How childhood experiences can play havoc with your mindset
Most beliefs are created in our early years. And whilst we don’t want to blame our parents for everything that is crap in our lives, much of this information will come from them. Parents, siblings, grandparents and teachers will often play a huge part in our story.
We of course have beliefs that are positive, and these too will have been imprinted at an early age. Beliefs such as kindness and consideration. The importance of table manners and being polite. I spent a huge amount of my childhood with my grandparents and therefore many of my beliefs stem from their map of the world. Work hard. Be respectful. Be grateful. Know your place. Food is the answer to all your problems. Ummm.
As children we are designed to absorb information from day one. To learn through our subconscious. This is our most basic of human instincts and it is imperative for our survival. Babies and children don’t choose the information that goes in, their brain does it for them, all with one goal, survival.
Our brain is incredibly complex and yet also very simplistic, and it has no idea how to differentiate between fact or fiction. So, from a very early age, whatever we see, hear, feel, taste and touch will be stored away ready for when our brain thinks we might need it.
Even one experience as a child can have catastrophic long-term effects. Being barked at by a dog, falling into water, being force fed liver and onions … it only needs to happen once for our brain to file it under – that’s not happening again!!!
Being brought up with a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset means that we are less able to adjust and learn. Past mistakes, other people’s behaviours and lack of information or perspective can also lead to the creation of negative or limiting beliefs.
As we get older our intelligence and logical brain develop and by adult hood, learning is a far more conscious process. We are all a culmination of our experiences most are good, and the negativity can stay dormant for years. The problem comes when we try to do something new, a fixed mindset will mean that our brain doesn’t have the software necessary to cope with change. So, like a firewall it blocks everything that appears to be a threat.
How limiting beliefs become obstacles
Limiting beliefs are like cookies or pop ups. They pop up like warnings each time we try something new, or experience a situation that requires us to push past our comfort zone.. As we encounter new problems and obstacles our gut is telling us to do one thing and yet our mind has other ideas. This can lead to:
- Imposter Syndrome
- Impulsive reactions and brain farts!!!! – more on those in a moment.
Why is it so important to address and overcome these limiting beliefs?
Starting a business is just like any new situation and our brain is going to hate it. Because starting a business takes time, we must learn new things, we have to create new behaviours and change our routines. In order to be successful, we must first believe we are capable of success.
We won’t always struggle in all aspects of starting a business. Some of it will fit perfectly into the safety slots we already have. Time and experience have enabled us to teach our mind that certain things are ok.
Getting out and talking to people. I love people I love talking, so networking was great. However, lurking deep within my subconscious was a category of beliefs that I had not anticipated would be a problem. Until they were.
Where my limiting beliefs were born
I am an identical twin. My sister and I are very similar in many ways and acutely different in others. Growing up we looked alike. Although my mum made every effort to treat us differently on the outside. Different clothes, different toys different friends, on the inside we were both developing our beliefs about what being a twin meant to us. This is not to say you must be a twin to have these beliefs but for me this is where mine began.
Lack of identity or individuality meant I struggled in relationships. I would enter each one with no agenda of my own. I was unable to advocate for myself and when things got tough, I would retreat rather than respond.
In business this became an acute fear of putting myself out there, fear of upsetting people and a debilitating reluctance to compete.
Co dependency is a massive issue for me. My very existence was based upon it. There are of course many amazing positive things about having a sibling so close, but out in the world this has been my biggest obstacle.
Thinking that I can’t or shouldn’t do things on my own. That I needed to have someone else to hide behind when the shit hit the fan. My sister pretty much fought all my battles and some where actual battles. She took many a punch that was meant for me growing up. It was the 70’s things were different back then, we had our fights in the street, not on snapchat. I grew up believing that if I put myself out there in the firing line, I must have someone else there to protect me. To take the punches.
Ok so I will take my own punches nowadays. I have complete belief in my skills and my offer, yet that need for collaboration still haunts me and it has caused me to miss out on great things as well as waste my time following other people’s agenda.
Being told to play nice, share your toys share your room, share your clothes, share your food, share the very air you breathe. Ok so we were not the only kids made to share, but it all adds up.
Some beliefs are buried deep
Addressing these issues in my personal life was one I needed help with. They were not tragic and overall; I had a fantastic childhood and love my parents and siblings very much. There is little I would change. I was able to address my issues through training as a counsellor and this process helped me to make peace with the past and learn new ways to think and behave.
It is important, at this point to mention that some beliefs can be buried very deep. Childhood traumas for example are not to be dismissed. In coaching we are solution focused and therefore we may acknowledge our past with purpose, to learn from it and then we move on.
Some beliefs will need to be dealt with by a counsellor. The process here is very different to coaching and therefore in these situations seeking the services of a counsellor is highly recommended.
How limiting beliefs create problems in our business
For me working with a coach helped to make sense of where these beliefs were causing issues within my business. Fear of posting on social media, confusion about my offer, hesitation and procrastination and brain farts. Oh, my days brain farts have been the bane of my life. A brain fart is pretty much a combination of all the issues that then pop out of no where when you least expect them. They appear like an idea or inspiration but often they are cleverly disguised limiting beliefs that are telling me to act. Do this that will help. Write this that will explain it. Cancel that it won’t help. Create this that will get you out of the hole. This is the answer, this is the answer, do this do this do this.
A thought is not a call to action. It’s not an instruction. It’s just a thought. And in order to separate the good ones from the stinkers we need to slow the whole thing down.
How do we change the script and create new behaviours to take back control
We need to delete the viruses, reprogram, reboot the system and install new software that is going to override the corrupted folders.
Ok, so how do we delete the virus? Well the truth is, we don’t. It is near on impossible to erase beliefs and honestly not all are bad. Even the negative ones serve a purpose to teach us what we can do differently. We have a frame of reference. The antidote to the virus is to install new ways of thinking and processes that will encourage our brain to make the new information the go – to response. We put so much good stuff on top that the old stuff becomes obsolete.
How I overcame my limiting beliefs in business
Step 1: Stop and breathe.
Sit with your thoughts and resist the urge to act. Mindfulness is an incredible discipline for reducing overthinking and training our mind. Some consider it hippy woo woo shit. Well you don’t have to meditate to be mindful.
Instead of diving onto my computer to create a new post, send an email or begin researching a new direction, I now refuse to act on any of my brain farts. Instead I write them down. I categorise them in a marketing folder and walk away. I then choose to come back to them when I am ready. The result has been over a few weeks that my brain farts have dramatically reduced. This new behaviour has enabled me to not only take control, I waste far less time on fruitless tasks and I approach the work that I do in a calmer and more productive manner.
Step 2: Get clarity on what you want to achieve.
What goal are you working towards? What is it that you are trying to get done? Being clear and precise about what you actually want is very important. Without clear goals we will waste time and energy fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.
GOAL: I want to increase my prices by 50%
Step 3: What’s the situation and how are you currently reacting to it.
Reprogramming. Start by looking at the things in your life/ business that are causing you a problem. Where are you procrastinating? When do you experience self-doubt? What situations, what people, what things are you afraid of? What makes you want to run away and hide? What triggers your brain farts and what do you do with them?
Once we have clarity on where the problems are happening, then we can begin to address them.
BELIEF: What if people won’t pay? What if they do pay and then expect more than I can deliver?
Step 4: Identify the limiting belief/beliefs that hold you back.
For example: we want to earn a huge income. We know that our life can improve immensely from following our passion and joy, and yet, buried deep within us is a limiting belief that money doesn’t grown on tree’s, that we have to work hard otherwise we won’t deserve financial reward and big money is something “other people” have. Money won’t make you happy blah blah blah ….
If money doesn’t grow on trees, you may value financial security – yep so starting up a business is not where you find security… at least not for a while.
If you believe that hard work is the only way to gain reward, then you are literally going to burn yourself out in the first 2 years. The moment it starts to feel easier, you will do things to make it harder and this become a cycle.
Money won’t make you happy and being rich is something other people do. I was brought up by a socialist grandfather. Would not change a thing. Yet his beliefs have certainly taken their toll on how I feel about money.
If you don’t believe you deserve wealth and that if you get rich you will instantly become an arsehole. Well it’s not going work, is it?
You may well think you have overcome those negative beliefs – that they sound ridiculous when we say them out loud. Trouble is, your brain knows different and the minute you step outside of your comfort zone they will bite you in the arse.
We need evidence to dispute the limiting belief and support a more positive belief that will then become the new story.
EVIDENCE to dispute the limiting belief
What evidence do you have that rich people are arseholes?
Who or what has contributed to this belief?
Were they right?
What do you believe?
What situations or evidence do you have to prove this belief is unsupported?
Step 5: Reducing the negative belief by adding positive action
Once a limiting belief has been reduced, we can then begin to formulate the plan to act. It is one thing to believe but we need to act to make these things happen. Belief alone will not get it done.
MAKE A PLAN AND TAKE ACTION
Using the positive evidence you now have, write a plan to take action. Then DO IT!! Use the suggested words to begin your sentence. Take ownership, tell your brain “I’ve Got This”
In conclusion: How to overcome your limiting beliefs
Look at the limitations you are placing on yourself. Imagine you are offering advice to someone else who is thinking that way.
- What would you say?
- What would you suggest?
- How would you help them to find the evidence to dispute that limit or fear and help them to create positive belief?
- How much evidence do you have to dispute that limiting belief?
- What can you do to increase that number?
- How strong is that limiting belief now?
- What else can you add to dispute that negative belief?
- What action will you now take to move forward?
Beliefs are just the story that we have been telling ourselves. As children we are susceptible to everything around us, we are learning and absorbing at an astonishing rate and sometimes some stinkers will get through. For the most part this freedom allows us to listen and learn and it is not until we are adults that we pile all the other crap on top. So, the answer to overcoming limiting beliefs is simple.
- Stop. Breathe. Be mindful of what thoughts are entering your head and resist the urge to react and sit with the thoughts.
- Identify what it is you are trying to achieve.
- Ask yourself the questions that will help take you to get to the most resourceful information stored in your mind.
- Take control of the search process don’t let your mind do it for you.
- Once you have located the resourceful information and evidence, create your plan of action based on the new story.
Soon your mind will automatically take you to the good stuff and this is how we create a positive mindset and overcome our limiting beliefs.