It is commonly said that we are our harshest critic.
When it comes to criticism from within, look out! It can be vicious! Many of us are always battling a torrent of self-defeating and self-limiting internal dialogue.
Generally speaking, self limiting talk is fairly common. To be fair, I would like to point out that there are some people that have transcended it, and those who have never had to deal with it. However, it does exist and most of us have experienced it in some degree.
In more extreme cases, self-loathing can be quite devastating. Much of self limiting talk can be attributed to family roles and social conditioning. Perhaps you were wrongly motivated in the past. Perhaps you have tried to adhere to unrealistic expectations. Often people strive to meet the demand of others and we tend to always fall short. The truth may be, that meeting another person’s demands is impossible.
Sometimes our self limiting talk occurs because we are trying to meet the expectations and demands of our own ego. Our thoughts and beliefs color our vision, define our perception and how we interpret the world around us. The dialogue that goes on inside our minds can determine our actions or inactions. Thoughts affect feelings, and in turn feelings affect behavior. Every action, whether it is a facial expression, hand gesture or audible response, begins with a thought.
You do not believe what you see, rather you see what you already believe. For this reason, when two people are facing the same situation, one may interpret it differently than the other, or act in accordance with different beliefs and experience different outcomes.
To get rid of self-limiting beliefs, the first step is to identify them. They can become so engrained in your personality that they operate without your awareness. Talking with a friend or someone you trust can give you some objective feedback. Learn to be vigilant of any self-limiting thoughts or ideas that may arise.
You may also want to evaluate the relationships in your life. Are you allowing others to enable or contribute to your self-limiting dialogue? Are you in a friendship or relationship with someone who reinforces your “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” attitude? Once you become more aware, you may begin to see patterns. They can be related to a specific activity that you fear, such as public speaking or performance reviews. When you notice these patterns begin to take not only mental note of them but externalize them by noting them in journal. Many of our self limiting beliefs will begin to lose power once we become completely aware of them.
Once you have identified your limiting thoughts, they must be challenged every time they are encountered. You must consciously reject any thought that you are “limited” in any way. If the situation permits, even audibly reject or negate the negative thought that arises. You do have enough time for another project. You are important enough to ask for that raise. You are attractive enough to find a mate that loves you.
There is nothing you cannot do.
If there is something you want to accomplish, you simply need to find the next logical steps to take towards that goal.
Over time self-limiting thoughts lose their power. As long as you believe your negative internal dialogue, you are giving these negative thoughts the power to stay within your consciousness. Whatever you give attention to magnifies, whatever you do not attend to shrivels up and dies. Don’t be kind to the weeds in your mind. Just as one plucks weeds in the garden, so should you pluck the weeds in the garden of your mind.
Scott Kilpatrick is a Senior IT Systems Engineer by day and a certified RYT 200 teacher at night. Steeped in the knowledge of meditation, pranayama and yin yoga, Scott credits yoga and meditation as the secret to his career success. He considers the exploration of one’s own being to be the single most important aspect of life. Scott is a dedicated father, husband and yogi, and when time permits an avid kayaker and freelance writer. You can find more of his work on his blog, www.thoughtsonyoga.com
Editor: Maja Despot
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