In my work as a coach I focus a lot on helping my clients drop the thought patterns that are holding them back, and replace them with stronger ones that support their progress.
Here are 3 common toxic thoughts I see often and how you can reframe each to a new one that will help move you forward towards your goals.
1. I’m not where I should be in life. This thought means you’re comparing yourself to other people or to some arbitrary societal standards about what we should achieve and when. Your life and context are completely different from anybody else’s, so beating yourself up for feeling like you’re behind doesn’t help you move forward – it just makes you feel worse. Instead, think I’m starting where I am. This helps you reframe from resistance to acceptance. By definition, you can only ever start from where you are. What matters less than where you “should be” is taking a step forward from where you are.
2. I don’t how to do that. Sometimes people think it’s impossible to move forward unless they know all the steps. When you’re focused on trying to know steps 1-50, you get way ahead of yourself and this paralyzes you from taking step 1, which is the only step you can take. Big goals like changing careers and starting businesses don’t have paint-by-numbers formulas, so you can’t actually know all the steps. Instead, think I’ll figure out the next step and take it. Think only of what’s the next possible and feasible step you could take. Take that one, and go from there. You’ll figure it out as you go.
3. If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth doing. Our achievement-oriented culture values the shiny successful outcomes more than the messy process of growth and experimentation. This all-or-nothing thought has you waiting for perfection, which means you’re going to wait forever because it doesn’t exist. I’m focused on effort and growth will instead help you take action in spite of imperfection. This helps you redefine success from being about perfect outcomes to being about progress (a much easier standard to meet!).
Changing thoughts requires repetition over time until they take hold and become second nature. Be patient with yourself!