Ever wonder why some of your dreams go unfulfilled? Do you daydream about writing a book, taking an exotic trip, or starting a business, but stall out? Have you started a project that’s really important to you, but never finished?
You may have hit a wall called Resistance – and learning to move past it is the secret sauce on how to be more confident in your work and life.
Steven Pressfield, author of the masterpiece, Do the Work, puts it this way:
“Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
The closer you come to your purpose and potential – your destiny – the more Resistance you will face.
In fact, there is no greater indication that you are on the right track and that your goals and dreams are worth pursuing than an encounter with Resistance.
You’ve felt Resistance many times, but may not have recognized it for what it is.
What is Resistance?
Resistance comes in many forms.
Resistance can be the self limiting beliefs and doubts, our “chattering brain” that tells us stories about our past experiences.
It’s fear and procrastination, excuse-making, blaming ourselves and others as our dreams go unfulfilled.
It’s a scarcity mentality that says you don’t have the resources or power you need to achieve your goals. For some of us, it’s become an automatic way of thinking, so insidious, we don’t even recognize it.
This automation reminds me of a company I co-launched, an enterprise software company that automated and integrated business processes between (and later within) companies that resulted in extraordinary efficiencies and profit.
Our first tagline was “Automate the Web!” It implied the benefit of programming that automates complex processes.
In the same way that we programmed software to automate processes, all of us program our minds with automatic ways of thinking about our lives, our circumstances, and other people, but not always to our benefit.
We’ve programmed fear and doubt, and we don’t take the time to examine and challenge the beliefs that limit us. (For specific examples on that, see #6 below)
We don’t realize that we can choose how to “program” what we think and believe about our circumstances – we can program our thinking to take advantage of the considerable resources within and around us, or we can choose to program our minds with self-limiting beliefs.
Resistance doesn’t tell the truth. In fact, it’s aim is to obscure what IS true about you and your possibilities. You already have enough of what you need to take steps and achieve your dreams.
How do you recognize Resistance in your life?
How do you identify the self-limiting beliefs that blur your vision for your life, stall your progress, or that may be at the heart of procrastination or your lack of consistency?
One simple way I’ve recently discovered is to do regular reviews of my goals and ask 6 questions about what actually happened. I do this every week, quarter, and annually. For years, I’d done this in business; I have no explanation as to why it took me so long to do this for my own life!
What better way for you to gain clarity on your life’s goals and uncover what his holding you back than to do a review? You will find hidden pockets of insight and encouragement, and you will also be surprised at what you discover has been holding you back.
Here are Six Questions to Defeat Self-Limiting Beliefs:
To get started, set aside some time (with no interruptions) this week to look back on the past 3, 6 or 12 months of your life, and ask these key questions, which were inspired by Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.
Write down your answers – you’ll see why.
For each question, I’ve included a sample answer from my own review to help spur your thinking. My review looked at the past 12 months.
1. What 3 – 5 areas of accomplishment was I proudest of?
Embrace and appreciate your wins!
Me: I was glad to launch a new company, Pocket Mentor. After thinking about it for over a year, I finally took action.
2. What were the hard things that didn’t go the way I expected?
Me: I had a sore back for several months and waited too long to get it treated. I could have found relief sooner.
3. What was missing from this past year (or the timeframe you are examining)?
Me: I realized that I needed more margin to think and plan, more time for fun, and friendships. There were times I needed to stop working and enjoy the moments, like when our family took a vacation, and I worked for part of it. Does that sound familiar?!
4. Were there two or three major themes that repeated throughout the year?
Me: My answer one year was that I had taken on too many projects and overcommitted, so I didn’t feel like I gave anything the quality of attention it needed.
5. What were the lessons I learned?
Me: I wrote, “If I keep moving forward, answers often appear.” Taking action helps me get past a stall. This is a lesson I need to remind myself of, often!
By reviewing your experiences and perceptions about what happened in the recent past, you have identified things you’d like to repeat, and those you don’t.
6. Looking back on the year, what were your top five self limiting beliefs?
This is a big step. Often, these beliefs have usually originated through a past, perhaps disappointing, experience.
They often begin with,
- “I always, I coulda,.. woulda,.. shoulda…”
- “If only he would be more helpful, I could have…”
- “My boss never listens to me, she doesn’t care about us!”
- “I’m just not good at…”
- “The people I work with are too…for me to…”
It’s too easy to be negative about past mistakes or disappointments. What you focus on grows. Instead of reminding yourself how wrong the experience was, ask yourself what you learned. We gain so much from our struggles – often our struggles are the defining experiences that make us who we are in the best sense – our disappointments give us skills, insights, empathy, and so much more. Why not gain some forward momentum for yourself and find what you gained from the experience?
Me: One of my self limiting beliefs ironically occurs when I have an epiphany of some sort. I feel instant joy at learning something that moves me forward, but then I immediately think, “I should have known this already. Now I’m too far behind and I will never catch up. I’ve missed out!”
Can you see how limiting that is? Instead of taking my new knowledge and applying it, I can get stuck in regrets that simply aren’t true. I have wrestled that false narrative to the ground more than once.
And when I challenge the false story, the self-limiting belief, there is a benefit every time. Reflecting on what you gained from your past disappointments removes their power. After a disappointment or loss, it would be easy to think that we shouldn’t try anything big or daring.
I’ve found that I’ve gained far more than I lost after a “loss.” Like the time I lost an election – Yes, I ran for public office! That is another story. Yet, in the days and years that followed, huge professional opportunities opened up to me as a result of the relationships I forged in the campaign. At the time, I had no idea this would be a result of stepping out like that.
I love Arianna Huffington’s observation:
“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
After you have listed your top five self limiting beliefs from last year, look at them again.
When I have done this, I have realized that they don’t have as much power.
By writing down your self limiting beliefs, you are recognizing them. Self-limiting beliefs are powerful when they are unexamined – so uncover yours today, wrestle them to the ground and move forward. And do reviews often – use these six questions and book time for yourself to do this in your calendar.