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Allowing self-limiting beliefs to hold you back? Here's how to change that.

Jun 12, 2023

Question the narrative

Is your self-image done and dusted at birth? This is a question we pose during The Winning Edge course and it encourages participants to give thought to the influences on their self-image, the unhelpful narratives they might be perpetuating about themselves and how to call this out.

Apart from a few propensities we’re born with, a lot of what we’re like as children is down to the influences around us– our parents/carers, family, teachers, friends and peers, to name but a few.

You often hear parents say things like: “He’s so forgetful,” or “She’s such a serious little thing, always so responsible,” it’s as if children are being pre-conditioned before they’ve even had a chance to make their own mind up. Family and parenting expert Peggy O’Mara once said: “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”

With descriptions of them permeating a child’s subconscious mind, they’re being defined as a ‘type’ of person, so it’s no wonder they gravitate towards behaviour which reinforces this image of them – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You hear people saying: “I’m hopeless at planning anything,” or “People say I don’t know how to have fun, I do, it’s just that I always seem to be the one organising everything.”

The media and social media will also have an influence- if we allow it. Perhaps those shiny happy filters fail to tell the real story, but many people aspire to the glossy stories that are portrayed.  

As much as these influences may have an effect on us as children, when perhaps we’re too young to understand the power of our thinking, once we reach adulthood, we’re more than capable of running our brains in order to be the type of person we want to be, leading the life we want to lead. Of course, some of what we believe is so deeply embedded, it can feel like it’s definitive– pre-destined, but it is possible to make the change in our belief about ourselves, by changing the way we think about ourselves.

The world accepts me at my own evaluation of myself.

How we feel about ourselves on a day-to-day basis determines how others perceive us and treat us. People’s treatment of you will match your self-image. Have you ever been taken for granted? For example, colleagues at work volunteering you for a common scenario such as: “Oh Lara will organise the leaving card and present, she always does.” ‘Lara’ always wanted to organise the card because she enjoyed being the organiser and gift buyer- it was important to her that someone’s time at the company was recognised. However, maybe there comes a time when Lara no longer wishes to do it but it’s up to her to tell people because the longer she keeps taking on the task, there will be those who’ll be quite happy for that to happen. If Lara wants the situation to change, it’s up to her to change it. It’s a case of put up or shut up. We can only be taken for granted whilst we allow people to do treat us in that way.

If we want to be different, if we want to change something about ourselves, we can start Day One today. Maybe you want to have more confidence– to uplevel your self-belief; maybe you want to be bolder and take more risks, albeit calculated ones. Perhaps lack of organisation is holding you back and you want some order in your life so you can move forward; maybe you’ve been stuck in a funk for a long time and you need to break the cycle and move on. It is possible. You can do it. You get to redefine who you are if you want different. It doesn’t matter what you have previously believed about yourself, whether this has come from you, or perhaps other influences which you have up until this point, chosen to believe.  I’m going to help you to call out any unhelpful beliefs you have about yourself and help you to rewire those thought patterns in order to create a positive self-image.

Be the change

These five tips, if followed daily and with intention, can help you to get your self-image to a place when you’re ready to take on anything:

  1. To increase self-esteem, it’s important to create a more deserving self-image. Place more value in yourself than what others think of you. This can be done in a number of ways such as writing down an assumptive affirmation, the type of person you are (not want to be – make it in the now, the present tense) and repeat frequently to yourself – this will help you move towards that new healthy dominant thought you are reinforcing regularly.
  2. Self-talk can be detrimental to your self-image: “I’m the kind of person who…” Rather than ending the sentence with words such as ‘worries’ or ‘is over-sensitive’, instead use words such as ‘feels empowered to make decisions’ and ‘is great at communicating with others.’ Ditch the self-deprecating language too – stop using words such as only / just / small / little. Be proud, be bold! Fake it ‘til you make it if needs be. ‘Go big and go large’ I believe is a saying used…
  3. Lessen the time you spend with Pity Parties – the moaners and whingers; instead surround yourself with positive and inspiring people, those people who live a life where on a conscious level they’re thinking about where they are in life, what they’re doing and where they want to be next; these people exude the qualities that help attract success, in whatever form this may be for them. And if they’re not happy with something, they are the type of people who will be proactive and make the necessary change, which is far better for self-respect than moaning and whining.
  4. Who do you admire? Who inspires you? Do some research and check out the kind of books they read, the podcasts they listen to and the TED talks that inspire them. They started from where you are, and they may well have done the same research about someone they looked up to. Maybe find a way of getting in touch with them and ask if they have any advice for you – you never know who might respond.
  5. Finally, write in your Victory Log every day. You don’t have one? Then get one. Whatever that victory is for you – getting out of bed when you’d rather curl up in a ball; maybe giving your first presentation as a new manager; perhaps travelling long distance on your own for the first time. When you’ve done it, log it. Read back on your victories regularly to give you a boost and ensure you continue to have faith in yourself and your abilities.


Allow nothing and nobody to define you– they can only do this with your permission. You get to reinvent yourself if you want to. Be you and be awesome.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Mark Twain

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