“I will never be able to do that!” “I am useless/hopeless/worthless” “I am not good enough for…” Have you ever had a thought like this? If so, you’re not alone! The average adult has between 50,000-80,000 thoughts a day; it’s estimated that a staggering 70-80% are negative1! Unfortunately, the ways our brains are wired is conducive to negative self talk…and when allowed to run out of control all the stories we create (and believe!) about ourselves stop us from tapping into our endless potential.
The Mind Machine and the Risk of Viruses
Without our minds, we wouldn’t be able to experience anything…they handle and process all of the data we gather with our senses and tell us what is going on out there. But these incredibly powerful data processors don’t always relay the information to us exactly as it is…each time we have a good experience the mind updates its software, and then it uses this software update to create new thoughts. Each time we have a bad experience, it’s like the mind gets a virus and it uses this virus to create new thoughts…the problem is, we don’t necessarily know when we’ve got a virus...because just like when a computer gets infected, it can remain hidden from view and we can carry on with routine basic functions for ages before we notice the damage. Before you know it, your computer is displaying the same annoying message over and over again, and its hard to use any of the of the other functions, you can’t stop the messages and you feel powerless…you’re stumped!
The Limiting Belief Snowball Effect
Limiting beliefs are like viruses…they might have been planted there years ago from an experience, encounter, something you read or something someone said to you once upon a time. When a thought worms away and is repeated for long enough, it becomes ingrained into a belief. Our thoughts reflect these beliefs and we think they are true…the virus has taken hold and is stopping you from doing what you want, fulfilling your potential, and seeing yourself as the unique and capable miracle of creation that you are! Since we experience life through our minds, when they are infected with limited beliefs, we believe them as true and act accordingly…this gives us a new experience which reinforces the limiting belief and this results in a snowball effect making these thoughts stronger and stronger. Without knowing it, we are processing information with a virus, and moulding our experiences to fit our beliefs:
For example, if your limiting belief is “I am not good enough to do this” and you believe this to be true, you are unlikely to give yourself the chance of a good try at that activity and therefore set yourself up for failure…literally getting in your own way! Next time you want to do something, you will think of all of the things you haven’t done been able to do in the past, and you will likely feel that you are not capable again.
If your limiting belief is “ I am not worthy of love” and you believe this, you may withdraw, close your heart and shut yourself off to receiving the love from others, which will make you feel unloved and reinforce how you feel about yourself….when someone tries to show you love again you may feel unworthy and not be able to receive it with an open heart.
Mindfulness is your Anti-Virus Protection Software!
One of the benefits of mindfulness is that is helps to give you some distance between you and your thoughts. Think of practicing mindfulness like an anti-virus software scan… this handy tool helps us scan through our thoughts and beliefs, taking an objective look at each one to identify which ones are useful and which ones are infected. Bringing awareness to our limiting beliefs is the first step in the process of dispelling them and taking our power back. This awareness will then in turn help with our mindfulness practice, because then when these kind of thoughts pop up in our awareness, we can let them float on by like clouds scurrying across the sky, instead of getting caught up in the stories and letting the clouds rain all over our experience.
If you would like to have a go at identifying and dispelling your limiting beliefs, you might like to try this journal activity: