We've been exploring purpose - finding it, living it and creating an impact with it. But many of us find ourselves stuck at the threshold of "living it", being unable to push past a certain invisible barrier, called self-limiting beliefs.
What is a limiting belief?
Beliefs: "an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof."
This implies that these limiting beliefs that we have, are most likely a figment of our imagination! So why do we hold on to these beliefs doggedly when they hold us back from being our best selves?
We explore conversations overheard that are stopping us from reaching our potential or from leading our best lives - sounds familiar?
"I don't have enough resources to start my own business. It's too difficult a task."
I've always wanted to do my own thing - that sense of freedom to create whatever you want and to make a living doing what you love. That idea resonated with me since a young age! But right after school, I said I would get a job, get experience, save up and then I'll pursue my entrepreneurial dream. That sounded like a reasonable thing to do. My family was happy with the job I had and I was financially secure. I got caught up in climbing the career ladder and one job led to another. One year led to three years, and three years suddenly became ten. Each time, I told myself I still haven't saved enough. Each time I said, just one more year in this career and role.
I was just giving myself permission to stay in status quo. Of course I couldn't save enough money. I was chasing after the things that made me look like I had achieved success - money and material goods - the fancy 2-door car, the collector's timepieces, the luxurious apartment right in the middle of the city, etc. What if I had managed my resources more effectively? What if I had tried to change how much I engaged with my external environment - and only indulged in things that matter to me? On hindsight, trying to keep up with the rat race and how people perceived me had hindered me from reaching my real goal...
"I'm not relevant, nobody will hire me now."
I had a flourishing corporate law career when the husband and I decided it was time to have our first child. And we were blessed with a lovely baby girl! Oh the joy of holding her for the very first time, her first cry, her first smile. We agreed that I would take 3 years off to spend time with her in those formative years. I was thrilled to do that! As the three years flew by, I found myself increasingly anxious and perhaps, fearful about going back to the workforce. I knew I wanted to, I took pride in my profession, and had always performed to the best of my abilities. But the voices in my head tell me that I am slower now. What if I can't cope, cant't keep up? Would I be dragging my team down? Would I be value-adding? Am I still relevant? Do I even deserve to be hired in a similar capacity again?
Before even applying for interviews or speaking to my networks on getting back into the workforce; before giving anyone else a chance to say yes, my little judgemental voices in my head had already decided that I was not good enough. If I don't give myself a chance, who will? I need to change my attitude and have faith & belief in self. No doors will open if I choose to lock them from inside.
"That's a man's job; I cant do it."
If I were a boy, I would be a surgeon. That was a question posed to me as a young girl - my profession now? A nurse. I enjoy my job in the healthcare field, being able to play an active part in the pediatrics field. Did I wish I could do more? Most certainly. I always wondered if I could have become a surgeon, but it never even really seemed like something that was within my grasp - not because I couldn't make it academically, but because it was typically a man's job. I had never met a female surgeon in my life, and nobody ever asked my if I wanted to be a surgeon.
That conditioning as a child and throughout my growing years, became a subconscious bias I held. I didn't even realize that that was a belief I held, and in holding on to it, I had unconsciously limited what I could do! I can't turn back time, but I certainly can make sure that I watch what I say to the children around me. That I don't enforce my own limiting beliefs onto that, that ingrains into their own subconscious bias.
What is a subconscious bias?
Subconscious bias or implicit bias refer to attitudes that affect our understanding and behavior in an unconscious manner. These bias assessments, whether favorable or unfavorable in nature, are activated involuntarily.
The implicit associations we retain cause us to have certain feelings about other people based on characteristics such as race, age, etc. These associations develop at a young age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. Think - what the adults around you say and/or how they behave; what you are exposed to via the media and news programming, etc.
Many a time, these bias form our safety net, our comfort zone - and if we don't pause to think about why we do what we do, or why we behave the way we do, we can potentially limit ourselves from reaching our potential. Or perhaps, we can be in the way of someone else reaching their fullest potential.
So with introspection, and the occasional external nudge, seek awareness. And with that, realize that many of your self-limiting beliefs are simply a form of protection that your subconscious bias has created for you. Take the steps needed and keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. For it is with the constant practice of courage that you become limitless.
By making it a practice to step out of our comfort zones and to break free of self-limiting beliefs, we develop 'exceptional improvisation skills' along the way, building up our resilience. So no matter what lemons life decides to throw at us, we keep coming back stronger and better!
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