Is willpower all it takes to set and achieve New Year’s resolutions?
Each year you’ve sworn off of sugar and caffeine, decided to lose twenty pounds, exercise three times a week, invest an additional four hundred dollars a month, or have honest conversations with your partner, but you never seem to achieve your most well-intentioned goals. Why?
If you don’t want to be one of the millions of people who make their resolutions only to be part of the 80 percent who give up by the second week of February, but your best intentions keep back-firing, you may already have a sense that failing to follow through on New Year’s goals is a bit more complicated than that.
In fact, your limiting beliefs have a lot more to with never or not you achieve your goals than a lack of will power does.
What are limiting beliefs?
A limiting belief is a thought that you’ve thought so many times that it became your truth in such a way that is now constrains you in some way.
Here are just a few examples of limiting beliefs that might sound familiar:
- “No matter what I do, I will fail anyway.”
- “Other people get all the lucky breaks.”
- “I always gain my weight back within three months.”
- “I never date the right type of person.”
- “Relationships are too difficult. It’s easier to live alone.”
- “Life is hard.”
A thought that enters your mind and then prohibits you from taking positive action is a limiting belief.
These beliefs are not real except in your mind. There is no universal law that states that other people get all the lucky breaks. That is a thought that entered your mind via your parents, your life experiences, or what you’ve consumed through media outlets.
What makes these negative thoughts powerful is that you choose to entertain them repeatedly, shutting out positive thinking and self-compassion. The more you repeat the thought, the more control it gains over you.
If you want to stop over-thinking things and ruminating on such limiting beliefs so you can achieve positive outcomes, the first thing you need to is recognize accept that you have limiting beliefs.
Once you become aware of limiting beliefs and acknowledge your negative self-talk, you’ve begun the process of overcoming the obsessive thoughts that are stopping you from achieving success.
But recognizing your limiting beliefs isn’t enough. You’ve got to dismantle them.
Dismantling limiting beliefs requires constant attention to the thoughts that you have. You can’t stuff the thoughts away or pretend not to know you have them. You must act against the thoughts and negative self-talk that lead you to failure.
To do just that, here is a five-step method for eliminating limiting beliefs so you can set New Year’s resolutions and actually keep them.
1. Be present
Accept a permanent practice of awareness.
2. Practice positive thinking
Practice coming up with positive “what-if’s” for all situations you encounter.
- “What if this time my exercise program worked?”
- “What if I loved the feeling of exercise?”
- “What if my brain also loved exercise?”
3. Cultivate the positive and eliminate the negative
Seek and use different methods for aligning positive beliefs and eliminating negative ones.
As Byron Katie, author of The Work, says, “Just ask yourself, is that thought really true?”
“Just spell out clearly your stressful thoughts,” Katie explained to the Guardian,“then ask four questions about each thought in turn: Is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought? Who would you be without the thought?”
Additional practices to explore include:
- The Sedona Method
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
- Mindfulness meditation
4. Be OK with failure
Understand that you will fail some of the time. We all do.
5. Get support
Find supportive people who will hold you accountable to the new you.
Beginning a new practice of self-awareness today is better than succumbing to old habits and mindsets that never worked.
By becoming more mindful of your limiting beliefs, you can learn hot to stop negative thoughts using positive thinking, positive self-talk, and self-compassion.
Once you do that, you can work on those New Year’s resolutions much more effectively.