"I'm a struggling artist."
"I have a learning disability."
"I'm afraid something will go wrong."
These are words uttered to me by real people. What do these have in common?
Answer: "I can't ___ because ____."
If you find yourself frustrated and not making the changes you want to make in your health, relationships or career, you may be inadvertently believing thoughts that limit your potential. What ends up happening is that your goals are left abandoned on the side of the road because you believe that there's no point in trying.
The underlying assumption in these beliefs is that "If I didn't have these conditions or the struggle, I should be successful." In fact, the opposite is true: we become successful by taking action, in spite of our circumstances. Confidence and motivation comes from action, not the other way around.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to not believe what you tell yourself. You can also change the way you speak. To do both, it comes down the being aware of how you talk to yourself.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "I'm not crazy! I do NOT talk to myself." What I mean is, how we phrase those thoughts. Think of it as revising the voice over script for your life.
1. Ditch the "should" and replace with "would like to"
Many of us know what we should be doing, but "should" is forceful and, when used, can feel more shameful and harsh than we would like. Instead, using "would like to" is a gentler alternative, and puts one in a solution-oriented mindset and more interest in completing the task. For example, you can say, "I didn't spend as much time as I would like exercising last week... I will try again today!"
2. Replace "can't" with "I choose not to"
If you tell someone that they "can't" do something, chances are they're not going to take it very well -- and neither would you! "Can't" suggests incompetence, inadequacy or weakness. Saying instead that you "choose not to" do something comes from a position of strength and gives you a feeling of control, rather than resignation. Here's to saying "no" with confidence! For example, "I choose to spend my next hour to go for a run instead of staying late at work, because I'm stressed and taking a break is important to me right now."
3. Remind yourself that "If I consistently work on my goals, even if it's in baby steps, I will inevitably be closer to the results that I want."
I find that what separates my clients who succeed from those who don't get results is whether or not they have a growth mindset. This means they focus on growing rather than focusing on their abilities (or lack thereof). Once you place your progress on ability alone, you've already lost. But like all winners, you keep working toward your goals even when you're tired. We didn't get this far in life by stopping whenever we are tired! If we want to prioritize our well-being, we need to be willing to spend some time being a little uncomfortable to build that habit so we can live with no regrets for lack of trying.
What you tell yourself has a powerful effect on what you set out to do. Talking to yourself productively by releasing the guilt, shame and frustration from your mental chatter is a great base for clarifying and accomplishing your goals. And, you will find yourself less held back when it comes to taking action!
Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a speaker and Health Coach who believes that you are important, no matter what you achieve. She works with high-octane professionals to move past the guilt, frustration, and overwhelm towards a life of passion and purpose. If you liked this article, sign up to get updates and tips to find your personal awesome at http://www.achievewitheasenow.com
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