Shifting my Self-Limiting Beliefs

I saw a quote (on Facebook) that said something like, “Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who is doing what. Cherish what you have – the relationships you have, the time you have, the things you have/do. Embrace what you are doing. Embrace who you are.”   Sounds great, and yet, my current self-limiting belief trifecta remains: I am less than, I am wrong, I don’t belong.

A big part of my retirement transition has been to become a more positive person, a conscious choice to change from the negative, critical workaholic I was. Shifting my self-limiting beliefs is part of this process.

My Enneagram Type 1 personality is reflected in feeling like I always need to be right. Type Ones fear they will be discovered to be not good enough and therefore they are terrified of making mistakes or being criticized. Inside I believe I am not good enough, so I expect to hear “You’re wrong.” I expect to hear, “You’re less than they are.” I expect to hear, “ You are not good enough to belong.”

I’ve blogged before about not feeling like I belong (link here).  This blog post will explore where I stand on shifting my “less than” and “you are wrong” self-limiting beliefs.

Why do I surround myself with amazing women who make me feel less than? 

In just the past few days I have felt less than when I’ve succumbed to the horrible Compare and Despair with two women friends.  Not only does D have the cooking skills to effortlessly whip up lunch and dinner, but then add in her creative quilting, continued consulting work, regular workouts, and volunteer activities and I am totally feeling less than!  Then there is M’s activity list: still working and at the height of her do-good career, she manages to also be an avid exerciser, a gourmet cook, keep an amazing garden, and take travel trips to exciting destinations (even in COVID, it was a great RV beach destination for the holiday).  Yes, in the language of the goddesses, I surround myself with accomplished Artemis and Athena women. I just need to stop the Compare and Despair because they are amazing women to be friends with.

How do I stop hearing, “You are wrong?”

My inner voice interprets things. My not joining into the blog challenges is wrong. Not choosing a Word-of-the-year is wrong. Almost every time I cook, I’ve done something wrong – I cooked the cauliflower wrong, I over cooked the chicken, I cooked too much food, I didn’t add enough spice. When hubby doesn’t hear me well (yelling, “WHAT”), I’m the one who is wrong – I’m mumbling or I’m talking in a whisper. [OK, this has gotten better with his hearing aids!] During the kitchen refresh, I was afraid to try and fix the tile floor crack because I KNEW I would do it wrong. God forbid I try and do laundry… I’ll load the washer wrong or set the dryer wrong. [Yes, thankfully hubby does the laundry.] I’m doing my new craft stuff wrong. I’m not sure how to stop the inner interpretation of hearing “you are wrong” in everything, which I recognize as preventing me from trying things and engaging in life more fully. I would love any thoughts you might have!

“Am I doing things right?”

I am struggling with social etiquette.  I’ve never been a strong social animal.  Being a workaholic made socializing an infrequent activity.  Even as a 20-something, I didn’t do the bar scene or go out with friends just to hang. I didn’t have friends over for dinner or wine, although it is a part of my retirement lifestyle vision!  I’ve rarely traveled with friends and rarely had friends visit with us.  So I am feeling at a loss on social etiquette – when doing the happy hour scene, when hanging out with people, or even when traveling to visit friends, I wonder, “Am I doing the right things? Or am I making social gaffes right and left?”  Again, I’m not sure how to release this anxiety.

Shifting self-limiting beliefs, my inner voice interpretation of things, is an ongoing fight for me. Embracing the authentic me and focusing on cherishing what I have (the relationships, the time, the things) is definitely a work in progress!

What self-limiting belief are you working to change?

Credit Picture: Me. Best picture this week is of a cypress strand in Everglades National Park.

25 thoughts on “Shifting my Self-Limiting Beliefs

    1. Thanks for the link. I found the post very interesting…it’s always good to hear how other articulate the messages we need to hear repeatedly. The one that resonated with me today was about other people’s opinions!

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  1. Oh my dear Pat, how much we want to change what we know we dislike in and about ourselves and we try to “hate it” and “push it away” methods and they do not work…and they come back when we are a little more unsettled (hey, what you have been through is the ultimate unsettled)….and may I offer ONE piece of advice, about Loving Kindness. I too found it weird when I first tried…and instead now, I offer it to others first..because it helps take the pressure off us initially, then come back with a gentler and kinder approach to you. I hope you can try again, I don’t use it frequently now because “over the past 2-3 years” I am FAR less self critical and getting to be FAR more self compassionate…still a W.I.P. Many thanks to you for linking up for Life This Week with a blog post. I look forward, I hope, to seeing you back on Mondays whenever that works for you! Denyse.

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    1. Denyse, I recently read another aspect of healing that recommended loving kindness also. Multiple times hearing the same message… yes, I will try it again! I tend to be hard on myself and self-compassion is something I definitely need to work on.

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  2. I used to feel like I wasn’t good enough when I started quilting and it would stop me from trying certain patterns or joining in quilt alongs. I finally asked myself “what’s the worst you can do? you could sew it wrong but you can always rip it out and do it again” I started having those kind of discussions with myself and finally I would get to the point where I could start. And I kid you not, every single quilt I’ve made after having those thoughts, I’ve been happy with. Now, they were not perfect by anyone else’s standards but they were perfectly fine “for me”. My ‘logical brain’ needed to have that internal dialog to feel better about the outcome.

    I have tried to use the same kind of internal conversation in other areas too. When it comes to cooking, I tell myself ‘if it doesn’t turn out great it will still be edible and I’ll know more before I try it again’. I guess it’s about giving yourself permission to not be perfect, make mistakes and learn. Giving myself permission was a HUGE step for me!

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  3. That sounds so exhausting! I know there isn’t a magic wand you could wave to make all that negative talk go away but I hope you can learn to be easier on yourself. Not everything needs to be a competition. Like another of the commenters said, those “amazing women” want to hang out with you so I imagine you’ve got a lot to add to the mix.

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  4. I have a friend who always looks at others and assumes they have the perfect life. I tell him, you know what? They probably look at you and think the same thing. I too am a perfectionist which often keeps me from starting something new. And just because what I do doesn’t match what someone else does, it doesn’t mean what I do is wrong. It’s just different. And that’s ok. We’d all be a lot happier if we could accept who we are. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out.

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    1. I keep having to remind myself to be happy with who I am. This one snuck up on me – the latest couple of Compare & Despair moments and then the continued feeling like I’m doing things wrong. Maybe I should have used my positivity tools instead of a ranting post (see, feeling like I did something wrong – LOL), but it’s been so helpful to hear others comments on the topic – to know I’m not alone in the feeling, to have folks remind me Im fabulous too.

      Perfect is such an interesting word. What is a perfect life? Years ago a friend of mine wrote a poem that went something like “Sure I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I don’t want perfection – I just want a friend. Someone to walk beside me and hold my hand. Then my song is complete and my poetry right”. I hope I believe that, while it (my life, my relationships, my home) might not be perfect, it’s perfect for me.

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  5. Awwwh, that not good enough bully. She’s that evil little imp that lives in our brains and tries to keep us from being happy with ourselves. When I was younger, I often thought she was good for me because she pressed me to always be better. Be the best I can be. But now, she’s just plain mean. She still badgers me, “you’re not thin enough”, “you should quit dancing you suck at it, ” don’t have people to your house, it’s not nice enough”, “don’t get into a conversation about the Bible or religion, you don’t know enough”…………..on and on she goes. And what’s worse is that either she or I have added, “and the game is over, you can’t get any better”. Mean, plain mean!
    I wish I could say I have figured a way to tame her, but alas, she still has a pretty impressive hold on my thoughts. All I can say it that I try to not let her stop me. I often have to tell myself do not give in to those thoughts, keep moving, keep doing the things I love and enjoying them despite her nagging.
    I betcha if you would ask those women whom (who?) you think are so much better than you, you would find that they too have that evil little imp in their brain as well.

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    1. Candyse, I started laughing… the mean girl! We should name her. But 1) you are thin enough. you look amazing. I’ve often felt dowdy next to you! 2) you do NOT suck at dancing… and yes, we are all gonna come see you in March and cheer madly. 3) I’ve been to your house and it’s lovely. I enjoyed hanging in the kitchen, drinking wine. I hear you have some lovely outdoor furniture too. LOL. 4) why not talk religion? With the right people, it’s mind stimulating and certainly better than another conversation about Covid. and 5) the game is certainly not over. I so admire you doing the competitive ball room dancing! I often wish I had a passion like that (yeah, that kinda was a compare & despair moment), but I’m learning to like dabbling in different things. You are one of these amazing goddess women I gravitate towards!

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      1. Thanks for all the great words, but that’s just the point. That mean girl talks mean no matter what!!! She knows your pain points and pushes! Hard!

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  6. I’ve talked before about the comparison trap, and realise I NEVER compare myself to those with less. Only to those with more. And often I’m happy with my ‘lot’ in life until I look at someone else and then start to feel that mix of envy (of them) and disappointment in myself.

    I often feel I don’t fit in as well and some of that is because of where I’ve been ‘at’ in my life. Not having a partner and kids meant I wasn’t really invited to hang out with couples and later families. Now my friends’ kids are in adulthood and some will start to become grandparents and that will be a little weird again.

    I also know what you mean about the positivity thing. I was trying to do a meditation the other day and I had to think of three things I’d like to be. I chose: healthy, happy and nice. The latter was because I worry I’ve become a really negative person. I’ve always been hard on myself but now I worry I’m harsh on others as well. Too judgemental. Too impatient. And not-nice.

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    1. I was a very critical workaholic and always saw the bad in everything. I was tough on everyone and tougher on myself. I’m intentionally working on being more positive, but sometimes I back slide. Compare & Despair is a big one for me. As is hearing expectations (when they are not there). And since I was raised to always “meet or exceed expectations”, that’s another one that makes me feel like a failure. I probably needed to use some of my positivity tools and not rant away in a blog post. Sigh. And, there’s the feeling I did it wrong!

      I struggle with nice. The whole loving kindness meditation, random acts of kindness…. I just really do not get it. I do try and be less judgmental… another work in progress! So I hear you! And I get the no kids thing, too. I’m become used to asking about how the adult kids are doing (trying to keep everyone’s kids straight – where do they live, what do they do, what their issues are), and now, starting to listen to the grandkids stories. Maybe I gravitate towards accomplished women because they will talk about more than the kids! Now to just admire and not feel “less than.”

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  7. Yes Pat I’m sure many of us have these thoughts from time to time, I know I do anyway! But you have voiced these thoughts, shared your vulnerable side with us and invited us into your inner world, which takes courage and wisdom. I have no answers for you only to tell you that if we lived nearby I’d love to come and sit with you for a cup of tea and a chat 🙂

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    1. Deb, I would love to sit with you over a cup of tea as well…. especially in your lovely backyard! It’s actually helpful to know others deal with the same thoughts. Knowing I am not alone and other amazing women feel the same at time does make it feel not as bad. And I WILL get better at admiring others and not doing the Compare & Despair!

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  8. Wow, writing these insights out is so valuable for a start. Here are a few strategies that have worked for me. First, “that” voice saying you’re wrong isn’t “your” voice. I call it Fear which lives in me and its job is to keep me safe. When Fear is stopping me from doing something truly not dangerous I stop and say “Thank you Fear for looking out for me but I don’t need you right now.” Second, if the doubts are quite persistent, I will stop and tell myself “I don’t need to solve that right now.” That one has been very effective for me. Third, know that if you are hanging out with amazing people chances are they aren’t making you feel less than. The fact they want to hang out with you means they probably view you as one of them. That is a blessing! Their talents and accomplishments are theirs, and your talents are yours – you are both fortunate! If you ever feel attacked, though, you are entitled to protect yourself either by speaking up to say they hurt your feelings (giving them the chance to explain or apologise, or to learn more about your experience of life) or if it isn’t really worth it then you can just let them go. Fourth, if I am have a spell of gloominess, especially if it comes after an evening of drinking alcohol (!), I say “This is temporary. It will pass.” Okay and FINALLY, if you really made a mistake I was inspired by a song by the Nigerian singer Fela Kuti. He wrote a song that says it is human to make mistakes. But there are two kinds of mistakes, Good Mistake and Bad Mistake. Good Mistake is when people laugh at you. If they are laughing it means you will recover from this mistake. Bad Mistake is when people suffer, like not addressing an addiction or being too greedy and hurting your community. So if you’re craft isn’t going right, maybe you are just making a Good Mistake. But like Vanessa wrote, it is that point where you catch yourself hearing the thought. Then you can take action. Writing this blog shows you are starting to be clear what “the voice” is saying and that you can hear it. You are allowed to speak back to it!

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    1. I love that you pointed out that those amazing women actually do want to hang with me too – what a great insight! My Hubby pointed out that it’s not that things are “wrong”, it’s that I’m learning. Yes, they are good mistakes. OK, some of the cooking recipes (disasters) are hard to call good-mistakes, but I definitely get your point. Both of these are ideas I am definitely going to take into my thinking. (And maybe naming that voice – and telling her to just shut up sometimes. I think you are more polite than I am.) Thank you!

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      1. Ha ha, I have heard swearing at the voice works for people too! My view is my emotions are there to keep me alive or make decisions. So a voice urging caution at the top of a Black ski run or when too many drunk people are about might be worth listening to, so that’s why I thank my voice for being concerned but it can go take a nap or something ha ha! It doesn’t matter what approach you use – it’s about what works for you at the end of the day.

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  9. It’s strange how you have these underlying beliefs when you sound so confident and knowledgable and outgoing when you blog Pat. I think most of us have an insecure inner child who steals our joy regularly – I’m trying to ignore mine more these days – and FINALLY understanding that perfectionism is a killer and I don’t have to be the best at everything to enjoy it is very free-ing. I have some super capable and talented friends too, but I’m getting better at admiring their talents without feeling threatened by them – I don’t think I’d want to be that good at so many things – it must be exhausting! I also think you need to give yourself more credit for how Fabulous you already are, and focus on what you can do, and what you enjoy doing – rather than on the stuff that ultimately really doesn’t matter. 🙂

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    1. Leanne, I like how you refer to this voice in my head – an insecure inner child. I WILL get better at admiring other’s talents without feeling like I’m not good enough. Interestingly D read my blog and came back at me that she was feeling similar – she was seeing what I’m doing (ex. networking to build friendships, learning about local gardening) and feeling like she needed to do that! So yes, I need to take a step back and look at what I’m doing, what’s authentically me. I love when you-all (my blogging buddies) just remind me what’s important!

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  10. You did something right, you wrote this amazing blog post that is raw, emotional and thought provoking. I too am surrounded by many successful friends …. a few doctors, an architect, a lawyer. My cousins are also very popular in my country because of their businesses. It is easy to compare and feel less than but for me what helped is remembering and discovering who I am and what I am good at. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Enjoy your retirement ..enjoy time with your hubby ❤🙏

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. It is really helpful to hear the reminders I need to hear – remember my strengths, focus on what I have. I know it, but sometimes that voice in my head gets so loud! And yeah, hubby reads this blog, so he’s already said he will watch it on how often he points out what’s wrong with dinner. 🙂

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  11. I found for me, the first step in changing was picking it up when it happens. You can’t change until then. But I wish I had advice on how I switched from knowing I wanted to change it to recognising it in the moment, because the sooner you can go “hey YOU THOUGHT” and then push it away, the easier it gets. But that first step is hard to get to.

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    1. Vanessa, I love the “Hey You.” I’ve usually been able to do that with Compare & Despair but this last week, it seemed to just sneak up on me! It’s also knowing that I’m not the only one who deals with this kind of stuff that helps too. Thanks for sharing.

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