We all have beliefs that we have formed or inherited. We are often handed down beliefs from our parents or other influencers in our lives, even the media and our wider social circles. If you grew up hearing that ‘you must work hard to get a good job and earn a decent salary’ or ‘change is slow and difficult’ it is fair to say that you will likely adopt this belief as one of your own because it is one view of the world that you have been most exposed to. Perhaps you even have evidence of it. These beliefs may remain the same unless challenged or questioned.
Shaking the Foundations of Limiting Beliefs
Having greater knowledge now of how we form beliefs and how they can often become part of our identity, I began to investigate what limiting beliefs I was holding on to. Having studied how to shake the foundations of these beliefs, I became curious about challenging my own.
For the longest time I told myself ‘I am not a runner.’ In fact, I hear many people say the same thing. I began to question what it was that ‘made someone a runner’. Certainly their level of fitness had a role to play in it. I would argue that I had tried to run just 5km in the past and struggled with it despite having a good level of fitness, resolving myself to other forms of exercise. I just couldn’t seem to run for very long or far.
It began to bug me that I was holding on to this belief that I was not a runner. It wasn’t particularly useful to identify myself as a person who couldn’t run and so I set out to prove myself wrong. I set myself a target of running 10km. It was by no means a marathon but it was way beyond anything I had done before. Completing it would mean ridding myself of that belief. By doing so, it would make me question any other limiting beliefs I had about myself. It was not so much the running, but what it signified.
Building New Beliefs
I had three months to train for the 10km run. I began by running/walking 3.5km at sunrise three mornings a week. I signed up to my local 5km park run every Saturday and tried to beat my best time each week. It was during these park runs that I found myself working on my mind more than my body. My body was physically capable of it but I really had to coach myself through each step at times. These moments made me doubt whether I could actually run the 10km. I had to remind myself that I was now a runner and more thancapable of completing the race.
It was the reward at the end that kept me motivated. I imagined what it would feel like to cross the finish line, I heard the onlookers clapping and cheering as I crossed the finish line. I used this motivation on the day of the 10km. Setting myself a target of 70mins, I finished the first 5km with ease and in good time. It was around the 7.5km mark that I needed that motivation again. While running, I closed my right hand into a fist as I imagined the weight of the cool metal of the medal on my skin. I visualised crossing the finish line with a time of 70mins on the clock. I high-fived and applauded spectators on the sideline to give myself the boost that I so needed. Anything to keep me going!
What I learned from challenging my beliefs
I crossed the finish line with a time of 63mins 25secs, well ahead of my target. I was thrilled that I had proved myself wrong and I could no longer say ‘I am not a runner.’
I learn two valuable lessons from this little experiment. Firstly, I perform according to the goals I set. If I set a goal of 5km, I will reach that goal. If I set a goal of 10km, I will reach that goal. In the past I have set my goals small for fear of not reaching them. However, recently I have been setting more challenging goals and more often than not, I achieve them! Having knowledge of setting well formed outcomes I am now able to minimise the likelihood of not reaching my goals. I am pushing the boundaries and testing my potential as I hit goal after goal.
Secondly, It made me realise that having a ‘fit’ mind is just as important as having a fit body, if not more so. When I told myself that I was not a runner, it became a self-fulfilling prophesy, and I behaved as such. In Dilts’ book, ‘Sleight of Mouth’, he speaks about how the beliefs we have can actually produce a physiological effect within our bodies. By telling myself I could not run for any length of time my body responded in line with my belief.
If this is true, then what else is possible? By letting go of my limiting beliefs and forming more useful ones, a whole new world of possibilities opens and I am beginning to see opportunities where there were none before.
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