When an audience is asked the question, “hands up if you speak to yourself” about 60% of the room will hold up their hands. The rest of the audience will be looking at the ceiling, literally asking themselves the question – ‘do I?’
It’s always a good moment.
We all talk to ourselves. It’s a perfectly natural process and part of our thinking process. What we don’t realise is that we spend much of our daily lives having an inner conversation.
The challenge can often be that what we are saying to ourselves without realising it is perhaps not as helpful as we would like. Sometimes our self-talk can be the work of our inner critic.
Picture the scene. You are about to step onto a stage to give a talk to a large audience – what’s going through your head? Typically, we will have prepared well, but it’s still a challenging situation, because statistically, people see this as scarier than dying!
Phrases like, ‘I can’t wait for this to be over’, or ‘I’m terrified’ tend to be the kind of thing that we say to ourselves. But is this kind of self-talk helping us or hindering us? The answer is obvious. And what’s more, these self-talk affirmations are beliefs.
An important thing to remember is this – a belief, or what we feel to be true, drives our feelings and emotions. Isn’t that true?
If you say to yourself, ‘I can’, it creates an emotion. If you say ‘I can’t’, it creates an emotion.
Our feelings and emotions affect our behaviour – what we say and what we do. Our behaviour affects our performance and results and our beliefs are either the secret sauce or a recipe for disaster.
So, how do you change limiting beliefs?
1. Raise Awareness
The first thing to become aware of, is what your limiting beliefs ARE – remember, our beliefs tend to run the show subconsciously – we tend not to register what we are believing from moment to moment, but we have an emotional reaction to an event and our behaviour follows accordingly.
Have a think and make a list about any limiting beliefs that you have about –
Your communication skills
When you look at each of these in turn, you should be able to identify any niggling thoughts (and therefore beliefs) that you have. Raising awareness of your daily self-talk is the hallmark of a peak performer.
2. Challenge your unhelpful beliefs
We can shake the roots of our limiting beliefs by challenging them with questions.
Question 1. – Am I certain that this belief is true? (remember, 99% of the time, you can’t be certain!)
Question 2. – What difference would it make to my performance if I didn’t have this belief?
Question 3. – Given that what I believe is a choice, what might be a more helpful belief to choose?
NB. The key here is to remember that each question builds a case that successively weakens the belief. The great thing about these questions is that they really do work – it’s just a matter of remembering to use them, rather than letting the daily cycle of your limiting beliefs run you.
3. Remind yourself of your greatness
To counter negative belief patterns, here are some positive alternatives with which to remind yourself whenever you find yourself slipping into old habits:
• Remember times when you overcame serious challenges
• Remember times when you were admired by others
• Remember those times when you overcame your fears
• Remember times when you were proud of yourself
Don’t you think it would make a difference if you made a habit of reminding yourself of your successes instead of the limiting alternatives?
A strong recommendation is that you make a note of some consciously empowering self-affirmations to use every time you are in a potentially pressured situation. The key is to be consistent with this new strategy until it becomes habitual.