Learning how to believe in yourself is one of the most challenging things you will ever have to do. The truth is, we are all human, and it’s only natural to feel doubt from time to time.
But, doubt and limiting beliefs can be significant roadblocks if we allow them to stop us from even trying.
Interestingly enough, things are not set in stone, and we can train ourselves to overcome perceived limitations.
How Our Beliefs Set Us Up For Failure And Success
Our beliefs are the foundation for our efforts and results. Many things set apart those who succeed from those who fail: hard work, some luck, good genetics, and more. But, the most fundamental element is our belief. The mind is the first enemy we need to overcome, and if we don’t, we have no chance of getting anywhere.
Interestingly, the beliefs we hold always push us in one direction or another: closer to or farther from our goals. A negative belief is just as powerful as a positive one. So, we need to be careful of the thoughts we feed.
A positive belief allows us to take productive actions and move closer to our goals. A negative thought leads to mistakes, bad decisions, and inaction.For example, an overweight person who doesn’t believe that weight loss is possible will often look for a shortcut - a diet, a fat-burning pill, or something else. In most cases, they won’t even try. But, when an overweight person believes that weight loss is entirely achievable, they are more likely to seek true information and put in the effort needed for change.
“Do I Have Good Genetics For Fitness?”
I’m writing this point on genetics as it relates to our beliefs because this is a sore spot for many lifters. Too many people blame their lack of results on genetics. Even worse, many people give up too soon or never get started because they believe they’ve been dealt with a poor genetics hand.
Yes, genetics plays an important role in our overall development. Your genes will greatly impact your ability to gain muscle and lose fat. Genetics also influence your proportions and symmetry. But, none of this is to say that genetics is everything. More importantly, none of it suggests that you have bad genetics.
Many skinny guys believe that they can never build respectable physiques. This self-pity is often accompanied by buzz phrases like, “I have bad genetics.” and “I’m a hardgainer, and I can’t gain weight to save my life.”
Yet, there are more than enough examples of skinny guys who’ve managed to transform their physiques in a matter of years.
Genetics is not everything, and many people have achieved great success despite their less-than-perfect potential. Yes, we are all different. Some people are more genetically gifted than others, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
What sets people apart more than anything else is the belief that improvement is possible. If you declare that change isn’t possible, it won’t be because you won’t even try. And even if you do, you won’t put much effort into it to cause a genuine change.
The Beliefs We Hold
Every so often, I receive an email from a reader who is frustrated with their genetics. Some hate their narrow shoulders; others are frustrated about their inability to build muscle. Of course, these examples and many others are excuses and self-imposed limitations.
For example, I received an email recently from a man in his early forties. He wrote that his primary struggle is fat loss and asked for advice. After a bit of back and forth, he wrote something along the lines of, “I want to get leaner, but I can’t.”
Notice the language. I sent him another email with some actionable advice and links to reading material. But the problem isn’t necessarily the knowledge (or lack thereof). The problem is much deeper than that.
This person was doomed to fail from the start, not because he didn’t know how fat loss works. He was doomed because he had already made his mind up. “I can’t.” Without a mindset shift and a belief that change is possible, he won’t get far.
If you happen to entertain similar limiting beliefs, my question is this: Why? What makes you think you can’t achieve something - be it a weight loss goal or something else? I’m not saying that we are all special snowflakes and that we can be and do everything - that would be misguided. But I am saying that we should have more faith in ourselves and in our abilities to figure things out and achieve goals.
Get Started And Focus On What’s In Front Of You
Many people have limiting beliefs because they feel overwhelmed by the big picture. This holds true in fitness, business, life, and more.
Take, for example, weight loss. Many people feel like weight loss is not achievable for them because they are far from their goal. If a person wants to lose fifty pounds, they focus on the distant goal. And instead of looking at the short-term, the person is paralyzed by the big mountain on the horizon.
But, as the old saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Instead of looking at the distant goal, focus on what’s in front of you. Don’t look at the long-term goal of losing fifty pounds; focus on an immediate goal - lose five pounds. This is a much better way to go about it because you now have a much less intimidating goal, and you don’t have to work for months to achieve it.
Once you get started and achieve several small goals in a row, you gain momentum toward your long-term objective, and you become more confident in your ability. The goal of losing fifty pounds will feel a lot more achievable if you’ve already lost twenty pounds than it would if you’re just getting started.Another important reason to focus on what’s in front of you is that it makes it much easier for you to create a plan. Everything can be broken down into actionable steps. Instead of looking at the big picture and feeling overwhelmed, break things up into smaller goals and put together specific plans to get you there.
Believe In Yourself (And Pay Attention to The Small Stuff)
Many people believe that success is about making quantum leaps: having that big break, getting discovered, finding that one perfect fitness plan. We are conditioned to see events: “School teacher loses 100 pounds.” Yes, that’s admirable and such headlines can motivate some people to make a positive change. But what most people don’t see is the process behind this outcome:
Too many people discount the process (the ‘small’ stuff) because they deem it unimportant. But think about it for a moment:
How do you complete a workout? Do you take one massive action and boom - done? No, you walk in the gym, warm-up, and start going through it set by set. By doing enough small steps, you reach the daily fitness objective - your workout is done.
String together 200 daily fitness objectives, and you’ve got yourself a long-term outcome - for example, building ten pounds of muscle.
The truth is, it’s all about the small steps we take and about persisting toward an outcome. We see events, but we don’t see the countless hours of work that preceded them. Let me give you another example:
The article you’re reading right now might feel like an event - a piece of content that is available for reading. But what you don’t see are the hours of researching, writing, deleting, re-writing, editing, formatting, and uploading the work online.
The Bottom Line
What self-limiting beliefs do you feed right now?
Sure, we all doubt ourselves and feel like we can’t do some things. This is normal, and it’s part of being human. But growth and improvement are about knowing that your desired outcome is attainable. It is precisely thanks to this innate belief that we try things even if we feel a bit uncertain.
If you don’t believe in your goals, how could you ever hope to follow through with the process and reach them eventually?