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7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

“The problem is that the people with the most ridiculous ideas are always the people who are most certain of them.” (The Decider, July 21, 2007) – Bill Maher

In my life I have had seven definite ideas that have held me back from being the best person I can be. When I think about what Bill Maher says about ideas, mine were ridiculous, but I believed them to be “true.” If you feel you are not living your life to your fullest potential, keep reading! Because if you nod yes to one or more of these seven stupid ideas, then maybe you need to change your ideas.

1. I don’t deserve success, it is unachievable so I wont try.

This is an idea that is based on a limiting self-belief, and that actually says you have no hope inside of you and therefore don’t believe you deserve to be successful. Your mind is using a truck load of energy focusing on the negative elements of you — it’s very draining! Instead  focus on the positive elements in your life and I guarantee you will feel so much better about yourself.

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2. Others will think I am stupid if do this.

Here’s another limiting self-belief and the words of Ellen DeGeneres say it all about this stupid idea:

“Start thinking positively. You will notice a difference. Instead of ‘I think I’m a loser,’ try ‘I definitely am a loser.’ Stop being wishy-washy about things! How much more of a loser can you be if you don’t even know you are one? Either you are a loser or you are not. Which is it, stupid?”Ellen DeGeneres, The Funny Thing Is…

Surround yourself with people who make you happy, who support you, believe in you and who see you at your best. They are the people who will stop you from thinking you are an idiot and stupid. I do, however, like what Ellen says about being more definite in saying you are a loser rather than saying you think you are!

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3. It’s too late for me to change or to do what I want to do.

This is just an excuse to accept our lot in life. The older we get, the less opportunity we believe we have to follow our dream. It is never too late — it is only because we choose to believe it is too late. The power of choice sits with us.

 “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

If you are a mid-lifer like me, then you will be surrounded by people who believe that it is too late and are waiting to retire. Go surround yourself with young people just starting out on their journey and absorb their energy and positivity about life. Hopefully that will ignite you to go and do what ever it takes to follow your dream.

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4. I tried, but it didn’t work out as I expected, so I am not doing that again.

This is a stupid, negative idea that focuses on your failure. This idea could so easily be turned around to an idea that says, “I gave it a go and it didn’t turn out as I expected, but wow what a journey! I learned heaps and next time I will be more aware of…”  Which idea feels better to say? I am guessing that it is the second idea that feels better. So why focus on negative thoughts when they make you feel yuck? Failures are part of the package of life, so embrace failure, learn from your failures, adjust and keep going.

5. I am actually comfortable with how things are at the moment.

Not only is this idea stupid, it is dangerous and it is tricky. Because to be your best you have to be courageous and uncomfortable at times. I too like the safety of comfort and contentment, but after a while it does get boring. You start to feel worse and even more discontented. I find that once I take up a challenge and push myself out of my  comfort zone, life becomes a good-scary and exciting! If you choose to step out of your comfort zone and you don’t feel energized and excited, then you haven’t stepped out far enough!

6. To be my best requires too much hard work and energy and I don’t have that right now. Maybe later…

This crazy idea suggests that you maybe lack a vision of what it is you want. You actually don’t know what your best looks like and therefore you will find an excuse for not doing what it takes to be that. If you lack clarity about what you want to be, then the desire and motivation are nonexistent. I know that, personally, I have to be clear about what it is I want and what success looks like for me. If I can feel it, smell it and visualise it, then I will do what ever it takes. If not, I will find any excuse as to why I can’t do it.

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If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

7. It’s too overwhelming and I am scared.

To be our best we actually have to change who we are and what we think. And yes, it is overwhelming and scary! If being our best was easy and not scary, then we would be going for it and living our life to our fullest potential. Life is not like that and this stupid idea illustrates how fearful we are of change. Life is not a straight line, it’s full of twists and turns and tough times. However, if we choose it to be, we can live a life full of joy, happiness and love. To be the best  person you want to be embrace change and your vulnerability.

When I watched Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability, it was like a whole new world of thinking opened up to me. Once I stepped into my power of vulnerability, I stopped being scared and overwhelmed and became free of my fear and my stupid ideas.                                      

So get rid of your stupid ideas, embrace change, take up the challenge and go for it!

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown And Get More Out of Life What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For? 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever If You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life, Read These 5 Strategies How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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