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Change your limiting beliefs

Are your limiting beliefs holding you back?

On the simplest level, if you don’t feel generally satisfied, comfortable, strong about you and your place in the world, then it’s highly likely you will have some limiting beliefs holding you back.

Limiting beliefs can affect all aspects of your life. They can mean you don’t dare do what you really want to, that you think you don’t deserve that job, that opportunity, that you can’t possibly earn more, get what you want. You might think you don’t deserve to be heard. They affect the physical as well as the mental space, creating a feeling of general unease, a tightness in the chest, a queasiness or feeling of nervousness when you are facing a new experience or an opportunity. In short, they sabotage so much of what we could do.

Sound familiar?

If you have a belief that you are not good enough, then it’s no wonder that you don’t feel confident enough to “own your space” and stand confidently in every aspect of your life. When I say confident, I’m not meaning confident to jump up on stage and enjoy the spotlight (although wouldn’t that be OK?), I’m meaning more that quiet confidence that means you are comfortable in your own skin. That you don’t question and analyse what you said, how you did it, whether you said the right thing, whether people will be criticising you. It’s possible you often feel ‘not good enough’ and that you don’t have the right to speak out, hold your hand up, volunteer, disagree, move to the front of the queue, make things happen, put your point of view forward…
Does this ring any bells? Is this what your inner voice is saying much of the time?

Where do they come from?

Often they are as a result of the words of others. These words might not have been meant to land in a negative way, you may well have unconsciously interpreted them as such. It could be a parent telling you “you’re not the best at writing” when you were very little. You could carry this throughout your life, avoiding any opportunities to do anything that involves writing. You may even be perfectly good at writing and people around you now tell you so, but those negative words will drown out anything that you hear to the contrary.
They can also come from rules that we make up about the world. If you failed once to excel in the school running race, you may have created a rule that you can’t run. This could have become more generalised and become a rule that says “I can’t do anything that involves physical exercise”. If you believe this rule, it’s very likely that you will stay well away from anything that might help you stay fit. You may have heard someone mention your accent and you could have interpreted it as a criticism. It may follow that you feel self conscious about your accent and speaking up at meetings.

You can change it.

This inner voice is made up of limiting beliefs that you have built up over the years. Just as you have built up these negative beliefs that hold you back, you can build up positive beliefs that will allow you to move forward into a place of calm confidence. It just requires you to first notice the belief, challenge it and then switch it into a positive.

e.g
Notice it: “ My opinions are not worth hearing”.
Challenge: Ask yourself “says who?”
Switch: Ask yourself “what would be a more useful belief?”. It could be something like “My opinions are as valid as other people’s”. Adopt this as your new positive belief.

Remember NCS – Notices, challenge, switch

I feel very strongly about limiting beliefs as so many of us have them and live our whole lives with them holding us back without realising it. They can affect so many aspects of our lives in a negative way, making us feel less than successful, rarely living up to our potential. And this really doesn’t need to be the case.

Which limiting belief will you challenge first?

Unknown to known : making change easier

Unknown  known

Having the courage to face change

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.

– Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

What is it about change that is so painful? It happens to us all the time and yet we cling on to things in the hope we can somehow avoid it. We dearly want things to remain the same and ignore the fact that change is one of the most constant aspects of life. As Heraclitus said “there is nothing permanent except change” and he was right, wasn’t he?

there is nothing permanent except change – Heraclitus

You would think that thanks to evolution, we humans would have found an easy way to accept change. But so few of us have. Even when we know that a change is going to probably be beneficial, we still do all that we can to uphold the status quo, procrastinating like true professionals. If someone is trying to put changes in place that will affect us, we will resist and complain as much as we can. Do we think this reaction will be useful or helpful? If we actually stopped to consider the consequences of our behaviour, we probably would conclude that we are actually making things worse, but it’s somehow easier to stick to what we know and stay with fear.

What is it about change that we so fear? I believe it’s all about the unknown. It’s a place that is strange and alien and decidedly out of our comfort zone. Our instinct is not to go there, to avoid at all costs. We will even stay in an unhappy or unhelpful status quo out of fear of the unknown.

But why?

We’ve stepped into the unknown before. Many times. And we’ve survived. And we might just admit that in entering the unknown, we learnt lots, we became stronger. Even if it was uncomfortable, we came through it. We have all had a fair amount of practise at it, so we should be good at it. Or at least able to do it without too much thought.

We fear failure. We worry about things not working out. What if we are worse off. We might not know what to do when we reach the unknown. We might make fools of ourselves.

But what if we didn’t fear the unknown?

What if we could think about the unknown as a place that we need to move into and once there, it will become a known. This has happened in the past. We know that once we get used to something new, it becomes a known and we settle in. Or if it doesn’t work out, we mostly have choices to do something about it. By changing our thinking around the unknown, by reframing our view, we can reduce the fear and anxiety surrounding it.

Unknown ⇒ known

If you’re thinking about change or are moving towards an unknown, try the following:

  • ask yourself what it will be like in the unknown
  • what will you need to make the unknown a known? It might be support, tools, training, finance, advice etc
  • what are the risks involved in the unknown?
  • what can you do to mitigate the risks?
  • will anyone else be affected by this change? If so, what can you do to ease the transition
  • what is it that you fear about the unknown? List these fears and see if you can find logical solutions.
  • think about previous experiences where change has happened and you went into an unknown. What happened? What did you learn? Could you have done anything differently?
  • list the benefits of moving into the unknown? Even if you can’t think immediately of any, there may be benefits such as a learning process, a new beginning etc.
  • ask yourself what sort of mindset you would like to adopt as you enter the unknown. It might be one of curiosity, one of courage, one of careful exploration. This should help you realise that you do have some choice in the way you will react.

 

In short, if you do some planning and work out how to ease the transition from unknown to known, your resistance and fear should lessen.

This exercise is part of a workshop and is useful for all types of change. It works well when you use if for yourself or when teams are facing the unknown and you want to help them feel less fear.

Learning from your story

What can you learn from your story?

Considering our own story is invaluable when considering our own life, work and development.  In a presentation on mentoring and narrative, Professor Bob Garvey, introduced the quote below from film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and it got me thinking;

Coaching your story

 

It got me thinking about why I was there, in that room, listening to Bob Garvey, Professor of Coaching and Mentoring at Sheffield Hallam University alongside other experienced coaches and mentors. It encouraged me to consider my commitment to furthering my learning and professional development and my interest in coaching in general. It opened up a host of mini stories that brought me to sit in that chair, each one equally valid in how it has shaped who I am today. Suddenly, I felt like I could see clearly the path that had brought me here, as if a spotlight had been positioned onto my past.  Focus seemed to centre on the aspects of my past that I had enjoyed, found interesting, motivating and above all influential in putting me on this road. I realised the benefit of these and how I would like to do more. We can all feel frustrated or self critical when we consider our past decisions, but by seeing it as a story, that you might read in a book or watch in a film, a new perspective often opens up as we realise that each is a sum of what we are today.

Passive or proactive?

 

All that we do leads us to where we are

This quote helped me stop for a moment and reflect.  It helped me consider what drives me and realise that all that we do leads us to where we are. We can be passive in this and just find ourselves somewhere, or we can be more proactive and actively do things that will take us to our desired outcome. Being passive is always an option and can work well for many.  Being conscious and clear about outcomes brings more purpose and increases the chances or us finding ourselves doing something we enjoy and find stimulating.  This is relevant for our personal lives as well as at work and business.

What next? You can influence this.

Being aware of what has brought you this far can inform you of what you’d like to happen next.  It might be more of the same, some changes or a complete transformation.  It’s so important to realise that you really can shape your next steps, but being clear about what you want and putting a plan together of how you’ll get there. It can be scary to think that you can shape your future – it’s a big responsibility and you’ll be able to blame no-one but yourself. It’s worth asking yourself what the alternative is and whether or not you’re happy with that.

What if

 

What would be the right chair, who would be the right people?

What if considering this quote, you realise you’re in the wrong chair, with the wrong people? It’s not an easy realisation. It could help to ask yourself what makes it wrong? What aspects can you change? What can you do? Is it just a bad day? Or do you want to make some changes? Ask yourself what would be the right chair and who would the right people be? What first steps might you take?

This quote is a great catalyst for some thinking and questioning.  Take a moment to consider what thoughts come up for you. It’s essential that we all realise that we do have some say in shaping our own futures.

Ask yourself if the story that has brought you here, can help you shape what happens next.

To discuss coaching, please get in touch: info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk or phone 07785 996917.

Coaching case studies: Entrepreneur loses confidence on buyout

Entrepreneur loses confidence as business is bought

Steve has enormous entrepreneurial talent and grew his first business quickly and successfully. His company was approached by a larger business who wanted to buy, and wanted him to stay on to run that part of the business.  As an entrepreneur, this was a whole different ball game.  Used to putting plans in action quickly, he found the structure of the larger firm stymied his creativity and he became frustrated.  He believed that he would be sidelined and would lose control.  He was aware that his way of communicating didn’t fit in with the new, larger organisation’s expectations. He contacted me and explained that he wanted to become regional managing director and not find his way out of a job, as he feared might happen.

The group CEO said that his people skills were lacking.  Steve is a strong analyst and quite an introvert, gaining people’s trust through delivering what he promises. He was given feedback from his senior management that he didn’t perform as they’d like in meetings and wasn’t an inspirational leader.  This all meant that Steve started to question his own ability and whether he had “lost his touch”. He became quiet and withdrawn in meetings as a result, feeling all eyes were on him, expecting him to be outgoing and charismatic, character traits that simply didn’t sit well with him.

During coaching, we discussed whether leaders had to be charismatic, extrovert performers to gain their team’s trust. If this was the case, then Steve felt he could not be authentic, could not be himself and would have to leave. As an entrepreneur, he realised he had many strengths that perhaps others lacked, and he decided to focus on these. He soon realised that there are many ways of leading and gaining trust, and that an introvert who communicated confidently but without the great performance, can also win over others.

It became clear that confidence is not necessarily being able to perform like an Oscar winning actor, but that it’s something that comes from within, a belief that what you stand for is genuine and valid, and that you will provide clarity and strategy quietly and calmly.

This took a little practise as his confidence has been knocked, but each time he used the techniques we discussed in our sessions, he took another step forward.  Even though the business has gone through some difficult times for various reasons, he has won his team over and is seeing his strategy play out as he wanted it to. He was made Managing Director and feels he has the influence he wants on how his business is shaped. He is confident that he has the right skills and self awareness now to manage his staff and communicate successfully with the board. The insights he has developed over the coaching sessions mean that he can gain a different perspective on why people do things, which enables him to feel less stressed and clearer about what he wants for the business.

Steve began with weekly coaching sessions two years ago, and now returns periodically when he has a big meeting or issue to resolve.

Any names or details that might identify clients are changed.

Feel a bit of a fake?

Leadership Coaching

Impostor Syndrome – do you suffer from it?

A number of clients that I work with say they feel like a fake.  They dread the moment when they will be found out, and someone will ask them to leave.  When questioned further, they know there is little foundation or logic behind these feelings, but it can be deep rooted and take some work to shift.  These feelings, beliefs and behaviours have been identified as Impostor Syndrome. The term was first used in an article written by clinical psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978.  It is present in many leaders and senior executives who have achieved a great deal and are respected by their peers – no matter how successful they are, or how many times they’ve been promoted, they still feel deep down they shouldn’t really be there. Read more

Guilt – get rid of it!

Guilt – you can reduce feelings of guilt with a little practice!

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of guilt is as “a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation”.  Most people suffer from this to varying degrees. Some may say it can be a good thing as it means we are behaving in a sensitive way, in a way which considers other people’s feelings.  They may have a point when the guilt doesn’t impact their thoughts and behaviour negatively. However, too many clients I work with suffer from guilt which prevents them from doing so many things that would ultimately benefit them and make them happier, less guilt-ridden people. Read more

Self-Confidence and coaching

How do we transform ourselves into confident individuals?

In my work as a development coach, be it with senior executives, managers, company directors or sole traders, no matter how successful they are, 9/10  lack self-confidence.

Outwardly, these people often seem self-assured, but as soon as they sit down , they tell me about their doubts and anxieties. They worry about what others think and many confide in me that they are “just waiting to be found out”. What exactly does this mean?  Many successful people are concerned that someone will find out that they are faking it. They fret about being exposed as someone who doesn’t know anything and should never have been given the job! Read more

Be more resilient

Many people could benefit from working on their resilience…..

Many successful people, be they business owners or CEOs have something in common – a healthy dose of resilience.

They manage to pick themselves up when things go wrong and start all over again. The classic glass half full analogy seems to work for them – they see opportunities where others may see obstacles or challenges. Read more