Recently, I led 41 fitness and business leaders from around the country through a daylong retreat in Scottsdale. We focused on improving our leadership skills and clarifying our priorities in life. We rarely step out of our daily lives to work on our lives. But it is an exercise that trumps all others. The breakthroughs that happened with a simple notebook and pen were tremendous. You can benefit, too. One of our most transformational exercises was identifying the voices in our head. I asked the group to write about the thoughts and stories they tell themselves that prevent them from taking action and living up to their goals in life. These limiting beliefs impact how we behave, the choices we make, the people we invite into our lives and ultimately our own happiness.
Limiting beliefs include … I am not smart enough, I am too overweight, I am not good enough, I do not deserve happiness, I did not go to school long enough, I have always been an underachiever, I do not have the right skills, I do not come from the right upbringing, etc. As the participants wrote, tears fell to the pages. The men and women wrote about all the reasons they lived stagnant in their careers or relationships or even lived in fear of success. One woman felt that her extra weight would prevent people from taking her seriously, another held on to belittling comments from her childhood. One woman felt that her shyness prevented her from being a leader and a man felt that his past failures defined him. Writing out our limiting beliefs was eye opening and freeing. The participants were asked to share their beliefs with each other. By having to vocalize them and really own them, they were able to start to let them go. Confidence is something we have to find within. We can literally train the voices in our heads. One busy mom of three said that her best days are the ones where she exercises, eats healthy and talks nicely to herself. She said she is actually a better mom on those days because she is kinder to herself. She has learned to shut off the negative voices and turn up the voices of positivity and confidence.
Consider writing out your self-limiting beliefs. If you want to take it a step further, invite a loved one to do it with you. Take 20 minutes to just write. Then share with each other. I have found that many limiting beliefs come people’s poor body image or health. You can change that. You can take action.
People in our community take the brave step every day, no matter how impossible it may feel. Not long ago, Marge Morford was at a low point. She was overweight, taking medicine to control her high blood pressure and her doctor was about to put her on cholesterol medication. Marge was frustrated and unhappy in her own skin. Her coworkers invited her to join a Corporate Fit Challenge to overhaul her fitness and nutrition. It changed her life. Marge had dieted many times before, but the weight never stayed off. In this program, she learned to make healthy nutritional choices on a regular basis and started exercising, something she had always avoided because she did not like to sweat. In six weeks, Marge lost eight pounds and was able to stay off cholesterol medication. Even though the challenge was done, Marge continued to eat healthier and workout. She loved going to group exercise classes for the support and motivation. Today Marge is down 50 pounds and completely free of her blood pressure medication as well. She is a fit mother of four, grandmother of one, wife and a case worker who lives happier and has fewer limiting beliefs about herself. ” I don’t worry as much about what impression I may make. Before I worried about what people thought of me when I was heavier. Now, I’m proud of myself and really feel like I accomplished something,” Marge said.
The voices in your head can paralyze you or propel you. Choose to live without limits. If you need a first step, fitness can help set you free.