This subject has come up a lot lately in my practice and life ... with clients, friends, family and with kids. A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern, and can even be healthy for the most part. But, we can also just as easily open the door to that overly vocal “negative nelly” voice in our head.
If your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind. Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.
This is true for kids also. They are so bombarded with images, media, peer pressures and their own insecurities. It's overwhelming and they can retreat versus exploring the world around them. If mom/dad have also has a lot of negative self talk, this can create a similar pattern with our little ones.
If you’re sick of having the same old conversation then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset. The goal? To finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality. Your negative nelly narrative usually goes something like this:
I won’t ever be [this]…
I can’t do [that]...
I don’t have [this]...
I don’t deserve to be/have [this]...
And, one really common one that comes up for many people ... I am not good enough.
In my practice, I often hear "that's too difficult, I don't have time, I can't eat just one, I disgust myself, I always give in, I have not will power, I can't do it, this isn't the right time."
Some would assume that these phrases mean I'm not good at my job. Hell. No. It's the opposite. These are the obstacles I help clients overcome. This is the starting point for many people. I meet them where they are and we slowly start to reframe the rules of engagement.
They want to change the narrative ... that's why they come to see me. And if you're still reading this article, chances are you recognize that you may have your own limiting beliefs and are looking for solutions. There are a few strategies I use with my private clients to help them overcome negative self talk with nutrition, but too difficult to explain in this article.
However, there are lots of little things we can all do to help expand our circle of belief so that we shine like stars we are meant to be.
Let’s change up the narrative with this article.
Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs
Your everyday decisions shape everything you do. If you tend to make limiting decisions, they have likely prevented you from seeing and embracing new opportunities, and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all. The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief -- even the ones that are lifelong.
You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.
When you question your limiting beliefs - what they are and why you have them, well then, your whole world can experience a shift for the better.
My best example is when my daughter was first diagnosed with her autoimmune disease. A colleague suggested I put her on an AIP diet. My first reaction was, "that's too difficult." Remember, I'm a holistic nutritionist and I'm supposed to be able to navigate diets. Clearly, I had my own limit.
Her response was a slap in the face. "Too difficult for you or too difficult for her? What could happen if you talk to her about this and she agreed?" Well, I did talk to her and she agreed. Flash forward one year later and she is stronger, healthier than ever before.
Had I shut down the action due to my belief, I might not be here now, helping support others dealing with autoimmune and inflammatory issues.
Here's another example ... working on my own. I have always worked in a naturopathic clinic because that's what I believed was the most credible and effective way to help clients. The decision to move my practice to home was fuelled by a few reasons, but guys, I was scared. I thought, "no one is ever going to want to come see me at my house or online. I need to partner with a doctor." But with the help of a business coachI took a leap of faith, no plan B and guess what? My business is growing in ways I could have never imagined and wouldn't be possible if I stuck with the old way. I just needed to start taking action by first, shifting my mindset.
Here are a few ideas to help you silence your inner critic!
When you find yourself feeling “stuck”, or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to search out the help and guidance of a life coach, counsellor or therapist. I know a couple of great life coaches if you need a hand in that area. I've used a couple throughout the years. Invaluable for mindset shifts.
In addition to that, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space...
The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS
Time to bring those disempowering thoughts out of hiding! When you hear them, acknowledge them, but don't let them drive your reaction without reflection. This is the first step. Now, you simply need to dig a little deeper and accept that you have a choice about how to react to that situation, whatever it may be. A person. A cookie. A work incident.
Possible thinking, not just positive thinking
Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift.
When you believe something IS possible, you will notice options and opportunities coming up for you that would simply not have be noticed if you did not believe it was possible. With repetition, your positive feelings will intensify, the new neural connections will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice just how awesome this new “win” really feels!
Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to simply accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are! I often talk to my clients about taking imperfect action with food and lifestyle. Taking small steps forward helps manifest outcomes (however big or small).
If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true. They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve.
I'm fat. I'm old. I'm stupid. I'm not good enough. I can't change my habits. I'll never succeed. That will never work for me. My life is hard. No one cares.
Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend?
I'm guessing no. YOU are your best friend the most important relationship you will ever have. Nurture yourself as you would a close friend or family member.
Adopt empowering beliefs such as:
“It is not my job to please everyone else.”
“Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.”
To swap out your limiting belief with a more empowering one, you’ll need to play a little mind game. Convince yourself that the value you thought you were getting from the former limiting belief isn’t worthwhile, and that your new empowering belief can serve to fill this void.
In short, out with the old and in with the new. Think about how a new couch, purse, pair of shoes or car makes you feel. You've got a new lease on a room, an outfit of mode of transportation. By swapping negative with some positive affirmations, you're creating a new lease on attitude for life.
Take some time and space that’s all yours
Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Take action and get into the habit of using your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you.
I know it's easier said than done. Journalling is a great and inexpensive way to help identify key areas and patterns. Maybe schedule some time into your phone so you can remind yourself. Post-it notes in the bathroom or office.
Just like taking out the garbage, you have to practice reframing everyday. If you ignore it, the garbage builds up, leaving you feeling stinky.
Remember - you have the ability to harness the power of the possible! Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing yourself of limiting beliefs takes commitment, introspection and a good dose of self-confidence to make the necessary changes stick.
There’s the old saying that we view ourselves through a much harsher lens than the rest of world does. So, let’s try to bring our own lens back into focus.
Health.com: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
Thrive Global: What are Limiting Beliefs and What Causes Them?