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The Rules That Could Be Ruining Your Life

I am not valued for the contributions I make.

People don’t really like me or want to do things for me.

I embarrass myself whenever I try something new.

Do thoughts like these ever go through your head? If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. For some, these thoughts are buried more deeply in their subconscious than for others, but if you dig deep, you’ll find they exist. No big deal, right? Everyone has their insecurities. However, in many cases, it is a big deal. Why? Because these thoughts could be affecting how you think of yourself, how you interact with your environment, and how you relate to others. And yes, they could also be ruining your life.

Thoughts such as I’m not valued for the contributions I make are what we refer to as limiting beliefs. They are based on situations or relationships that have occurred in our past and, through our interpretation of the event and what it meant about us, we have continued to operate as if they were absolute truths.

What happens when you have a limiting belief buried deep in your subconscious? You create rules to live by based on that belief. These rules were constructed to keep you ‘safe’. For example, if you were embarrassed as a child because you tried to do a cartwheel and everyone in your grade laughed at you, you may have adopted the rule, ‘Don’t try new things in front of strangers’ to keep you from being humiliated again. While this may keep you ‘safe’ from ridicule, it’s also going to hurt you later in life when you:

  • Need to get up in front of your coworkers to pitch a new idea.

  • Want to try out that new ride at the amusement park.

  • Are asked by your significant other to attend dancing lessons with him/her.

If you live by the rule of not trying anything new in front of strangers, all of the above opportunities will likely give you enough anxiety that you’ll find a way out of them. This could lead to missed promotions at work, fewer joyful experiences, and a damaged relationship with your partner. More than likely, you won’t even know why you’re saying no to these experiences. That’s how deeply most of our rules are buried.

These rules can be very difficult to change—and they are impossible to change when we can’t recognize them for what they are. These rules are not based on situations that happened to us in the past. They are actually based on how we interpreted these situations and what we think those situations mean about us. If you took the cartwheel incident in stride and said to yourself, “Well, that sucked. Better practice before I try that one again,” then you avoided creating a harmful rule. However, if you thought, “Wow that was awful. I’ve always thought I’m a klutz and their reactions just proved it,” then you’ll likely form a rule around the experience.

So how can we start digging up these rules from the deepest parts of our brain and challenging them? The place to start is with simple awareness. Listen to your thoughts, especially in situations where you feel uncomfortable. What are you saying to yourself? What limiting beliefs are you coming up? How are those beliefs impacting your actions? Ask yourself what would change if you decided to believe the exact opposite.

Once you start pinpointing the rules that no longer apply, you can work to change the messaging in your head. I am not valued for the contributions I make could turn into I have worthwhile information to share, which could lead to a rule of contributing in meetings when you have something to say.

People don’t really like me or want to do things for me could transform into People appreciate me for who I am and help is available when I need it. The new rule then becomes I will ask for help when I’m stuck.

I embarrass myself when I try something new becomes I gain useful and enjoyable experiences when I try something new and the corresponding rule is now I will accept chances to get out of my comfort zone.

When you begin challenging limiting beliefs and the rules that have been created to support them, your life starts to change. Maybe slowly at first, but as you get better and better at it, the positive impact will amaze you.

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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