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Recently I called up a family friend who I haven’t spoken to for 10 years. One of the first things out of his mouth was a complaint about his son—and then, one by one, he proceeded to recap the same complaints I remember him talking about 10 years ago. In all that time, none of them had been resolved.

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

How can you keep complaining about the same things, dealing with them the same way you always have, but expect your context and results to change?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, changing your limiting beliefs can change your life. And what you say (especially your complaints) and what you think (especially your internal monologue) are good indicators of what your limiting beliefs are. Here’s a list of 33 indicators of your hidden limiting beliefs:

Universal – Life IS this way and this way only
1. Life [or some subarea] is a struggle / life is hard.
2. I am working so hard but I can’t catch a break…
3. It’s too late.
4. [Some other dogma]

People – People ARE this way and this way only
5. I just can’t trust people.
6. I don’t want to get close again because s/he will just hurt me.

Self or Personal – I can’t do this because…
7. I wish I could, but…
8. I am too [insert description] so I can’t.
9. I am not [insert description] so I can’t.
10. I don’t deserve it / you deserve better.
11. It’s for you but it’s not for me.
12. I can’t because…
13. I can’t ask for what I want because…
14. Other people can, BUT it’ll never be for me.

Holding Someone Else Responsible – I am this way because of YOU
15. I am this way BECAUSE of [someone else].
16. It’s your fault that I am…
17. I can’t do it without asking [someone else’s permission]…

You Are Not Yourself
18. You fear others will find out you don’t belong in their circle.
19. You withhold information.
20. You feel that you can’t be your real self around specific people.

You Are Jealous of Others’ Success
21. You have to be [insert negative adjective] to be successful.
22. You find yourself feeling jealous of others’ success.

You Really Want Something but Don’t Take Action
23. You really want something but you don’t take action towards it.
24. You feel that there is blockage between where you are and where you want to be.

When You Think of This, the First Word that Comes to Mind Is Negative
25. When you think of important life topics like parents, work, or relationships, the first word you think of is negative.

If…Then
26. I have to…in order to…
27. If…then…
28. I need a [some stuff like proper headshot, resume, website] before I can…
29. I can’t do X because of Y.

Yeah, But…
30. I would, but [some excuse], so I can’t.

You Have a General Feeling of Resignation / Deadness
31. What can you do? [Open hands gesture indicating giving up]

You Can’t Turn Off Your Brain at Night
32. You keep thinking about something (often the same thing) before you go to sleep.
33. You are unsure/afraid to do something, and the anxiety keeps you awake.

Step 1 is to NOTICE whenever you say (or even think) one of these complaints or thoughts. Even just noticing is a huge improvement over complaining or ruminating unconsciously like most people do.

Step 2 is to test your assumptions. Whatever you just complained or worried about—is it really true? Always? Are there any exceptions to what you just said or thought?

If Step 1 and Step 2 have led you to find a limiting belief, Step 3 is to do something about it. (Or, more accurately, Step 3 is to either do something about it or not…to take action—or inaction—out of choice rather than letting your mental machinery run automatically.)

We are what we focus on.

If you focus on what you like/love/appreciate about yourself and your life, more of that will show up.

If you focus on what you dislike/despise about yourself and your life, more of that will show up as well.

As for the family friend I mentioned, I gave him the space he wanted. I listened to his complaints, even though I am allergic to negativity. And I wished him well.

He is a generous person who has made a difference in my life, and I hope he’ll see that he deserves more and will do what it takes to change his perspective. All the things that he complains about could start changing for him if only he would just start noticing what he complains and worries about!