“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts”
At the end of last year, we did a survey asking you what you’d like to stop doing the most in 2020. We learned that self-doubt and self-criticism is something a lot of you would like to minimize. This brings back to the questions:
"How and when did this thought pattern get developed?"
"How did this idea plant the seed in our head?"
Nobody is perfect. Our upbringing and past experiences shaped who we are a lot more than we think. Now that we are adults and are aware of our thought patterns, we can learn to unlock and remove what no longer positively serves us.
The beginning of a transformation starts with recognizing that what has been holding us back. Now let’s dive deep into this. Get your pen and paper ready!
1. Write it all out.
Every now and then we may start doubting ourselves and criticizing ourselves. Writing our negative thoughts down is the first step to recognize that this is something we’d like to work on.
Sometimes we may try to blank these thoughts out. But unless we pinpoint these and work through them, they will still be at the back of our minds.
So, what are some of the negative thoughts you have about yourself? They may not be present at all times. They may just pop up once in a while. But please write them down so that you can learn to understand them.
These questions might bring out some emotions. Please let them come out. We will work through this together and build a strong foundation together.
2. Understand where the doubts and criticism come from.
Each of our patterns has its roots because we were born as blank canvases. Now let’s figure out how we started developing these.
a) Were there events in the past that led up to this belief about yourself?
I don’t believe that one day we would all start developing negative thoughts about ourselves on our own out of the blue. There must have been an event - an experience we went through or something someone has said to you and hurt you - whether that's intentionally or unintentionally - that influenced the way we perceive who we are.
If these doubts are still stuck in your mind, the person who said this to you must have been important to you emotionally - in some way, shape, or form. Or the same words might have been said to you repeatedly by a few people e.g. you have been bullied.
Please take a few minutes to think deeply about this. Look into your past. Who were you surrounded by whilst growing up? What kind of environment did you grow up in? What negative experiences did you go through that caused you to have this limiting belief?
b) Who said what?
- What did they say?
- When did they say this?
- Why did they say so? What’s the context?
c) What happened?
- Describe the experience that caused you pain.
- What belief did you adopt as a result of having gone through this experience?
d) How have those words / How has this experience been affecting the way you live your life? How have they been limiting you, or, motivating you?
e) The person that criticized you, what beliefs do they hold about themselves?
- What beliefs do they hold about themselves?
- What beliefs do they hold about others?
- How did their beliefs affect your beliefs? How much of your beliefs are influenced by theirs?
- What could be their insecurities and fears?
- Could they be projecting or passing those onto you?
Most of the time, we can't change people. But we can change the way we receive, interpret, and process what's being said to us.
3. Learn to forgive and let go
How can you forgive that person for the experience?
There are two things you can do:
- Firstly, try to understand the situation from their point of view. Why did they do what they did? What were their circumstances in life? When you look at unfortunate events in life with understanding, you can get through anything in life.
- Secondly, focus on what you have learned and how you have grown from it. You wouldn't have gained the wisdom and strength without having gone through such event. So that's something you can be thankful for.
How can you forgive that person for what they said to you?
4. Adopt new beliefs and be a new you.
Write down the new beliefs you want to believe about yourself.
What don’t you like about yourself? Can you change those aspects? If so, how? If not, learn to accept them, know how to manage them, and be happy with them.
Now is the time to focus on becoming your best self. Leave the past in the past. Focus on forming new beliefs. Read books that reinforce your thinking on those new beliefs. You may have to read 10-20 books over the course of 1-2 years.
5. Avoid getting into situations that would put yourself into a position where your old limiting beliefs get reinforced again.
Your old beliefs will keep popping up. You need to force yourself to challenge them through repetitive thinking and forced actions.
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." - Tony Robbins
Challenge yourself to do something differently. Look at the people who have achieved the results that you desire in life and take a look at their actions.
- How do they do things differently from what I've previously done?
- What would they do if they were in my shoes?
Force yourself to do things the way they do even if it goes against what you're used to. You will start to believe in the new belief once you start seeing achieving outcomes. Keep at it before you give up!
5. Surround yourself with people who do not have self-doubt or put themselves down.
Energies, mindsets, and attitudes are contagious. Therefore, it's impossible to not have self-doubt if your friends have self-doubt, and it's impossible to not be motivated and inspired when you're surrounded by motivated and inspiring people.
Who are these people? What would they do? Where do they live? What are their lifestyles, attitudes, and habits? What do they read or watch?
How can you start adopting their habits and perspective?
How can you find them and be friends with them?
Overcoming something that has been in our subconscious mind for so long isn't easy. But if you've finished reading this, you're already halfway there. The rest is just follow through the steps and keep practicing believing in the new beliefs and taking new actions until they truly become your new way of life. It might take 1-2 years or longer. Don't give up!
We hope this blog post has provided you some great guidance. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
We will also be holding a live journaling session on this topic on Saturday, May 2 at 9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm UK.
Please register on our web app: https://thehappinessplanner.io (on the computer or ipad/tablet).