Before a breakthrough always comes a moment of radical, painful honesty. A moment where we speak truth to ourselves, admit our weaknesses, and look our bullshit right in the eye.
Whether you’re silently weeping into your coffee, or flying high on life today, this is that moment. This is the moment I help you name the thoughts that are keeping you small. Because the truth is, we all have them; even those of us who look like we have it all together. And we can’t overcome them until we name them.
For many of us that have done hard things in our lives and overcome challenges already, these thoughts aren’t always the obvious ones. It’s not that we don’t believe in ourselves enough, or we aren’t willing to put in the work. It’s not that we aren’t living bravely, or that we don’t want to reach that next level. I work with tough, driven people every day and it’s almost never that obvious. It’s much more subtle.
It’s a few days strung together where you let your schedule, your life, and other people’s needs run you, it’s the weeks that go by where you forget to reflect on your goals, much less take action on them. It’s the ever-present focus on ‘productivity’ over purpose.
It’s not that you stopped believing in yourself, it’s just that you stopped paying attention.
So that’s what I’m here for. To be your ghost of Christmas past, your Mr. Miyagi, your Coach Carter. I’m here to lead you toward that moment of radical honesty because you deserve to live your life free of the thoughts that keep you small; I call them your haters.
(Continue reading and make sure to snag your free copy of The Thoughts That Keep You Small Worksheet)
I call the thoughts that keep us small haters because that’s what they do; they hate on your dreams. But not in an overt way, because they know you better than anyone. You wouldn’t fall for that! No no, in a subtle way that’s perfectly tailored to your beliefs. Your haters know exactly what to say to discourage you without you even realizing it.
Your haters are your innermost doubts personified as realistic, logical, even helpful thoughts.
Your inner haters are nuanced. They speak when you:
They are always there, sneakily whispering whatever they can to keep you right where you are. Safe, comfortable, content. pacified.
And when I say they’re sneaky, I mean they are SNEAKY. They sound so believable! When they speak, you nod. Yup, yup, that makes sense. Life is tough. No time to dream over here. Be reasonable. Later. Later. Your time will come.
Don’t you dare fall for it. Stop nodding! Because what they really are is the voice of fear; and you’re better than that. You are braver than that.
Your haters don’t go away with a pep talk, they need to be dragged out into the light of day. They need to be argued with, yelled at, named. They don’t get to just whisper in the background, spreading negativity like office gossip that wreaks havoc on morale. No no no, they need to be reminded plainly and often that you are in charge.
But you can’t be in charge if you’re not even aware of what your haters are saying. You have to start there.
Are you ready to do this?
Below, I’ve outlined 6 haters; they’ve all been unwelcome guests in my brain at various times in my life. Some will sound familiar to you, others may not. And there may be others that come up for you that aren’t even on the list (write them down!)
Read about each of them below, and then download your free worksheet to confront the thoughts that keep you small, your haters.
Avoiding failure by claiming self-sacrifice
The Martyr says: “I can’t do _______, I need to prioritize OTHER people because I’m a good person/mom/dad/daughter/brother etc”
What The Martyr tricks you into thinking is that you’re making sacrifices to help other people. But it’s not about that, it’s about avoiding the pain of failure. This excuse is CLOAKED in sacrifice so it makes you feel good about yourself. The Martyr loves to remind you that you’re a good person, and you cling to their words to avoid the pain of not being a brave person.
Here’s what happens when The Martyr takes over your thoughts: You go on to have zero boundaries, become obscenely busy, and lose sight of your own fulfillment. Ultimately, you becomes resentful.
Someone told me once, ‘Don’t let your children be your excuse’. Ouch. Point taken. (More on this idea later).
Blaming ‘uncontrollables’ for inaction
The Excuse Maker says: “I just don’t have the time right now to do _______. I’m so busy.”
That’s a boldfaced lie that no one wants to call you out on. Why? Because our society celebrates people who are ‘busy’. But the truth is, it’s never about time, it’s about your thoughts. You don’t make time to do it because of intrinsic beliefs; likely, a lack of belief in yourself or the reality that you don’t actually want it that bad.
Time is fluid. We fill it with the things we want to do, and (when we’re not doing the work) we use it as an excuse to keep us from confronting the fact that we always have a choice.
The Someday’er says: “I’ll do it when ______.”
This hater grows louder when you’re about to take a scary step forward. But instead of admitting you’re scared, you convince yourself that someday, when the timing is right, when you have more time, money, clarity, knowledge, or energy, you will do the thing you want to do… that day just isn’t today. You tell yourself that when that day comes it won’t be as hard to take a risk.
That’s a lie. And you know it.
It’s never your fault
The Victim says: “I WOULD do ___ if I had more money, or had a better education, or a savings account, or a trust fund, or a nanny, or a chef, or an assistant, or a ___.”
This hater is two-fold.
First, of course it would be NICE to have more help, a leg up, or a safety net. But that hasn’t stopped others.
Secondly, maybe you DO need to get help. You’d be amazed at how many parents feel bad about spending money on 3 hours of babysitting, food delivery, or house cleaning to give them more time to pursue their goals. (See Hater #1: The Martyr).
Don’t let yourself be a victim. If you really don’t have the help or resources you need, take action. Delegate what you can, de-prioritize the things that don’t matter all that much, start budgeting. Find the money, help, or time, and free yourself from this vicious cycle.
Self deprecating comparison
The Liar says: “Other people are smarter/funnier/more outgoing. It’s easier for them to fail or hear ‘no’ or make mistakes. They don’t feel pain like I do. It’s clearly easier for them.”
Oh man, this one. The Liar is such a smooth talker; he’s tempting, seductive, he makes you feel good about yourself. He gives you an out. He tells you there is a REASON you haven’t ever really gone for it, and that reason is an unchangeable fact - you just aren’t good at public speaking, you never had an example at home, you don’t have the right degree, etc. etc. etc.
This thought pattern will FOREVER keep you small.
We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. Some of us take action before we are ready, and we grow... and some people fail before they even try. Which one are you? Being honest about this hater is uncomfortable because it forces you to see yourself as capable of your big goals and challenges you to take responsibility for the choices you have and haven’t made.
The Liar has to be called a liar. He has to be pulled out into the light of day to see him for who he really is.
There’s a limit to the joy you should want
The Reasonable One says: “Who even dreams that big? Come on, be REASONABLE. That life isn’t actually possible. Nobody’s life is perfect. You have it pretty good; don’t be greedy.”
This hater runs deep, and is often shaped from other people’s beliefs that are put on you early in life. This belief that there is a limit to how good one person can have it is truly debilitating. She tells you there is a ceiling to how much money you can make and still be a good person, she tells you only selfish people travel, go to college, or leave their community to pursue something bigger. She tells us success is a zero sum game (i.e. if I take more money for myself, there is less to go around).
At the core, it’s a scarcity mindset. If I have more, it doesn’t mean you have less. You can simultaneously appreciate your great life and want more for yourself.
Here’s what happens when The Reasonable One gets in our head: We start surrounding ourselves with people that support these thoughts and talk poorly of people who think differently. We sit on our high moral horses and look down on others as materialistic, selfish, and careless.
But when you drag this hater into the light, she doesn’t hold water. You want the world to be more fair? Build your wealth and share it. Volunteer. ‘Send the elevator down’ by becoming a mentor. Start a non profit.
So there you have it. Now that you’ve learned about each of the 6 Haters, it’s time for you to reflect on how they show up in your life.
What messages are your haters telling you?
Download the worksheet and set aside some time to fill it out. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to see them for what they are.
Ironically, these haters are often easier to recognize in other people than they are in ourselves. And that’s why this exercise is so important. Because it forces you to question your reality, look at yourself honestly, and ask yourself the really hard questions.
So I’ll leave you with this assignment, download and fill out the 6 Haters worksheet, then tell me: