We’ve all watched children at play. Their imaginations know no bounds – they are creative, resourceful, excited – and nothing stops them from fulfilling their imaginary play. Similarly, when asked what they want to do when they grow up, they have no mental barriers. “I’m going to be a vet”, “an astronaut”, “a movie star”, they tell you, with no doubt in their mind they will achieve it. It’s the adults that spoil their dreams. We give them a ‘reality check’ and tell them things like “that’s too hard”, “very few people achieve it”, “only men can do that job” and, in a moment, their dreams are snatched.
This ‘realism’ is just a limit we put upon ourselves and then project onto others. As we grow up, this ‘realism’ translates into negative self-talk, so deep-rooted that we don’t recognize it for what it is – just a limiting belief – rather, we accept it and even look for evidence from our previous experiences to back up and prove its’ validity. Our brain is wired to search for evidence supporting our thoughts; it wants us to be right, and will keep obeying the instruction to find evidence until we are convinced. We tell ourselves that the situation is hopeless. “I’m not good enough”, “I’m too old”, “I’m unrealistic”, “See, I knew I couldn’t do that”. When we give up, the brain has accomplished it’s mission and it waits for the next instruction while we try to pick up and repair our shattered confidence.
The more we practice this negative self-talk, the better we become at it. We might challenge it occasionally – we decide we are going to attempt something new – to lose weight; to learn a new skill; to start our own business – and we go all out in the beginning but as soon as things don’t go our way (we give in to that cream cake and tell ourselves we’ve ‘blown our diet’ or we tell someone about our business venture/idea and they ridicule it) our old patterns kick in and we give up.
Does this sound like you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do and still haven’t achieved? Do you feel time is running out?
I urge you not to give up on your dreams. Whatever excuse you are telling yourself, is just that – an excuse. Like children, you are already creative, resourceful and whole. You have within you everything you need to succeed at whatever it is you want to achieve. Your challenge is not that you can’t afford that dream holiday, that you’re too old, or that no one wants the product or service you are offering. Your challenge is that you are letting your negative self-talk win. You are choosing to believe, and therefore accept, defeat.
Remember that the brain wants us to be right? What if we stop listening to the negative self-talk and start focusing on the positive? Can you see that the brain will want to prove us right, and start looking for positive evidence? Nothing is impossible, if you reprogram your thinking. Of course, you can’t just dream and think positive thoughts and expect your dreams to come true! You need to create a detailed, step by step action plan of all the steps you need to take, and then you have to work the plan, taking action towards your dream every single day. You might consider working with a coach and/or a mentor – someone you trust, who wants you to succeed and who will support, encourage and hold you accountable until you reach your goal.
Understand that there will be setbacks. Things might not go as well as you hope – most successful people have overcome incredible odds to get where they are today – but the only way you can fail is if you give up on your dreams.
What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?