How a small change in your thoughts can change your life.
It amazes me how often I push myself beyond natural limits—and how I excuse this great self-offense in the name of drive, determination and the pursuit of success. Like the time I broke my wrist, had surgery and came to work the very next day despite being in terrible pain; I justified this behavior as heroic (and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the praise I received for being so strong and dedicated from everyone I work with). Or consider how many times I arrived home from a vacation late on a Sunday evening and pushed myself to get to work before 9AM on Monday because I assumed the world couldn’t live without me for one more day? And then there’s how I can’t help but to answer just one more call, or address one more email, before I check out at day’s end because I worry that the universe will think less of me if I don’t.
These are but a few standout examples of how at times I treat myself with less respect than I would ever suggest or expect of others. And I’m sure as you read them, your mind was reminding you of similar examples in your own life.
I’ve come to realize that the behavior is neither heroic nor admirable. It’s actually quite the opposite: it’s typically unnecessary – often bordering on absurdity – and actually leaves me feeling diminished and depleted, not as though I’ve conquered the world as I set out to.
This behavior is not driven by positive motivation and extreme energy, as most people would expect. It’s actually manifested by a self-limiting belief that says, “I am not enough and need to continually prove myself.”
And I know that many of us share these types of thoughts at certain times of our lives.
Just the other day a friend told me that she stays at a job she hates and allows her boss to repeatedly demean her. When asked why she doesn’t look for a new job, her response was that she thinks she is not marketable and assumes she is too old to be wanted elsewhere.
She is choosing to stay in the wrong place because she is afraid of rejection and she has “learned to feel” that she’s not “good enough” for something better.
Getting to Know Your Self-Belief System
The beliefs we hold about ourselves drive our actions. So when we don’t feel like we’re “good enough” or that we can’t be accepted for being just who we are, every action we take is defined by these thoughts and beliefs—our own “self talk”. If we can change that old message in our head, and replace it with a more loving and accepting one, then all of our actions will reflect a more positive tone—and the self-limiting excuses will disappear.
So rather than limiting your actions and outcomes by thinking, “I can’t. I’m not good enough…” try expanding the possibilities by thinking: “I am more than enough. I am entitled to live joyfully and soulfully. I am good just as I am.”
Looking back on the time I broke my wrist, or the times I returned from vacation and yearned to have a mental health day before getting back on the treadmill of everyday life, more positive self-talk may have made it acceptable to me to put myself before my work and actually take one more day of respite.
The truth is that we are all more than “good enough” just because we are uniquely who we are and bring our own perspective to all that we do. While our mind may trick us into wallowing in the safety net of negativity, we can choose to change our thoughts and rise above the occasion—instead flourishing in positivity.
We don’t have to win every deal or even run a daily race in order to feel accepted or valid. The reality is that when we take care of ourselves first – and believe ourselves to be the best that we can be – we bring the best possible self to the task at hand. You know, the one who works smarter, not harder. And that alone is how I’d rather live.