So, I’m not a psychologist. I don’t have any fancy degrees or credentials. But what I do have is firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to feel things deeply and have no idea what to do about it. And the ideas and strategies that I write about are things that I’ve truly tried and seen work in my life. This is one of those things.
Neuroplasticity is this fancy word that just means our brains are always growing and changing. We don’t reach a certain age and just stop learning, adapting, and changing the way we think. Old dogs can learn new tricks. This is great news since so many of us have limiting beliefs and mindsets we’ve been practicing for years that are holding us back substantially. But because of neuroplasticity, we know we can actually change the way we think and feel!
Here’s some examples of limiting beliefs:
- I’m not good enough
- I have so much to do and never enough time to do it
- I can’t do it
- Things are never going to get better
- I’m not rich/skinny/smart/cool enough to do that
- Today is going to be one of those days
We’ve been walking around with scripts like these on repeat for so long that we probably don’t even recognize them. So the first thing to do is to sit down and think long and hard….What do I want to become or accomplish? Which limiting beliefs are keeping me from getting there?
Once you identify what the limiting beliefs are (they usually center around Never Good Enough), you can come up with a declaration that contradicts that belief.
Declarations, affirmations, mantras…whatever you want to call them, they are short phrases that state truths we want to believe more fully. We say them over and over again to ourselves until they become the running soundtrack in our heads instead of the limiting beliefs or negative talk.
Here’s an example. One of the beliefs that brings me the greatest anxiety is that I need to be perfect in order to please people. My amazing therapist recommended that I come up with a declaration that reminds my head what my heart already knows- I am loved and enough as I am today.
I wrote that down on three different note cards and placed them in the bathroom, on my nightstand, and in my car. Every time I saw those words, I would close my eyes and repeat to myself ten times I am loved and enough as I am today.
Pretty soon those words were stuck in my head like a catchy song. I would think about them all of the time. And now, whenever I feel the familiar anxiety creeping up that someone won’t like me and therefore I won’t be good enough, I can immediately call to mind I am loved and enough as I am today.
At first, when I repeated those words I didn’t believe them. My head told me all of the reasons it wasn’t true, but I kept saying them anyway. And the more I said them, the more I convinced my brain that they’re true. And you know what has now started happening? When I say those words to myself I actually FEEL calm and confident.
You see, our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings create our actions. We can’t always choose what comes into our head, but we can control what we let stay there. The concept of declarations is particularly helpful for me with OCD because I have felt so little control over obsessive thoughts. But declarations stop those thoughts in their tracks because I’m repeating the truth so many times it drowns out the lie my brain is believing. Then the emotions I experience are helpful instead of incapacitating.
I know it seems impossible to stop believing the lies you’ve had in your head for years. It might take weeks, even months to start believing those declarations after you start doing them. But I promise with all of my soul that it works. So many people have done the same thing and have found peace, then joy, then success.
As a side note, if you’re not sure how to pinpoint your limiting beliefs, just focus on one area of your life you want to improve but have been struggling with. Then come up with a declaration that reminds your brain the truth about that thing. If you want to start exercising, maybe tell yourself I want to care for my body and become physically strong. You don’t necessarily have to determine the exact limiting belief to come up with your declaration. If it gets you moving in the direction you want to go, it’s working!