Published on April 6th, 2021 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Crush Self-Imposed Boundaries And Live Without Limits
By Renee Goyeneche—
Each of us has a script in our heads; thought patterns that shape how we view our place in the world. According to Steele’s self-affirmation theory, a positive inner dialogue allows us to maintain the perspective that we’re well-adapted, competent people capable of exercising control over the events in our lives. This positive internal dialogue boosts our confidence, increases motivation, and inspires us to move toward our goals.
Not every narrative is a positive one, however, and negative self-talk has the opposite effect, dragging us down, sowing seeds of uncertainty, and suggesting that we’re either not worthy or capable of doing great things.
Recognizing The Root Of Negative Self Talk
Much of self-talk is automatic; we barely notice the endless internal dialogue that runs through our heads. It pays to be aware of the messages we send ourselves, however, because while self-talk may begin in logic, it can become skewed by assumption or a lack of information.
How Perception Becomes Skewed
tells us there are 4 main culprits when it comes to cognitive distortion:
This is when we focus solely on the negative aspects of a situation and overlook the positives. An example might be when your employer suggests an area for improvement during a performance review. Despite having received high praise, and perhaps a promotion or salary increase, that one “failing” remains foremost in your mind and your self-talk tells you that you’re doing a terrible job, despite all evidence to the contrary.
This distorted thinking pattern causes you to blame yourself when things go wrong—even when there’s no indication that you responsibility. For instance, if your partner is moody and snappish after a long day of work, your self-talk might suggest that they’re reacting to something you did (or didn’t do), even though it’s more likely something unpleasant happened to them during the day.
This thought pattern magnifies the significance of a problem and leads you to assume that the worst possible scenario is going to come to pass. If you leave your appointment and find your battery has died, you may envision not being able to get back to work on time, missing a major presentation, losing your job over it, and winding up homeless. All because of one dead battery.
This is the “all-or-nothing” fallacy; something (or someone) is either wholly good or completely bad—and we tend to apply this most ruthlessly to ourselves. In most cases, the reality exists somewhere in between. A bad choice does not make you a bad (or incompetent) person, nor does it mean you’re doomed to failure.
Why These Thought Patterns Are So Damaging
The most insidious effect of negative self-talk is that it strips us of agency and draws a mental line of demarcation between the possible and impossible.
We tell ourselves, “I could never do that. I’m too (fill in your own negative descriptor here) to pull it off”.
These self-imposed limits draw the boundaries of our comfort zones. While they might keep us wrapped safely in familiarity and routine, they also label us, box us in, and prevent any real opportunity for growth.
Why Do We Limit Ourselves This Way?
In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to dig in our heels in an effort to retain some sense of control. Very often, that means we raise the flag of surrender, with the idea that it’s better to choose inaction than to find we weren’t up to a challenge.
But the world doesn’t sit still for those who refuse to move, and in these unprecedented times, stepping out of your comfort zone is more important than ever. The world is reforming under a barrage of changing circumstances, and we’ll either grow and change with it, or be left behind.
Now more than ever, how we react to new challenges is critical.
Change the Narrative From Negative To Positive
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by a responsibility or project, resist the urge to frame the situation negatively. Instead, focus on the positive. Flip the script!
N: I’m clueless and have no idea what I’m doing.
P: This is a chance to learn something new.
N: I’ll never be good at this, it’s too hard.
P: We all have to start somewhere. Every master began as a student.
N: This is complicated, and I don’t understand it.
P: This is making me think in new ways.
N: This requires resources I don’t have.
P: This is an opportunity to get creative with my approach.
Reap The Benefits Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Your comfort zone is defined by your knowledge and experiences. Each time you try something that feels out of reach, it serves to broaden the scope of your boundaries. This growth translates to increased resources for future challenges.
You’ll gain information, increase your understanding, and expand your skills and knowledge. You’ll also learn how intuition and leaps of faith can play valuable roles in your decision-making process. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll learn to separate belief from truth, and begin to understand how critical a role self-talk plays in our failure, and our success.
Once you’ve made those cognitive shifts, you’re well on your way to crushing those self-imposed boundaries and living a life without limits!