I have met with many young people who limit themselves on a daily basis by repeating certain mantras:
“I don’t know”
“I’m so stupid”
“I’ll never be able to do that”
“I can’t do x”
“It’s not my fault”
“I don’t care”
Each and every one of these are coping mechanisms designed to allow a person to avoid being judged. That may seem counter-intuitive as the speakers of these and other similar self-limiting phrases are often harshly judged by their audiences yet, in some way, because it is “just something I always say”, they feel that they are cushioned from the very thing they fear… failure.
Before we look at a solution, I would like to give you to very different types of clients that I see who tend to say these sorts of things:
1. The Self-Abusers.
These people tend to have taken the worst of things that they have heard in their younger years and immortalized it their mind’s ear on an infinite playing loop.
2. The Harsh Critics Although this second group appears the same as the first group, they differ in that if you were to get to the bottom of their thought process, you would find that they are trying to tell the listener that they know they messed up and that they care. (Strange but true).
In both cases, I recommend that they go to a on-line video site of their choosing and check out their favorite products’ commercials. We analyze a few of them (that I feel gets the point across) and learn that the most effective way to cement or change a belief is by repeating it over and over.
If this works in the negative, then maybe it can work for positive.
We then take one thing that they can sort-of agree is a good thing about themselves and come up with a phrase. They then try repeating it over and over. After that, we look for a time in their lives when they felt strong, or powerful and we create an inventory of feelings, sounds, smells and sights that accompany this wonderful moment. We finally mix those feelings with the original positive phrase and within three weeks… the first level of changes begin.
Is it quick? No.
Is it easy? Not really.
Does it work? When done correctly… every time.