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