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Defeating Self-Limiting Thoughts

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What goes through your mind, what are the words you tell yourself? How do you feel about yourself?

Quietly think that over to yourself right now.

Many people I speak to are constantly limiting their own performance through self doubt, lack of self respect and by choosing to believe the worst from others.

See if any of these thoughts are familiar:

  • I will try but I will likely fail
  • I am clumsy
  • I am bad at ______. I can’t do ________. They are so much better than me.
  • Just my luck. Knowing my luck ….
  • I’ll give it a shot and if I am not good right away I will try something else.
  • There are others so much more deserving.
  • Money is bad.
  • It’s greedy to want things for myself.
  • I’m unattractive.
  • People say bad things behind my back.
  • They don’t really like me.
  • They are laughing at me not with me.
  • If I speak up I will look foolish, better to keep quiet.
  • Oh no, don’t look this way, I will blush.
  • I’m so dumb, any fool would know this stuff better than me.

I am happy to tell you that I have been there. Most of us will think badly of ourselves at some point. This is fine, providing we don’t make a habit of it.

The key is to manage your own thoughts the best you can.

Picture your subconscious mind as a super computer. It is extremely powerful, but programming it is simplistic. There are no error-correcting routines, what you put into it gets processed exactly as you command.

Think about it. Go over the programming you are feeding your brain.

What instructions have you been giving your super computer?

  • Can’t?
  • Dumb?
  • Unattractive?
  • Bad luck?
  • No point?

Consider each negative as a hand-brake, or at worse as sabotage.

“I am going to consciously try to jump this chasm but here is a program I want you to run so that you will make me fall half way across thus confirming my worst self-assessment.”

Don’t think about elephants. Don’t think about the elephants big floppy ears and long trunk. Try very hard to not think about the elephant. Are you not thinking about the elephant? What about now, can you not imagine the elephant?

Our minds have trouble not thinking about a subject. The only way to defeat these self-limiting thoughts is to insert new programming. Positive, constructive thoughts.

  • I can, I will, it is possible for me, I am lucky
  • People say nice things about me, I am popular
  • I’m worthy, I deserve good things, because I am a good person
  • Anything is possible for me

While thinking about good things for yourself, consider the words you use when dealing with others. What do you say to your friends? Your children?

Are you offering support, encouragement, constructive and nurturing thoughts, or do you condemn, diminish and mock?

We are responsible for our words. By managing what we think and say we can achieve more for ourselves and cause less harm to others. Make it your mission just for today to think, say and write only constructively. See what positive difference you can make.

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Comments

  1. This is something I have struggled with more often than I would like to admit. Another significant area of negative input I see on a frequent basis is from our culture.

    I grew up in a family where most people took pride in working for others and “being a good employee” but the option of being my own boss was never seriously presented to me as I was growing up. In recent years however I was burned one too many times by working for someone else and left in the scary world of unemployment. Now I am my own boss and I am thankful I have an encouraging wife who is there to constantly give me the good suggestions. Working for myself I am in a constant state of thinking about innovation and how to compete in a positive way.

    At one time I thought fear of technology was a generational thing but surprisingly I am seeing people of all ages tell me I must be a “genius” because I could do something simple as send an attachment or create a basic spreadsheet. I know we all have different skills but it gets frustrating trying to work with others who basically turn off their brains when they heard words like technology, computers, etc.

    When I start to have negative thoughts that I can’t do something I have to remind myself that when I do the things I love the most important thing is the desire to do it and willingness to try.

  2. This is something I have struggled with more often than I would like to admit. Another significant area of negative input I see on a frequent basis is from our culture.

    I grew up in a family where most people took pride in working for others and “being a good employee” but the option of being my own boss was never seriously presented to me as I was growing up. In recent years however I was burned one too many times by working for someone else and left in the scary world of unemployment. Now I am my own boss and I am thankful I have an encouraging wife who is there to constantly give me the good suggestions. Working for myself I am in a constant state of thinking about innovation and how to compete in a positive way.

    At one time I thought fear of technology was a generational thing but surprisingly I am seeing people of all ages tell me I must be a “genius” because I could do something simple as send an attachment or create a basic spreadsheet. I know we all have different skills but it gets frustrating trying to work with others who basically turn off their brains when they heard words like technology, computers, etc.

    When I start to have negative thoughts that I can’t do something I have to remind myself that when I do the things I love the most important thing is the desire to do it and willingness to try.

  3. When I start to have negative thoughts that I can’t do something I have to remind myself that when I do the things I love the most important thing is the desire to do it and willingness to try.

    Exactly, we have to really try and not allow the fear, doubts, and a lifetime of collected criticisms to stop us before we even start πŸ™‚

  4. When I start to have negative thoughts that I can’t do something I have to remind myself that when I do the things I love the most important thing is the desire to do it and willingness to try.

    Exactly, we have to really try and not allow the fear, doubts, and a lifetime of collected criticisms to stop us before we even start πŸ™‚

  5. Chris,
    Very good post. As many of you, I have also lived through this. When you are living through such negative mental state, it’s hard to come out from that until someone convince your or you yourself get impressed with something positive. I read many personal development books from well known Personal development gurus to clean the negative vibes inside me. Thanks to those gurus.

    Rajesh Shakya

  6. Chris,
    Very good post. As many of you, I have also lived through this. When you are living through such negative mental state, it’s hard to come out from that until someone convince your or you yourself get impressed with something positive. I read many personal development books from well known Personal development gurus to clean the negative vibes inside me. Thanks to those gurus.

    Rajesh Shakya

  7. Get out of my brain, Chris! πŸ˜‰

    Truth be told, I think that most of us are half-convinced that everyone else around us is brimming with the bright self-confidence that they show on the surface…yet, this kind of self-doubt and self-sabotage are probably more the norm.

  8. Get out of my brain, Chris! πŸ˜‰

    Truth be told, I think that most of us are half-convinced that everyone else around us is brimming with the bright self-confidence that they show on the surface…yet, this kind of self-doubt and self-sabotage are probably more the norm.

  9. So strange that just admitting the problem is there makes it easier to deal with. It also helps to know I’m not alone πŸ™‚ I agree with Jen, we think everyone but us has it figured out.

    In terms of how I speak to others, I find it easy to encourage everyone except myself!

  10. So strange that just admitting the problem is there makes it easier to deal with. It also helps to know I’m not alone πŸ™‚ I agree with Jen, we think everyone but us has it figured out.

    In terms of how I speak to others, I find it easy to encourage everyone except myself!

  11. @Rajesh – I am fortunate that my wife tends to be able to keep me positive even when I am determined to be miserable πŸ˜‰

    @Jen – Yeah it is easy to think everyone else has a much better handle on life, the truth is we all have brain burps once in a while (or more often in my case, heh)

    @LaurenMarie – Ah that’s easy then, say to yourself what you would say to someone else πŸ˜€

  12. @Rajesh – I am fortunate that my wife tends to be able to keep me positive even when I am determined to be miserable πŸ˜‰

    @Jen – Yeah it is easy to think everyone else has a much better handle on life, the truth is we all have brain burps once in a while (or more often in my case, heh)

    @LaurenMarie – Ah that’s easy then, say to yourself what you would say to someone else πŸ˜€

  13. Chris,

    I love the way you said “Consider each negative as a hand-brake, or at worse as sabotage.” I agree completely.
    I think this is so true with almost anything we ever do. In my own experience I have discovered it is far easier to see the negatives rather than the positives. While I think we should have realistic thoughts, I do not think anything is truly impossible.
    Anyways great post, glad to see that I am not the only one that deals with these struggles.

  14. Chris,

    I love the way you said “Consider each negative as a hand-brake, or at worse as sabotage.” I agree completely.
    I think this is so true with almost anything we ever do. In my own experience I have discovered it is far easier to see the negatives rather than the positives. While I think we should have realistic thoughts, I do not think anything is truly impossible.
    Anyways great post, glad to see that I am not the only one that deals with these struggles.

  15. This is a constant struggle, especially since our society thrives on teaching people to be unreasonable with themselves.

    Good article!

  16. This is a constant struggle, especially since our society thrives on teaching people to be unreasonable with themselves.

    Good article!

  17. This is so true. We try to never say “can’t” in our house. Luckily we are all positive people, so it’s easy to stay that way. *=)
    Good post!
    -Terra

  18. This is so true. We try to never say “can’t” in our house. Luckily we are all positive people, so it’s easy to stay that way. *=)

    Good post!

    -Terra

  19. @James – I think as humans we are built and trained to look for downsides, dangers, risks, so we focus so much on “avoidance” rather than the good stuff. We have to master our own inner critic πŸ™‚

    @SageRave – Yup, there are people who have the brilliant ability to hold self belief no matter what, the rest of us have to work at it πŸ™‚

    @Terra – Sounds like a great house to live in πŸ™‚

  20. @James – I think as humans we are built and trained to look for downsides, dangers, risks, so we focus so much on “avoidance” rather than the good stuff. We have to master our own inner critic πŸ™‚

    @SageRave – Yup, there are people who have the brilliant ability to hold self belief no matter what, the rest of us have to work at it πŸ™‚

    @Terra – Sounds like a great house to live in πŸ™‚

  21. Great post! Unfortunately experience can actually add to this problem. Failures in the past can limit you, because you “know” that won’t work, even in a different situation. Many innovations are driven by the young only because they haven’t failed yet and therefore take more risks, and are more certain in their mind of success.

  22. Great post! Unfortunately experience can actually add to this problem. Failures in the past can limit you, because you “know” that won’t work, even in a different situation. Many innovations are driven by the young only because they haven’t failed yet and therefore take more risks, and are more certain in their mind of success.

  23. Good point, it can lead to “I always …” thoughts even when nothing of the sort is true!

  24. Good point, it can lead to “I always …” thoughts even when nothing of the sort is true!

  25. Well experience does add to the problem but one should always know that something that happened before can be changed the next time it happens.

    I remember Steve Olson commenting that every problems start from money and sex. Imagine a guy that wasn’t a very good performer last week and is facing sex again this week. Last week it may have been just an accident, but the human mind is afraid of such things so he could be on the road of consolidating his problem (going deeper)if he won’t think positive.

    Great article!

  26. Well experience does add to the problem but one should always know that something that happened before can be changed the next time it happens.

    I remember Steve Olson commenting that every problems start from money and sex. Imagine a guy that wasn’t a very good performer last week and is facing sex again this week. Last week it may have been just an accident, but the human mind is afraid of such things so he could be on the road of consolidating his problem (going deeper)if he won’t think positive.

    Great article!