10 Things to help grow beyond limiting beliefs & fear.
April 27, 2019 | RUTH STEEL
It would be ludicrous not to include Yoga which is now a huge part of my lifestyle. My Yoga practice helps me each an every day to continue to be curious with who I am, how I think, speak & act. I find it fascinating how our thoughts affect our abilities to connect to ourselves & others day to day, in this continuing realm of change and how they are directly linked to our self-confidence, beliefs & abilities.
Let’s take an example - Downward Facing Dog. I still remember how hard it felt the first time, how my thoughts tried to convince me that I couldn’t hold it for more than 10 breaths & when the teacher first said it would become a resting pose, wait WHAT, they’ve got to be kidding right!? In the beginning of my practice, my body was capable, but it was my mind I had to convince. Take this same principle into any practice or situation be it, meditation, inversions, applying for a new job, speaking publicly at an event, taking that risk to start up that new business you’ve always wanted to – what ever it is, the same rules apply. If you think you can not do it, then you will not be successful. If you train your mind to believe you can, then you most certainly will. Essentially, you are right either way. Your body has not sense of humour, it believes whatever your mind tells it, so feed it with positive fuel, kind loving words & a shit ton of self-belief!
REPEAT Every Damn Day!
I remember my first trip to Thailand. Fresh faced at 18, chuffed with having spent my hard-earned money on exciting life experiences of the world. Some way along the journey I bought a dairy. I was the joke of my friends, whom of which, several were experienced diary keepers, linguists & writers themselves. You see, this little book I’d bought was no bigger than the palm of my hand, in fact I’d chosen it as a sort of keep-sake, each sustainable sheet, recycled from Elephant dung I believe & it became a memory, perhaps a grocery list type of booklet.
Why am I telling you this?
Well because I like that memory of my friends mocking me, although I’m sure it would have benefitted me hugely to make sacred time to journal. It wasn’t until 10 years later having experienced trauma in an abusive relationship & the death of my mother, that I truly found the benefit of purchasing my first real journal, ‘Letters to Mum’.
There’s an amazing book that I would recommend to anyone experiencing grief called,
Julia explains that journaling is part of the eight pillars of strength a person can create to help with the new reality of living with grief. Without me even knowing, I had started this journal of mine as a tool to express grief & nurture my relationship with my Mother who died.
Who cares if you’re not a writer, even if you don’t feel compelled to start a daily journal now, remember it’s a great option for the future – to get all those jumbled thoughts and feelings onto paper, for your eyes only, to lighten the load on your shoulders and create new room for all those positive thoughts, beliefs & peace that is coming your way.
I first tried wakeboarding the summer of 2014. I had never done anything like it before. I was a strong swimmer with zero water sport experience, many limiting beliefs and a tendency to put myself down. (My inner fat child who was bullied at school never forgets that self-deprecating humour is always an easy way out) But from this point onwards, I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. All of us are our own worst critics & comics but when you put yourself down about absolutely anything, even if others laugh, the only one who loses out is you. So, to hell with it, I thought, I’ll give it my best shot. I face-planted, naturally still plagued with devil on my shoulder doubts, but slowly following many more falls, I started to find my feet - the sea wind blowin’ in my hair, huge smile on my face & a new confidence growing. Who Am I!? This new optimistic & opportunistic chic had some soul searching to do.
Never in a million years did I think I would have the chance let alone be capable of wakeboarding!
When we learn any new skill, sure it’s scary as hell and we might let that get in the way at first or even knock ourselves back with many a relapse of self-doubt. I think the key here is awareness.
No matter what it is that you’re doing, learning or scared of – becoming aware of those thoughts, what they make your body feel like (shakes, ascending heart rate, tingles) is such a huge achievement. Once we are aware, we can start to dig a little deeper and question WHY we feel like that, what is the actual reality of ‘the worst possible outcome’ which our mind tends to exaggerate and most importantly, HOW can we reframe our thoughts to help us learn faster from mistakes, build more courage & self-belief!
In winter 2016 I learned to snowboard. I’d given skiing a shot and managed to break my thumb and nearly send my husband who was so kindly instructing me, hurling down the mountain. It was a difficult time, my Mothers cancer progressing was having a knock-on effect of my confidence, patience & self-belief.
On the one hand I’d learned to wakeboard, they couldn’t be much different right? On the other hand, unable to emotionally handle the falls & bruises externally which would match how I was feeling on the inside at that time.
So, my journey with snowboarding was over a few years and what a difference I now notice when I strap in and prepare curiously connect with whatever thoughts come up. Sure, there’s still doubts when learning something new, there’s still falls but there’s also more self-belief to my skills and a huge amount of help from breathing techniques I have learned in Yoga.
TIP – be patient with yourself. In our minds, bodies & in life we seek to find a balance of Yin & Yang. If you have a highly stressful job, life or are experiencing trauma of any kind, you will be seeking more Yin, peaceful elements to your life & it may not be a good time to learn something new, challenging and more high stress. Come back to it or at least be aware of shifting thought patterns when you feel more at peace & are ready to bring back the balance of that exciting Yang part of life.
In 2018 I learned to skateboard in Mallorca.
Unfortunately, I never saw one girl skate when I was growing up. We would have bikes or scooters, but Avril Lavigne told us explicitly in her noughties hit classic, that he was a skater boy, not skater girl. Fortunately, we’re more progressive it being 2019 and all but still, learning to skateboard at 28 was another one of those things that I never thought would happen. YES, let’s get penny boards and kick things up a notch by taking the dogs walking on them. Standing on a tiny moving board, my mind was going crazy with the worst-case scenario - being tearing up my flesh and wearing the road across my face. Knees trembling, breath held, the force of this limiting belief in my head from Avril and many others was strong!
Truth Bomb! Skateboarding is SO much Fun!
I WISH I’d have learned to skate as a kid, it would have been so much fun, uninhibited, wild child that I was. No doubt I’d have had more options to get around, to enjoy the great outdoors and to break all the rules of being that unconventional skater girl, treading into forbidden territory, seemingly by sex.
Lessons Learned: No activity, practice or skill is limited to a single sex. We as adults, regardless of whether we are parents or not, need to me mindful of what we belief and pass on as an example to all the children in the world who see, listen & replicate our own limiting beliefs.
In 2019 aged 29, I was lucky enough to Surf for the first time in beautiful Bali. With some background in board sports now & lots more experience teaching & practicing Yoga as a mindset and lifestyle, I felt optimistic and enjoyed every second of it.
I went with a friend & fellow warrior goddess I had met out there and we booked an instructor for a 2-hour lesson.
Having learned the basics of pushing up & popping to a sturdy standing position (feeling grateful for the repetition of Chaturanga at this point) we head out to hit the waves.
Let me tell you, that feeling of gliding on top of a wave, is sensational. It turns out that the other skills I had learned in wakeboarding, skating & snowboarding did come in handy!
I picked it up quickly and even managed to start turning in our first lesson!
Of course there are other challenges, like bruises on your hips and ribs (a solid cobra & upward facing dog come in handy here) making sure you don’t get hit on the head with your own surf board & getting caught in many ‘washing machine’ moments which certainly aren’t for the faint hearted or incompetent swimmer.
Lessons Learned: I can do anything I put my mind to, If I can dream it, I can do it, and so can you!
Whilst meditation might seem at the opposite end of the scale from board, snow & water sports. Essentially, the same curious open-mind is needed as well as an abundance of self-belief. I hear so many people say, I can’t Meditate, I can’t sit still for that long, I get bored etc
These people are right, they can’t meditate in that current mindset but that doesn’t mean they can not meditate at all or learn to develop and hone a skill which is very much already within us all.
Remember back to when you were a child, around the time you are learning to walk & talk. Soaking up all the new knowledge like a sponge and forever curious about who you were, what this body of yours could do and not even stopping to think about giving up or saying I can’t.
When we first learn to walk, we fall, a lot! But we don’t give up because the adults all around us are walking so we know it’s possible and we must do what it takes.
When we first learn to talk, we babble and make mistakes. Do we give up? No because each day is a new opportunity to learn, make more sense of it and grow into what is possible and all around us.
So why then when it comes to learning to meditate or learning any new skill for that matter, whether it’s playing the piano or standing on your hands…. others have done it, so that means we can too!
Remember, although we are charmingly unique, at the bare bones anatomically & psychologically, we are all one and the same.
Here’s that quote by Henry Ford again; "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are right either way."
Many new students think that there is some magic formula to meditation or that they are doing it incorrectly. You should know that all minds wonder, that is the very nature of our minds, to think, connect dots, create, remember & recall. The trouble is, with so much extra stimulation we get nowadays from social media, tv, games etc it’s easy to become all-consumed with information & thought & this is when we experience obsession, compulsion, addiction or living in the past.
We have lost our ability to come back to the present, even when thoughts arise and being stuck on a rollercoaster or negative or painful thought can be destructive for yourself and all those around you.
You should Know: You are not meditating wrong, even professional meditation teachers get lost in thought. The only difference between them and you is that they’ve noticed the thoughts and come back into the present moment, more times than you have. The more we practice, the easier it gets, thus improving our memories, ability to relax and stay calm even during the storm’s life can bring.
Start with what’s manageable for you, it could just be 10 mindful breaths a day then maybe 2 minutes, 10 minutes and so on. Believe you can and watch your world start to positively change.
Lessons Learned: Just because we have the freedom of choice as adults, it does not suddenly mean that some of us are born super human and some of us born inept. Granted if we saw every single person choosing to meditate or perfectly press to handstand, we’d be less likely to cling to our excuses and crack on with curiosity & enthusiasm.
8. NUDE YOGA PHOTOSHOOT
If you’d have told that chubby inner child of mine, that one day I’d be doing a nude Yoga photoshoot, I’d never have believed it.
I mentioned in my previous Blog about Body Positivity, the negative effect we can have as women on the next generation of girls who are watching us bitch, pick apart & drown in self-loathing criticism about not only our own bodies but everyone else’s.
After losing my Mum in 2016, I thought about how often I’d seen her look in the mirror and put herself down. Of course, I wish I could go back and be the change for her to see herself as I always saw her as a strong incredible woman, but I then realised that I had been doing the exact same.
One morning I decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. I become more & more mindful of when others around me would engage in idle gossip about weight, appearance and the likes of and simply chose not to participate. Whilst my intentions were good, my self-work, thoughts about myself and the words I speak to myself in, needed significantly more work than simply choosing not to engage.
I started using daily affirmations, journaling positive things about myself, learning to like myself and eventually Love myself too. I look back and cringe at the times I have agreed with me or someone else saying, ‘she loves herself!'
I now understand that in saying those words, I was putting down myself and the whole of womankind. Who was I to judge what struggles that woman had been through, how hard it had been for her to learn to have confidence, self-love and throw up the middle finger and say I don’t care what you think about me, to all us nay sayers.
Self-love is incredibly hard & yet amazing & liberating and the best gift you can give to yourself. I mean you spend 24 hours a day with yourself. You might as well get along and be your own damn best friend, otherwise who else will want to be?
So – back to the photoshoot, I’d been practicing my self-love & when the opportunity came about, I said YES to the nude Yoga photoshoot. My heart was racing, anxious & excited at the same time. When I first met the Photographer David, he was softly spoken, patient and kind. He shared stories with me of his photography journey and passion for feminism, freedom & art. He said that he’d even photographed nude before, to make the model he was working with, more comfortable too. In this moment I thought, I’m a strong woman, I handle this and it would turn out to be the most liberating soulful connection of all things I’ve learned.
David had chosen a stunning location for a sunset shoot. A nudist beach by day, so unlikely to get in trouble with police laws or must have a robe nearby for any passers-by. Even me saying that ‘get in trouble’ sounds ridiculous, as if nudity is something to be ashamed of, over sexualised or shunned as we have poorly allowed to go on for so long. I stripped off and thought I’d just get into some poses and see how I feel. Those trembling knees made an appearance again. The combination of trying to balance in full dancer pose, without clothes, next to a small cliff edge, being sprayed by the salty sea mistress and remembering to breathe, was a challenge to say the least!
But I WAS DOING IT, little by little by nerves started to pass and we got into the creative flow and exchange of ideas for what to magic to create next. Suddenly, whilst holding my foot behind my head, I could see a passer-by walking a dog. They were fully clothed, I clearly was not – a smidge or self-doubt crossed my mind but then I realised that I was not harming anyone, this person could think what they like and it doesn’t affect me, who I am as a person or my beliefs, so I let it go. In that moment, I felt so connected, to the beautiful world all around me, to the magic that we are all able to create if we step out of our own way. I was stepping into this new level of ease & comfort in being myself without needing to find acceptance from another.
Lessons Learned: We are all perfectly imperfect, so let go of the doubts, fears & limiting beliefs, you already have what it takes to be unapologetically you & share your gifts with the world.
Aparigraha, is the virtue of 'non-greed', 'non-possessiveness', and 'non-attachment'. Often spoken about as the forgotten Yama or practice of Yoga. It translates to so many areas of our lives that it deserves its places here in the Blog about limiting beliefs.
You see, many of us are brought up believing that we ‘need’ things to be happy. Money, a good job, nice things, a car, even People.
Now I’m not for one-minute arguing that nice things, living in abundance or that the company of other people don’t bring a degree of happiness. What I am saying is that these days, we’ve just gone too far. What with the creation of Instagram, online shopping & the wonder that is tinder, we want quick fixes for our problems – straight to the point hook ups, instant gratification, and a quick pill to pop and BAMB we’re 2 stone lighter. But when is it too much?
When we become attached to ‘needing’ more & more, we lose sight of what we already have, fall into the slippery slope of comparison and are burdening ourselves with the hoarding of all this ‘stuff’ both physical & emotional. Instead of focussing on more, shifting the mindset to gratitude of what we already have, is an exceptional practice. When I ‘Need to’ or ‘Have To’ become ‘I Get to’ - we are automatically living in more abundance in our mindset.
Non-attachment on the mat – It’s easy for our mind to want more, to achieve more, remain in an unsatisfactory cycle of lack until we achieve and expectation, be it a flashy arm balance or handstand, competing with the person next to us or just beating yourself up for not getting through a whole damn Bikram Yoga class without feeling faint, which is very much where I started. Sound familiar?
Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get carried away. Try practicing for the love of simply being able to breathe & move. Each time we approach our practice, if we are truly thankful for all that our bodies CAN do (rather than what they can’t do) and appreciate exactly where we are in the present moment, the rest will come. Wonderful by products of Yoga asana are increased strength, flexibility & understanding of the body and mind. The fancy poses will come with regular practice, be patient, un-attach from the end goal and start to love exactly where you are.
Non-attachment off the mat - how often do we worry about what might come of the effort we put into a project at work, a holiday we’re planning, or a meal we’re preparing, that we never really enjoy the work itself? So often we worry if we’ll be successful enough, or ‘good enough’ when we put our hearts on the line to show the world what we’re made of, that we forget why we started in the first place.
Let Go of the Outcome - Great poets like Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman, painters like Camille Corot, and even composers like Beethoven couldn’t be sure of what would come of their work. Many were considered unworthy of recognition when they first showed the world their creations, but when they let go of the need to be praised by other people – when they let go of feeling as though their happiness was determined by what other people thought, and they just worked for the love of it – they allowed their passions to come alive, and lived fulfilled and abundant lives.
How many clothes or material things do you hoard in your house?
Whilst it’s one thing to have a passion for fashion or collect trinkets, the truth is, the more we own or heard, the more we weigh ourselves down emotionally & energetically. Not only do we worry about losing those things, we take away valuable space for creating magic.
Make room for Magic – sell, gift & give away as many possessions as you can, that do not bring value or joy to your life. This will lighten your load & create more space for magic to be created, in whatever it is that lights your fire.
The reason we collect things, derives from a lack mindset. All too often, we believe that we will be happy when, we own a certain thing but before we know it, we’re still dissatisfied and onto the next ‘thing’.
Don’t collect things, collect meaningful experiences!
Aparigraha and Diet - Many texts advise eating moderately, so as not to disturb our practice, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists over-eating as a hindrance on the yogic path. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy your favourite meals and treats, and it’s so important to make sure each of us nourishes ourselves to stay healthy, but it’s useful to listen to our bodies to recognise when we’ve consumed more than enough. It has been well documented that the world’s ‘blue zones’ (the places in the world with the highest life expectancy, and the healthiest quality of life) eat until about 80% full, to allow the body to properly digest and assimilate food. Okinawa in Japan is one of these blue zones, and the phrase ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, meaning ‘eat until you are eight parts full’ originates here.
30% - 50% of the food produced in the world ends up as waste, this is equivalent to up to 2 billion tonnes. The food currently wasted in Europe could feed around 200 million people, so why are we still being greedy, over-buying and wasting food?
While we can’t all travel to undernourished countries to help feed those going hungry, we can still do our bit to help.
When we practise on our yoga mat and help ourselves to feel good and create a sense of peace and positivity, that’s only really the beginning of the practice…. What we do after that is where it all counts; by creating a sense of peace within ourselves, we essentially make ourselves more useful in the world. When our minds are less cluttered with worries and attachment, we can get on to the important stuff, like really making a difference in the world around us.
Start small; this could mean sticking to your shopping list next time you’re at the supermarket and not putting those extra indulgent treats into the trolley. It could mean cooking a big meal to share with friends, to make sure nothing goes to waste, or it could mean saving any leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Maybe this could lead on to donating tins of food to those in need, or even volunteering to help feed those at a local shelter. Remember, our practice is to help ourselves feel good, but it doesn’t stop there!
For more information, plant-based recipe inspiration & helping the planet along the way, check out my eBook, The Easy Vegan Detox.
Non-attachment in our minds - Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If only we knew that those things, we obsessively worry over didn’t really matter, right? If only we could stop being concerned with what might happen, and just enjoy what IS happening?
Each time we enter a new relationship, experience a sensation of joy and happiness, or start a new project, there’s often a flash of concern as we think – even just for a moment – what happens when this is over? What will come of this?
Becoming attached to a positive feeling or a positive experience is completely human, why wouldn’t we want to feel happy for as long as we can? But when we experience positivity, do we really let ourselves fully have that experience, or do we cling to it, willing everything to stay just as it is in that moment?
Change is the only constant thing we can expect in life
Just as the trees drop their leaves in Autumn so that they may grow new buds in Spring, the day turns to night, the seasons come and go, we too go through changes every moment of every day. Our physical bodies are undergoing change every second with cells regenerating, blood flowing, bone wearing down and then being stimulated to build up again, breath moving in and out of the body; so too do our minds experience change continuously.
Happiness, joy and peace are important emotions to feel, yes, but so too is sadness, anger and loss. To experience only the good stuff is to experience only half of what life has to offer. The school of life exists to allow us to experience and learn from every aspect of our being, the light and the dark, and to truly live we must not push away the things we don’t want to feel, but allow them to happen, and know that this too shall pass. When we let the moment be what it is without either trying to cling to it, or to push it away, we can really say we’re living in that moment, allowing things to come and go, without the need to possess any of it.
Lessons Learned: Aparigraha offers us freedom - the freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome, the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring us happiness, and the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be. See what happens when you apply this to your life, what happens when you just let go?
10. FINDING WHAT SPARKS JOY
Similarly, as Marie Kondo, declutters houses we all can Marie Kondo our whole life by being aware of what truly sparks joy for us in our work lives, friendships &relationships.
I love the numerous talks I’ve heard with Russell Brand Podcasts speaking about the joyful act of giving & helping others, without reciprocation being required. I feel like this is a lot of the points above all rolled into one. Letting go of the fear of what will come of your actions and simply being kind, I believe is acknowledged by the universe and brings joy in knowing each of us are serving a purpose in this life.
Be mindful if you are co-dependant, to keep on filling your own cup with your own self practice and in turn we are more able to anonymously fill the cups of others.
Lessons Learned: We are growing, every second of every day. Even on the tough days, through the dark times, limiting beliefs & fears – we are growing in our ability to understand, connect, empathise & unconditionally love ourselves and others.
Thanks for stopping by
All my Love
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