You think 60,000 thoughts a day. Don’t waste 59,999 of them on limited, negative, unproductive thinking.
A person does not have to be behind bars to be a prisoner. People can be prisoners of their own concepts, choices and ideas. This is how countless intelligent people waste the majority of their lives. It’s sad, but true.
As life coaches, Marc and I speak with these people every day, and every single day the same thinking traps reveal themselves. And not surprisingly, when we bring these thinking traps to the attention of our clients, most of them can’t see their faults, at least not initially. Because it’s hard to admit that the way you’ve been doing things for the past decade or more has been holding you back.
So that’s what I want to discuss with you today – nine of the most common (and heartbreaking) signs that you’re wasting your life in a mindset that’s keeping you trapped, and some tips to help you take a step forward.
Even if you are generally comfortable with your present life, take a look at the list below. As I’ve said, many of the people we’ve worked with over the years, who came to us because they felt stuck, initially refused to admit that they carried these beliefs and behaviors, even when the evidence stacked against them was undeniable. It’s worth taking a few minutes to see if any of these points are holding you back from your full potential.
1. You’ve spent lots of time recently thinking you aren’t good enough.
Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place.
A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind. Know this. There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your dreams and goals. You will never feel 100% ready, because you will never be 100% complete. You’re growing every day. You just have to find faith in yourself right now. Faith means living with uncertainty, feeling your way through life, letting your intuition guide you like a flashlight in the dark.
What if, for today, you choose to believe that you have enough, you are enough, and that you’ve come far enough to be worthy? What if, for today, you choose to believe that you are strong enough, wise enough, kind enough, and loved enough to move forward? What if, as the sun sets on today, you choose to believe that you did a pretty good job? And what if tomorrow morning, you choose to believe it all over again?
2. You’ve been busy trying to satisfy everyone else’s expectations.
Way too many people are living a life that’s not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them… they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them… to what their friends, their enemies, their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice and intuition. They are so busy pleasing everyone else, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need… and eventually they forget about themselves altogether.
You have one life – this one right now. You must live it, own it, and above all, NOT let other people’s opinions distract you from your truth. (Read Choose Yourself!)
3. You catch yourself complaining about things constantly.
Your constant need to complain about those many, many, many things – people, situations, events, etc. – is doing nothing but making you unhappy and depressed.
Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. This may be hard to accept, but it’s the truth. Your life is as YOU see it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking (and positive action).
4. You have a habit of blaming everyone else.
Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your power away and start taking responsibility for your life.
Either you own your problems, or they will own you. Period.
5. You’ve been more focused on not failing than actually succeeding.
You are comfortable with mediocrity – you choose not to try. Because it’s safer. Because it’s easier to talk about learning that new skill as opposed to actually learning it. Because you think everything is too hard or too complicated so you will just “sit this one out,” or maybe you’ll “do it someday.” Because you hate your job but won’t apply for a new one – because it’s easier to reject the possibility of rejection.
Snap out of it!
While you’re sitting around failing to try, you really need to be out there trying to fail, challenging yourself, learning new things and failing forward as fast as possible. Your desire to succeed must overpower your fear of failure. Because if you are too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. (Read The Up Side of Down.)
6. You are stuck on wanting to be right.
There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong, wanting to always be right, even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain in our personal and professional lives. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the burning desire to jump into a fight over who’s right and who’s wrong, ask yourself these questions:
- “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?”
- “What difference will it make?”
- “Is my ego really that big?”
Bottom line: You are an ever-changing work in progress, and so is everyone else. You don’t have to always be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong. Screwing up, for all of us, is part of the growth process. Being wrong and looking like a fool sometimes is the only path forward.
7. You keep letting your fear decide your future.
Fear is a feeling, not a fact. It’s just an illusion that doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt so profoundly said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Know this. Never let your fear decide your future. Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words.
No risk, no reward. No pain, no gain. You’ve heard this before.
Human beings don’t become wise by reading books and thinking about things – they become educated. Living out experiences firsthand in the real world, one day at a time, is what gives birth to wisdom. Ultimately wisdom is what you get when you test out the waters for yourself. This kind of life experience is the most valuable asset you own.
Sometimes on the road to acquiring wisdom life will beat you down, but you have to stand back up. Because nothing is more beautiful and powerful than a soul who has weathered and grown through life’s difficulties. Don’t regret your time, even the moments that were filled with hurt. Smile because you learned from it all and because you gained enough strength to rise above it all. In the end, it’s not what you have been through that matters; it’s how you got through it that defines your life and your legacy. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
8. You believe the best is behind you.
You have to let the past GO! I know, I know… it’s not easy. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present, and the future looks so uncertain. But you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. And the past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was mostly ignored by you when it was present. Don’t do this to yourself again.
Don’t waste your present with a past that has no future.
9. You’ve been actively resisting change.
As Oscar Wilde so profoundly said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
Living a positive life hinges on your ability to accept the fact that everything is constantly moving forward, away from everything that previously existed. Not only do you have to emotionally detach from the past, but you also have to willingly thrust yourself forward into the unknown. You have to open yourself to trying new things, especially those that you may previously never have thought of doing, or had been too hesitant to attempt. This is how you open doors of opportunity for positive growth.
So many people live within the confines of unhappy situations and yet refuse to take the initiative to change their circumstances. They are conditioned to believe that the only choice is the current choice, because it’s the life they know. Their comfort zone blinds them from the truth – that nothing is more damaging to the human spirit than a mind that resists progress and change.
All of your personal growth and much of your joy in life will come from your encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater commitment than to embrace an endlessly changing horizon.
The floor is yours…
If you can relate to any of these points, remember, you are not alone. We all struggle with faulty mindsets that sneak up on us sometimes and keep us running in place. The key is awareness – recognizing these thinking traps and stopping them before they stop us.
So, which of the points in this post do you sometimes struggle with? What thoughts, choices and behaviors get in your way of stepping forward? How have you coped? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: Eliot