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How to Better Believe in Yourself

Do you ever talk to yourself? (Right now, you’re probably thinking: Hmm, talk to myself? Do I do that?)

Most people have an ongoing mental conversation with themselves. This is what many psychologists call self-talk. Left unattended, that conversation typically sways negative.

When I was younger, I used to be pretty hard on myself:

• “I can’t possibly deliver workshops and write a book.”

• “I can’t possibly work for that company, because I don’t know anything about the beer business.”

• “I can’t work out in the afternoon; I’ll be way too tired.”

• “I can’t possibly hold my own with this guy; he’s written 64 books.”

None of it was true.

The problem with these mental conversations is that after a while, neuroscientists theorize that those thoughts go from the neocortex part of your brain to the basal ganglia. This is where your habits are hardwired. And it takes real effort to rip out the negative stuff.

My 3-Step Plan to Crush Self-Limiting Beliefs

1) Catch yourself in a negative thought. This requires cognitive diligence. You must think about what you’re thinking about — and not mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Twitter.

2) Disabuse yourself of this notion. I do this using my 82-year-old father’s increasingly cantankerous and challenging voice: “Yeah? Who says?” Immediately, something in my brain switches, and my next thought is: “Challenge accepted.”

3) Take action. Any action, no matter how small, just to get the ball rolling. There’s a great old turn of phrase that says, “Throw your butt over the bar and your heart will follow.” I really believe that.

I love to work out, and one recent afternoon when I was out for my typical 10-mile hike, I had about two miles left. Then a fleeting thought hit me: Maybe I should run the rest of the way. No, I can’t. I haven’t run in over 13 years.

That’s right: I used to be an avid runner, but once I turned 40, my knees hurt, and I told myself I was too old to run. I caught myself having this thought and — no kidding — I heard my dad say, “Yeah? Who says you can’t run at 53?”

I took a couple of steps. Then took a couple more. And bam: I ran home.

Far too many of us convince ourselves we can’t do it:

• “I can’t ask this person for a referral; he just bought a bike.”

• “I can’t call these people; they’ll think I’m sort of telemarketer.”

• “I can’t sell 18 units in a month.”

•“I can’t sell 300 units in a year.”

Yeah? Who says?