We all have them. The invisible scripts that tell us we need to go to college, find the love of our lives, and grind away at our corporate job to be successful.
But few of us notice just how much of a grip these scripts can have on our lives. For years, they pass through our minds – undetected – and influence everything we think, say and do.
It’s only when we plan to ‘break the rules’ – that these scripts finally become visible. Like when we’ve had enough of college, or when we quit our 9-5 to start freelancing on the side.
That’s when the doubts start creeping up.
Suddenly, we begin to wonder:
- ‘Am I really good enough?’
- ‘Can I pull this through?’
- ‘What if I’m not as smart as I think? What if I fail?’
And as the doubts pile up inside our minds, it becomes more and more tempting to retreat.
Sure, we’ve taken a peek at the big, marvellous world of possibility. But it scares us. And that’s why we choose to go back to that safe cocoon, like a turtle hiding under her shell, back to the life we’ve become accustomed to.
But what if there was a different way?
What if you didn’t let fear stop you from starting a business, buying a house or asking for a promotion?
What if you could wave goodbye to the mental barriers that have been holding you back for years?
In the past year, I’ve tested the boundaries of what’s possible. I’ve landed an internship at a prestigious consulting firm, doubled my earnings in the span of a few months, and completely changed the way I approach life. All it took was a dedicated effort to smash my invisible scripts.
I’m no exception. I know that you, and anybody else, can do the same. Actually, you can do SO MUCH MORE than what I’ve done. You could:
- Write a New York Times best-seller
- Travel around the world on a cruise ship for a year
- Take a year out to care for orang-utans in the Indonesian jungle
…and splurge on any other experiences that matter to you.
Let me show you the exact steps I used to challenge my invisible scripts and transform my life for the better:
Step 1: Listen to your inner storyteller
All of us have a voice inside our heads that comments on every experience in our life. It narrates our personal story and helps us make sense of the world.
If you listen closely, you’ll notice that this voice tells you all sorts of stories. For example:
- ‘Dutch soccer players are the best.’
- ‘Politicians keep telling lies.’
- ‘You need to go to the shop and buy some chocolate now.’
When you observe that voice for a while, you’ll see some recurring themes. For one, you’ll spot your inner critic. That’s the part of you that keeps self-sabotaging, by feeding you all sorts of limiting beliefs. For good measure, here’s a few examples of how these beliefs can play out:
- Your inner critic says: ‘You’re not talented enough to be a college athlete’ – so you don’t even apply for your school’s basketball team.
- You worry: ‘If I start flirting with that guy, he might think I’m weird.’ – so you miss out on the love of your life and stay the same unhappy single for years.
- Your inner critic tells you: ‘You’ve gotten this wrong before – why would this time be any different?’ – so you don’t even try to improve. You fail your calculus class the third time in a row, and secretly hate yourself for giving up so soon.
But instead of letting your inner critic control your life, you can also take matters into your own hands. First, look out for any invisible scripts and negative thoughts.
Once you’ve found a few, they’re quite easy to spot. But if you’re finding this difficult, here’s what limiting beliefs can look like:
- ‘I can’t ….’
- ‘I’m not … enough to ….’
- ‘There is no way I will be able to …’
- ‘I could never … as well as …:
- ‘If only …., then …’
- ‘I’m not the type of person that …’
- ‘I will never make this work …’
- ‘Maybe, once I have done X, I will be able to …’
- ‘Right now, I am not the right frame of mind to start anything.’
- ‘It’s not a good time to …’
- ‘This has already been done before…so what’s the point`’
- ‘I don’t even have to try. I know I’ll fail anyway.’
- ‘What if something goes wrong?’
- ‘What if I make a fool of myself?’
- ‘I would do X, but …’
Action Step: For the next hour or so, watch what you think and make a note of any limiting beliefs you come across. Then pick just one of your invisible scripts and move on to step 2.
Step 2: Write a different life story
Now that you’ve identified at least one invisible script, it’s time to transform any limiting beliefs into a narrative that helps you move forward in life.
Suppose your invisible script is:
“I wish I could be a successful blogger. But what will my friends think when I start putting content out on the internet. And am I even qualified to talk about productivity, career success, and living a meaningful life? I mean I’m only a student … Sure, students like Eve Bennett and Ali Abdaal have started their own YoutTube channel and write amazing email newsletters each week – but I’m just not as smart and dedicated as they are.’
You could transform that to:
‘I would like to be a successful blogger, and I am willing to spend a few hours a week writing and publishing content for other students just like me. It doesn’t matter what my friends think, or that I’m not an expert – I’m sure there is at least one person in the world, who is similar to me. And I would love to share my experiences with them to help them lead a more meaningful and productive life. I admire people like Eve Bennett and Ali Abdaal, and I’ll use their content as proof that I can make a positive impact on people’s lives– even if I’m ‘just’ a student.’
Did you notice what a difference in mindset that is?
By simply challenging each of our limiting beliefs we can develop a totally different outlook on our problems, hopes and dreams.
Now, it’s your turn.
Take one of your limiting beliefs, and:
- Turn each ‘disadvantage’ into a strength
- Convert doubt into confidence
- Develop an action plan to overcome potential pitfalls
Here’s a few examples of what this can look like:
Before: ‘I’ll never be a good basketball player, because I’m so short.’
After: ‘My size gives me a competitive edge at basketball, because I can change direction and duck more quickly than any of my opponents.’
See how we’ve converted a weakness in our greatest asset?
Before: I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish that report on time.
After: I am sure I will find a way to deliver a high-quality report even under tight time constraints.
Trusting your own ability can make a massive difference – and it suddenly becomes so much easier to achieve all your goals.
Before: There’s no way I can get a raise within the first 6 months of working at Company X.
After: I will figure out exactly what my manager wants, and then find a way to get her those results. That will put me in a really strong position to bring up compensation at my upcoming performance review. In the meantime, I’ll also perfect my salary negotiation technique.
See how you can take strategic action to debunk most of your limiting beliefs, and prove that they’re no more than a lazy excuse?
Step 3: Challenge yourself to fulfil your dreams
Once you’ve removed the mental blockers and doubts, it’s time to take action to accomplish your dreams. Simply telling yourself you’re a great singer is not enough – because if you never sing, you can’t expect a crowd to cheer on.
Equally, dreaming of your perfect partner won’t get you far if you don’t go out and meet people. Or knowing you can build a terrific business won’t help if you don’t put in the time to develop a valuable product.
Once you’ve spotted and overcome your invisible scripts, it’s up to you to make change happen. What will you do today? What is your first step?
Let me know in the comments below …