“I can’t do it.” “I’m not good enough.” “I don’t have what it takes.”
Do you ever say or think things like this?
Do you believe it’s true?
Do you feel it in your gut?
If any of these are true then you, like so many people, have self-limiting beliefs.
Don’t panic. We all have them. And truthfully, sometimes we need them. They will knock us back down to earth when illusions of grandeur or unrealistic dreams are the thing keeping us from going where we want to be. Let’s face it, the chances of us all becoming astronauts that go to Mars is just not going to happen.
However, there are many workable goals that we deem equally achievable. To many people the idea of running a successful business, staying healthy and fit and finding love in a romantic relationship might as well be a mission to Mars.
Self-limiting beliefs are going to be detrimental to your progress. Especially limiting to progress that feels good and paves the way forward.
Procrastination or Anxiety?
If you are a person who is constantly doubting that you can achieve your goals, then I’m going to paint you a grim picture of the realities you are facing.
When self-limiting beliefs dominate your life, there are a few ways this can play out.
Some people will procrastinate and just avoid doing what needs to be done all-together. It is closely tied to fear of failure. In their mind it is better to not do something at all, then to try and fail. This is the procrastination approach.
The sad reality is that the procrastination approach is a vicious circle, because you have already failed. You have not tried and therefore know you will never make it happen. It hurts, and it sucks. In the long run, not even having tried will lead to shame and a tightening of the grip the vicious circle has on you. It just keeps getting harder and harder to get out of it. You will trickle backwards and end up a very bitter and sad person.
There is a second way this plays out. You take action despite your self-limiting beliefs. You constantly push forward regardless of all the ugly feeling inside. The problem here is you are constantly living under your own scrutiny of impending doom and failure. If other people are already going to be harsh critics, like your so-called supportive friends and family who are already throwing nuggets of doubt your way, then can you imagine what you are doing to yourself?
We are our own worst critics. And for so many people, this is a huge cause for anxiety. Lots of endless daily anxiety.
So that is pretty grim.
You can either enter an endless spiral into procrastination and misery or choose the weary life of an anxious solo-traveller on a treacherous journey to unlikely success.
The Third Option: Self-Confidence
Trying and failing is a good way to get started. When you have a history of failure you have an advantage over people that don't have those experiences. Failure gives you the insight to do it better next time. We already explored how a shift in perspective can help reduce anxiety if you have kept trying and failing. But...
The idea here is is to explore an option that removes the anxiety from the equation. What if you are only starting out? What if you don’t have all the experience you need to avoid mistakes? Sounds like just another reason to get anxious all over again and walk away from the goal.
No, the trick here is to remove the anxiety from “along the way”. Make the journey more pleasant. Feel achievable. Rome was not built in a day, and it sure as hell wasn’t built with the constant feeling that it could never be done.
We are talking about learning to build your confidence, to overcome feelings of self-doubt. To reach satisfaction in the journey to achievable, albeit distant goals.
Confidence is a skill that can be developed.
Ryan, from the ikario team, used to suffer from anxiety from his limiting beliefs.
Are you like Ryan?
Ryan never let limiting beliefs stop him from taking action. He has always been a doer. He has always had a strong desire to be an entrepreneur. Building, planning, testing, checking and skill development have been part of his repertoire for ages. As is having a healthy pursuit for physical health, mental health and deeper relationships with people. Honestly, Ryan is an ambitious, hard-working and stable guy.
But Ryan has been anxious along the way. You would never have thought it possible. He comes across as a confidant achiever, but deep down inside he still doubted his own abilities to achieve success as an entrepreneur.
"Everyday man. When I started my business it was constant. All the time I had this looming feeling of anxiety that came from that self-doubt"
Recognising this as helped Ryan change. As seen in his interview, he brought the self-confidence he radiates externally to his inner being. He has since calmed his limiting self-beliefs and begun to enjoy the journey, even if unsure of its success.
Comfortable with the Unknown
The biggest change in Ryan over the last while is his comfort within the unknown. Previously he would digest countless books by trusted self-help advisors and gurus. Although building vast knowledge on self-development techniques, he still walked with unease of not knowing what to do next or how to handle something.
Now he moves forward even if he is unsure. He is less agitated and crippled by the unknown, because he is more confident.
Here’s what Shane observed in the time since he started working with Ryan:
“Ryan came in with the most self doubt and self acceptance issues. He would often be unnecessarily defensive about things. He would torture himself about what he should and shouldn't be doing. He has now become much better at doing the thing. Moving forward and just getting it done.”
“He used to be a follower of other peoples beliefs, borrowed opinions from books and people without question. Now he is refining his thinking, being less derivative. He is has become more careful about what he believes and how he expresses that. He's going in a good direction.”
Ryan’s transformation has been significant, and it looks like it’s going to reach new heights quickly. The important takeaway from this is that one has to address the root problem to one’s suffering. Learning the skills to make better videos and sales funnels would have taken Ryan further on his quest for entrepreneurial success, but would not have made his journey less riddled with anxiety.
When he stopped to accept that limiting beliefs was his weakness and treated it as a skill that needed to be developed, things started to come right. Self-Confidence is a skill you can develop too.
Tell us about your battle with limiting beliefs in the comments below.