The wiring in our brain is amazing. When we repeat something to ourselves often enough, our brain becomes wired to believe it. For example, my whole life I’ve told myself, ‘I’m not good at maths’. As a kid I had some difficult experiences with maths which led me to draw this conclusion about myself. Did it mean I couldn’t improve in maths? Of course not, but the conclusion I drew was that this was a skill deficit in me. Instead of trying to improve, I just accepted it. This meant that whenever I encountered a maths problem, I’d avoid it and tell myself ‘Oh dear, this is maths, I’m no good at maths, someone else?’ In fact I said this so often and just stood back whenever faced with a maths to the point where others believed this about me too. A maths problem would come up and they’d say ‘don’t ask Emily - she’s terrible with maths!’ Yet the truth is, I believed this so strongly about myself that I didn’t even try. It’s hard to be good at something if you don’t even try!! Improving at something takes time, effort and PRACTICE, like anything!! And I know that I’m not ‘bad’ at maths even though I’ve been telling myself this for years. The truth is I’m just out of practice and have lowered my confidence to give it a go by the messaging I’ve repeated to myself over the years. I can turn this around in a heartbeat. I can start saying instead; ‘I can do this if I try a little harder’. ‘I’ll get better with practice’. ‘My past beliefs about myself aren’t true for me now’. The question now is, am I motivated to change this? Do I WANT to improve in this area or not? If I do, then I need to stop telling myself ‘I’m BAD at maths’ and start shaping a new internal dialogue to support my efforts and confidence to do better now and into the future. It’s no different with any skill or experience in our lives. I work with people who worry that they’re not good with ‘challenging people who perform poorly’, or with ‘speaking in front of a crowd’, or with ‘asking for what they want’, or ‘with money’, or ‘at finishing what they start’ etc. etc. The truth is these (just like my maths!) are just stories we tell ourselves based on past experiences that are holding us back. We can change the story any time IF we WANT to!
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