Sell By Date

Have your beliefs gone beyond their sell-by date?

A common topic arising in my coaching sessions is around limiting self-beliefs. Most of us have an internal critic or voice which tells us how things should or must be, for instance, ‘I must always be on time’, or ‘I should deliver the perfect presentation’. When explored more deeply, these ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ are rules for living that we have imposed on ourselves, possibly since childhood, and may reflect beliefs and values that are no longer helpful for us.

Once we’ve worked to identify the limiting value or belief, it can be helpful to try to understand how it arose, and what purpose it once served. For example, the belief that ‘in order to succeed I must always put 100% effort in’ may have served a useful purpose in enabling someone to do well academically or survive school, but is not a necessary rule to adhere to in all areas of work, and can lead to constant pressure and high stress levels.

Having established the self-limiting belief and gone some way to understanding the purpose it once served, we can look at ‘de-bunking’ the myth, and finding out what belief or value might be a more helpful replacement. A part of the process is cross-examining the assumption – what evidence is there that says this rule must always apply? What would happen if you didn’t follow this rule? Who do you know who successfully lives by a different set of values?

What I like about this approach is that rather than demonising our old habits of thinking, and therefore attacking ourselves still further, we try to understand what’s behind the belief, before accepting that its purpose has been served, and may no longer be helpful.

Do you have any self-limiting rules that have out-lived their purpose?