Last June, as I approached my 40th birthday, a self limiting belief hit me smack bang in the solar plexus.
I was trying to decide how to mark this significant birthday.
I’d always I dreamed of having great outdoor adventures.
My vision for my ideal life involved being in a relationship with someone who shared this passion.
I imagined us sharing adventures together – possibly in a VW Camper van with a couple of barefooted kids in tow!
But here I was, knocking on the door of 40 and single.
I just didn’t feel I could muster the energy and motivation for solo adventures.
When I imagined taking a trip on my own, I felt lonely and defeated.
My belief was: “I’m can’t do this by myself.”
Which boils down to the even harsher belief:
“I’m not enough”.
When I think the though “I’m not enough” I feel deeply sad. It’s familiar territory. Territory in which I’d spent many years. Sometimes there’s a comfort in the familiar but I knew it was a place I wanted to leave.
Self limiting beliefs
Learning how to think about my thinking has been one of the most important things I’ve ever learned. Why aren’t we taught this at school?
Day to day, we create meaning from the circumstances of our lives. We do this by holding thoughts in our mind.
Thoughts are just ‘sentences in our heads’. They are neither true or untrue objectively – they are our perception of reality. Yet we rarely stop and examine our thoughts.
The more we repeat these ‘sentences in our heads’, the more they become our default way of thinking and seeing the world. Repetition strengthens the neural pathway.
In recent years, scientists have discovered that our brains have neuroplasticity. This means our thinking isn’t fixed; we can choose to think different thoughts and thus we re-wire our brains by creating new neural pathways. Our brain is made up of software not hardware.
So what was I going to do with this self limiting thought: “I’m not enough”?
Dissolving self limiting beliefs
I felt I had two choices.
I could resign myself to the belief that ‘I’m not enough’ and stay safe, bored and wonder ‘what if’.
I could try and dissolved this thought by thinking a new one:
“Maybe I’m enough”.
There was only one way to find out!
I mustered up a smidgen of energy and started planning a solo trip cycling around the Outer Hebrides, all be it half heartedly.
Momentum was slow but I went through the motions.
I went to TISOs to look at touring bikes. This led to the purchasing of the bike and various bits of kit. I began to look the part!
Before I knew it I was booking ferry tickets and scribbling routes on my map. Maybe this would be fun after all?
You can read about my trip and the aftermath here and here. With hindsight that solo cycle trip was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I felt strong, free and invincible. I Was Enough.
Dissolving my ‘I’m not enough’ though and realising that I am enough has set my life on a very interesting trajectory.
Following the bread crumbs
Since that trip I’ve felt a life force lead me forward.
It’s strong leading yet it feels gentle and kind.
A little prod here, a suggestion or a nudge there.
Moment by moment.
I’m in a forest following a trail, breadcrumb by breadcrumb.
Each breadcrumb leads to the next following some natural order that I neither understand nor feel the need to question, nor resist.
Here’s a short summary of the breadcrumb trail I’ve followed over the last 9 months:
- I meet a guy in a pub in Bara who recommends I read Nan Shepard’s ‘Living Mountain’.
- I read ‘Living Mountain’ and follow an insatiable urge to solo wild camp on Cairngorms.
- Whilst wild camping I meet Simon from Cairngorm Treks. I pay to go on a group trek and wild camp with Cairngorm Treks.
- Simon and his family invite me to work in partnership with them offering women’s wild camping and life coaching treks.
- I join The Inverness Mountaineering Club and Highland Hill Runners to satisfy my growing desire to be in the beauty of the outdoors.
- I follow my passion to retrain as a Life Coach as I slowly wind down my PT business. My business grows with very little effort.
I believe all of the above are happening to me because I chose to not believe the thought “I’m not enough”. This thought was holding me back from living my dreams. Through reframing the thought, I now know I am more than enough and I’m having the time of my life!
Good for you Shona – but what has this got to do with me?
Do you ever find yourself feeling trapped or stuck? Do you shut down possibility before you’ve had a chance to dream?
Chances are that you – like me – are being held back by your own thinking – by your own self limiting beliefs.
The first step of getting out of this stuckness is to name the thought or belief. Then step into the discomfort, challenge it and find a new thought that will serve you better.
‘Thinking about our thinking’ is hard and uncomfortable work. But it will lead to your unique breadcrumb trail. It will lead you on an amazing adventure beyond your current self imposed limits.
I’m passionate about helping people with this work.
Here are different ways you can work with me if you’d like some help along the way:
- As a life coach I’m running a free workshop in Inverness, Saturday 27th May, with Women@Work – find out more here.
- Cairngorm Treks and I have just opened up places on another of our Treking for Well Being weekends, particularly for those who don’t feel hill fit – read more here.
- I’ll be creating a waiting list for my new one to one life coaching service very soon. Sign up to my news letter or email me to find out more.