I know, it’s a bit of a cliche.
“No pain, no gain” she says.
But what the hell does that have to do with self-discovery?
Let me tell you this, if you don’t experience some pain upon reflection of your life, if you have no regrets, and you don’t have anything you’d like to change about your life or do differently, you’ve got something mastered that so many of us struggle with. Possibly contentment? Then again, I’m also reminded of another saying.
“If you’re not growing, you are dying.”
So, in order to grow, to set goals for ourselves, to begin to work towards a point where we can truly feel contentment and know that we’ve achieved at least some of those goals, we have to KNOW ourselves first. And I don’t just mean know what we THINK of ourselves…I mean truly KNOW what works for us, what gives us pleasure, what throws us off balance, what (or who) grounds us and makes the struggles of everyday life seem more manageable.
There’s no magic formula for this. There’s no ‘one list fits all’ approach, but I will let you know that it will involve breaking down some barriers (self-imposed or otherwise) and it will involve at least a little bit of pain. But don’t be afraid of this pain – because it will help you grow in ways you never could have imagined for yourself.
Just consider a couple of questions:
1. How would you describe yourself? (Go ahead and think about it before continuing to read…I’ll wait for you).
Chances are, at least a part of your description will include things you view as flaws. Notice, I didn’t specify that I wanted you to describe your looks, personality, strengths, weaknesses, etc. I kept it broad for a reason. I know when I describe myself, I start with some parts of my personality, but it’s so easy to revert to describing things I don’t like or want to change about myself. I am learning to focus on my strengths instead (which is only happening because of some emotionally painful experiences that have helped me to gain a new perspective).
2. Now, How would others in your life describe you?…again…I’ll wait…this one can be a little more difficult…but think about those who love and know you the best. And for the point of this exercise, focus only on the awesome things they would say about you, because chances are, that’s how they’d describe you to someone else anyway.
Now, what feels better to think about? The amazing things other people would say about you? Or the flaws we all so often focus on about ourselves? I know what feels better for me – and I’ve come to realize that I see flaws in myself that almost nobody else picks up on…because they’re not really flaws, they are a part of what makes me the person that I am…the person that is loved by others, but sometimes finds it difficult to love herself. And that’s exactly why I need to experience at least a little bit of pain if I want to grow.
All of the things we tell ourselves – the way we describe ourselves – the thoughts that creep into our minds that tell us that we are anything less than fantastic human beings are all impeding us. They can be related to our looks, our abilities, our income potential, job potential, personal relationships, love, education, or any other number of aspects of our lives. They’re called Limiting Beliefs, and if I can give you one thing to work on – it would be SQUASHING YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS because they are holding you back. This can be difficult to do by yourself, because it truly involves identifying those beliefs you carry that are detrimental to your well-being, then working to change your perspective, and eventually, creating an internal dialogue that builds you up.
I’ve recently been working with an amazing group of ladies led by the phenomenal Life Empowerment Coach, Gina. We’ve been helping each other to see that some of the things we believe about ourselves are limiting beliefs instead of the facts we believe them to be. Through this process, we were given accountability partners, people we could check in with on a daily basis, and people we could trust to tell us the truth when we were putting forth our limiting beliefs. One of these exercises elicited a very powerful emotional response for me, and one of my fantastic accountability partners was there to support me through something that could have very easily resulted in a downward spiral for me. Ruminating or stewing in limiting and irrational beliefs can be a very dark and scary experience, which can be a contributing factor or trigger for anyone dealing with depression or anxiety. The work I’ve been doing in Gina’s “Say Yes to You” group and the activities I’ve done in her previous “The Year of You” group have helped me to become more self-aware, to the point that I knew in that moment that if I didn’t reach out to someone for a little perspective, I would become stuck in my current mindset for a long time.
So, I did. I didn’t really want to…but I knew that I had to…to feel the pain I was trying to ignore, to allow someone else into my thoughts for a moment to help me realize that everything I was telling myself was causing the pain I was feeling, and to help me adjust my thinking to a more positive mindset so that I could see the truth instead of only my limiting beliefs. I can’t fully explain how empowering that was for me…to begin to let go of things I’ve believed about myself for most of my life…that have NEVER been true. It also got me in such a positive mood that I approached other aspects of my life with a more positive outlook.
I also wanted to thank the very special person who helped me by telling me how she sees me – to begin the process of squashing those beliefs I had about myself. I took what felt like the hardest step…telling someone else some of the terrible things I truly believed about ME…and after that, the rest of the steps didn’t seem quite so painful. I wrote this for her:
So, here’s why I believe the “No pain, no gain” motto.
If I hadn’t shared my thoughts with someone else, I would probably still be feeling the pain related to them, and I would probably have created even more of those negative thoughts in my mind. Was it more painful to admit what I’d been feeling than to just ignore it? Perhaps, but it was a temporary and necessary increase in pain for my overall wellness. It isn’t easy for many people to admit that they’re struggling with something, especially when it’s related to mental and emotional health. We often have an easier time admitting that we need help dealing with something like the flu, but it is equally (and arguably more) important to seek support when dealing with our emotional well-being.
So, what can you do if you’ve been living in your limiting beliefs, allowing them to rule your thoughts and your actions? As I already mentioned, there’s no hard and fast fix, and it will take a journey of self-discovery to figure out what works best for you, but I’ve got a few suggestions…and I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments (I will add to this list if people are willing to share!).
- Share your thoughts with someone you can trust.
- Seek help through a counsellor or therapist
- Find an online group , a local group, or a mindset coach.
- Keep a journal any time you catch yourself thinking a limiting belief, then cross it out and write it with a positive spin (this takes practice but can also be done without writing…just catch yourself in the act and work to change your thoughts).
- If you like to write, use prompted journal entries to help you identify and work through these limiting beliefs.
- … more to come!
Most of all, I urge you to take the steps (even the hard, scary, painful steps) that you need to take for your own overall well-being. It is so important for you and for everyone who loves you!