Limiting beliefs and how to squash them by Damien Larkin
“You’ll never be a writer. You’ll be terrible. Why waste your time?”
As my fingers hovered over the keyboard, that niggling voice in the back of my head was going into overdrive. You know the one; that nagging little voice that tells you-you’re not good enough or you can’t do something. Yep, he and I were due for a showdown.
There are plenty of reasons why we tend to be afraid of stepping out of our comfort zones and trying something new. A theory I read a few years ago stated that this niggling voice or “limiting belief” is a product of our pre-civilised environment. Before the advent of towns and cities, humans traveled and lived together in much smaller groupings. Day-in, day-out you ate, slept, hunted and foraged with a dozen other people. You knew everything about them, and they knew everything about you. If you did something embarrassing, or let yourself down in some way, that incident would be remembered for a lifetime. Scary, right?
To be clear, there’s a difference between a limiting belief and common sense. If you’re standing in a plane and you’re afraid of jumping out of that plane, that’s common sense. If you’re standing in a plane with a parachute, attached to an experienced, professional instructor with a voice telling you that you can’t do it, that’s a limiting belief.
So how do we deal with this pesky little kill-joy? We call him out on it using logic and watch him squirm!
Limiting belief: “You’ll never be a writer. You don’t have the qualifications.”
Me: “Where does it say I need to have a degree to write? Although I’m sure it helps, I know dozens of writers with no degree who’ve put in the hard work and have seen their books soar through the charts.”
Limiting belief: “OK… Well, you don’t have the time. You have two children. You have a job. How are you going to fit it all in?”
Me: “That’s true, I am busy. OK, how about I cut down on TV time? No more excursions to the pub? I can even write when the children go to school or after they go to bed. There are a few hours a week I’ve just freed up now.”
Limiting belief: “Ugh… Your book will fail, and no-one will read it. How embarrassing would that be?”
Me: “I can’t predict the future, but I’d rather take the risk and do something I’m passionate about than sit around dreaming of what could have been.”
Simply confronting these limiting beliefs can give you a massive insight into the fear behind them. It’s OK to be afraid and worried about the outcome. Fear is a powerful tool to keep us safe and out of dangerous situations, but if it gets in the way of pursuing a passion or being who we are, then it needs to be talked down.
I experienced moments like the above all throughout writing Big Red. I was tired and I just wanted to laze about in what little free time I had. But writing was something I’d dreamed about for years and never took any action on. I vowed to myself that no matter how long it took, whether it be months, years or decades, I would see one of my books in print sitting in a local bookshop on display for the whole world to see.
I look forward to seeing that dream come through on the 14th of May!
Written by Damien Larkin
Author Bio: Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.