When we look around at our live and see all that we have, it is important to recognize where it all came from. How you were able to create it.
As attorneys, it’s easy to look to our law school education as one of our greatest accomplishments. Have you ever thought back to that time and considered what you were thinking that got you through it? What were you believing about yourself that propelled you through those 5-hour finals?
Have you ever considered the opposite end of the spectrum? Consider some of your struggles in life. Times when you weren’t showing up in a way that you were proud of or times when you threw in the towel. What were you believing about yourself in those times?
Our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities bubble below the surface in everything that we do.
I can support you to identify your negative thinking patterns and shift to some prettier thinking but if the beliefs you have about yourself are toxic, none of our work will stick.
What we believe about ourselves and our abilities are often based upon our past experiences. What we were taught, what we have learned about ourselves from events 5, 10, 15 years ago. The truth is that none of that is relevant today. There is no reason our pasts have any bearing on our abilities today.
We can choose to believe anything we want to believe by ourselves.
We are not constrained by our pasts.
There is no universal truth about your ability to create the life you want to. It all depends upon whether or not you believe you can do it.
Many of my clients set big goals for themselves and whenever they are faced with challenge, their brain immediately offers them those deeply ingrained beliefs about themselves. I just don’t have what it takes. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough.
We have so many beliefs like these rolling around our brains, running automatically in the background like elevator music behind everything we do and everything positive thought we try to believe. We treat these words as if they are facts. There is a part of us that believes those statements about our abilities are true.
Unless and until you can identify and address your negative beliefs about yourself, you will never be able to achieve you dreams.
This is why so many of us achieve big things but those accomplishments never hit our radar. We finished law school, we landed that major clerkship, we got the job at prestigious firm but we still don’t feel fulfilled and we don’t feel happy. We barely pause for a moment to recognize the achievement because we still don’t believe we deserve it. We believe we aren’t worthy or good enough. We’re impostors and they will find us out! Those thoughts are playing in the background and drown out any positive interpretations of our accomplishments.
The accomplishments never make us feel better because our negative beliefs about ourselves jump in and remind us that it is never going to work. So many of us spend our lives caught in this cycle, constantly achieving and reaching goals but never feeling fulfilled.
The first step in learning to believe new things about yourself is to recognize the negative beliefs you are carrying around.
Take a look at them and see them for what they are: optional thoughts. Choices you are making.
Do you want to continue to believe those things?
Are those beliefs serving you?
How would your life be different if you chose to believe something different?
Second, allow yourself some grace for those thought errors.
You are human and your brain is really good and repeating those thought to keep you safe and cozy. There is nothing wrong with you. Recognizing that your brain has this thought pattern, is not a free pass to dive into another batch of negative self-talk about yourself. These negative thought patterns are normal; don’t beat yourself up for having them.
Third, force yourself to argue with the thought.
What if I am good enough?
What if I can do this?
What if I can figure it out?
Let those questions lead your brain to some better fodder.
Finally, choose an alternative belief about yourself that does serve you and your goals.
Consider these suggestions:
It’s not what we do—it’s who we are.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are enough.
Sometimes I doubt myself and that’s okay, I am learning to be more confident.
Nothing has gone wrong here.
I’m responsible for everything I think and feel.
My purpose is the life I am living now.
If you don’t do this work of recognizing and addressing those closely held beliefs you have about yourself and your worthiness, you will always be striving toward your goals while dragging a ball and chain.
Stop fighting yourself and get on the same team.
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