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Don’t let the gremlins get you!

October 31, 2007 by  
Filed under Articles

Do you believe in ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night?

GhostOr are you too old for all that?

Whether you realise it or not, ghostly voices from your past, skeletons in your closet or gremlins whispering in your ear could be influencing you more than you think. And when they get together as a team, they can be a deadly force.

Why? They destroy your confidence and stop you from doing the things that you’re more than capable than doing (but you just don’t believe you can).

Where do these sinister forces come from?

For many people, the gremlins (or the negative thoughts people have about themselves) are left overs from their early years. Comments like “you’ll never amount to anything”, “you’re clumsy” or “who do you think you are?” can haunt people for years. Maybe not on a conscious level, but they usually surface whenever you want to try something new.

Put off taking up a sport or dancing because you see yourself as clumsy and uncoordinated? Gremlins.

Thinking about changing jobs, but put off by having to ‘perform’ in an interview? Yes, those Gremlins again.

Would love to have a successful business of your own, but you think you’re a useless sales person? Those pesky Gremlins just keep popping up, don’t they?

But surely voices in your head can’t change what happens in the world, right?

Let’s set the scene. You’re about to walk into an important meeting. This could be a job interview, a meeting with your bank manager or you’re seeing a new client or customer for the first time. In that 5 minutes before the meeting, those naughty Gremlins start whispering in your ear. “Who do you think you are? You’re a fake. They’ll find you out, you know. They’ll realise you’re no good. Why don’t you just walk out right now and save yourself the embarrassment of them saying NO?”.

What happens? Nerves can start to meddle with your mind and your body. You can either clam up with shyness or go to the other extreme and come across as confrontational or arrogant.

If you listen to those Gremlins, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t believe you’re good enough, you’ll behave in a way that shows people you don’t think you’re good enough and, guess what, on a subconscious level, they’ll start to believe that you’re not good enough.

Negative beliefs you have about yourself or ‘the way things are’ are called ‘Limiting Beliefs’ in coaching because they hold you back. If you believe that something can’t be done, you’ll look for evidence that shows that it can’t be done.

Before 1954, people believed that it was impossible for an athlete to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Scientists and doctors believed that the human body just couldn’t take it. Maybe they thought that your heart would explode or your legs would fall off. Whatever they thought, their belief was strong enough that everyone thought it couldn’t be done.

Then Roger Bannister stepped onto the track. And he ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.

What happened next? Other runners saw that it could be done. The 4 minute mile was no longer impossible. And the race was on to run it faster and faster.

I don’t expect you to put on your running shoes right now and do the same, but the chances are that most of us have limiting beliefs about the world and our place in the world.

If you think you don’t have limiting beliefs, take a look at this list and see which beliefs you recognise.

“Money is the root of all evil”
“A leopard cannot change its spots”
“A woman’s work is never done”
“Better safe than sorry”
“Familiarity breeds contempt”
“Like father, like son”
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

Do you think that these could hold you back?

So how do you get past limiting beliefs?

You can work through them yourself, identify the ones that are holding you back and find ways to change that belief. Or you could read a book about changing beliefs.

But the drawback is that limiting beliefs are comfortable. It’s much easier to say “I can’t do that because…” or “I’d never be able to do that” because then you don’t have to change. You never have to take a risk. But you could look back on your life later and think, what if I’d had the guts to TRY?

This is where working one to one with a coach is a good solution. Your coach will help you to identify what’s holding you back. Your coach will be objective and help you examine whether holding onto that belief is really helping you. Your coach will help you to replace those limiting beliefs with ones that empower you. And your coach will encourage you where friends and family might tell you to take the ‘safe’ option, don’t rock the boat, don’t take a chance… and don’t live.

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