My kids teach me a lot about communication. But this most recent incident taught me a lesson about our beliefs. I heard my 4 yr old son stomping down the stairs. I knew from the heaviness in his footsteps that he was upset. He knocked on the door.
“Mommy, my brother called me a cheater.”, he pouted as he folded his arms.
“Did you cheat?”, I asked.
“No, I didn’t. I won fair and square.”, he protested.
“Then, you are not a cheater.”, I said, dismissing the incident.
“But, he called me a cheater.”, he protested.
“Now, you have a choice. Are you going to believe your brother, or are you going to believe Mommy?”
He thought about it and said, “I believe my brother.”
After making that choice, he sulked around for several minutes, arguing with his brother and being upset. Though he is only 4, I wonder how often adults choose to have a belief that brings them harm.
If the source of the belief is someone we look up to and respect, like a big brother, mentor, or boss, are we more prone to keep the toxic belief?
What you believe will become your reality.
My son chose to believe what his brother said and therefore stayed in bondage to the ill effects of the those beliefs.
Did someone tell you that it couldn’t be done?
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~Nelson Mandela
How do you know if your belief is toxic? I have a simple 4 question test.
Ask yourself these four questions to discover if what you are believing is toxic.
1. Does your belief encourage to give up instead of keep going?
2. Does your belief fill you with grief, dread, or sadness instead of energy, hope, and excitement?
3. Does your belief keep you boxed in instead of opening your options?
4. Is your belief based on circumstances that are outside your control instead of on elements within your control?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then your belief is toxic. What does toxic mean? One definition of toxic means poisonous. In essence, a wrong belief can poison your career, your outlook, and eventually your results.
As a coach, I help people find options and the biggest hinderance to finding those options are the beliefs my clients hold. Healthy beliefs help you explore your options instead of restricting them.
In an Inc.com article Geoffrey James lists 5 Toxic Beliefs That Ruin Careers. Two of his 5 toxic beliefs I see all the time in my coaching clients are:
- My past dictates my future.
- My emotions accurately reflect the situation.
A few more toxic beliefs that he didn’t list, but I hear a lot include:
- As a minority, I have to work twice as hard only to be half as good.
- Eating healthy is too expensive.
- There is no way that can be done.
- I’m too old for that.
- There’s no point in saying anything because nothing will ever change.
All of these beliefs limit your options and make you mad, frustrated, or resentful. You can choose to believe something else and open up a world of possibilities.
How to turn your toxic beliefs into empowerment statements
Replacing your toxic belief with an empowerment statement is as easy as 1…2…3…
State the positive outcome you want to see in the present possessive tense.
Example: “I have all the resources necessary to do this.”
Look for evidence to support your new belief.
Once you start looking for evidence, you will see it. A pattern of competence and capability will emerge before your eyes. You will look for and find successes that will encourage you.
Say in your own vernacular.
I include this because some people think coaching is about changing them into someone they are not. On the contrary. Coaching is about helping you become your best self. So, if you prefer to say, “I’ve got this, son.”, like my husband does, who am I am to stop you? If the language empowers you, is in the present possessive tense, and opens up your options, then phrase it however you want. The point is to say it. The easier, and yes the more fun it is to say, the more likely you will say it.
Using this simple test and these steps, over and over again, can help you identify and reverse toxic thinking. How would you turn one of these toxic beliefs into an empowering belief statement?
If one of your beliefs is around having a difficult conversation, I am offering a special coaching rate for ASmithBlog.com readers. You will get a 60 minute phone coaching session with me at a deep discounted rate. Go to my website for more information and to reserve your spot. Offer ends June 30, 2014.