Let’s talk about progress, which I define as being able to make choices out of freedom (not stress), getting the results I want, and feeling good about myself.
Ideally, I want to make progress every day, but it doesn’t always happen. Some days no matter how hard I try, I feel like I go nowhere. It hit me a few years ago that it couldn’t only be about action since I was taking loads of it, but still not making the change I wanted. Something else was at play, and I discovered it was my beliefs.
Beliefs are what you think about yourself, what’s possible for you, and what you deserve. We get attached to certain beliefs because they help shape our identity and help categorize ourselves into a tribe – “I’m a sport’s lover” “I believe in God” “I’m pro-choice.”
In an uncertain world, beliefs gives us a place to land that makes us feel comfortable and secure.
But the beliefs I see in the world and the beliefs running through my clients (and my own) head are mostly detrimental and stem from past trauma. They aren’t helpful, and actually cause stress.
Feel free to add yours to the list:
- “The problems in my work and relationships are just too complicated for me to solve.”
- “I can’t handle the success that may come. I’m not ready for it and I’m scared it will throw my life into a shit-storm.”
- “I’m a fraud. I don’t have enough experience, skill, or expertise to help people.”
- “I can’t be successful and happy at the same time. If you’re happy you become complacent and don’t push yourself. Successful people always push themselves.”
- “I’m afraid to fail in front of others and have them see me fall flat on my face.”
These beliefs aren’t true, but they feel so real in our daily lives – like they happened just yesterday, not years ago. They remain as emotional wounds and memories, and even if we are aware, we still allow them to make us feel sad, unfulfilled, lonely. “I can’t find a job because the economy sucks” really means “I feel unworthy of good work” “I won’t be able to hack it” and “Ms. Anderson was right – I’m terrible at science.” Ms. Anderson said it, so it must be true, right? We act this way.
It’s easy to believe in these thoughts simply because we have for so long, but it’s not okay to keep believing them. I spent years letting erroneous beliefs run my life and more time un-doing the aftermath.”I can’t have a successful business + relationship together because I can’t balance it all” “I’m not business-y enough.”
When I reversed these beliefs, I learned that it wasn’t about my capacity – I could handle my life, I deserved to be happy in my work and relationships. Switching those beliefs actually gave me energy and a feeling of competence to forge ahead.
A few weeks ago, my client Jeff told me he wasn’t starting his blog because something always seemed to get in his way. Jeff is a smart, aware guy determined to get what he wants, but whose beliefs keep him from making progress. I told him I understood his plight: entrepreneurs wake up with too much fear and too little time, but we either move forward or we don’t depending on the story we tell ourselves.
I challenged Jeff that it wasn’t time that kept him from his blog but himself – his beliefs about if he could write the blog? Was he original or expert enough? Did he really have something to say? Would people listen when he said it? We got to the root (and it’s important to do this without shame), and Jeff felt relieved.
He had simply been making the mistake we all do: stressing out trying to control things outside our control – time, money, people. Once we realize that we blame external things because it’s easier to than to realize you’re your own obstacle, it brings a lot of emotional freedom.
Instead of being discouraged, Jeff saw this as an opportunity to take smarter action based on the forces really at play, not on the ones he thought were. As soon as he felt – really felt – that he deserved to write his blog and he had something to say, his time problem was gone.
Progress means detaching yourself from beliefs that limit your growth without you knowing it. When you always look at what’s obvious on the surface -circumstances, lack of time – you miss the point. The real stuff that needs unraveling could be you, and is most likely hidden from plain sight.
Before you go anywhere, you need to unearth these beliefs to see if they’re blocking you from the progress you want to make. Working harder, taking more risks – do them – but do them in tandem with reflecting on your beliefs. You may feel silly, you may feel scared to do it, but it’s worth it. It is time well-spent and where real progress is made.
Some of my clients + readers are so talented that I want to pound their beliefs out of them so they can just do the work they’re here to do. They are that necessary, and so are you.
Just like them, you deserve to feel fulfilled, make boatloads of money, and feel good about yourself – it starts by realizing that just because you tell yourself you can’t have it all, doesn’t mean it’s true. Progress and capacity can be infinite for you, but only if you really believe it for yourself.
Once you do, you’ll see the truth of who you are is so much better than what you’ve been telling yourself all this years.