Unhelpful Thoughts

The ones you must let go of…

Preoccupied black young man wondering.

When you are trying to make changes in your life, it is often not the big hurdles that stop you but rather the little voice in your head that just niggles away at you and makes you doubt yourself and your ability to make the changes you want.

Yes, just a little voice in your head, that’s all.

But a little voice that can hold you in its grip and hold you back…if you let it.

That’s the key.  There is nothing magical and all powerful about that little voice and the stories that it tells you. In fact, the notion that these thoughts are powerful is just another belief that you can go along with or challenge.

Exploring your thoughts and beliefs (and your beliefs about beliefs) is one of the most important processes you need to engage with if you are going to make a successful career change and it is something I regularly explore with clients.

There are many unhelpful beliefs I hear getting in the way of the process of change, so let’s take a look at some of the most common ones because if you want to move forward, it is essential that you leave these thoughts and beliefs behind you:

I don’t have a choice

On the contrary, you always have a choice.  Thinking that you don’t is a way of keeping yourself in passive victim mode and that is never a good starting point for change.  You make choices all the time and these choices, big and small will shape the way your life unfolds.

Here are a couple of choices you can make that will make a real difference.  Choose to hang out with positive, upbeat people rather than with moaners. Choose to do things that make you happy and make your own wellbeing your top priority.

The way it is now is the way it will always be

Another belief that will keep you locked in to a place of discomfort.  Were you always in the situation you are now?  Of course not.  Things change and you are a key player in making those changes happen.

Just because it’s stormy now, doesn’t mean there isn’t sunshine round the next bend. But remember, change takes time.  Be patient with yourself, it takes as long as it takes, but if you keep moving you will make it round the bend to that sunny spot.

Everyone else is doing better than me

Remember the lines from Desiderata ‘If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.’

Do not feed your insecurities by dwelling on them or they will consume you.  You only see the outside view of others’ lives. They are very likely to share similar insecurities under the surface that you just can’t see.

So stop the comparisons; listen to your own inner voice and travel your own journey.  You are the only one who knows what is right for you.

It’s unrealistic

Strange the way plodding on with the same old, same old is seen as ‘realistic’ while branching out to something new is ‘unrealistic’.   To make progress in anything, you have to be a little unrealistic.  Better to be willing to explore possibilities and ask yourself how you can make them happen, rather than instantly tossing them aside as ‘unrealistic’.

It seems a bit unrealistic to be able to walk into a dark space, flick a switch, and instantly fill the entire space with light, but fortunately Thomas Edison didn’t think so.

I wish…

Not so much a belief as an attitude of mind.  An approach that puts the desired goal out there on the horizon with you sitting on a stone by the side of the road looking plaintively ahead while you wait for the miracle to happen.

The fact is that you will never reach your goal if you stay sitting on the stone just wishing.

I wish needs to be turned into I will which puts you into action mode.  Even taking one step forward will take you nearer your goal, but it is down to you to decide to take the step.

It’s too late

Are you really ready to just roll over and give up?  It is only too late if you decide it is.  In reality, it is never too late to make changes and every day offers you the possibility of a new beginning of some kind.

So constantly seek out opportunities to try something new, something different as this will help bolster your faith in your ability to always be growing and learning.  Trust yourself.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Ignore the naysayers.

I can’t

What…you mean you can’t do anything?  This is a classic blanket belief that will hold you back and keep you down.  How about thinking about what you can do instead – that is a much more positive place to start.

Make a habit of reflecting regularly on what you have achieved.

Even small things will encourage you into a more ‘can do’ frame of mind. As you build your self belief you can gradually tackle bigger challenges.  At the end of the day, it is about which pair of glasses you choose to look at life through – the ‘can do’ or the ‘can’t do’ ones. Your choice.

There are plenty more unhelpful thoughts and beliefs and I am sure you can add to the list from your own collection.  The place to begin is being aware of these patterns of thinking. Once you can spot them you can begin to challenge them and turn them round.

What do you think?

  • What thoughts and beliefs do you allow to hold you back?
  • How could you turn them around and make them more positive and helpful?
  • When have you done this and seen positive results?

The 5 Minute Career Coach February 2015

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About the author

Amy Thomas

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