“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve,” wrote Mary Kay Ash. Of all the limitations we face on the path to success and happiness, the most difficult to overcome are the ones we create for ourselves. Don’t allow yourself to be held back by your own thoughts.
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Here are eight common beliefs that can limit our power. Each is followed by a healthier response.
1. With hard work and determination, I can prevent change from happening.
With hard work, I can adapt well to change. I can use change as an opportunity. I have the power to thrive under new circumstances.
2. If I think something, it must be true.
I am free to change my perceptions and opinions at any time. This happens as the result of new information, a maturing perspective, and the acquisition of wisdom. Just because I currently perceive something to be negative does not make it so.
3. With hard work, I can get my body/confidence/sunny disposition back.
Rather than strive to return to an old state, I will move forward toward a new one. I am growing each day. The setbacks I have faced will make me stronger. I will never be who I once was, but I can become someone even better.
4. My life will be better when _______ happens.
External circumstances do not determine my happiness. My joy comes from within. I can choose to be happy right now. As Stephen Richards wrote, “Even when in the midst of disturbance, the stillness of the mind can offer sanctuary.”
5. I am critical of myself because it makes me better. Nothing I do is good enough for my own standards.
I do not need to be hard on myself to find motivation. I can grow by practicing self-compassion. When I treat myself with kindness and understanding, I am free to become the best version of myself.
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6. I should be happy today.
My moods have the power to fluctuate wildly, because I am a human being. It is okay to feel sad, frustrated, confused, angry, and exhausted. By embracing a negative feeling and allowing myself to explore it, I can allow it to pass through me. Then I can move on, unburdened.
7. My life should be unfolding more like I’d planned.
“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be,” wrote Sarah Dessen. My life has sent me to incredible places I never could have planned for or even dreamed of. I will not waste time pining for an alternative version of reality. Embracing the place I am in right now is the most valuable and rewarding thing I can do.
8. I resist the tendency to feel negative emotions.
It is natural to fight against grief, rage, or hurt. It doesn’t work, though. Instead, I will allow myself to experience these feelings. I can learn from them. Fighting them is painful and useless, but embracing them can be validating. Only by feeling these emotions can I allow myself to heal.
Don’t hold yourself back. Identify these limiting beliefs, as well as others, and replace them with more empowering thoughts. You, exclusively, have the power to write your life story. Don’t allow it to be cut short based on ideas that don’t serve you.