Are you allowing yourself to be controlled by your past failures? Is your self-talk serving you to reach your goals? If the answer is no, it is time to revolutionise the perspective you hold about yourself.
As human beings, we form our identity by integrating our life experiences into an internalised, evolving story of the self. This we do in order to make sense of what we experience. And the secret to success often lies in this very story we tell ourselves. It is our personal narratives that give life to the goals we wish to achieve.
If we choose a positive, loving attitude that honors all life and embrace the changes as much as possible, things won’t be quite as difficult.Richard L. Haight
The problem with our personal narratives
Our inner narratives often consist of reconstructed past, perceived present and imagined future. Most of these personal narratives in a way become automatic, unchallenged and just matters of fact. They define the way we think, act and react. However, most of these perspectives we hold onto about ourselves or what we think we are capable of are far from being objective.
When we aren’t conscious of the meaning-making process of our inner narrative, we often end up with limited perspectives about ourselves and our abilities. So, chances are that who you believe you are capable of is based on your past experiences. And is a measure of who you were before rather than being a true measure of your ideal self. These limiting perspectives occur due to unintelligent meaning making and narrative construction. As a result, you tend to focus more on the negatives or gaps than gain.
What you focus on expands, so you end up paying attention to things that are relevant to your narrative and tend to ignore that isn’t. When you live in the gap, all you see is what is lacking. Being in the gap also makes you the victim of your past. In other words, you are the one assigning meanings to experiences and parts of your life. These perspectives act as barriers in the way of getting what you want in life. You continue to speculate your future goals based on your past experiences.
Some limited perspectives that might be holding you back:
- Self-depreciation: Beliefs like ‘I am just not good at…’ ‘I am not intelligent enough’, ‘I’d fail if I tried’ or ‘I’ll never be someone who…’ or ‘I can’t/I don’t..,’ and so on limit your goal-setting process. When you tend to attribute your success to your past narratives, you end up living life consumed by inadequacies.
- Security-itis: Limiting perspective like ‘I am secure where I am’ limits your ability to take a different approach towards your goal-seeking journey. When you stick to your safe zones, you tend to avoid doing things that are hard, seek to change, stretch and adapt.
- Negative attitude: Thinking in terms of ‘There is no way that I can solve my problems…,’ ‘I am not capable enough…’ magnify the negatives like failure, unworthy, or inadequate. Judging your mistakes harshly can lead you into self-defeating cycles or increase your fear for failure or rejection.
- Self-labels: Defining yourself in a limiting way leads to negative self labels. The labels you assign yourself, no matter how limiting or negative they may be, give rise to a sense of self that becomes your identity. For instance, referring to yourself as a loser, procrastinator, victim, as a nobody, or a failure result in wrong self perception.
- Impostor Syndrome: Thinking on the lines of, ‘I don’t deserve to be here..’ ‘I am not qualified enough…’, ‘I am totally hopeless at this…’ or ‘I was just lucky..’ and so on cripple you with stress, anxiety and low self-confidence. You hold yourself back from taking risks, pursuing new opportunities, or striving towards making a more meaningful impact with what you do.
Your narrative controls your perspective in life
All of your negative self-talk comes from deep-rooted beliefs and assumptions you have made about yourself. You tend to define yourself by looking at the past. When you choose not to question your narratives, you tend to believe them as universal truth rather than a subjective opinion. Your perspective gets limited within the confines of their narrative.
But while those experiences may have shaped you, they are not the exact measure of what you truly are capable of in the ‘now’. However, the story you tell yourself about what you can and you can’t can absolutely change.past failures, rejections and losses don’t reflect your capabilities or foretell how you’ll always be.
You can always bring about a change in your perception of situations, problems and people in your life by adopting a new point of view. Seeing things from a different perspective, you can make changes by taking responsibility of your thoughts. It is however important to believe at every moment that you have the potential to do better than what you can now and should be willing to overcome your limiting perspectives about self.
How to revolutionise your perspective
You are always good enough, but you won’t always know the right strategies necessary to realise your goals unless you revolutionise your perspective (RYP). Changing your narratives lets you work around any limited perspectives that you are holding onto. Instead of letting your limited self get in the way, consider the following strategies to revolutionise your perspective,
Prepare for obstacles
Some people do extremely well when they are on tail wind, but as soon as they run into a head wind, they get self-limiting. Sailing along in good winds is easy. As soon as the wind swings and changes it’s direction, they cannot keep going. If you believed in your limited narratives for whole of your lifetime, it is difficult to believe otherwise. This is exactly why you need to prepare yourself and expect setbacks.
RYP by demonstrating a strong will and showing tenacity. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and do nothing, try and overcome your inner limited self. Instead of looking for the negative, think back to how you were a year or two years ago—-about your achievements, have gone forward or backward, have you stayed or continued on right path.
You will find that although you may have suffered certain set backs in some instances, on the whole you would have made a steady progress. You will come to realise that setbacks or hardships in your life were very brief and were temporary. Reaffirm your new narrative, that you are worthy and capable enough to overcome setbacks. Being prepared makes your will resolute to move forward in difficult winds.
Is it sufficient for you to advance in just one direction? Following just one pattern of thinking limits your possibilities. No one is perfect or capable of sailing through without any problems. The reality is people move to the left then to right, they fail and go down, then they stand up again.
RYP by not clinging to a particular method or fixed notions from your past. Unidirectional approach limits your possibilities and ideas. Being flexible in hard times lets you get through difficulties. Explore new possibilities to get around the problem.
A path is sure to open up if you are willing to change. If your limitation is that goal is too big, divide it into small realistic steps. And if you think you are not qualified enough, try to gain some required skills and apply them to achieve your purpose. Be flexible to think of ways to turn the situation to your advantage.
Challenge your limiting beliefs
Often, your limited beliefs go as far back as your growing up years and the environment you grew up in. When you believe in something, good or bad, you tend to seek evidence to support and preserve it in your mind. If you’ve invested most of your life into believing something negative about yourself, you will always be biased towards them and unconsciously seek out every trace of validation you can find for them.
RYP by taking time to self reflect on your limited beliefs. There is an internal and external approach you can take to overcome them. External includes noting your actions and consequences, be it emotional or physical. This gives you an opportunity to change your narrative around a particular belief which may be causing them.
The internal approach includes being mindful of your thoughts and determine which one’s you are gravitating towards. Challenge your limiting beliefs by asking yourself, What is the inner narrative on which my belief is based on? What is the legitimacy of this belief? How can I reframe this to revolutionise my perspective? Decide on what your new belief will be and start seeking evidence which validates your new belief.
Think like long distance runner
We all have goals, ideas or a vision for what we could become or go onto achieve. And there are always two ways of realising them—short-term and long-term. It is true that people have different levels of ability. While some master something in short term, some people might take longer to achieve the same. You may not be a sprinter, but this doesn’t mean that you do not have the ability to run.
RYP by thinking like long-distance runner. Inspite of being a slow learner or with less potential to do well, with continued effort and certain amount of discipline you can achieve what you desire in the long run. A short-term perspective sometimes has a probability of being less successful and has more chances of people concluding that they are no good and ending up having no goal in the first place. The fact that you did not succeed in short term doesn’t mean that you cannot in long term. It is necessary to extend your time frame to meet your desired goal and you can do so with better ability.
Be mindful of your environment
Sometimes the people in your life become your limiting factor. The main problem lies in our incorrect perception of people and things around. This distorted perception of others makes us moan and complain. We tend to categorise them as good and evil, and criticise, dislike and distrust. Because of this many wish if they were in a better situation or with better company or with better people. This becomes a major hurdle in working along with others.
RYP by changing your outlook. Ask yourself if there is some other way of seeing a situation. When you happen to meet people you dislike, try and figure out why they are disagreeable to you, or why their character displeases you, or why they have a pessimistic attitude. Unless you adopt to the belief that these negative views cannot be true, you cannot change your perspective.
However, if you think some people or things keeping you stuck in negative mindset, get ready to let go of what no longer serves you. By choosing your surroundings conscious;y, it becomes easier to revolutionise your perspective.
Aim for a goal one step higher
Some find that they are capable of reaching certain point only to discover that success eludes them. Their subconscious fear of total success makes them anxious as they feel that they have not earned it. As a result, they fail to achieve their goals when they have only a little further to go.
RYP by changing your narrative of what you want to be in future. When approaching your goal, practice setting your sights on a goal that is even higher. Making a habit of thinking one step ahead. Plan for your next step and aim for a higher goal. This makes you less anxious towards your present purpose and prepare you better for your next move.
Questions for self-reflection
What limited perspective has held you back from giving your hundred percent in doing what you would absolutely love to do?
How are your narratives controlling your perspectives in life?
What negative narratives are you holding onto rather than working through and with?
When you think of the people and information surrounding you, do you feel like they support your efforts? Or do they keep you stuck in a negative mindset?
Which areas of your life can you make progress by revolutionising your perspective starting from today?
Changing your personal narratives takes time. And you will might fall back into old limiting perspectives, may be sometimes even when you thought you already have overcome them. Be patient with yourself, make adjustments when necessary. Know that it is you who tells the story and only you can overcome your limited perspectives you hold onto. You get to choose how to make sense of your past experiences. With consistence and practice, you can revolutionise your limiting perspectives in a way that empowers you.
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