We all have messages inside us that either encourage us and build strength or discourage us and limit our abilities. As humans, we tend to give more weight to negative messages from others than we give to positive messages.
We easily tune in to negative, limiting messages (I can’t, I’m not smart enough, I’m not pretty enough – you know the ones) and hesitate to trust positive messages (I can do it, I will succeed, I’m worth it, I am a good person, I deserve to be happy). Even if the person who first told us we were not good enough has disappeared, the message can echo in our minds and beliefs for decades, often with great power.
For most of us it takes 5 positive messages to cancel the impact of 1 negative message. This means that envisioning positive messages is critical to feeling capable, and surrounding ourselves with positive people is the best way to reverse the effects of the “I can’t” mentality.
Try the following:
- For a day, choose a positive message such as “I can do it” and focus on that message at least 50 times throughout the day. Notice how it feels and whether it has impact on how you perform.
- Be aware of the positive people in your life, and make a commitment to spend more time with them.
- When you hear a negative message from someone, don’t take the message personally. Their negative message reflects their perspective, and it’s not actually about you. Take a few deep breaths, do something to relax yourself or calm yourself, and tell yourself that you are okay, you’re a good person, and you will not take what they say personally. If you must respond (e.g. to a supervisor at work) either find a support person or make sure that you feel okay about yourself and you are well grounded before you say anything.