We all have patterned, self-limiting thoughts that keep us from living a full, joyous life. These thoughts, like “I have to give up my personal life to get ahead at work” and “You can’t trust anybody” or even “People will laugh at my art“ are common human occurrences that stop us from chasing after our dreams, forming healthy relationships and creating positive change in our life.

They keep us in a holding pattern and in our comfort zone and is a defense mechanism to stop you from experiencing perceived pain. These beliefs are often about yourself but they can also be how your environment, relationships, and how the world runs.

The first step to get rid of this negative self-talk is awareness. You need to learn where it originated to understand the nature of situated that has kept you living small. Some common places to look include family values and beliefs (i.e., our family does things this way only), educational experiences (i.e., math is too hard for you) and a variety of life experiences (where do you experience “stuckness?”)

Ask yourself these questions: How do you practice self-talk? What’s your reaction when you make mistakes? Do you recognize a pattern of holding back when pursuing a goal (i.e., stopping 2-3 weeks into a project?) These questions may help you to gain the awareness to start digging deeper into your thinking and behavior.

Here are suggestions to release self-limiting thoughts:

1. Question the validity of your thinking. If a thought feels patterned and negative, ask yourself whether it’s true.

2. Go beyond your comfort zone to take risks. Change what you have done in the past to push yourself not to repeat old limits.

3. Replace old beliefs with creative, new ones. If it feels limiting, come up with something that will feel expansive.

4. Make sure you’re taking care of your physical and mental well-being. With a clear, focused mind, you will have more energy to release the limiting thought.

Here are other articles that may be of interest:

My team wants me to change a habit, but it’s been hard to make.

Boosting Your Success Rate with Achieving Goals – Part 1