Complete this sentence: “I can’t….”

How many things spring to mind when I pose the above question to you? One? A few? Need some more paper to write it all down??

It’s a fact of life that many of us are very good at focusing on what we can’t do, or things which we are not good at. How about if I’d asked you to consider what you can do, would ideas have come so easily to mind? We are often uncomfortable at listing what we can do, especially as women we often don’t ‘blow our own trumpet’ as much as we can wax lyrical on all the things we can’t do. There’s something comforting at comparing notes at how bad you are at things (e.g. baking, sewing, accounts) and it’s often a way of building rapport with someone – rather than standing out and stating your strengths.

Our negative self-beliefs can be a comfort blanket but they often stop us stepping out of that blanket and achieving the things we want. Business not going well? Ah but “I’m no good at selling”. Not in the shape you want to be? It’s because “I can’t get on with any exercise”. Many of us talk about these beliefs as if they are facts – and it feels like they are, as we’ve lived with them so long. But an insider secret…..they are just beliefs….and as they are beliefs not facts they can be changed. Want to know how?

Do you remember a time when someone had a negative belief about you and you knew it was wrong, and were determined to prove them wrong? It’s often from school – my A-level Maths teacher predicted my a C at best because he didn’t believe I could do any better. He soon had to eat his words when after much determination and hard work I scored an A (with 96% in one of the exams, highest they had seen). So if we can do it with other people’s opinions, we need to do the same with our internal voices. We need to PROVE THEM WRONG.

How do we do that? A small step at a time. Our brains automatically start changing our beliefs if they see evidence against them, it’s all done pretty subconsciously. I’ll give you another example from my life which highlights the process. For years I thought “I can’t run” (school again) and I wanted to be able to – free exercise, fits in whenever, etc. However my belief stopped me doing anything and I happily sat in my comfort blanket and got unfitter. One day a friend introduced me to a ‘couch to 5k’ app for my phone, which prompts you to run and then walk, starting at 1 minute then building up. I thought “ok, I can run 1 minute, but I can’t do any more”…so I managed 1 minute. Then 2 minutes the next time. At about 10 minutes I thought “maybe I can do this…”. At my last run I did 50 minutes and I’ve agreed to run a 10k in November. And I’m so proud of myself!!

BUT…I never would have done it if I’d tried to run for an hour from the outset. Given up, ‘failed’, and not tried again. Small steps, small wins, change that belief slowly.

My challenge to you, is what belief do you have that you wish was different? What small step can you do to prove it wrong? Do it, try it, and let me know how you go.blog-post

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