Few people realize they have beliefs that greatly limit their ability to be and do more.
Consider that our thoughts create our reality. Our beliefs create our thoughts. We decide things are the way they are and then spend our lives collecting evidence to support those beliefs. The problem with this approach is sometimes we fall into believing something that isn't helpful to our growth or fulfillment.
I was not a runner for most of my life. I believed that I didn't like to run and I wasn't very good at it. The last time I ran was about 20 years ago -- I got a stich in my side and wanted to quit. I thought I didn't look like a runner, either. I'm an ample woman that could never fit into those tiny running shorts. Besides, I'm way too old to run. It's too hard on one's joints and knees. I might hurt something. Lots of beliefs, you see.
Recently, my sister was running her first full marathon and asked me to come and support her. The plan was for her to run in the full marathon and I would walk the half marathon (I am a great walker and I love to walk). I'd be done in time to meet her at the finish line and cheer for her.
Karen Kimsey-House with husband Henry at Dillon Beach, CA, near their home. Photo by Phil Saltonstall.
Due to some technical difficulties, the half marathon got off to a very late start. During the first mile, I did the math and realized that, at my current speed, I was going to miss my sister coming across the finish line of her first-ever full marathon. Completely not okay with me.
So I began to run a little. When I got tired, I would walk. I clocked my pace and saw that I was moving fast enough to make the big event of my sister crossing the finish line. I wasn't even going very fast. As a matter of fact, I was going kind of s l o w, and yet, I was still running!
I started having a great time, be-bopping to the incredible playlist on my iPod, running and walking and enjoying just moving. By the time I finished, I was flying.
"Hey," I thought, "I like -- no, I love -- running!" I realized that it wasn't about speed, size or any kind of looking good. Runners were those who ran. Period.
I'm now a runner. I do a half marathon about twice a year and have a blast. I'm definitely not setting any records -- except maybe for the person having the best time.
Running, I've discovered, is really good for me. Of course in all the usual ways and in some surprising ones as well: It clears my head. Helps me think. Tickles my creativity. Boosts my mood, too. Who knew?
I turned a life-diminishing belief into a life-nourishing one. How about you? Are your beliefs working for you, or against you?
The best litmus test I know for whether a belief is limiting or not is: Does the belief grow life in me or wither it? Does it expand my aliveness or take me more into repetitive and deadening patterns? Am I choosing how I respond or is my belief? Expansive, life-affirming beliefs are fluid. Limiting beliefs are rigid. A red flag is absolute language like "never", "can't", "always" or "should".
Working with people for about 25 years, I see the same limiting beliefs over and over again: "I'm not good enough", "I don't matter", "I'm stupid", "weird", "don't fit in", "don't belong".
Here is the thing about beliefs, limiting or nourishing: somehow, whatever you believe, the universe seems to agree and comply. So, if I think something is too hard for me, that becomes my reality. If I think I am worthy and powerful, I will find my agency and influence emerge.
To notice our limiting beliefs, we need to be looking for them. It's hard to know when we are inside the box if we are not looking for the box. Examining fears is a great place to look for limiting beliefs. Remember the old adage that fear is False Expectations Appearing Real? I often hear this come up in work I do with corporate executives. "They won't let me" or "It's not allowed" or "It would never work at my company". If I'm talking to a lower-level person, it seems to be the higher-up. If I'm talking to the higher-level person, they often seem to feel that the general culture will not allow fuller self-expression or whatever is at stake.
Limiting beliefs have us give our power over to someone or something, making it larger than our own power. Few people realize they have beliefs that greatly limit their ability to be and do more. So, do the due diligence to become conscious of your core limiting beliefs and figure out how to replace them with empowering beliefs.
I gotta run now.
Karen Kimsey-House, MFA, CPCC, MCC, is the Co-founder and CEO of The Coaches Training Institute (CTI), the oldest and largest in-person coach training school in the world, and the co-author of the best-selling Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives. Karen was one of four pioneers of the coaching profession, and in honor of its 20th birthday this year, she is sharing her insights about human transformation in a ten-part HuffPost series, :Disrupt Your Life in a Good Way".