The Self Talk that Keeps on Limiting You

If a couple of decades ago it was more common for limiting behaviours to span out of an overly positive regard of self, the better than the rest kind of thinking, today it seems that the opposite is more prominent, that there are more common behaviours that come from beliefs of low self-worth and lack of confidence.

When such belief is engrained in our subconscious, we are kept captive in patterns of behaviour that have the purpose of validating those limiting beliefs as truth. One of the most common negative behaviours is self-defeating talk.

Through self-defeating talk, we send messages to ourselves that become our truth and, with time, erode our confidence, decrease our performance, lower our potential, and ultimately sabotage our success. Common self-defeating talk includes sentence beginnings such as:

  • “I can’t…”
  • “I’m not good enough…”
  • “I’m not sure I can …”
  • “I don’t have what it takes…”
  • “I’m afraid I’m going to fail…”

All of our behaviours have a functionality and that functionality serves a need. In case of people who don’t trust themselves to succeed, the need is to prove themselves that that’s true, so they exhibit behaviours that are aligned with that belief.

Understanding that there was a time when you probably couldn’t do these things, when you were probably told repeatedly to not even attempt them, maybe even be threatened with some kind of punishment if you did, is the first step in putting a stop to these kinds of limiting behaviours.

It would’ve been very helpful if those people whom, very well intentioned otherwise, would have mentioned that you cannot do those things at that moment in time, because you’re too young or to inexperienced, or whatever the cause might have been, and that in a few years’ time you will be more than capable to. Postponing rather than forbidding changes the dynamics and has more chances of leaving a positive mark on the self. Explaining that the limitation is circumstantial and that there’s nothing wrong with you, would’ve put things in a different perspective and would’ve kept your belief in yourself at a high. It would’ve even been potentially motivating.

It’s important to understand that, in most cases, such action was done out of love and concern for your safety. It’s just the way it was done that ended up having a negative impact, so don’t hold it against those people, it’s not going to help you overcome this belief. To the contrary, it will keep you dwelling in even more negative emotions.

The most important thing is to turn yourself into your best friend and stop putting yourself down by telling yourself repeatedly that “you can’t succeed,” “you’re not good enough,” “you lack confidence,” “you don’t have what it takes,” or “you’re going to fail”.

Remember that these limiting beliefs come from childhood, cast a serious and profound doubt on the self, which will play out in any and all circumstances that your mind connects to the instance that limiting belief was formed. In most cases there is absolutely no connection, but that’s not how the mind works, sadly.

By Michaela Berciu