“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Self-limiting beliefs are common guests in our everyday life, and they do exactly what they say – limit us. These beliefs make it extremely difficult for us to take chances, immerse ourselves in new experiences, step out of our comfort zone, or simply be proud of where we are right now. Self-limiting beliefs can stop us from being the best version of ourselves.
Even though no one would voluntarily choose to have these thoughts, we have little power over them until we start paying attention. According to scientists, most of our behavioural patterns are formed before we are 7, and so is our belief system. We soak up everything like a sponge during the early years of our lives, observing our environment and parents and learning from it. We adopt our view of life from a perspective presented to us as youngsters, and that perspective subconsciously follows us as we mature unless we actively work to change it.
Most of us believe what we are told when we are young. If, as a child, you were told that you are not smart enough, not attractive enough, or not brave enough, these statements might subconsciously haunt you during your teenage years and adult life.
Take Back the Power
The good news is that it is not all lost. WE CAN HAVE POWER over our subconscious minds and limiting beliefs. The moment we realise that WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS, we take control back and start shaping our thoughts positively.
When we start looking at our thoughts separately from ourselves, we become observers. This practice is often used in meditation when you observe your thoughts like the clouds passing by but do not engage in them; instead, you allow them to come and pass without making a connection or passing judgement.
Like Pema Chödrön says, “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather”. Our thoughts change as the weather does, but we are more than our thoughts. We can be the vast sky above it all, watching the thoughts come and go.
I also have good news for those who have not invited meditation practice into their lives yet. We can still be observers outside of meditation practice.
Did you ever notice that around 80% to 90% of our thoughts are nearly the same every day? It is because our thoughts create pathways in our brain, which make it very easy for them to repeat themselves. These pathways allow our minds to take the same road every day, which is why our self-limiting beliefs, fears and negative thoughts like to visit us so often. However, WE CAN CREATE new pathways.
Steps to Train Your Brain
The brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in our body, we have to train it. Like Carl Jung says in his quote, the moment we take control over our subconscious mind, it becomes conscious, which is a game-changer. You have to retrain your thoughts consciously.
When you go to the gym, you set a goal and work towards it. You practice specific exercises again and again to achieve the form you want. The same work has to be done with our brains. We need to practice creating new pathways and new thoughts to achieve the state we want to be in.
Do you wonder what exercises we can do to train our thoughts? There are plenty, and many of them are much easier than deadlifts!
- Set a daily reminder to listen to positive affirmations; you can do it in bed when you wake up, while showering or commuting to work.
- Try replacing your regular tv show with an inspirational video or podcast a few times per week.
- Look up events and talks you could attend in your area, or do it on Zoom! Invite your partner or friends and start building your support group.
- Pay close attention to your thoughts during the day, and whenever you receive a thought you do not like, replace it with a new, positive one.
It takes time and discipline, but these practices will positively influence your subconscious mind, and you will be creating new pathways in your brain.
To kick-start this process, I would like to share a Life Timeline exercise that will help you reflect on what you have achieved so far. It’s a very powerful tool to lift your emotions, appreciation and pride. Remind yourself of what you have done and how it positively influenced your life instead of focusing on what you are still aiming to achieve.
Miracles do happen when you start changing your limiting beliefs. Start feeling better, taking chances, and living the life you have always desired to live by changing your mindset. Once you start changing from within, your environment will change too.
By Claire Brown Kohler with Karolina Petrauskaite