This is the 1st blog, of a series of blogs I’m going to publish over the next couple of months and they will focus on the main steps and experiences in my journey towards positivity and self belief that have aided me in achieving my dream. I don’t like to be overly prescriptive about things and the whole “Do this and you too, will be like me” is not really my style.
Take what you like and leave the rest or take the whole lot and let me know what you think. It’s really up to you. I’ve had so many moments of “Serena, what the hell are you doing?” and “Is this really helping anyone? Plus, “Am I just having an early mid-life crisis?!” I spoke to my cousin about the last thought. She laughed and said ‘I didn’t even think about that!’ Cheeky! Anyways, before I even started this journey, I noticed a pattern. I’ve mentioned self-limiting beliefs so many times before. Why? Because they are the biggest killer of dreams. Not your finances, not your situation or circumstances, not your parent’s discouragement or your 9-5pm. Your own self-limiting beliefs stop you before anyone else even gets the chance! Be honest with yourself for a minute. Think about that one dream… Got it? Good? Ok… ask yourself, and be honest! Why haven’t you started making moves towards it yet? There it is! Got you! You’ve already started making excuses, that sound a little like this….
“It’s not the right time!”
“I need to do more research!”
“I’m not experienced enough!”
I am in no way judging! I went through this over and over again, until I noticed this pattern. I have thought of 100 different business ideas and talked myself out of, how many do you think? All of them! Like I said, the biggest killer of dreams… Recognising this pattern and the self-limiting beliefs is the first step. I know that if we are able to think like this, we are in a very privileged position. So being in this position enables you to start challenging those thoughts. Speaking of privilege, the strangest coincidences have happened to me whilst I have been on this journey.
One day, I was at work visiting one of my projects and I walked in to a presentation being held by a charity for people that live in the Philippines. The presenter, spoke of families in poverty and described natural disasters like floods that happen on a regular basis, how parts of the landscape, just start to crumble, blocking major roads and taking houses with them. This isn’t an excuse not to attend school though! He showed us pictures of children (yes children!) wading through water, knee deep, to get to school. How there is no social security in place for people, no matter what and children end up giving up school to work in rice fields…. Despite this, he said, the people of the Philippines are the most welcoming, friendly and happy community you would meet and all that any of the children and their family want for them, is to finish school, so they can have the same opportunities that people in western civilisation do.
That hit me like a ton of bricks!
Seeing these images, hearing these stories. I took my educational opportunities for granted and the fact that if I lost my job, I would be able to get help from the government…and here I am worrying about what people will think if I try to do something, that I have unknowingly always wanted to do! I had a stern talking to myself I tell ya! Something along the lines of “Get over yourself!” “You have had everything in life that some people only dream of! And here you are thinking and worrying about things that have not even happened and may not! And even if they did, will I die? Eeeerr no!”
Once you start challenging those thoughts, going against them, they become quieter and quieter. I’m not saying they disappear completely, well with me they haven’t anyways. I do come across times when I won’t encounter them for a long period and then they’ll come from absolutely nowhere!
I have a theory! This has not been researched and is an absolutely educated guess. So, going back to the dawn of man, we used to have our tribe. Our tribe kept us safe, warm, they gave us love and a sense of purpose and belonging, took care of our psychological needs. Right? If we were separated from our tribe, we were in deep doo doo! The thought of this would bring up feelings of insecurity, our safety would be hugely compromised, we’d be vulnerable, scared and frightened and if this happened, the odds of survival would be near nil. So, these negative feelings and the logical fear of this happening kept us safe and made us stay with our tribe.
Somewhere along the way, we have been told we don’t need our tribe and that it’s every man for themselves! The comfort and security of a 9-5, regular income etc….meant that the individual in society could flourish on their own. But not without its consequences. The rise of stress levels, depression, people generally feeling less happy and satisfied with their lives. But that’s a whole other subject.
So, now we have had centuries of this man-made life (literally), which has become our new ‘tribe’ kept us warm, safe, fed, clothed, we feel we have a purpose and a belonging; the work place, as a consumer, living comfortably. Some are happy with this new tribe, this new way of living, in the comfort zone and continue with this. Others are less convinced and wonder if there is something else that can bring them more than this comfort in life. Meaning, moving away from the ‘tribe’ the normality and seeking to find their own way; striving to reach their dreams. The moment we try to step away from that safety, that security, our natural instincts to keep us safe, warm, roof over our head, steady income, secure etc… kick in. In walks self-doubt… a natural reaction to try and keep you ‘safe’
So, I conclude that these feelings of self-doubt and self-limiting thoughts, are our brains way of trying to keep you safe, from what it thinks is a danger, of moving away from your tribe. Being left to fend for yourself, from the norm, outside your comfort zone…
The next time you have a bout of self-doubt and these thoughts or feelings of insecurity, incompetents, take hold, whilst daring to go for your dreams, take that as a signal that you are levelling up to a different zone, that will take you closer towards your dreams…
Even if I am so far off the mark, it’s not a bad theory eh?
Another thing that my self-doubt does, that you’ll be surprised to know, is actually a benefit and helps me with my growth and personal development. It helps me analyse or take a second, to look at whatever I’m doubting.
Let me explain…. So, when I feel self-doubt, sometimes, not every time, instead of dismissing it immediately, I look to what it is focusing on. For example, it might be I’m doing a video and putting it on Instagram for the world to see, which I’ve said before, is a huge fear of mine (which I’m working on). My self-doubt might focus on an insecurity like my voice. I have a big hang-up about my voice from school days, my monotonous, drowning tones… Anyways. So, instead of dismissing it, I will ensure I speak clearly and make an effort to play around with the speed and tone and pitch of my voice, to ensure I sound engaging. I do this when I teach too. This means that I am challenging the insecurity that my self-doubt picks up on, making it no longer an issue. The doubt then disappears…
Another example…when I write a blog, my self-limiting belief might be that I shouldn’t include a certain sentence because it might upset someone and then it would ruin my whole blog and my life would end and… you get the picture… it tries to dramatise absolutely everything! So, I’ll look at that sentence and try to be objective about the way it reads and how I could ensure I don’t upset anyone, sound patronising etc… Therefore, for me, sometimes, it benefits me and is logical. Other times it’s completely irrational and I need to immediately dismiss it. Like when I attended the poetry evening described in my Facing the Fear blog. There was no time to analyse it then, so it needed to be immediately dismissed.
Going back to a previous point, on the subject of connectivity, we’ve been led to believe that we do not need other human beings in our life “You’re born alone! You die alone!” kind of sentiment. Which, by the way, is completely false! When the doubt is rife and seems to be unmovable, I lean on my nearest and dearest, my circle, for that reassurance and support. Again, I know I’m privileged to have such positivity surrounding me. However, if you haven’t, this can be easily changed. Put yourself out there! People aren’t as evil as we’ve been led to believe! During my journey, I have spoken to people around the world, made connections with a variety of people, who are lovely, kind and considerate. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the internet is a wonderful place. Start there (of course exercise caution and have your wits about you), but there are plenty of social groups, that have regular meet ups, Park Runs, coffee mornings, book clubs, poetry clubs, music gigs…you name it, there’s probably a group for it. Contrary to popular belief, we do need each other to survive…
On that note, I’ll leave you with this… I think self-doubt and self-limiting thoughts are our brains natural reaction to try and protect us from what it thinks is danger. Try not to let it overwhelm you when it happens, do what you gotta do, take a time out, relaxation exercises, lean on family or friends, harness it and use it to your advantage if you can. Most of all, gain control of it and try not to let it control you. Some people can only dream of being in the position that you are in, after all, aren’t dreams what life is made of…
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