Lesson #4: Challenge Limiting Beliefs
When I was in eighth grade I had a teacher tell me I was a weak writer. In college, I had a conservative business writing professor tell me my writing was too stiff. Those comments still sting today, considering the sources. When I was forty, I went to a writing workshop given by the brilliant and quirky Natalie Goldberg and left believing I was a writer. Right away I began writing my first book. Since then, I have published blogs, books and articles. But, even as I write, I continue to wonder… Can I really write?
Writing is not my most natural talent. I have to really work hard at it. And, sometimes I have used the critical feedback given to me earlier in my life as an excuse to stop writing instead of working to get better.
Can I really write? is an example of what I call, limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are doubts or fears that get in the way of you clarifying and going after your vision of doing the work you love. Limiting beliefs can stop you cold before you even try. Included are some limiting beliefs related to talents and work:
I know I would be good at coding; however, it is too late for me to learn a new skill.
I am lucky to have a job so I will stay here for another ten years and then do what I really love in retirement.
I love to paint but I could never sell one of my paintings because I did not go to art school.
My boss is preventing me from doing good work.
I would love to have my own business but I do not have the experience I need to launch my idea.
My life has been wasted. I should have moved to Italy when I was 22.
It is my great honor to work with clients every day to dissect their limiting ideas to get to a deeper and clearer truth. This truth that lives underneath a limiting belief is what I call in my work, an empowering belief. Committing to the exploration of our limiting and empowering beliefs always leads to healing and action.
In my own process with writing (and many other challenges I face), I have to continue to explore, develop and test the beliefs I hold because they are so entangled with who I am and I what I believe about myself and others.
For example, I have siblings and several close friends who are, in my opinion, strong and natural writers. My old belief was that they were writers and I was not. What I have learned since then is that I can learn to write only if I write. This is the empowering belief and this is what is fueling me in this moment to complete this blog.
Another tactic to use to challenge limiting beliefs is to do your best to focus on the hard evidence that supports your empowering beliefs. For example, I have had many of you write to me to say that this series is helping you. I hope from this installment, you can see how much YOU are helping me too.
What limiting beliefs do you have that if explored, can help you move into action?
CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods
Laurel’s mission is to help people find their home in the world of work. She has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia. To request a private half-hour coaching session with Laurel, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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