Want to do something different or make big changes in your life, but don’t believe it’s possible for you? Are your thoughts about yourself and your identity holding you back from living the life that you want? Before we actually achieve something we have to start to believe that we can change, otherwise we can self-sabotage and give up when the going gets tough. We have to get comfortable with that new version of ourselves and practise being that person.
Read on to find out what might be holding you back and how you can change your habits and behaviours for good to become the person that you want.
Your Limiting Beliefs
Making goals and changing our habits is hard. Come January 1st we often decide to make New Year’s resolutions, but trying something new can be hard. Being who we are is part of our identity. I often talk to people who are overweight and say something such as, ‘I’ve always been big’, as though it’s fixed, like eye colour or height. Being overweight has become part of their personality. It’s who they are and changing that can be scary. If something has been the same for many years it’s familiar and even though you think about making changes it entails moving from the familiar and comfortable to the unfamiliar. It’s about doing things that make you feel uncomfortable and becoming a new version of yourself.
Having the thought ‘I’ve always been big’, suggests that you believe ‘and that is not going to change’. This is what I would call a limiting belief. The belief that it is never going to be any different. That you are going to be overweight until you die. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Change is going to be hard, but it’s not impossible. Listen to Natalie Bacon’s podcast for ideas about ‘Believing New Things‘.
Fear of Failure
Not wanting to try something new is often fear of the unknown and fear of failure. When we try something new none of us are good at it on the first, second or even third occasion. Think back to when you were learning to drive. How many times did you stall the car or bunny hop along the road? We’ve all been there and come out the other side, because it was worth going through that to get the reward at the end – the freedom being a driver brings.
Others’ Limiting Beliefs
As well as your own limiting beliefs I think it can be other people’s limiting beliefs that influence whether you succeed or fail. For example if you’re trying to give up smoking and many of your friends are smokers sometimes they can sabotage your progress. If you are managing to stop they have to question why they can’t do it. Their own limiting beliefs about their identity as a smoker are challenged by the evidence from your behaviour change that it doesn’t have to always be the case. Unfortunately, if that’s the case, it’s maybe time to find some new friends. Ones who have the qualities or habits that you are seeking to adopt i.e. they aren’t smokers or they are joggers.
A new identity
You have to form a new identity, a new version of yourself, as a non-smoker. Sometimes that can be easier in a new environment. If you move jobs, telling your new colleagues that you don’t smoke can be an opportunity to try out a new identity, like putting on a new coat. By telling others out loud about your behaviours (or in the case of smoking an absence of behaviour) you are making it real. The more often you try that new coat on the more familiar it becomes and eventually you’ll be comfortable wearing it all of the time. You’ll start to believe that you can change.
So what new coats do you want to wear? Imagine yourself as that person. Journal about it. Describe yourself as you will be when you’ve made the change. Practise saying it out loud, ‘I don’t smoke’, ‘I don’t drink alcohol’, ‘I do Pilates three mornings a week’. Then make the first step on what might be a long journey to who you want to be, but unless you start you’ll never arrive at your chosen destination.