it to spin out of control and for your reactions to follow suit.
You want to control your responses. If you feel yourself getting panicky while out on a date, for instance, notice where your thoughts are at that moment. Then do something to change your response. Instead of allowing yourself to spiral downward into sweaty arm pits, an inability to speak and a desire to run for the bathroom (or the door), take a few deep breaths, tell yourself you are desirable, outgoing and intelligent (or whatever terms you’d like people to use to describe you). Then behave in a manner that reflects those characteristics. Don’t allow yourself to react to your limiting beliefs or negative thoughts with your old reactive behavior. Choose a new behavior.
In this way, you take back control over you life. Become conscious in every moment…moment to moment, and respond rather than react to what goes on in your mind.
Giving Your Power Away
The other day I spoke with one of my clients about her limiting beliefs. Despite anything I suggested to her, she refused to see a way around them or a way to change them. She was convinced what had happened to her in the past had formed these thoughts and they would be with her and affect how she dealt with life forever.
I suggested that she try to choose a different way of behaving or thinking in the moment when she found herself reacting to those beliefs in the manner she felt didn’t serve her any longer. She couldn’t see how to do this. To her, the behavior was simply connected to her past experiences—it was part of her, ingrained, unconscious, something she couldn’t do anything about.
If you feel this way, too, know that this type of thinking allows you to give all your power away to your unconscious thoughts and limited beliefs. It gives you permission to continue reacting to situations based on those limiting beliefs and to feel powerless to do anything else. It allows you to remain a victim of your past and of your unconscious mind.
Few people enjoy feeling like a victim or powerless. Yet, so many choose this every day.
Like this client—and maybe like you, I, too, struggle to be conscious in the moment and to change my reactions to responses and to focus my thoughts where I want them to be. I still have negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. Sometimes I react to them—more often than I’d like. I’m not as conscious as I’d like to be.
But unlike my client, I know it is within my power in every moment to make a change, to become who I want to become. The first step lies in becoming conscious in as many moments as possible each day and, in this way, in taking control of my mind.
Have you changed your life in any way by taking control of your mind?