So many of the things we do in life have been equated to being on a journey that it’s become almost too predictable. We see talk on reality TV shows about people’s “journey” from where they’ve come from to where they are now or even where they’re predicted to be in the future. And so it’s something which people are almost too used to hearing now, and perhaps because of that they don’t think like that any more. Except that defining and achieving our goals are very much like a journey, because while we can plan it, travel can in fact still be unpredictable, and can throw obstacles in our path. And as much as being on a delayed train or a bus can leave us feeling deflated and frustrated, so failing to achieve our goals on the targets we set for them can leave us feeling deflated and even as if we’ve failed. Except it’s not failure, it’s deferred success, just as long as we don’t give up when things don’t quite go according to plan. Imagine you have a journey planned. You’re going to go out somewhere, the objective of your journey is to reach a place, perhaps to see someone, perhaps to go for a meal, perhaps just to go sight-seeing. You know the route you need to take to get there, you’ll be going on public transport, a bus from home to the train station, followed by a train, then another bus or perhaps an underground train, and a walk at the other end. So you set off from home to catch the bus to the station. You get on the bus, and at the stop before the station the driver announces that the next stop is closed, so you have to get off the train a stop early and walk to the station. This extends your trip by ten minutes, and as you walk on to the platform, the train you were hoping to catch is just leaving. Now you have to wait another fifteen minutes for the next train. The next train arrives and you’re finally on your way, until just outside the station the train stops and the train manager announces that due to a signal failure you will be delayed for an unspecified amount of time. You’re now becoming impatient. You’d planned to be somewhere, you are meeting someone, and you already know what you’re going to do when you get there. But at the moment it doesn’t look like you’re actually going to get there, and you have no idea what to do about it. Perhaps you should just give up and go home, but then you won’t get to do what you had planned, and after all, you’ve been looking forward to this for ages. Besides, you’re sitting outside the station, you’re not in a position to go anywhere right now anyway. After what seems like hours the train finally starts moving again and you pull into the station. You quickly get off and run down to the underground where you realise that the line you meant to take is actually closed. Another obstacle preventing you from getting where you’re planning to go, and the frustration increases. You quickly check for an alternative route, and although it will take you slightly out of your way, you get on a different underground train and change at a different station, and eventually you reach your destination. Just a short walk now and you’ll be there. Your destination is in sight as you walk out of the underground station, and so is the group of protesters and the police roadblock which is blocking the way. How did this happen? How have you managed to get this close and still you can’t get to where you want to be. You can see it, and yet you can’t get to it. It would be so easy just to turn around now and get back on the underground train and go home. You could come here another time after all. But you know you probably won’t. So you wait it out for a bit until the protesters are moved on their way and you can finally walk to your destination. And as you walk through the doors you realise that even though the journey wasn’t smooth, the end result was that you’re now where you wanted to be all along and you can begin to enjoy the experience. Having a goal can be just like that. When we set our goals we generally know what it is we need to change or do to achieve those goals, and generally we know what obstacles we need to overcome and we try to find a way to overcome them. But sometimes unforeseen obstacles come up, and those can seem like they’re barriers to achieving our goals. They’re not, they may be temporary obstacles, but the key is to find a way to overcome them, or to wait until they have passed, and then we can continue down the road of achieving the goal, the end result. If you set a timescale to achieve your goal and you haven’t achieved it by then that doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you haven’t succeeded yet. Once you start out on your journey to achieve your goal every step gets you a step closer to achieving it. And the closer you get to achieving it the less worthwhile it would be to give up and go back. What are the obstacles to your goals and how can you overcome them? And how can you find ways around the unforeseen obstacles which may come into the equation from time to time? Continue reading
Often we talk about how the negative reactions and criticisms of others can impact on our personal feelings about ourselves. When exploring the concept of limiting beliefs it’s very easy to see how someone else’s negative perceptions and comments can make us feel negatively about ourselves. After all, if someone tells you that you’re not good enough, then they must surely believe that you’re not good enough, so there must be an element of truth in that, and therefore you might start to believe it.
Except that’s not the case. Because people are individuals, what they think or feel about other individuals is largely down to their own personal opinions and beliefs. Just because someone tells you you’re not good enough at something doesn’t mean that you’re not – it means that they think you’re not. But what is important is what you think.
It’s very easy to tell someone that the negative beliefs of others usually have to do with their own feelings and that as such they should be able to find a strategy to ignore those negative comments and instead focus on how they themselves feel, work on all the positives and build a positive feeling of self belief.
But there is an element of the beliefs of others which we rarely address, and that is positive belief/opinion. Because no-one really wants to see positive validation as negative, yet it has the potential to be.
We all seek positive validation from others. We all want others to tell us we’re great, that we do what we do well, that they believe in us. And of course we should take those comments as positive, just as we take the negative ones as negative.
But we should always be aware not to live by the positive comments of others, because we cannot always rely on them being there. And the more you rely on something, the harder it is to deal with it when it isn’t there.
I’ve had numerous conversations with friends about self belief and confidence, and they’ve started out from the point of saying “you’re a coach, you can tell people that they’re great and make them believe in themselves.” I even had one who told me that they wanted to be a coach because they believed that people needed telling not to be so negative about themselves.
It’s true that I could tell someone that they’re great, and of course, if I think someone is great at something then I would tell them that in my personal opinion. But I wouldn’t want them to rely on my reassurance to uphold their belief in their own abilities. The way I have explained this to friends is like this:
Someone could come to me seeking to improve their confidence. They may have limiting beliefs which may or may not be down to the opinions/comments of others. And I could tell them to ignore those beliefs, to believe in themselves, because they’re great, I believe they’re great and they must go away and remember that they have been told by me to believe the positives not the negatives. And the client goes away and holds on to the self worth I have given them. They tell themselves that because I have told them they are good at what they do that must be believed, and they believe it. Then next week they come back and I reiterate the positive things I said to/about them last week, and for the duration of our coaching relationship their self belief improves, or so it seems.
And then the coaching sessions come to an end and the client goes on their journey armed with the knowledge that they’re a new positive person because i told them so. Except next week they won’t be back to have that belief confirmed, nor the week after, or the week after that. And what happens then when the negative beliefs start to come back is that they no longer have the validation they had held on to to override their negative beliefs, and they slip back into a state of lack of self worth they were in when they came to me in the first place.
The key for me is to arm people with the tools to validate their own self worth rather than relying on others to uphold it.
Being given positive comments/compliments by people is a fantastic feeling. But it is one which we cannot rely on, because there is never any guarantee that those positive influences will be around at the time we most need them.
The realisation that you are good at what you do, that you know you are a great person, that you are confident in your own abilities in spite of what other people think is very empowering. And finding the ability to recognise that in yourself is priceless. And while the positive comments from others will of course add to your positive feeling, if you already believe in yourself, when there are times those positive validations are lacking you will still be empowered by your own self worth and confidence. And when negative comments threaten your confidence, you can still hold on to the power of your realisation of self worth.
Don’t rely on others to validate your self worth, find the tools to find it in yourself.
Happy New Year.
It’s that time again when we all make resolutions to change something in our lives. Maybe you want to lose weight, or give up drinking, or smoking, or find a job, or move house, the list is endless.
Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions, but the problem is that so often those resolutions have one thing in common – the inability to stick to them. I’ll go one further in fact, and say that the one thing about New Year’s resolutions is that people wonder how long they can stick to them almost before they’ve started.
So what is the point in making a resolution when you know there’s not much chance you’re going to stick to it?
There are numerous articles out there talking about how quickly resolutions are broken, numerous people declare they are not making any resolutions because they won’t stick to them. So in fact, the general idea of making a resolution at New Year is that one resolves to fail at whatever it is you want to succeed at.
If you believe that you will fail then you most likely will, because you’ve already started out from a negative mindset. So why not instead resolve to succeed. If you don’t feel that you can jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, then why not just look at the things you want to achieve in the next weeks/months/year and aim to succeed in achieving those things.
Nobody wants to fail, but we are conditioned to set ourselves up to do so, especially if everyone else around us believes they will fail as well. But you can set yourself up to succeed by firstly getting rid of the idea that there’s no point bothering to make a resolution because you’ll never stick to it.
Instead think of what it is you really want to achieve. Not because of the pressure to have something, but because of what it is you have in your mind to want to achieve, and then start to think of the goals you need to set in order to achieve it.
The changes you want to make aren’t for the New Year, they’re for you.
Have you ever thought about where your negative beliefs come from?
So often we believe that we can’t do or achieve something, yet we rarely think about where that belief comes from, when in fact it often comes not from us, but from another source, someone close to us perhaps.
I have written before about limiting beliefs, where our own beliefs about ourselves can hold us back from the things we want to achieve. Believe that you can’t do something, and it’s likely you will never do it, not because you actually can’t, but because your belief that you can’t stops you from even trying.
But what happens when it’s not actually you that doesn’t believe in you, but someone else? What happens when that someone else projecting heir beliefs of you back on to you, until you too start to believe them? After all, if someone else says you can’t, then it’s likely that you can’t, right? especially if that someone is someone close to you, like a family member, a parent, a partner, someone you trust to have your best interests at heart, therefore you don’t consider that they actually are a negative influence on your beliefs.
We allow others to influence our self belief because we generally trust those people who are close to us. And yet so often it is those people who are closest to us who can do the most damage to our self belief. And in truth someone else can only have an impact on our self belief if we allow that to happen.
But think about a negative belief you have about yourself, think about how you feel about that, and then ask yourself where that belief comes from. Is it that you really believe it? or has that belief come from someone else? And if so, who is that person and why have you let them influence your beliefs? In short, who limits your beliefs?
The answer is simple, the person who limits your beliefs is you. Others may have an impact on how those limiting beliefs come about, after all none of us lives in isolation, and we will always take something from the influence of others. But the decision to allow someone else’s negative opinions and beliefs of us to hold us back is ultimately ours.
Once we recognise that we are the ones who hold ourselves back from achieving our goals, we can allow ourselves to not be influenced by the negative beliefs of others.
No-one else can hold you back, and you have the power to move forward.
Who limits your beliefs?
“I’ll do it tomorrow,” is a phrase often used when thinking about something in our lives we need to do which might bring about change. But why tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? Why not now?
In truth committing to start doing something at a later date means we have the ability to put it off for a bit longer. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the change we wish to make will never happen, but all too often it happens that what we committed to do “tomorrow,” becomes “tomorrow,” when the day finally arrives, and so gets put back, and back, until time has run away and we could have actually been much further forward in our goals.
One of the biggest barriers to change is fear, and one of the best ways to avoid facing that fear is to avoid change. So by putting off until tomorrow that which you could start today, you are putting off the need to face the fear until then. And then, when tomorrow comes, you put it off again, until “tomorrow,” and then “tomorrow,” and it becomes a cycle which never ends because tomorrow never comes – it’s always today.
So what are you putting off and why?
What changes do you want to make in your life and why are you putting off making them?
If you know what it is you want to change, then you presumably also know what the barriers are that are stopping you from making those changes. How can you overcome those barriers? And what steps are you going to make today to do what you need to to begin to make the changes you want to make in your life.
You have the power to start to make those changes *today*. Don’t put them off until tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes.
I asked the question, “who’s your greatest critic?” And the answers I got were numerous. Most said either their mother or father, and a couple said that they were in fact their own worst critic.
It is common to feel that there is someone in our life who is more critical of us than others, but it’s not so much the criticism that counts, as how we deal with it.
How easy is it to shake off criticism if it is a regular occurrence? After all, limiting beliefs can be easily created if we believe our critics, and if we are own worst critic it can feel impossible to break the self critical habits of a lifetime.
But ask yourself, when taking on the criticism of others what do you achieve? If you refused to take on such criticism how would that make you feel? It’s ok to not take on criticism from others; we may not be able to stop it, but we can take control of how we react to it.
And if you are a self critic? What is it that makes you feel that way? Imagine letting that self criticism, and the resulting beliefs go, how does that feel? If it feels good, then stop imagining and let them go.
Think about your world without the negative beliefs that criticism brings, and take the step today to turn criticism and negative beliefs into positive self belief.