For most of my twenties, there were so many things I didn’t want to be true about myself, yet I somehow thought them to be facts.
I believed I was quite unlovable, which was my excuse for not trying to be worthy of love in any way. I believed I’d always struggle financially, so I made no serious effort to earn more, to save more, or to build multiple streams of income.
I believed that life was harsh, that people didn’t like me for being skinny, kind of ugly, and not nearly as charming as everyone else, so I lived in a state of perpetual fear — I somehow expected the world to decide that I wasn’t worthy of living on this planet anymore and send me off to spend the rest of my life on the dark side of the moon or something.
All information indicated that I was right: the women in my life either didn’t want to be involved romantically with me or left me after a couple of months. I always struggled to earn enough to pay the bills. I didn’t have that many friends.
Life was a pain. Hell was other people. And I was but a shadow traveling through life at the speed of your average bus, sometimes a cab or an Uber.
But the most insidious thing about limiting beliefs is not that evidence points to them being true, but rather that we go out of our way to prove that they’re true.
In other words, we try our best to become the prophets of our own destiny by sabotaging our lives. We try to rig the game, not so we can win, but because we don’t want to go through the trouble of having to design and craft a self we can be proud of.
One day I realized that a man’s limit is his belief system, and that I couldn’t achieve more because of all the things that I thought I was not.
Change The Story
Your inner narrative, the story you tell yourself about who you are, is supposed to keep your feet on the ground, otherwise you might shoot for the moon and somehow miss.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some call it, “a healthy dose of realism.”
For instance, it’s quite okay for me to be okay with the fact that I’ll never be a great athlete. I was born rather fragile, and I’ve spent most of my childhood visiting a bunch of doctors.
But most of the time the system that’s meant to protect us backfires and tries to cut down our wings altogether, telling us, “Hold on, son, you can’t do that. It’s not you.”
Maybe you recognize this voice as belonging to someone in your family, or a friend, or even a neighbor, and the truth is that even though our self-beliefs are not made up of the worst opinions those around us have about us, most often than not, our brain looks outside for confirmation whenever you decide to step outside your comfort zone.
Thus, instead of trying to keep us from flying to close to the sun and getting our wings burned, it cuts our wings down and politely asks us to crawl through life.
When this system backfires, you end up like me, thinking that you are so fragile that you never workout for most of your teens and early twenties, and you end up so out of shape that carrying a bag of groceries up a flight of stairs becomes a life or death situation.
If left unchecked, if we don’t ever test the limits of this system, it becomes a cage. Over time, the beliefs we’ve built to keep us safe and help us make sense of the world around us will begin to hold us hostage.
If you never bother to check this system, and you never develop the self-awareness required to hear your internal narrative as suggestions rather than the absolute truth about who you are, there will come a time when everything becomes so automatic that all you can do is actively try to reinforce your limiting self-beliefs.
That’s how, after a few bad business decisions, I decided that I was forever destined to live in poverty. After a few bad relationships, I knew I was unworthy of love, a proper mister nobody whom no one could ever feel something other than pity.
Limiting beliefs are supposed to help us navigate through an often chaotic world, yet in its attempt to create order out of chaos, the only solution it can come up with is something that looks like a prison cell.
A Story of Two Words
Just like a regular prison, it can often feel impossible to escape your limiting beliefs.
Most times, it can be hard to even be aware of them. However, you can recognize your limiting beliefs by your use of the following two words: if only.
“If only I’d be able to earn enough money to support my family.”
“If only I’d confident enough to meet new people.”
If only are the two saddest words in the English language because they are used to express the desire to change what cannot be changed.
The discomfort you feel, as if you’re carrying a hell within you everywhere you go, is the burden of having to live with a set of beliefs that no longer serve you, a story that no longer empowers you.
You Hold the Pen
You will change your limiting beliefs by first understanding that you are the one writing your inner narrative.
You are the storyteller, the main character, the villain, and just like in a dream, everyone you meet is a reflection of who you are or wish to become.
Rather than clinging to your limiting beliefs, you try to test them. Venturing into the center of your fears, you will often discover that what you were most afraid of was fear itself.
You will realize that feeling unattractive doesn’t necessarily mean you are so.
If you consciously decide to go beyond what your brain tells you is the most you are capable of, you will soon begin to do the impossible: you will start writing the story you’ve always wanted to write.
Do Not Choose a Known Hell Over an Unknown Heaven
We often prefer the discomfort of being less than our ideal selves because the opposite brings with it the discomfort of uncertainty.
If I had a dollar for every time I whispered a bunch of positive affirmations about who I wished to be, my voice shaking, a scared, lonely boy staring himself in the mirror…
It’s not the decision to change that counts, but actively trying to change. We cannot remake ourselves without pain, and we must go through the discomfort of building a new self.
When we direct our gaze towards the stars, and we realize that we are capable of reaching for them, we must do everything in our power to internalize and act upon this belief.
It means you’ll need to look for confirmation that you are the exact opposite of what your beliefs are telling you, and repetition is essential. You have to do it over and over again until you become emotionally aware of this new reality of who you are.
We often prefer a known hell over an unknown heaven because uncertainty often feels like having to embark on a strange and perilous odyssey. I assure you, it just feels like that.
Venturing towards heaven you can’t even begin to understand, one in which you have let go of your limiting beliefs is a journey that you will never, ever regret.
This is not a process that happens overnight. It requires action, it requires persistence, and it requires patience.
Walking around a garden chanting, “There are no weeds, there are no weeds” won’t make the weeds magically disappear.
You’ve got to cut the damn things yourself.