“This is just the way I am.”
Those seven words are the most dangerous words you can use to describe yourself.
I’ve been there. I used to struggle with making friends and socializing and I got to a point where I finally gave up and said “This is just the way I am.” I felt defeated. I thought I had tried everything and did my best, but then I realized… I didn’t.
I realized that resorting to thinking I’m a certain way and just leaving it at that was a cop out. How would I ever expand my network? How would I build the business I started if I couldn’t make any connections? The truth was that I had to get over this and do things differently, so I did.
Today I want to share three tips that I used to make an epic change that I once thought was impossible. These tips are vital in order to make any major life change. They personally helped me build an awesome network, professional connections and a strong support group.
Tip #1: Watch your words
“Your identity is nothing but the decisions you’ve made about who you are, what you’ve decided to fuse yourself with. You become the labels you’ve given yourself. The way you define your identity defines your life.” -Tony Robbins
The words you use to describe yourself and your world have a direct impact on the way you perceive your life. Using negative words turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy and a negative feedback loop that’s hard to break.
These negative words are so ingrained in your brains because you’ve used them for years, you spout them out automatically and unconsciously. This is because these mental habits are wired in a part of your brain called the basal ganglia.
The basal ganglia is a primitive part of the brain responsible for running on “autopilot” to reserve our brain power for more important things. You’re unconsciously feeding your mind with negative labels.
In order to begin changing these negative mental habits, start identifying what words you use and when you use them and replace them with words that empower you.
For example, if you face “crippling shyness” change your narrative to something like: “I tend to be quiet around others, but I am working on improving this.”
Using less intense words like “tending to be quiet” will reduce the intensity of the feelings you associate with your shyness. By adding an action item to the statement, you’re telling yourself you are open to making a change and taking action. This transforms a statement that will beat you down into one that is encouraging.
Write down the words you use to describe yourself and come up with new, transformative statements that will help change your self-perception.
Tip #2: Achieve a Small Win
Small wins are also known as micro-goals. They are smaller, achievable goals that you can work towards that will help propel you to success. For example, if you struggle with social skills and your ultimate goal is to attend a networking event with hundreds of people, you may set a micro-goal of greeting five strangers on the way to work to start.
Setting up and achieving these small wins will release dopamine (the “reward” brain chemical), making you feel happy and motivated. This positive feedback loop will encourage you towards achieving even more micro-goals.
By achieving a few small wins you’re immediately proving to yourself that change is possible. It may take you a few months or even years to achieve your larger goal, but having momentum by achieving smaller, chunked goals will help propel you towards success.
Tip #3: Get rid of the ego
“This is just the way I am” is a code-phrase for “I want to identify with a particular part of my ego.” In some circumstances that may be fine, but when you honestly look inside yourself and realize a change must occur– let go of your ego.
One of the best ways to realize that your ego is unimportant in the big scheme of things is to explore nature. Going outside and observing natural beauty helps you gain a new perspective and elicits powerful feelings of awe.
“Research has shown that even brief experiences of awe increase modesty, humility, intellectual curiosity, and happiness”.
When we experience a state of “wonder” or “awe” it helps us realize that there’s so much around us, we’re a tiny speck in the universe!
Go to a nearby beach, body of water or anything that can make you appreciate the natural world around us. The goal is to make yourself feel small. Gaining a new perspective of the world around you is a very powerful way to realize that the pieces of the ego you’re holding on to may not actually matter as much as you think.
Changing your mental models are key to growth and self-development. Telling yourself that “this is just the way you are” limits you from becoming the person you want to be and living life to the fullest. Take an honest assessment of yourself, will changing a certain aspect of your personality make life better? If so, start watching your words, achieving small wins and getting rid of your ego.
This is a guest post by communication coach Katrina Razavi, founder of CommunicationforNerds.com She helps people who struggle with social skills and communication become socially bulletproof and live their best lives. If you found this post helpful, get your free eBook: 5 Ways to Avoid Awkward Conversations NOW!