Last week, I wrote about self-permission to stop, start or change something in your life, your habits, your behaviours, your emotions and your actions. Recognising where you can give yourself permission is one of the steps to discovering new approaches.

It’s not usually enough to create a sustainable shift. We need a dose of courage and some luck doesn’t hurt either.

We have other blockers that allow us to get in our own ways. The beliefs we have that can block or reduce the success or the impact of this new approach. In coaching language, we call these limiting beliefs, and they are formed from our past experiences, observations and teaching.

For example, when I was little, I found reading out loud to a group really difficult. I’d skip words or mispronounce them. The belief I created was that whenever I had to read aloud, I would make a fool of myself, risking ridicule, being laugh at, losing respect. Even today, I tend to avoid it – I’d still rather have bullet points to adlib around or ask someone else to read the text.

Other common limiting beliefs, I hear, are “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve…”, “I’ll never get …….” and “I’ll fail….” created through experience and observation of others. As a child, you might have heard “Good girls don’t behave like that” (or “……. dress like that” or “……. speak like that”) and we learnt a belief about how women should or shouldn’t be.

Lastly, we see people “like us” and create beliefs on their experiences, which is why role modelling positive feminine power as leaders is so important to our sense of self but also to those around us.

The crushing effect of these beliefs can be across one or many areas of our lives, work, relationships and so on. Often, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy as we expect and create the results we’re expecting.

Firstly, many of these beliefs are not true – they are based on skewed memories or single data points. Like in my example, I tripped over my words sometimes but not every time I read aloud to my class. Only my subconscious is trying to protect me from failure, embarrassment and shame, so it tells me that story as EVERY time it happened and it will always happen. Similarly, just because one woman got disrespected by a mostly male committee that you will too, or a no to a request from a boss means you always will get a no from every boss.

What was doesn’t equal what will be.

Otherwise, firsts could never happen. Change could never take place. Discoveries would never be made. And sadly, you will never experience life in all its joys to lead as a role model woman in your teams, your families, your friends and your communities.

During the Haven Retreat “live” in December, I introduce participants to the Cycle of Creation, a powerful tool from my One of many® coaches toolkit. Then we looked at it in relation to trigger tracking and shifting our future meanings, moods and motions (aka meanings, emotions and actions). (You can watch that session in unit 2 in the Haven group.)

For limiting beliefs, it works too. Often the moment of the trigger is further back in time, having woven its tendrils throughout our lives.

When you seek to change the expectations you place upon yourself and where you look to give yourself permission to do something outside of those expectations, I wonder what’s the voice in your head say? The one that makes your stomach clench or hold your breath.

When we’ve depleted our energies and our emotions are on high alert, these voices can be harder to hear, acknowledge and move on. Instead, we tend to have a physical reaction and a wave of emotion will flow over us – guilt, shame, anger and being alone are often cited by my clients.

Exploring the origin of a limiting belief, once you’ve cleared any associated emotions, can be a discovery of who you are meant to be unhindered. It can be an energetic disconnection that frees you to be the woman you want to be.

What can you do to shift your limiting beliefs?

One clue to identifying a limiting belief is to spot when your inner voice using language like can’t, must not, am not or should. Or it might use comparators like “Women like me can’t or don’t……”, “if she can’t, I won’t be able to……” or “she is the perfect mother/wife/leader, I’m not”. 

You might find it helpful to write your limiting belief down – writing things on paper and reading them aloud to yourself can help start the detachment process. 

Then reflect on when you first felt or believed that to be true for you. Acknowledge that was a different you to the you of today, she was doing her best to be ok with what she had in that time. The legacy of that moment does not have to be a part of future you. (I use a deep mediation process with clients for stubborn, hard to shift beliefs)

Then reframe and reshape that belief into a positive affirmation, creating a positive “towards” motivation, a sense of being drawn to a new glorious outcome.

Take that affirmation into your everyday – stick it on the mirror, write in on your notebook cover, tattoo it on your wrist. Say it, write it, use it often. Share it with someone who can nudge you if you forget it. If that feels too vulnerable, please feel free to leverage the power of the Haven community to seek a buddy or acknowledge your affirmations. You’ll inspire others and start to create that new cycle of joy.

If you do have a particularly stubborn belief and would value my help, I’m offering a number of intensive sessions in February. Drop me a line at sarae@saraepratt.com to arrange one.