What we can or can’t do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our strengths or intelligence. It’s often a function of our beliefs about who we are.
“The drummer in our band, Nick, is legally deaf, and has been since he was born. But he can still hear low bass tones and feel the vibrations from the drums and other instruments. Honestly, he’s such an incredible drummer that most people don’t believe he’s deaf. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself.”
Those inspiring lines come right out of a live chat conversation I had this morning with Amber, one of our newest course members (she gave me permission to share this with you here). Amber is an ER nurse by profession, but moonlights as the lead singer in a renowned local jazz band in New Orleans on Friday and Saturday nights. And as you can tell, her drummer, Nick, is one of her greatest inspirations.
Later on in our chat session, Amber said, “You know, I hate to admit it, but I envy Nick. I really do! I mean, I know I could be almost as amazing as him, in so many walks of life, if I could just silence the voices in my head.”
“What voices,” I asked.
“You know, the voices constantly telling me that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have enough, that it’s too late for me, that the naysayers are always right and I’m always wrong, and so forth,” she said.
And as she got deeper into things, we ended up cutting our chat session short and jumping on the phone to flesh things out and get her thinking back on track.
But the truth is, she’s not the only one who feels this way. Over the past decade Angel and I have coached thousands of people from around the world, with vastly different lifestyles and socioeconomic backgrounds, and most of them suffer from the same exact toxic beliefs Amber does. So today, I want to build upon my recent article on self-limiting beliefs and share some of these with you – 12 of the most common toxic beliefs we see our coaching clients and course members struggle with, time and time again (see if you can identify with any of them):
- “I’m not good enough.” – Embrace all of yourself. When you appreciate your flaws and faults, they lose their power over you. Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. Don’t be one of them. What you experience in life starts with your perception. In almost every case, nothing is stopping you… nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts about yourself and “how life is.” Your perception creates your beliefs. Your beliefs create your behaviors. And your behaviors produce your experience.
- “I missed my chance.” – The truth is, every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. And your next chance is happening right NOW. Therefore, it’s a choice… To be positive and free or to be imprisoned by your own negativity. To live in the past or to be hopeful about the present. (Read The Book of Awakening.)
- “I have nothing to smile about right now.” – Even in the most peaceful surroundings, the ungrateful heart finds trouble. Even in the most troublesome surroundings, the grateful heart finds peace. Remember this. There is always, always, always something to be grateful for. And being positive in a negative situation is not naive; it’s a sign of leadership and strength. You’re doing it right when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and appreciate your life instead. If you’re struggling with this, start by being grateful for all the problems you do NOT have. Let go of the need to complain about life, and spend more moments actually living its beauty. Change the phrase “I have to” to “I get to.” So many things we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do.
- “My life should be easier.” – If it wasn’t for the struggle you wouldn’t have the strength. Life is always building you up even when it seems like it’s breaking you down. No matter what happens, just do your best and make the best of it. You won’t enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy your challenges. Great challenges make life interesting, and overcoming them makes life meaningful.
- “I’m too tired… I’ll do it later.” – “Later” is a façade. Give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got right now. Make a decision. But don’t just sit around overthinking everything and doing absolutely nothing. Action expresses priorities. Write it. Work it. Research it. Publish it. Mix it, sauté it, whatever… MAKE it happen today!
- “I don’t have enough time.” – We all have the same 24 hours a day, which means you have just as much time as those successful, hardworking people you envy and admire. So keep this universal law of happiness and success in mind: What you pay attention to grows – focus on what matters and let go of what does not. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Productivity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- “I have too many required obligations.” – We all have obligations, but the reality is some people will be disappointed no matter what you do. So check-in with yourself first. The more you say “no” to things that don’t matter to you, the easier it is to say “yes” to things that do. You’re not a bad person if you have to let some people down. Just breathe. Show yourself some love. We can’t do everything for everyone in every situation. Do what you can when it aligns with your values, and do it with a cheerful heart.
- “I need a guarantee before I begin.” – You don’t need guarantees on everything in life, because that’s not how life works. Embrace uncertainty! You can be comfortable or courageous, but not both at once. Remember this! Stretch yourself! Don’t let fear decide your future. Some of the most incredible chapters of your life won’t have a title you feel comfortable with until much later.
- “People don’t get me because I’m different.” – When we’re different, sometimes we don’t see the dozens of people who accept us for who we are; all we notice are the few who don’t. Realize this and never let the negative naysayers crowd your better judgment. When you receive negative feedback, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how many people don’t get you, it matters how many do. Learn how to take criticism seriously, but not personally. The way most people feel is because of them, not you. So much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally. In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.
- “I don’t deserve to be treated any better.” – Remember, we set the standard for how we want to be treated. Your relationships are reflections of the relationship you have with yourself. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- “It’s not the right thing to do, but it’s OK if I can get away with it.” – The key is to do the right thing, ALWAYS, even if no one will ever know. Because YOU will know. And that changes everything in the long run.
- “My life is boring.” – This one is a bit more general, but if you’re bored, you haven’t been looking at life closely enough. Get up and open your awareness. Be clenched and curious… not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention to what’s happening around you and within you. It’s all about paying attention. Because attention is vitality. It connects you with opportunities. It makes you eager and teachable. Stay eager and teachable, always. Growth is never boring.
Almost everything that happens to you in the long run is a direct reflection of what you believe about yourself in the short-term. In other words, you can’t possibly outperform your level of self-esteem. You can’t draw from yourself more than you think you’re worth.
What you believe either weakens you or makes you stronger.
The foundation of a happy, successful life is not a set of achievements or a combination of external factors…
It is a mindset.
Lifelong happiness and success is simply an attitude that comes from a framework of powerful beliefs and empowering thoughts. Because what you think and believe about your life largely determines how you feel (your attitude), what actions you take (your behavior), and what you achieve (the end result.)
If you can relate to any of the toxic beliefs mentioned in this post, remember, you are not alone. We all have unhealthy thoughts and tendencies buried deep within us that have the potential to occasionally creep up in our minds. The key is awareness – recognizing these beliefs and working through them before they work their way into your daily routines.
So, which of these toxic beliefs sometimes creep up in your mind? How do you cope? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.
Photo by: Lauren Rushing
Thank you for this article. Just the right words for me right now.
I used to struggle with #6 and #7 – I let all of my to-do’s overwhelm me. It’s one of the primary reasons I enrolled in your coaching/course a few months ago, and I’m so glad I did. You have taught me to breathe again – and I remind myself to do so every day. Life can be hectic, but I don’t have to be. I can be calm and focused and mindful. I now approach every one of my days and tasks one at a time, with presence and joy – not because life is always joyful, but because I now choose to make the very best of my time and circumstances.
Sean Morin says
Great breakdown of proven concepts. Many specialists of body and mind connections teach that your body eavesdrops on your beliefs/thoughts and responds with sickness or wellness. Replace toxic beliefs/thoughts with healthy ones to counter it – this takes guidance and practice, but it’s so worth it.
We’re dreaming anyway, so we might as well make it be a good dream. 🙂
Michael Gregory II says
Thanks for sharing this content with us!
The way our minds and bodies connect is what determines the result of our actions. I’m currently working on ways I can calm myself down after interacting with someone who seems to be toxic and trying to place their negative emotions onto me.
In the past I often let self-limiting beliefs get the best of me in so many ways, and it was extremely toxic to my wellbeing and my relationships. I let the little negative voices in my head run rampant. They basically scared me out of living and growing to my potential in almost all walks of life.
The truth is that listening to your own lies and refusing to admit that they are nonsense is a sure road to frustration and depression.
These days I’ve been calling myself out and have become much better at stating the truth in my head. In most cases: “I’m not doing these things because I am SCARED, not because I don’t want to.”
As always, thank you for the continued guidance through your blog, newsletters, book, etc.
Thanks for such an inspiring article! So much of this resonates today.
Dear Marc and Angel your website is so encouraging. I read it every morning. Please keep it coming!
Rose Costas says
Thanks for another great article. It is so amazing how similar we all are and how similar our struggles are. We all at some point question ourselves on worthiness and whether we are good enough not knowing that we are what we think and believe.
I have worked hard to change my thought patterns and will continue to do so with your encouragement.
Keep up the good work.
If you’re bored, you’re boring – what my dad always used to say 🙂
Thanks for this article!
Yatin Khulbe says
Thanks for providing this wonderful article, Marc. I really love the way you start your posts by telling about real life stories. The story of Nick is really inspiring. This reminds me one of the motivational speaker ‘Nick Vujicic’. He has no legs and arms. But, I love his confidence and way of living life in a free manner. These kind of stories really boost the confidence.
Ya, we need to eliminate all the toxic beliefs and come out of this trap. Earlier, I used to doubt my potential. But, now I prefer to do those things which are close to my heart. I know it will take some time. But, I am sure I am gonna make it.
Funky La La says
I enjoy your articles. Thank you.
My contribution is that no matter how many inspirational books or articles you read or how much you know they are the truth, or how intelligent you are, if you’re not feeling it, you cannot get any benefit from them. The only people I see believing it are those who are already feeling it and don’t need it. This is my hurdle.
I’m 28 and I relate most to number 12. It’s sad. I despise when people throw pity parties for themselves but I find that I have been doing it everyday. I am stuck in a job where I am not challenged, given more responsibility nor are my efforts appreciated. I do not look for pats on the back or even thank yous, I just want out so badly that I feel like I am blocking the universe from taking me to where I want to be. And, where I want to be and where I need to be are two totally different places… I read these articles because the tidbits of information help for a bit, then unfortunately I’m back to square one. Trying to stay positive when you are bored is REALLY hard sometimes. But, I guess that’s the challenge, right?
Number 6 is something I had to force myself to drop after seeing it wasn’t really taking me any place tangible.
The belief that “one doesn’t have much time” is the biggest lie of the 21st century. If Colonel Sanders could start a worldwide popular franchise “Kentucky Fried Chicken” at the age of 65, then I obviously still have a lot of time. Remembering this is how I managed to kill this toxic belief. And I sincerely believe anyone can kill it too.
Thanks for this article Marc and Angel.
Wonderful post! I really needed to read this. Thank you!
Thanks for the article and reminders!
Thank you for #7. I will re-read it eternally!
#12 – Derek beat me to it, but as I always say, “Only boring people get bored.” If you rely on others to entertain you while you take a passive approach to life, you’re going to miss out on a lot great things.
Rachel Ang says
Thanks for this post! I really needed it! x
leah wanjiku says
Really appreciated this article. I needed to be reminded of a few things here.
nagendra Singh says
Really motivating and helpful!
Thank you, as always.
I have to admit, I’ve excelled at toxic beliefs throughout my life. Wouldn’t want to be just average in the toxic department. But lucky for me as I’ve aged and continued to struggle with these thoughts, I’ve let a lot of them go. What a relief.
I especially appreciate #11, do the right thing. I’m getting downright sick of hearing public figures say “I didn’t do anything illegal.” Maybe, but was it the right thing to do?
I really appreciate this article. I struggle with several of these.
Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching says
So much as what we do is limited by fear-based beliefs. Often these beliefs are based on generalizations and misunderstandings we have made, based on past experiences. They can exist on such a deep-seated, subconscious level, that just becoming aware that they exist and are limiting us can be a challenge. The key is to be curious about EVERY thought that you have, that doesn’t feel good. When we’re curious with our own mind, we can find these misunderstandings and clear them up.
Marc Chernoff says
Everyone, thank you for taking the time to reply. Angel and I just read through your comments and, as always, we’re reminded that we’re all in this together. 🙂
Truth be told, it’s not the circumstances of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs about what those circumstances mean. Be strong. WE CAN change our beliefs, even if it takes time.
I have been reading through your articles ever since a friend of mine introduced your website. Every time I read your posts,the inspiration you guys bring forth is just overwhelming and the genuine concern you have to the readers or anyone who is emotionally down, just transcends.
I struggle with ALL of them. I am starting to understand the hopelessness people describe.
I realize now I was taught these negative thought patterns from my parents. My mother, she keeps it going to this day.
It is realizing that limiting my time with these people is necessary but, that does not stop the negativity from speaking to me constantly.
It is nice to know based on the above statements that I am not alone.
I will only say 1 thing: You are awesome and I mean it!!!