I wonder what life would be like if you believed you could do anything you put your mind to.
Maybe you already have that level of self-belief. If so, congratulations. I wasn’t so lucky.
My two siblings were thought to be the smart ones in the family. I was the social one. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was prove everyone right by trying my hardest in school and not doing as well as my brother and sister.
I worked hard enough to get respectable grades, but I certainly didn’t do more than that. Subconsciously I chose the mantra, “I’m afraid I can’t, so I won’t bother trying.”
My self-doubt was strong whenever I encountered a situation that might reveal what I feared most, that I didn’t measure up. I didn’t want anyone to see me fail, so if I wasn’t sure I could do something, I didn’t bother trying.
This subject always makes me think about the children’s story, The Little Engine That Could by Arnold Munk.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, it’s about a train that’s trying to get to the town on the other side of the mountain. Unfortunately, it breaks down before reaching its destination.
Large engines are asked to pull the train to the town on the other side of the steep mountain, but for one reason or another, they all refuse. The last hope of getting the railway carriages to the other side, rests with a small engine used to move rail cars around the train station tracks. When asked, it agrees to attempt the gargantuan task.
All the way up the mountain, it repeats to itself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” When it reaches the top and starts its descent, the mantra changes to “I thought I could. I thought I could.”
The little engine did what none of the bigger and more powerful ones would even attempt.
It may be a children’s book, but the message applies equally to people of all ages. Imagine what life would be like if you weren’t afraid of challenges and could happily ignore thoughts of doubt that might swirl in your head.
I passionately believe that most limiting beliefs are of our own making. If you want to embrace possibility, it’s important to recognize some of the ways you limit yourself with your thoughts and fears.
The next time you notice yourself declining a challenge or being afraid to try something new, ask yourself why. Is it a limiting idea that’s holding you back? What will happen if you try and don’t succeed? Will it be the end of the world as you know it?
Until you know they exist, you can’t let go of these problem beliefs or replace them with something more expansive. After all, if you tell yourself something often enough it will become your reality.
Do you want to be limited or limitless? The choice is yours. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish if you think you can.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.