Limiting Stories are a Sneaky Devil.

Doubt stinks. It’s the thing that can turn the most exciting of moments into total paralysis, and tries to silence you when you’re finally hitting your stride. Doubt is sneaky like that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about doubt recently, as it seems to reach even the most confident of us. I was talking to some friends today who both had it come up, and it really hit home how crippling it can be. One friend was starting a new business and was working on his website, but when he showed me the first version of his site he was sure to say all of the things he wanted to change about it. The site looked awesome, but his focus was on telling me what needed to be improved. He was protecting himself in fear that I would say “you really should change the wording on that navigation tab”. The other was talking about a client conversation he needed to have on payment, but was avoiding because he didn’t want to cause a stir with a client who was also a friend. He didn’t want to be the bad guy.

Screw that. Asking to be paid and putting your work out there isn’t a bad thing. So why are we so fearful of doing so?

I’m certainly not perfect, so my intention is not to say this from a soapbox. I say this as someone who has had plenty of self-doubts in the past about my work, my relationships, and my choices. I understand how hard it can be to come at things from a place of high self-worth. Especially with the advent of social media, now more than ever it’s easier to compare yourself to others online. You may think your business is doing well, but wait until you watch an inspirational video of a 20-something who started a 6-figure coaching business in her garage. I get it. The voices you hear telling you “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t” can be loud sometimes.

Doubts about self-worth are common, and as I’ve learned more about belief systems in the last year or so, it’s been truly eye-opening.

As humans, we have a lot of baggage. Whatever stories or experiences you’ve had from a young age are carried with you for your whole life.

Some of those stories are good things. They teach you useful stuff, like that you shouldn’t touch a hot stove, or maybe suggesting to your wife she does look fat in that dress is a bad call. Those stories serve you well, and are beliefs that can make your life easier. There are other beliefs that may not be working for you, though.

That you’re too young to start a business.

That you’re an inconvenience if you ask to get paid.

That your website will never be as good as the other guy.

What is one to do?!

First, consider progress over perfection to silence these nay-sayers. Starting is the hardest part, so consider getting something out there and iterating. Take the time to launch the website in spite of doubt instead of letting it hold you back. Enjoy the process, not solely the end-goal.

Second, start thinking about the beliefs you’re holding and whether they’re working for you. If there’s a discrepancy between what you want in your ideal scenario and your reality, a negative belief has probably contributed to that case. You may not be starting the business you’re hoping for because you think you’ll never be good enough to do so.

Again, let me say: whatever your beliefs are, take time to investigate them. Put in the work. I find new ones all the time, because this process is something that never stops. Yeah, it may be easier now to spot when I’m self-sabotaging because of certain beliefs I’ve already identified, but I still get taken out by them occasionally. The difference is, I spend a lot of time working to ensure I hold myself accountable so I can spot them faster and get back on track. As my coach has said to me many times, limiting paradigms are like weeds. Once you’ve weeded your garden once it doesn’t mean that weeds never come back, but with continued work you can keep pulling those guys out at the root.

Mindset work is something I work with all of my clients on. I have yet to meet someone without at least one limiting story they’re telling themselves. Consider spending some time today considering what “shoulds” you’re holding on to, what beliefs you may be holding, and how you can be a little kinder to yourself. I promise, this work is well worth it.

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  • Chris Castillo

    Career Coach and Founder of Empowered Achievers

    Chris is the founder of Empowered Achievers, where she works as a career coach helping ambitious women craft careers that they love.  Originally coming from the corporate advertising industry where she worked on clients like Google, YouTube, and Expedia, she traded in the agency life for the world of talent development and culture. She transformed her own career into something she loved, and is passionate about getting rid of the "Sunday Scaries" for each one of her clients, too.