“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” – Roger Bannister
In the last post, What’s Blocking You, we talked about how inner and outer blocks could be affecting your perspective and your ability to be as successful as you could be. Even if you don’t feel like something is holding you back right now, no one goes through the normal process of living without subconsciously adopting some of the inner blocks that tend to get in our way. It’s worth becoming aware of because while you may not feel as though they are preventing you from being successful today, they could be preventing you from being your MOST successful.
Most inner blocks fall into one of the categories called AILs: Assumptions, Interpretations and Limiting beliefs. In the next few posts, we’re going to work from easiest to most difficult to challenge, beginning today with limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are generalizations we take for granted are true. Maybe we’ve heard them so often that we just accept them, or perhaps we’ve absorbed them from people or sources we trust.
Here’s a great example of a limiting belief: up until 1954, it was commonly believed that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. This was such an accepted belief that physiologists came forward saying it was extremely dangerous to the human body for a runner to even attempt it. Talk about a deeply held and widely accepted belief!
But then, in May of 1954, a runner named Roger Bannister did the impossible; he broke that barrier and ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. And guess what; he didn’t die, nor did he suffer irreparable physical damage!
Roger Bannister chose not to accept this belief and instead constructed a different belief system for himself; one in which an under 4 minute mile was possible, and not only for himself! As soon as he shattered the public’s limiting belief, more and more runners attempted the same (previously believed impossible) feat and left even Bannister’s new record in the dust.
How did Bannister accomplish this, and what can we learn from his experience? Roger Bannister chose to challenge the limiting belief instead of embracing it. He had to get his head around the fact that an under four minute mile was not only possible, but also that HE could accomplish it. Do you think that Bannister could have broken that barrier without first believing he could? Absolutely not.
You may not be held back by the limiting belief of a track record, but you’re probably operating under some types of limiting beliefs that are impacting your business or personal life. Do any of these sound familiar?
I can’t lose weight because being overweight runs in my family.
It takes money to make money.
People will judge me as weak or stupid if I ask for help.
I’m not experienced or degreed enough to get that job.
People want you to tell them what they want to hear, they don’t care what you really think.
I’ll never find a life partner because I’m not one of the lucky ones.
Limiting beliefs may be something you say in your head all the time (and are easily recognizable) or they could be buried so deep that you don’t even realize they are affecting you. Take some time to dig deep and try to identify one or two things you believe that are not necessarily true and may be holding you back.
“But wait!” you say, “That’s not a limiting belief, that IS true because everyone in my family IS overweight.”
Keep this in mind, they likely all share that same limiting belief, and use the same “evidence” as truth. Here is something to know about limiting beliefs: the stronger you hold the belief, the more “evidence” you will find everywhere to support it. Start believing something else and that evidence will come forward to support your new belief. It’s just like buying a new car and suddenly noticing that everyone drives the same car as you. Weird how that works, huh?
Now it’s time to challenge these beliefs and construct new more supportive beliefs! Let’s take the example of ‘I’m not experienced enough to get that job.’
Ask yourself, ‘How true do I really believe that is?’ Then look for evidence to the contrary. The evidence could be talking to others who got their dream jobs or even researching famous people who accomplished things they weren’t necessarily ‘qualified for’.
You can also ask yourself where you got this idea from, or where have you heard that before. If you do some thinking, it’s likely you’ll be able to identify a parent, past teacher, friend or former boss who initially put this idea in your head. Once you’ve identified the source, you can determine if that is a reliable source, or is it possible they may simply be passing along beliefs they adopted from somewhere else.
THE single most powerful way to challenge a limiting belief is to ask yourself ‘What would be different (or what would I be doing differently) if I chose to no longer believe this?’ This not only disproves the belief, but helps you move forward in constructing a NEW belief and what operating under that belief would look and feel like (i.e. If I didn’t believe that, I would apply for that job and get it because they’d recognize during the interview that I’m a fast learner with great ideas.)
Identifying and challenging your limiting beliefs is an important part of removing the inner blocks that are getting in your way. Next we’ll take a look at assumptions and how changing our tendencies to predict the outcome can open new possibilities!
In the meantime, if you think inner blocks might be impacting you or your team’s success, reach out and contact me to learn about workshops and presentations to help professionals become aware of what may be holding them back, and 1:1 professional coaching to work through removing those barriers.
Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, understand how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to learn new ways of thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit www.TrishCody.com.