Self-Limiting Beliefs & How to Overcome Your Inner Gremlin

Do you have 'head chatter' that creates fear and holds you back? A nagging voice that takes control of your thoughts, creating a crippling feeling? Do you start to run through scenarios in your head where everything you try goes wrong? Does it stop you acting?

If you recognise these thoughts and feelings you're not alone, most of us have them.

This is your inner Gremlin voicing self-limiting beliefs. While you may not actually hear the voice, it can feel as though you do.

When we want to make change and set new goals it's the voice that jumps in telling you that it's not safe.

Your Gremlin may ask questions of you:

  • What if I don't succeed?
  • What if they don't like me?
  • What if I ask the wrong questions?

Or perhaps your Gremlin is making statements:

  • I'm not good enough.
  • I can't do this.
  • I don't know enough.
  • I'll make a fool of myself.

Our Gremlins' questions and statements are the self-limiting beliefs that prevent us from making changes to our careers and that stop us expressing our ideas and thoughts.

They make us feel that those around us are more intelligent or interesting.

When this voice tells us that it's easier and safer to keep things as they are, we may feel unable to broach important conversations with our spouses or loved ones.

It's often the case that these self-limiting beliefs have been developed when we were young, when we were told that we weren't good or clever enough. This criticism can subsequently become beliefs that we hold about ourselves. We may not remember specific events but our subconscious is able to connect feelings we recall from similar situations and our Gremlin picks up on this, repeating the beliefs in an attempt to keep us safe.

What can we do about it?

It's important that when the head chatter becomes negative we acknowledge that the inner voice is there, and that our Gremlin is rearing its head.

This may seem obvious but it's not as simple as it sounds.

You may be procrastinating, making excuses not to do something, telling yourself that nobody is interested in what you think, delaying things or letting others lead… and this is where we let the Gremlin take over.

Our beliefs are developed from a complex mix of values, memories, decisions and attitudes, as well as our personal environment. It's well known that we really are what we think.

Without self-belief we are more likely to make poor choices, procrastinate, fall into a state of self-pity or even adopt a victim mentality.

Let's try to calm the Gremlin quieting our inner voice.

Explore your limiting beliefs

Think about the limiting beliefs that are stopping you making the changes you want to make.

Try to identify two or three and then answer the following questions about each of them:

  • What is the limiting belief?
  • How does it impact you? Think about the unwanted or negative consequences it's already produced in your life.
  • Where did this belief come from? When did you decide it was true? Think about events or situations where this belief was voiced by others or you felt it developing.
  • If someone gave you this belief, who was it and how do you feel about them now?
  • Where's the evidence that makes you think this belief is true?
  • What will it cost you if you don't change the belief?

Reframing your limiting belief

Now move on to retraining your brain to default to positive beliefs.

  • Think of a new positive belief you can use instead of the limiting belief.
  • Write down the limiting belief in past tense, followed by your new belief: "In the past I used to be/believe that…. This belief is totally wrong/incorrect/rubbish, now I believe/I'm…."
  • For example, "In the past I felt I wasn't good enough to contribute in meetings, this is total rubbish; I now know that what I think is valuable and I can contribute as much if not more than other people."
  • Now say the old belief out loud followed by the new belief. Do this every day for 30 days to retrain your brain).

Reinforce the new positive belief

It's important to visualise the future, more confident you.

  • How do you behave?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What would you see, hear and feel?
  • Close your eyes and imagine a distance in the future, six months, a year, two years from now.
  • Now step into that person and try it out. What are you seeing, hearing, feeling? Take a moment to experience what that feels like.

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