Lesson five: Do you have an accurate perception of your capabilities?
In reading thousands of comments and emails and talking to readers, family, and friends, I learned that there is something very central to how we construct our beliefs – our perception of our capabilities.
Thinking that you can’t, won’t, mustn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t etc., be or do something is based on what you perceive your capabilities to be in that context. This creates limiting beliefs that further limit your perception of your capabilities and in fact, your overall self-image, which you then act in accordance with by making choices limited to that capability, creating limited experiences and generating limited results that reflect the limitations that you’ve imposed upon you.
For example, if you had the belief, All relationships fail, what you’re really saying is that you don’t believe that you could be in a lasting relationship.
You project your perception of your capabilities, which form part of your self-image, into your beliefs and also onto your expectations of others. A person who believes that all relationships fail has other beliefs to support this and uses ‘supporting evidence’ to back this up. How do you think that a person who doesn’t believe that they’re capable of a relationship is going to think and act when they’re in one? Primed and ready for it to go belly up and unconsciously and consciously looking for evidence to reinforce the idea that they’re not capable of a relationship. They expect the person to live up to this belief and this is made all the more easier by on some level choosing partners that are most likely to cater to this pattern.
Just because we think that we’re incapable of something doesn’t make it the truth. We all have occasions in our lives where we’ve said, “I can’t do this!” or “It’s impossible!”. And then it’s turned out that we can, and yet, we often ignore this information. I’ve claimed that I wouldn’t be able to get over pretty much of all of my exes, that it was too hard to do No Contact and yadda yadda yadda. Not true.
How we feel and think in a moment doesn’t always reflect the bigger picture.
Each belief you have is tied to other beliefs that you hold, and they all feed into each other, either complimenting or undermining with the net effect (if they’re negative) being limiting. The more you tell yourself that you’re not this and that, or the more that you afford you with superpowers that you don’t possess – ability to mind-bend people and influence and control their feelings and behaviour by being pleasing or even forceful – is the more you cripple your confidence and how much of a worthwhile and valuable person you perceive you to be.
Understanding, re-evaluating, and repositioning your belief system involves gaining a more accurate sense of self.
Are you all of the things you say about you?
Is it fair and reasonable to base your self-image on a static, outdated view that may not take into account what you’ve done since then and all that you still have the chance to be and do?
A great litmus test for whether you have an inaccurate self-image is to think about the way that you respond to compliments and basically anything that doesn’t chime with your beliefs. Do you thank a person for their compliment and acknowledge it, or do you pooh-pooh it and knock it back and do stuff like claiming that it wasn’t you or that it was a fluke or something? Do you feel suspicious when you’re complimented and annoyed yet comfortable when you think that you’re hearing or seeing something that chimes with your mindset?
Until you understand what your beliefs are, you will be unconscious, which means that you will undertake actions that are not congruent with your values, your personal beliefs about what you believe makes you feel good, happy, bad, sad, what you like, what you want etc. You will do things that will actually undermine your interpersonal relationships, your personal happiness, and your own efforts. You will limit you while believing and even claiming that it’s external forces beyond your control that are limiting you.
Where are you limiting you?
Try to come up with 2-3 examples of when you believed that you wouldn’t be able to do something and yet, you did. Have you been forgetting to acknowledge this evidence? Think about the common things that you claim about you that are negative – can you think of an example in your life that contradicts this? For instance, one reader claimed that she was “weak”. When she told me about various things that she’d done in the last six months alone, it became clear that her self-image did not reflect reality.
Food for thought: Are you forgetting to internalise your accomplishments and achievements?