Please note: I’m not an expert on this topic, I only have my own personal opinions and experiences.
Trying to navigate my life in my early 20’s has felt a lot like learning to walk again. I’ve spent a lot of time fumbling around, falling down, and getting back up again just to realize I don’t really know what I’m doing. Eventually, I’ll learn to stand up on my own and then I’ll learn to take a few baby steps and walk until I’m back to being a fully functioning adult, but the in between time has led me to really think about why I’m struggling to learn how to navigate my adult life.
I can attribute most of the times I’ve fallen down to something called limiting beliefs. You can read all about limiting beliefs in just about every self help book on the market (or the planet tbh). Some are better than others, but they all talk about the same things. We all have thoughts and ideas in our heads about who we are, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, and why. These thoughts aren’t necessarily right or wrong, but they do determine what we say and do, as well as how, when and why we say or do them. Our limiting beliefs are typically the thoughts that limit us (obviously) or keep us from doing progressive things. Sometimes they stop us from big things like quitting our job and starting a business even though we have a million dollar idea. Sometimes they stop us from little things, like reaching out to someone because we think we’re bothering them. Either way, they hold us back.
I think the first step to dealing with your limiting beliefs would be making yourself aware of them. You can’t change something if you don’t recognize that it’s an issue. I’ve found that this comes with spending time by yourself just letting your thoughts flow and seeing how you react to them. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time alone because I’m going through a transitional period in my life and as tough as it is, it’s been really helpful. I’m much more aware of the beliefs I have about myself that keep me from moving forward in different aspects of my life: my relationships, my career, my future, my finances. I’m starting to be more aware of the negative thoughts that I have when I think about these things, such as “I’ll be alone forever now!”, “No one really wants to read my content anyway”, “Maybe I’m not cut out for this”, etc.
Once you know what your limiting beliefs are, then you can start working to adjust them or block them out. You should understand why you have those beliefs and what they stem from. Was it a traumatic experience? Abusive relationship? Divorce? It could be a number of things that distort your thoughts and cause you to think these things. Getting to the root of it and solving that will significantly help in reducing your limiting beliefs. Plus, once you are aware of your limiting beliefs and the thoughts that come with them, you have the chance to actually change them. If I were to start thinking, “I’m going to be alone forever and everyone hates me”, I know that I can stop myself and say “No, Karen, you won’t be alone forever. You’re alone right now because it was the right time for that to end and you needed to take time for yourself. When the time comes you’ll meet the right person.” It’s like giving myself a little pep talk.
One last thing that I’ve found has been really helpful in moving past my limiting beliefs is praying. I’m not very religious to be completely honest, but I personally have found that praying most nights right before bed to say thank you for what I have and ask for more guidance in certain areas of my life has made a major difference. In the last few months, I’ve seen a lot of changes happen and some are more difficult than others, but praying was always one thing that made me feel better and more secure about the future. Knowing that God has a plan for me, trusting in that, and sometimes asking for some extra help has made a world of difference.
Finally, one of the major players in moving past your limitings beliefs is being patient with yourself. These beliefs have been working at beating you down for a lot longer than you think. Months or even years. Just like a bad habit, you can’t change it over night. It takes constant work to remind yourself that those thoughts aren’t a reflection of who you really are. They are just your brain working against itself to keep you from taking steps into unfamiliar territory. It comes with time to break down those bad thought habits, but it’s not impossible if you keep at it. I work at it every single day and some days are definitely better than others, but when I look back at myself 6 months or a year ago, I can see a difference in who I am.
The millennial generation is extremely ambitious, very opinionated (or sensitive depending on who you ask), and very impatient which can be frustrating sometimes. We are constantly dealing with issues that stem from our limiting beliefs and an unbalanced society. We wish we were further ahead in life or more successful when in reality, we just started. I hope this was helpful to hear my personal thoughts about this topic, especially for young adults.
P.S. Keep up with me on instagram: @karenmauritzenn