Do you ever notice an annoying, self-defeating, inner voice that stirs first thing on a weekday morning – one that seems to keep your confidence, positivity and drive on a tight leash?

If so, there’s every chance that the nature of your thinking is holding your professional potential prisoner, but know that you’re not alone. Most of us experience this irritating phenomenon to varying degrees.

There are a zillion possible self-limiting beliefs plaguing any one of us at work. Common examples are, “I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’m not capable enough, it’s too hard, I’m a terrible presenter, I’m not enough, I’m afraid to, or I’m not worthy.” We’re so used to our habitual thinking that we rarely notice which thought patterns are working for us and which are acting against us.

These personal myths have their origins in our childhood but they lack truth. Sadly, over the years they become ingrained in our minds as the default mode, until we learn to shift them.

Enhancing self-awareness by examining our thinking allows us to take the necessary steps to weed out the troublemakers. Once exposed as fraudulent, their hold on us weakens and we can begin the work to shift them.

Here are five tips for transforming your self-limiting myths into new, positive thought habits:

    1. Become ‘thought-aware’. Critically observe your thinking. Invite your wise, inner self to hover on your shoulder for a few days to observe and listen. Be open and honest with yourself. Get to the core of your restrictive beliefs and personal fears – we all have them. What thoughts are preventing you from moving you towards the professional who you really want to be?
    2. Identify and acknowledge. Which of your thought patterns are negative, self-limiting, judgemental, or defensive? These will be the thoughts that are, as we say, ‘messing with your life’, because literally, what you think often enough is what you’ll experience. Fleeting, odd thoughts aren’t in danger of taking hold, but those that you’ve repeated over and over to yourself for years will be shaping your reality. Like it or not they are a part of you, so don’t deny them – just decide to make fresh choices. Ask the troublemakers to take a seat at the back of the auditorium for a bit.
    3. Transform your thinking. This step is your event horizon, where important change takes shape. Make note of each ineffective thought pattern identified above and work to shift it to something positive and constructive. Ensure that you make the strategic thought selections that will produce the feel-good, rewarding results that you’re looking for. (Example: “I can’t” could become “I will, watch me!”) Mentally rehearse your new thinking over and over again as an affirmation of your new attitude on each topic.
    4. Live it. When the occasion arrives, enact what you’ve rehearsed. Instead of the old belief system holding you back, your new thought-choice will immerse you in a brand new, more self-fulfilling experience.
    5. Practise and persevere. Shifting thought patterns that have been with you for a lifetime will require a strong will, continual experimentation and persistence, but the change will happen in time. Making the effort will start you on the path to living a work-life of full expression and move you towards achieving the potential that you see for yourself.