How to love yourself, overcome fear, limiting beliefs & feeling stuck

I was recently invited to give a talk on a self-development platform for entrepreneurial mothers. The topics were self-love, self-esteem, limiting beliefs, mental block and others. I made some how-to notes to answer the questions I was given and decided to share it here. It might appear scattered at times, but that’s because it’s a rough draft. So here it goes:

How to fall in love with yourself?
  • loving yourself requires complete forgiveness and acceptance of yourself (your humanness and imperfection)
  • most of us, however, develop conditional love patterns in childhood and internalise it. This shows up as putting off loving yourself until xyz happens (I’ll be happy when I’m slimmer) and punishment when you don’t meet those conditions
  • to start loving yourself again, you need to connect with your body, emotions and their signals

Here’s an example of conditional love: ‘I’m lazy because I haven’t been going to the gym for a week now and been watching Netflix instead’. The condition is: lazy, therefore not worthy of love. But if you’re truly connected to your body, accept yourself and don’t tie your self-love to your actions, you WILL want to go to the gym. Our bodies have been created to move and you will want to move. 

One of the most important steps is to recognize that we have developed multiple parts of self throughout our lives in response to pain, trauma, survival, fear etc. Those parts become suppressed and show up as unhealthy coping mechanisms, triggers, rigidity, limiting beliefs and repeating patterns. Biochemically, those emotions that we haven’t fully worked through are stored in our bodies and in time create physical discomfort as well.

So we need to look at all the ‘negative’ things repeating in our lives, identify those parts and start releasing them. There are multiply ways to do that: breath work, internal systems family therapy (IFS) method, therapy, coaching, journaling, mindfulness. 

Something you could do on a day to day basis is shifting attention inwards. Ask yourself how am I feeling right now? What’s important to me? What do I want to do? When we pay attention inwards, we produce more endorphins. When our attention is outwards, we’re in constant stress.

How to overcome fear to move forward and believe in yourself?
  • fear comes from negative past experiences (your own or others) and/or fear of social disapproval (we are social animals by nature)
  •  fear is overcome by looking and your past experiences and analyzing it and cultivating awareness (I recognize where the fear is coming from and I’m safe because similar thing happened when I was 10, I’m not any more)
  • belief in yourself comes from putting in the work and cultivating expertise in a given area 

Evolution built it in such a way that we crave social approval and stay away from disapproval. Fear of moving forward usually relates to failure, judgement from or disappointing others. This keeps our attention outwards, but as I said earlier, when our attention is outwards we’re stressed out. So the answer is to look inwards.

Often times however, we have internalized those fears. In that case, look within and ask ‘What exactly am I afraid of?’ ‘What do I think it’s going to happen if I do this?’ etc. Observe the answers and analyze where they came from. Perhaps it’s your past experience or maybe society. Once you recognize where your fear comes from it becomes easier to move forward. 

In terms of believing in yourself. Self-belief=competency+experience. Both can be developed through practice. So it’s about going out there and starting it. When I started my coaching business, I went on Facebook and announced that 5 people are getting 2 free sessions. It wasn’t a sales scheme, it was me gaining practice beyond friends & family and it turned out really well. Just do it!

How to recognize limiting beliefs?
  • limiting belief is a story you tell yourself in response to trauma, past pain, social failure
  • so be gentle with yourself and look back to your life to see when you formed this story

Say you want to start a business. Sit down and write all of your beliefs around that topic. My examples would be:

  • only smart people can create a business
  • I’ve created a cleaning business before but that’s different to coaching
  • businessmen cheat and trick other people to get ahead 
  • you have to wear a lot of hats
  • selling is icky/selling is exciting etc

Then go through each belief and check whether it’s true about yourself and reality. For example, only smart people can create a business. Reality check? Richard Branson – dyslexic, barely graduated, not coming from a rich family. Therefore, being ‘smart’ is not a prerequisite in the real world.

How to release mental blocks that refrain us from preferred outcomes?
  • repeating myself here again
  • I look at mental blocks as suppressed parts of ourselves from our past experiences

Some events that happen in our childhood can be to overwhelming for us to digest as we might not have had the emotional and neural capacity to deal with it. As a result, parts of ourselves are stuck in the past, oftentimes in that very age when it happened. So you could be a 30 year-old having beliefs of friendships as a 10 year-old.

For example, when you were 10, your best friend publicly humiliated you in front of your classmates. It would have been too painful of an experience to deal with (not enough emotional maturity + prefrontal cortex not developed). To protect you from pain, your psyche would have suppressed the emotions and on top of it, created another part that’s protecting the suppressed part. So that no one would ever hurt you that much again.

The problem is that these two parts are still alive and running within you when you’re an adult making friends. This could manifest in many ways such as not letting anyone close to you, not trusting people around you, feeling like you can’t connect with others.

Internal Family Systems therapy might be a great solution. Or a coach/therapist. 

How to stop the vicious cycle?
  • the very question has a condition in it: it’s bad to feel stuck and need to fix this asap
  • of course, feeling stuck is a terrible, overwhelming, desperate feeling
  • but the more we resist and push away our stuckness the worse it gets

Feeling stuck is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. There are emotions that have not been looked at, ways of being that are no longer working and we need to take a serious look. When we’re in a vicious cycle we feel negative emotions but the point of them is evolution. To step off the roller coaster then, we have to look inside. Grab a journal and freely write:

  • What patterns am I repeating?
  • What are my triggers?
  • What in my life no longer feels true?
  • What emotions keep showing up?
  • What triggers me?
  • What is this showing me?

Look at it with curiosity and not judgement. And, be brutally honest with yourself.

Some notes on True Self
  • we have layers, like an onion. Look at yourself from multiple perspectives (biological, familial, psychological, social, evolutionary, spiritual)
  • understand that first-person experience of Self and how others see you/perceive you is totally different. Triple down on exploring first person experience, it will be the highest return in your life. Can start with any meditation tradition, following your breath or dig into Douglas Harding’s work. My favorite meditation app is Waking up with Sam Harris. Multiple meditation teachers from different traditions so you can see what woks best
  • you’re the only person you will ever be with, cliche yes, but true. You must dedicate time to befriend yourself, understand your experience and love yourself. We are all alone in our first person experience. No one will ever truly get what it’s like to be you. We try and we find connecting points but never feel quite satisfied. So for true happiness, look within!